Recession-Proof Your Oils: Back Away from the Hair Aisle

This post was also featured as my first article for Black Girl Long Hair. Check it out!

When looking for products to preserve moisture, add shine, seal, or treat dry scalp, we often hit the nearest Target or local beauty supply store in search of a bottle of “Random Ingredients Moisturizing Spray”, or “Miracle Oil Mix”. Often times, these products tout heavyweights like coconut, tea tree, olive, or grapeseed oil on their labels. If you're lucky, you might even find some natural-based fruit or tree pictured on the label that leads you to believe you're making a quality purchase, and that featured ingredient is the star of the show.
Product Deception
Turn that bottle over, scan all the way to the bottom and check out the ingredient list. Where is your fancy oil on that list? Did it make the top 5? Chances are if it didn't, you're wasting your time (and money). According to top science-based blogger, JC of The Natural Haven (peep the article here), the first 5 ingredients in any product are the most potent, and will have the most impact on your hair. So if you're looking for the miracle scalp clearing qualities of tea tree oil, but your product has it listed 3rd from last, you're probably not getting the most bang for your buck.

For example: take Organic Root Stimulator's Olive Oil Moisturizing Hair Lotion, available at Target, Sally's and most major retailers for about $6 for an 8.5oz bottle.

You can clearly see OLIVE OIL emblazoned across the front of the bottle. The manufacturers even give the hair lotion a green tint, to seal the deal in convincing you that this is an olive oil based product, and will therefore give you the lustrous benefits of olive oil. Then, we turn the bottle over and take a gander at the list of ingredients:
 Water - Aqua, Coconut Oil - Cocos Nucifera, Sorbitol, Trimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol , Petrolatum, Cyclomethicone, Peanut Oil - Arachi Hypogaea , Castor Oil - Ricinus Communis, Cetyl Esters, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Olive Oil - Olea Europaea, Stearic Acid, Triethanolamine, DMDM Hydantoin, Propylene Glycol, Methyl Paraben, Propyl Paraben, Carbomer , Cetearyl Alcohol , Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate, PEG-25 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Fragrance - Parfum , Benzyl Alcohol , Benzyl Salicylate , Geraniol, Hexylcinnamicaldehyde, Lillial, D'Limonene, Linalool, Lyral, Alpha Isomethyl Ionone, BHT , Blue No. 1 - CI 42090, Yellow No. 5 - CI 19140 

Olive oil, olive oil...where for art thou olive oil? Oh wait, there you are! Coming in at #11 on the ingredient list is "Olive Oil - Olea Europaea". Let’s see here, coconut oil comes in at #2...there's even more petrolatum (which is a concern in and of itself) in this bottle than there is olive oil?! That seems a little misleading, to say the least.

What's A Girl to Do? 
In this arena, conventional wisdom often holds true: it’s cheaper to do it yourself. To save yourself some money, heartbreak, and possibly hair break, here are some commonly used oils that can be acquired for cheaper (and often in greater quantities), that will do what they're supposed to do. You can mix and match, or use them straight (with the exception of tea tree oil) to achieve the desired effect on your hair.

COCONUT OIL -- Coconut oil is brandished across many product labels, but very few list it high on the ingredient list. Instead of reaching for a coconut oil jar or bottle that has a petroleum, mineral, or other oil base, head to your nearest Whole Foods or Sprouts for a jar of Virgin Unrefined Coconut Oil on the cooking aisle. A jar will run you from $7 to $10 dollars for a 16oz jar, depending upon what brand you use. At all costs, try to avoid purchasing Coconut Oil in health food stores like Vitamin Shoppe, or on the "health" aisle at other stores. These jars are often overpriced, yet they are exactly the same as the one on the cooking aisle.

OLIVE OIL -- While you're grabbing some coconut oil on the cooking aisle, you might as well swipe a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, too. Bottles of Olive Oil range from $4 to $10, depending on the size of the bottle and the brand you buy. Once again, check for "Extra Virgin" status. Natural oils are most effective and retain the most of their nutritive properties when they are cold-pressed. Stop settling for 11th-listed, and go straight to the source!

TEA TREE OIL -- Tea tree oil is generally more expensive than other oils, and you tend to get a lot less of it. But fear not, tea tree oil is very potent. A few drops in a couple of ounces of carrier oil (like coconut or olive) is more than enough to treat your scalp with. When shopping for tea tree oil, be sure to read the label carefully to ensure that it is 100% tea tree oil. You can find tea tree oil at Whole Foods or Vitamin Shoppe, for $9 for a 1oz bottle. It doesn't seem like much, but a little bit of tea tree goes a long way.

GRAPESEED OIL -- Don't leave the cooking aisle just yet! Grapeseed oil, which is high in Vitamin E and linoleic acid, sits right alongside your EVOO buddy. A bottle of cold-pressed grapeseed oil costs between $5 and $10, depending on the size and brand you select.

What's your recession-proof oil of choice?


  1. I just found your blog today! I LOVE LOVE IT! And your hair...OMG!! While reading your posts, I have constantly been thinking "WHY AM I JUST NOW FINDING HER?!" I have subscribed so that I won't miss ONE post! I have also started following you on Instagram and Facebook! FYI: No. I am not a stalker. LOL
    I just HAD to reply to this post because this is my DAILY moisturizer of choice, the Organic Root Stimulator's Olive Oil Moisturizing Hair Lotion! I have been using it for YEARS! Now, I am going to look into making your shea butter mixture instead.
    I also wanted to let you know you have a new "fan" in me! Thanks for all the great info!

  2. Hi August! Thank you soooo much for your positive feedback and support!!! I hope I can keep the good content coming :)