Growing up as a black kid, so many of our parents used grease on our hair. Yes that good ol Petroleum magic- whether we used Dax, Blue Magic or Royal Crown, grease was a staple in most black homes. Recently a new trend has begun with many naturals returning to using hair grease on their hair and scalp. But Is grease safe to use? Let’s examine the ingredients in most grease and some tips if we are using grease in our hair regimen.
What’s in Grease?
One of the major ingredients in grease today is Petrolatum or Mineral Oil. Petrolatum is a byproduct of refined petroleum. Petrolatum softens upon application and forms a water-repellant film around the applied area, creating an effective barrier against the evaporation of the skin’s natural moisture and foreign particles or microorganisms that may cause infection. Petrolatum is odorless and colorless, and it has a long shelf life. These qualities make petrolatum a popular ingredient in skincare products and cosmetics.
So if Petrolatum is a great sealant, why does it have a bad rap? Well Petroleum in the United States is often not fully refined , which means it can be contaminated with toxic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are carcinogenic or cancer causing. The US sets no requirements on refinement and the PAH content in the petrolatum used in personal care products. However, the EU mandates that for cosmetic use, the full refining history of the petrolatum must be known and proven to be non-carcinogenic.
Grease for Your Scalp
The danger in using grease doesn’t lie so much in using the it on your hair but what it does on your scalp. We said that the ingredients in grease – mineral oil, petrolatum – create a moisture barrier. The scalp and hair follicle is the only part of our hair that is alive and suffocating or clogging the pores with petrolatum can prevent the scalp from breathing resulting in slower hair growth.
Grease as a Sealant
Properly moisturize your hair first using water, leave in or cream followed by the grease as a sealant. If you prefer the LCO or LOC method, always use the grease as the final sealant in this process, coating only the hair strands and avoiding the scalp.
Dont overdo it- grease can easily spread and weigh down your hair. Use a small amount and see how your hair responds.
Shampoo- In order for you to re-moisturize your hair again and break petrolatum’s protective barrier, a sulfate or clarifying shampoo must be used regularly. This is not the time for cowashing, many naturals find they must wash their hair twice a week in order to remove the grease from their hair.
Hear my thoughts on whether I will be including grease in my regimen.