Like my simpler one-ingredient conditioner, this hair treatment can be applied to both your hair and scalp. This leave-in hair oil will condition and improve the appearance of your hair and promote healthy, new hair growth. Although optional, the addition of salicylic acid maintains a healthy scalp by exfoliating dead skin cells and treating dandruff.
Technically, you can substitute any carrier oils in this recipe. However, there are good reasons that I insist on castor oil and coconut oil for this hair treatment. Coconut oil is the most effective at penetrating the hair shaft to condition your hair from the inside. Fractionated coconut oil is liquid at room temperature, which makes it easier to apply directly on the scalp. You may use solid coconut oil instead of fractionated coconut oil, but your product will have a thicker texture and may not work in a bottle.
Unfortunately, there is no equivalent substitute for salicylic acid for this recipe – just exclude it and replace with more coconut oil. Natural vitamin E oil is only included to extend the shelf life of this product by protecting the plant oils from oxidation. You can exclude it and replace with more fractionated coconut oil instead.
If you can only afford one essential oil, then I would recommend lemongrass for dandruff; peppermint for soothing itchy scalp and balancing oil production (i.e. oily hair); and rosemary for the widest range of hair benefits (i.e. overall hair health).
Cost & Shelf Life
Cost Price: R57 per 100g using my exact recipe without substitutions. R50 per 100g when you exclude vitamin E and salicylic acid.
(Costs accurate at the time of writing in 2023 and based on retail prices)
Lasted me about: 1 month using about 2 tablespoons every week – I have long hair.
Estimated shelf life: 1 year if stored away from direct sunlight and moisture.
- It’s Oily: If this is your first time applying oil to your hair, you may find it messier than a leave-in conditioner.
- Waiting: For best results you should leave the treatment in your hair for as long as possible. I usually leave it in all day on the weekend, but you should try for at least 30 minutes before you wash it out.
- Shampoo Twice: Most hair types will find that they need to shampoo twice in order for their hair to feel cleaned properly.
Cherry on Top
- Preservative Free.
- Plant-based and vegan-friendly.
- Cheaper than buying (compared to most natural products I’ve seen).
- Easy enough for beginners to make.
- Curly girl approved ingredients.
- Castor Oil: is rich in ricinoleic acid which has anti-inflammatory properties that support skin healing, and one study suggests that ricinoleic acid may help prevent hair loss. Castor oil’s anti-fungal properties help reduce harmful fungus on the scalp. Castor oil adds shine and by coating the outside of the hair shaft, it protects the hair from split ends and breakage. (Buy here).
- Fractionated Coconut Oil: is also known as MCT oil (which stands for medium chain triglycerides) and is a type of coconut oil that remains liquid at room temperature. Solid coconut oil has the same properties. Coconut oil is able to penetrate the hair shaft to treat dry and damaged hair from the inside. This penetration improves hair flexibility, prevents over-hydration and breakage, and reduces protein loss remarkably when used as a pre-wash product. (buy here)
- Rosemary essential oil: stimulates blood supply to the hair follicles, which promotes healthy hair growth. It helps eliminate microbial activity which is often a cause of hair problems. Its anti-fungal properties help treat/prevent dandruff. (Buy here)
- Lemongrass essential oil: has been researched and shown to be effective against malassezia, the fungus attributed to some dandruff cases, and as surpassing the effectiveness of other essential oils in some studies. (Buy here)
- Peppermint essential oil: Relieves the scalp of irritation, stimulates hair growth and helps control excess oil. (Buy here)
- Natural Vitamin E oil: is a natural antioxidant that will extend the shelf life of the oils in this recipe by slowing down their oxidation. (Buy here)
- Salicylic Acid: is a beta hydroxy acid that exfoliates the skin and prevents clogged hair follicles and pores, which can hinder healthy hair growth and cause breakouts. It is commonly used in anti-dandruff shampoos and anti-acne products. (buy here)
Important note: Castor oil is not safe for pregnant women. Speak to your doctor before applying it topically.
Need help finding these, or other ingredients? My shopping guide may help you.
Recommended Retail Options
If you prefer to buy a ready-made product, then you can buy Black African Organics Hair Growth Serum, which is the closest retail equivalent to my recipe. Their product also uses castor oil and fractionated coconut oil as the primary oil blend (with some other oils too). It also contains vitamin E and their essential oil of choice is tea tree.
Have you noticed a difference in your hair since using this oil treatment? If you’ve tried it, please share your feedback in the comments below.