Moisturizing vs. Sealing Oils

The type of oil you use in your hair can make a huge difference in how your hair turns out. Sometimes you'll notice that certain oils leave your hair feeling moisturized while others just leave your hair shiny. Understanding the difference between moisturizing and sealing oils is so important for us naturals. It can save you so much time, frustration, and unnecessary products!

A moisturizing oil is an oil that penetrates the hair shaft, providing moisture from within. Not all oils can moisturize hair this way. Oils that don't moisturize hair are better used as sealants. Sealing oils coat the hair strand, basically trapping moisture within your hair. You'll notice that thicker oils tend to be sealants, like castor oil.

We've broken down our favorite oils below:

Moisturizing - These oils are more likely to deeply penetrate the hair strand and bring moisture to your hair

  • Sunflower Oil

  • Palm Kernel Oil

  • Coconut Oil (it doesn't work well for everyone, but try it out!)

  • Babassu Oil

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (personal favorite!)

Sealing - These oils are thicker and will coat your hair sealing moisture in while leaving hair looking very shiny and lubricated

  • Castor Oil (another favorite, really locks moisture into my hair!)

  • Jojoba Oil (great for hair, mimics sebum that oil scalp naturally produces)

  • Grapeseed Oil

Sealing with a bit of moisture - These oils are able to slightly penetrate the hair shaft but are better used as sealants

  • Avocado Oil (another fav!)

  • Argan Oil

A few things:

If you've been using sealing oils to moisturize your hair, it will explain why your hair looks shiny but is dry when you touch it. If you've used moisturizing oils to seal, your hair will still be dry because the moisture isn't being sealed in.

While moisturizing oils are great to apply to the scalp to help stimulate growth, sealing oils can have the opposite effect. Sealants aren't the best for applying to the scalp because their sealing nature can clog your pores. This will leave your scalp itchy and unable to absorb key nutrients.

Heat will be your best friend when using moisturizing oils! Studies have shown that heat helps oils that are already likely to penetrate the hair shaft penetrate faster. Try heating up your oils when you pre-poo, deep condition, and moisturize!

What are your favorite oils for moisturizing and sealing? Comment below!