When I was a teenager, my mother would ask me to oil her scalp using a sheen contained in a jar that was green in colour. I would part the hair ensuring that the oil reaches every part of the scalp.
This practice of oiling the scalp is not as common anymore; some people simply apply oil to their fingers and massage the scalp. For some, however, the tradition is deeply ingrained. But is it really necessary to oil the scalp? While there are some downsides of oiling the scalp, there are also good things about the practice.
Excessive shampoos, excessive washing and applying little conditioner are some of the unhealthy practices for the scalp. Oiling the scalp moisturises it and stimulate the pores to produce healthier natural oils. Oiling the scalp may, however, not be right for everyone. The reality is that oiling the scalp does not promote hair growth but could actually stunt hair growth.
Some people have an oily scalp that doesn’t need additional oil. The fact is also that your hair is what requires moisture, not necessarily your scalp. However, if you are one of those who believe in oiling the scalp, remember this:
• Avoid petroleum products: If petroleum or lanolin is listed as a top ingredient in the oil, avoid it. This only coats and attracts dirt to the hair by creating a heavy barrier on the scalp and hair; and is what many of us grew up using. It also clogs the pores of the scalp and hair follicles, weighing the hair down. The clogging makes it difficult for water and other moisturisers to penetrate your hair and scalp.
The best oil is natural oil like coconut, olive and jojoba. These oils are similar to the sebum your scalp produces, which is good for your hair, and even your body as a moisturiser. Even if you grew up in the scalp oiling era, you may not need to oil your scalp every day. Each individual’s hair needs are different. Identify your type of scalp and determine whether you need to oil the scalp or not.
• Oiling the scalp can cause or worsen dandruff. Research suggests that dandruff is linked to oily skin and irregular hair washing. When you oil a scalp that has dandruff, you aggravate the condition. Instead of oiling the scalp, give yourself a scalp massage; this can stimulate hair growth.
• If you have a dry scalp, this is an opportunity for you to consider the products you are using since dry skin is a symptom of irritation caused by something you are applying on your scalp. The solution is to try and identify the culprit product. Applying oil on a scalp that has dandruff will only disguise the dandruff while feeding the fungus that causes it. The solution for dandruff is to see a dermatologist.
• Oiling the scalp has some, upsides though; massaging the scalp helps stimulate blood circulation and relaxes the body. Oil also gives the hair extra shine, and conditions the hair preventing it from being dry and brittle. Some oils like coconut also promote hair growth.