Afrohair: Is "grease" good for our scalp?

When we talk about hair greasing, one usually remembers the jars of Dax, Vaseline or Rose that our mothers used to coat our skulls with. A common practice in the Afro community that can slow down the growth of hair. The idea of this post is to say yes to oil on our lengths but be careful with the scalp - don't touch the sebum!

Why on the lengths and not the scalp

To understand this, we must look at the anatomy of our hair compared to other types.

The difference between Afro hair and the so-called Caucasian or Asian types resides in the hair fiber structure. As you can see on the diagram below, our hair grows in a spiral, emerging from the hair follicle lying on the scalp.

Sebum, a natural oil produced by the scalp, is secreted by the sebaceous glands (the small pocket on the right of the hair in the drawing). The sebum, by running through the hair fiber, also helps to close the scales, which considerably reduces the formation of knots. The smoother the hair shaft, the easier it is for the sebum to spread along its length.

Caucasian hair (but also relaxed hair) will therefore tend to be greasier at the ends, while our hair will generally be greasier at the base and dry and brittle at the ends.

As you understand by now, it is your length that needs oil and not your scalp.


The application of oil on the scalp daily can, even in some cases, promote the appearance of itching or chronic inflammation such as Seborrheic Dermatitis (a kind of indurated crust on the scalp). It is caused by the proliferation of yeasts naturally present on our scalp. Choose hair care products with a moisturizing texture for the daily maintenance of your hair.

Learn to spot the signs of dryness

An itchy scalp is a good indicator of how hydrated your hair is. It's the body's way of telling you that it's time to rehydrate your hair with a hair mask during your "Wash Day" (once a week in my case) or to apply a moisturizer or a mist if it's during the week. So remember, no oil application on the scalp!

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