They Said Hair Grease Was Horrible, But I’m Not Giving It Up…

I hail from the straightening comb and hair grease era. In my Mom’s mind, my  hair wasn’t presentable to the world unless it was straight, shining and slick with grease.
As a teenager, I would have my hair relaxed and immediately after drying my hair, the first thing to be done was “grease” my hair. If I didn’t grease my hair the imaginary hair police would barge into my home and someone would be held accountable for this heinous act of scalp neglect!

As a young adult , the thought of becoming a Naturalista crossed my mind, but when I thought about my thick, dry hair in an Afro, I would get discouraged. Who had time and the arm strength to maintain that? Who had time to sit there and grease all that 4B hair?

Fast forward,  I’m now a grown woman Naturalista (despite repeated relaxer backslides). This is the era of natural hair! Naturalista’s rule! We are now at a point where the relaxed Sistas are ashamed to say they receive relaxers or use hair grease anymore. I’ve been there! I decided to transition my hair instead of the Big Chop. I read about what hair products to use with my newly transitioned hair and most importantly I read about what products to avoid.
I basically read that I would be committing hair suicide if I used products that contained the following:
  • Sulfate
  • Alcohol
  • Mineral Oil
  • Petrolatum
  • Lanolin
So wait……
You’re telling me that this means no more Blue Magic, Lusters Pink Oil Moisturizer, or JAM!!! What would I do with my life? How could I go on being a Naturalista with my hair all dried up? I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me”.
“Use Olive Oil”, they said. “Use Shea Butter”, they said. “Coconut Milk, Monoi Oil, Juices and Berries”, they said.
I tried every product containing these ingredients. Every product under the sun (including imported juices and berries from the set of the movie Coming To America). Nothing moisturized and gave my hair that luster it so deserved.
By this time, I had a daughter of my own and she had the same hair type as me. That’s when I said “enough is enough”. Who said that using my beloved “grease” was bad! Instead of researching why hair grease was the worst product in the world, I began researching the benefits of it (if any) and if used, what was the correct way of using it (if possible).

Here’s what I learned:

Grease is usually a combination of petroleum (cleaned up sludge from the earth) and mineral oil (even cleaner, liquefied sludge from the earth). Petroleum-based products come from the same Earth that we pollute every day with factory run off, pharmaceuticals, household chemicals, etc. Questions about the safety of mineral oil and petroleum in cosmetic products come from concern that they may not be clean enough after coming from such a dirty place. The petroleum and mineral oil used in medicinal creams (Neosporin, for example) gets cleaned much more thoroughly than the stuff used in hair products.

That being said, it’s important to remember that hair is dead – meaning it’s not connected to your blood supply after it emerges from the hair follicle. If you’re concerned about the safety of petroleum-based products, start by not using any on your lips. Most lip balms and glosses are petroleum-based and you end up swallowing the majority of what you put on. That’s much worse than putting petroleum on your (dead) hair!

There are a few great benefits of using hair grease that make it worth trying. It is a sealant which makes it ideal for treating frizz. It’s also good for getting a light hold minus the crunch factor of hairsprays. When looking for a way to get sleek edges in your latest style, hair grease might be just the trick you are looking for. Regardless of the reason you use hair grease, it is best to pay attention to the health of your hair and know what it needs to stay looking its best. No two heads of curls are the same so try it out for yourself before you make a final verdict on hair grease.
You should use whatever works to keep your hair from breaking and help you achieve the styles you like. While some curlies will swear off hair grease because of the petroleum part and the fact that it isn’t an all-natural based product, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its uses. If grease makes your hair look and feel good, you should use it, but keep a few things in mind:

Be Careful with Build Up

Be careful about the grease you choose, especially if you have fine hair. It’s not just the ingredients that matter, it’s the recipe too. You’ll know the grease is too heavy if you have to work to create volume/fullness on your finished style. Anything that leads to more manipulation should be avoided. Fine hair also doesn’t do well when you put a lot of weight on the strands. If you notice your hair breaking even when you know it’s moisturized (e.g. within 24 hours of a fresh wash), it could be the extra weight from the grease.

Shampoo Frequently

You need to shampoo your hair once a week (more if you work out). The best long term routine includes washing with a gentle shampoo once a week. Momma did have some things right back in the day. The routine was shampoo, condition, water, grease, repeat. Grease attracts more dirt than other products and it can easily build up and clog the cuticle layer. Clogged cuticles prevent the hair from reaching its optimal moisture level which will make it more breakage prone than ever. Make sure you don’t apply the grease to your scalp since it will only make this problem worse.

It Does Not Moisturize

The other big thing to know about how to use hair grease is that it has no moisturizing properties whatsoever. If you are going to use it, make sure you apply water to your hair first to avoid it making your strands dry. Using it as a sealant with water can create a better retention of the natural moisture your hair needs to stay healthy. You need to make sure you are hydrating your hair after every use of hair grease to replenish any lost moisture.
The decision to use hair grease is ultimately up to you based on your personal needs and individual hair. It is worth noting that serums were created to give us a better alternative to grease. Although grease works very well as a sealant, it’s heavier than other products and it attracts more dirt. If you have very fine hair or acne prone skin, you should choose a silicone serum instead.

Don’t O.D.!!

As you relive your childhood years, Blue Magic in hand, you may feel the urge to dig in and scoop out a healthy amount… but don’t. LOL! Use a little at a time on each section of hair. Too much will cause a whole nasty buildup nightmare.

Have you been guilted into not using grease on your hair or do you still embrace it with open arms?