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When it comes to curly hair, oils are a girl's best friend. Almost every single complaint you have about your curls can be resolved with the right oil. And, we mean every single one, from frizz to lack of shine, brittle hair, and even split ends.
Curly hair is less hydrated than straight hair, and it's this lack of hydration that causes frizz, making hair look dull (read: no shine). Not enough hydration also triggers brittle hair, which leads to more split ends. All of this is caused by your curl pattern, not a natural inclination that you have for drier hair. The oils produced on your scalp — a.k.a. sebum — are what hydrate hair, adding shine, decreasing frizz, and giving it strength.
For those with straight hair, those oils slip down the shaft rather easily — brushes help, too, pulling oils from the scalp down and distributing them throughout the hair. Since brushes are taboo in the curly hair community and it is more difficult for oils to slide down a spiral or coil, curly hair textures are drier than straight versions.
But, you don't need a brush or even your natural oils to get a shiny, frizz-free style. All you need is the right hair oil.
"Oils are a wonderful way to moisturize the hair," says Sarah Stevens, a curly-hair vlogger for WaterLily716. "And, they are totally natural. Most pure oils are easy to remove from the hair and they don't contain synthetic ingredients."
When deciding what type of oil is best for your hair, first consider what end results you are looking for. There are two main types of oils: sealing and moisturizing. Sealing oils, like jojoba oil seal in moisture, meaning that you'll need to apply water or conditioner to your hair beforehand for them to really work. Moisturizing oils, like coconut, olive, or avocado are heavier than sealing oils and can be used alone to moisturize the hair.
Finally, it isn't only which type of oil you use, it's also how you use it. Sealing and moisturizing oils are meant to be used at different times — one after a shower, for instance, and the other during a deep-conditioning treatment — and each applied in different ways. You can use an oil to hydrate your scalp, encourage hair growth via massaging, reduce split ends, add in your conditioner, apply a heat treatment (with a heavier oil) — the options go on and on.
In general, though, most women with curly hair use multiple types of oils to perfect their style and to address their individual needs. Ahead, we've identified three of the most common natural oils, plus tips on how to use them. Read on to find your hair-oil soulmate.
Photographed by Ryan Koopmans