Tag Archives: mineral oil

SKILLS NOTES: Product Ingredients


So, I was thinking about how overwhelming it can be when you first discover the online natural hair web-iverse. There is sooooo much information out there and some of it is very technical, while other is anecdotal. And, while the education can be enlightening, it can also cause more issues than remaining ignorant!! Been there …  done that. LOL!! However, I do believe there is a “sweet spot.”  You know … that point where you’ve read enough, watched enough and tried enough to make informed decisions about what products, techniques and regimens will work for you and also know enough to figure out on which ones you should take a pass? *Singing* “Walk on byyyyyyyy.”

Well, all that being said, it may take some time to reach your very own personal “sweet spot.” Shoot, it took me a year plus! LOL! But, I thought that I might be able to help some reach their spot more quickly and navigate some of the ins and outs of natural hair by providing some fundamentals in a simple format, as well as links to additional information for those desiring more details. And thus, the idea for Skills Notes was born ;). (Yup, Skills Notes. Hairscapades was too long and Skills has been my nickname since college. ;))

So, with that, welcome to the first installment of SKILLS NOTES!


SULFATES: Cleansing agents found in many shampoos. Traditional sulfates can be harsh and strip hair of necessary moisture and oils. However, there are now many cleansers on the market that are sulfate-free and/or formulated with mild sulfates. WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those who are following the Curly Girl (CG) method, the Tightly Curly Method (TCM) and/or those with dryness issues. WHY: These individuals should avoid harsh sulfates and seek sulfate-free or mild sulfate alternatives.

For more information on sulfates and the alternatives, check out these articles:
Naturallycurly.com: Which Sulfates Are Safer Than the Others?
CurlyNikki.com: What’s in Your Shampoo

SILICONES: Conditioning agents used in shampoos, conditioners, stylers, serums and glosssers that provide slip and shine. Most ingredients ending in “cone,” “col,” “conol” or “zane” are silicones. There are four basic categories of silicones: water-soluble, slightly water-soluble, non water-soluble but repels build-up, non water-soluble and build-up prone. Non water-soluble silicones can eventually prevent the hair from absorbing sufficient water/moisture to remain hydrated, which can cause dry hair.

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those who are following the CG Method or the TCM and/or conditioner only regimens. WHY: These individuals should either avoid non-water soluble silicones, use mild sulfate or sulfate-free shampoos that remove silicones or incorporate a “clarifying” sulfate shampoo into their regimen as needed. 

Want to learn more? Check out these articles:
NaturallyCurly.com: The Real Scoop on Silicones (silicones explained)
NaturallyCurly.com: What’s the Scoop on Silicones (chart with recommended cleansing agents by cone)

PROTEINS: Protein is used in many conditioners to reinforce and strengthen the hair structure, especially when hair is damaged or weakened by chemicals (i.e. permanent colors and/or chemical relaxers and perms). Protein treatments should be followed by moisturizing conditioners to restore elasticity or the hair may become brittle and feel dry. “Protein sensitivity” is a term used for hair that responds negatively to protein, either because the hair has sufficient protein or becomes brittle despite post-treatment moisturizing conditioners.

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Everyone ;). WHY: Ensuring that hair is strong and moisturized aids in appearance and reduces breakage that can impede length retention goals.

For a listing of proteins as well as tons of other useful information, check out this link:
CurlyNikki.com: Curls 101 FAQs

GLYCERIN: Humectant found in many products that is used to attract water into the hair shaft.

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those with porous and frizz-prone hair, those with low porosity hair and those with dry hair. WHY: In humid climates (i.e. high dew points), glycerin can cause high porosity hair to frizz and tangle. For those with dry or low porosity hair that is hard to moisturize, glycerin can help draw water from the environment into the hair and help reduce/eliminate dryness. Many curl activators contain glycerin in order to aid hair in moisture retention and some naturals/curlies have found success with these type of products.

For a list of common humectants, see the CurlyNikki.com: Curls 101 FAQs link above.

ALCOHOLS: There are two basic categories of alcohols used in hair products: short chain drying alcohols (bad) and long chain “fatty” alcohols (good). Short chain drying alcohols evaporate quickly, so they are used in products to decrease the time it takes hair to dry. In contrast, long chain “fatty” alcohols are lubricating, moisturizing and “film-forming” in order to lock in moisture.

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Everyone. WHY: Short-chain drying alcohols should be avoided whereas long-chain fatty alcohols are fine and can be sought out for their moisturizing properties.

Drying alcohols: SD alcohol, SD alcohol 40, Alcohol denatured, Propanol, Propyl alcohol, Isopropyl alcohol

Fatty alcohols: Behenyl alcohol, Cetearyl alcohol, Cetyl alcohol, Isocetyl alcohol, Isostearyl alcohol, Lauryl alcohol, Myristyl alcohol, Stearyl alcohol, C30-50 Alcohols, Lanolin alcohol

MINERAL OIL: Mineral oil is used in products as an emollient, to seal in moisture, block humidity and enhance clumping/curl formation. It is non-water soluble. Mineral oil does not penetrate into the hair shaft to moisturize on its own. It simply aids in sealing in water/moisture. Mineral oil has gotten a bad rap, because it is often used in products with other ingredients (like petrolatum and lanolin), which are sticky and/or greasy. These combination of ingredients can cause build-up on the hair and scalp, as well as attract dust, dirt and lint from the environment. Some naturals avoid mineral oil at all costs, but it does have benefits. Cosmetic grade mineral oil can be light and non-sticky.

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those who follow co-wash only/shampoo free regimens and those with scalp issues. WHY: Products with mineral oil combined with petrolatum, lanolin and some vegetable oils can be sticky, greasy and build-up on the hair and clog the pores of the scalp. Therefore, they require a cleansing agents to remove.  

Want to learn more about mineral oil and how it stacks up against coconut oil? Find more information here:
NaturallyCurly.com: Using Mineral Oil for Hair
NaturallyCurly.com: Mineral Oil vs. Coconut Oil – Which is Better?

PETROLATUM: Petrolatum is used in products to seal in water, provide a barrier against heat and chemicals and add sheen to the hair. It is non-water soluble. Petrolatum is sticky, which can attract dust, dirt and lint from the environment. It can cause build-up on the hair and clog the pores of the scalp. Petrolatum is found in many traditional hair “greases.”

WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those who follow co-wash only/shampoo free regimens and those with scalp issues. WHY: Products with petrolatum, lanolin and some vegetable oils can be sticky, greasy and build-up on the hair and clog the pores of the scalp. Therefore, it requires a cleansing agent to remove.

PARABENS: Preservatives used to extend the shelf life of products by protecting against a wide range of microorganisms. The most common parabens found in cosmetic products are methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben. WHO NEEDS TO KNOW: Those who want to use all-natural and/or organic products exclusively. Those who want to avoid this preservative due to concerns about toxicity and studies that indicated that parabens disrupts hormones and were detected in breast tumors. WHY: Self-explanatory ;).

For more information about the FDA’s position on parabens and the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) assessment and recommendations, check out these articles:
FDA.gov/Product and Ingredients Safety: Parabens
EWG.com: Parabens and Skin Deep Database
SafeProducts.org: Parabens

And that’s it for the first edition of SKILLS NOTES, Product Ingredients!


So, how’d I do?? What ingredients would you add to the list of basics?


Hippity Hoppity Grease-ters on Its Way!


LOL!! Get it? Hippity Hoppity onto the bandwagon;)? Okay, this is just a quick post to tell you that I hit ShopRite on Monday to re-up on my Biotin and the vitamins happen to be in the same aisle as the “ethnic” hair care section. My sister had just tweeted me that morning with, “I twisted w/Blue Magic Coconut Oil Hair Conditioner aka grease. Hair is def soft. Petrolatum. Coconut Oil. Fragrance.” Now, I still couldn’t get down with blue colored grease (I later found that the “blue” is in name only;). But, I remembered months ago reading a hair icon story on BGLH about a woman with gorgeous hair who used hemp grease on her scalp and hair (despite digging for an hour or more yesterday for that story, I couldn’t find it!!). Back then, I was intrigued, but never got around to looking any further into this. However, I did find a post on CurlyNikki about Hemp Seed Oil that I remember reading back in May.

Also, if you remember, I also often refer people to this article on NaturallyCurly.com, Mineral Oil Versus Coconut Oil: Which is Better? This article helped inform my choice in using coconut oil as a pre-poo. However, if you’ve ever read it, it also talks about the superior performance of mineral oil over coconut oil as a clumping agent and as an anti-humectant due to its ability to maintain “capillary adhesion,” (i.e. it makes the hairs stay stuck to each other!). Coconut oil is able to do this initially, but because of its ability to penetrate into the cortex, which is a great benefit for pre-pooing and moisturizing, it does not remain on the surface of the hair. Therefore, the hair separates from the clumps and water from the air (aka humidity) is able to penetrate the cuticle, which can result in frizz and fly away hair.

You may have noticed, I’m not one to vilify too many practices or products. I just try to tell you about what works for me or things that I’ve learned via my research or just from first hand experience. So, some of you may remember that I used grease for years in my WnGs. I would mix it with gel to provide softness and “moisture,” while the gel provided hold. I now realize that the water and gel were my moisture and the grease was my sealant. Now, I was never a Dax, Ultra Sheen or Blue Magic type of gal. TCB was my lube of choice. I started with the regular kind, but it would leave Soul Glo halos on my leather car headrest that would collect dust and dirt! So, I had to make certain to wipe it down so I wasn’t re-depositing muck in my fresh hair!

Eventually I came upon TCB lite, which had an almost jelly like consistency and was a lot lighter.

And I used that for a while too, but it still had that slightly greasy residue that came off on my hands when I touched my hair and lingered on any place that I rested my head. Then, my youngest sister e-mails me about this new product line, Carol’s Daughter. It’s all natural and created/owned by an African-American woman. So, I hit the world-wide web and try to find out if there are any local retailers. This was in 2002 as those old pics that I shared with you here are from the same summer that I found CD’s Healthy Hair Butter, Mimosa Hair Honey and Tui Hair Smoothie at a small, independent Black-owned boutique in Montclair, NJ named, “Dem Two Hands.” I remember I tried the Mimosa Hair Honey/gel mix first. Although I loved the smell of the Hair Honey, it still left me with the same “grease” problem, oily residue. But it was great for my scalp. So then, I moved on to the Healthy Hair Butter. BINGO!! Now THIS was just what I’d been seeking … a product that provided moisture for my WnG without being heavy, greasy or leaving its “mark” on everything it touched, including my hands and collar! And that was that. So grease fell into my past many years ago. However, it was not because of the mineral oil, petrolatum debate … those were “happy” coincidences … I’d just found a replacement that did what I needed and did it better.

So back to ShopRite (Wow, I said this was going to be a short post [guess that’s just against my nature], but I sure took the long way around to get here, didn’t I?). As I was standing in that aisle, I saw Swiss Jardin Indian Hemp hair dress & conditioner … and decided to give in to my PJ ways and pick it up. The list of ingredients is rather long and I can’t find them online, so I’ll just tell you the first few: Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Lanolin, Coconut (Cocos Nucefera) Oil, Olive (Olea Europea) Oil, Fragrance, Apocynum Cannibinum Root Extract (Black Indian Hemp). It also has Nettle, Rosemary and Burdock extract. Not bad! The ingredients that I was seeking were definitely mineral oil and hemp and, so we were in business. I also remembered hemp based grease having the little flecks of “earth” in it and this product didn’t disappoint, though I doubt the “grit” is actual hemp! *lol*

Time to wrap this up. So, I tried a little of this last night on my edges before tying my hair down with a scarf. We’ll see if it will help keep my hairline relatively smooth. I definitely won’t be using this on a TnC, but may try a very little tiny bit on a four twist twist out some time soon. I’ll definitely keep you guys updated. For now, I just can’t wait to wash my hair as it’s hitting two weeks now. I’m going to be trying a new technique! It’s from Chicoro’s Grow It!, which I started reading over the weekend and I prepared my hair for the technique last night! I also made a style out of it, which tickles me pink! So, hopefully, I’ll be washing my hair tonight and I’ll have an update for you with my results in the next couple of days!


Confession time ladies!! Who out there has been contemplating getting some grease and/or has already bought some or dug it out from under the sink since Nikki, “came out?” If you have, which brand is your “poison” of choice? If you’ve tried it already, what’s the verdict?!

Mineral Oil v. Coconut Oil


Around this time last year, I watched a youtube video on CurlyNikki’s site about pre-poos with coconut oil. The YouTuber mentioned that coconut oil is the only oil with molecules small enough that it can actually penetrate the hair shaft and enter the cortex. She then indicated that this unique ability of coconut oil enables it to prevent hygral fatigue. Hygral fatigue? What is that you ask? Well I did too. In my search for more answers, I found the information below in an article on NaturallyCurly.com.  It not only explained the benefits of coconut oil, but dispells the misconception that mineral oil has absolutely no benefits and is all bad.


Coconut oil and improved resistance to wash-wear

The presence of coconut oil inside the cortex of hair provides multiple benefits. It acts as a plasticizer to soften the hair and provide more flexibility and toughness. Coconut oil also increases retention of keratin molecules within the hair shaft, which reduces protein erosion that normally occurs during wash cycles. Continuous loss of protein over time from routine washing damages hair and can result in color fading, split ends, and breakage, so anything that can moderate this phenomenon is beneficial.

An additional advantage to coconut oil inside the hair shaft is that it decreases the amount of swelling of the hair shaft that normally occurs when immersed in water. Normally, when hair is saturated with water during the washing process, it absorbs up to 30% or more of its weight in water. This causes each strand to swell considerably, which can lead to several undesirable effects. Increasing the diameter of the hair shaft causes the outer covering of cuticle scales to lift and separate, which increases tangling and breakage. But, perhaps more subtle, is the damage done over time from many cycles of expansion and contraction.

Hair is a highly complex biomaterial composed of layers of differing materials, ranging from varying types of keratin structures to pigment molecules to fatty acids. When it is saturated with water and swells and then subsequently dries via natural or thermal means, it undergoes what is known as differential drying and differential deformation (because each separate type of molecule within the overall structure dries and deforms at differing rates). This leads to moisture-induced stress on the hair, which can lead to delamination (cuticle layer stripping off), breakage, fiber fatigue, and rupture (split ends). This whole phenomenon is referred to as hygral fatigue. So, anything that reduces hygral fatigue is great for the health of your hair in the long term.


As I often see people asking about the benefits of coconut oil, pre-poos and swearing off mineral oil as the devil, I thought this would be a good article to share. It lead to the addition of pre-poos, coconut oil and/or Vatika oil to my regimen. One caveat, I don’t like coconut oil as a sealer because it makes my hair feels like straw the following day (I use JBCO to seal; LOVES it!!). But coconut oil as a pre-poo and/or added to my deep conditioner is *mwah mwah*!!!


Later Today:
Senegalese Twists/Twist Out (Two-in-One!)
Question of the Day