FREE SHIPPING on U.S. orders over $60

Oils 101

Posted by Adria Marshall on

We're no strangers to the magic of oils in the curly and natural hair communities! But did you know that oils can be broken down into a few categories that will help you choose the right ones for your hair's specific needs? In December's blog, we'll discuss the different types of oils and how to determine the best ones for what you might need at any given time. 

Carrier and Essential Oils


At a high level, there are 2 types of oils: Carrier and Essential. Carrier oils are derived from the fatty portion of a nut, seed, fruit or kernel of a vegetable or other part of the plant using one of two main methods of extraction: maceration or cold-pressing. 

Maceration is a method that involves placing a dry plant in warm oil to extract the properties of the desired plant. Cold-pressing, however, is the preferred method.

Cold-pressed carrier oils are created by expeller pressing, which consists of pressing the nut, seed, fruit or kernel at temperatures under 122 degrees Fahrenheit to extract oils. Cold-pressing preserves more of the desirable properties of the plant than other methods.

Essential oils, on the other hand, are extracted using a process known as steam distillation. This method involves suspending plant flowers, seeds, roots, leaves, fruit, herbs, buds, etc. over boiling water to draw out the oils into the steam, which is captured in a vessel. (Bonus fact: The steam cools as it works its way through tubing; condensing the steam back into water - this is how you create a hydrosol) These oils capture the nutrients and essence of the plant. The great thing about essential oils is that they can treat and improve a variety of hair and scalp conditions. Here is a great chart on essential oils and their benefits: 


Carrier oils are usually thick, lightly fragranced and take awhile to absorb into the hair and scalp. Essential oils, however, have a thin viscosity, are highly fragrant and absorb quickly. It's often recommended that Carrier oils accompany essential oils (to "carry" them) since essential oils can be extremely potent.

Penetrating and Sealing Oils

Carrier oils are broken down into 2 categories as well: Penetrating and Sealing.

Penetrating, or Moisturizing, Carrier oils are oils that have molecules small enough to allow them to penetrate the hairs’ cortex. These oils tend to work best when used with a water-based leave in conditioner or with water by itself, as the moisturizing agent.  These oils are great for pre-poos and hot oil treatments because they won’t leave a film on your hair (since they actually penetrate it). Some examples of Penetrating oils are: Coconut, Red Palm, Avocado, Olive and Argan. You'll notice Red Palm oil in our Hot Sauce and Avocado and Argan in our Moonshine and Banana Cream!

Sealing oils, on the other hand, are unable to penetrate the hair shaft. For best results with sealing oils, you should use them after you’ve moisturized with your water-based product and Penetrating oil.  Once a sealing oil is applied to your hair it literally creates a seal which serves a barrier that helps prevent moisture from getting out of your hair but also prevents additional moisture from getting in! Some examples of sealing oils are: Apricot, Canola, Castor, Jojoba, Shea Butter and Cocoa Butter. You can fine Castor and Jojoba oils in our Moonshine and Jojoba in our Banana Cream as well!

Which one do I need?

Here's a little chart that you can use to quickly determine which oil might fit the bill

Yes No
Scalp Conditions/Nutrition Essential  Penetrating or Sealing Carrier
Aromatherapy Essential Penetrating or Sealing Carrier
Dry Hair Penetrating Carrier+ Sealing Carrier Sealing Carrier or None
Frizzy Hair Penetrating Carrier + Sealing Carrier Penetrating Carrier or None


I hope that you guys found this post helpful and will use it to choose the right oils for your hair's specific needs! What oils are your favorites to use and why?





← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment