When you’re getting your hair braided, scalp grease feels like heaven. Unfortunately, most grease can actually be doing more harm than good.

“Greasing the scalp clogs hair follicles because they aren’t getting enough oxygen, and they literally cannot push past the heaviness of the product to encourage growth,” senior brand marketing manager at Mayvenn Hair, Brittany Johnson, told 21Ninety. “[The scalp] can get clogged, just like the pores on our face.” 

So, next time you hop in the salon chair – or sit on your cousin’s floor – try a scalp oil or serum instead. But, make sure to heed Johnson’s warning. The marketing manager said, “just like with any product, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s directions and cleanse your scalp often so that you can [avoid] product buildup.”

How does hair grease clog hair follicles?

“Some hair greases contain petroleum jelly and others use beeswax. Both of these substances can enter into the hair follicles and clog them, causing slow growth,” cosmetologist, and beauty consultant for The Right Hairstyles, Ghanima Abdullah told 21Ninety. “If these are used on the scalp over a long period of time, they can also contribute to hair loss.”

The cosmetologist noted that while making the parts in the hair with a braid gel can give a very neat appearance, it can seriously damage the hair follicles.

“Braid gels are made with a high percentage of plastifying ingredients like copolymers,” Abdullah said. “These are more dangerous to the hair follicles than hair greases because they clog the follicles more easily and cause hair loss quicker.”

Grease vs. Oil: Which one is better for your scalp?

According to Abdullah, oil is a much better substitute for hair grease.

“It’s even better if the oil contains ingredients with hair growth properties to counter the damage that can be caused to the scalp from tight pulling,” the beauty consultant exclaimed. 

Johnson explained that an additional benefit of using an oil or serum is that you can still get the same feeling of scalp relief, without the clogged follicles. 

Between the two experts, oils like jojoba, rosemary, castor, argan, rosemary, lavender, and peppermint are recommended for the scalp. They can all moisturize and/or stimulate the scalp without clogging your hair follicles.

Girl+Hair RESTORE+ Hair Treatment Balm

Girl+Hair RESTORE+ Hair Treatment Balm is one of Johnson’s favorite products. “The Daily Hair Balm is everything and my go-to after a braids appointment, or any time I want a soothing scalp massage.” 

It’s a 3.4-ounce bottle that comes with a nozzle that makes it easy to apply. Infused with shea butter, castor oil, sunflower oil, and olive oil it will keep your scalp happily moisturized.

Donna’s Recipe Sweet Potato Pie Hair & Scalp Oil

Donna’s Recipe Sweet Potato Pie Hair & Scalp Oil is a whipped product that moisturizes the hair and scalp. Its formula contains expert recommended ingredients like castor and rosemary oil. Plus, you can use it on your hair when it’s out of a protective style, too. 

Sunny Isle Jamaican Black Castor Oil Pure Butter With Lavender

“One oil that’s very similar in texture to hair grease is Sunny Isle Jamaican Black Castor Oil Pure Butter With Lavender,” Abdullah said. The beauty expert explained that its simple ingredient list of castor oil and lavender oil make it a great option to use in place of your other grease. “It’s excellent for hair growth and for strengthening the scalp,” the cosmetologist explained.

PATTERN by Tracee Ellis Ross Jojoba Hair & Scalp Oil Blend

The PATTERN by Tracee Ellis Ross Jojoba Hair & Scalp Oil Blend is a lightweight customer favorite that highlights the expert recommended ingredient of jojoba oil. It moisturized the hair and scalp without any stickiness. So, you can use it while getting your hair installed or for daily maintenance.

SUNDAY II SUNDAY Hair Flourish Biotin Infused Scalp Serum

SUNDAY II SUNDAY’s Hair Flourish Biotin Infused Scalp Serum is another Johnson favorite. “It works well for providing relief and leaves a cool feeling because of its peppermint oil formulation,” the marketing manager stated. Along with its relieving benefits, this lightweight serum has biotin which strengthens your natural hair while the remainder of the serum moisturizes your hair.

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