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Reader Q&A: CurlyNikki on the Best Oils for Natural Hair

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Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you're in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums! Submit your questions by tweeting them to @EssenceOnline with the hashtag #AskCurlyNikki.

Check out the newest installment in CurlyNikki's reader Q&A series:

READER QUESTION: I see a million oils floating around on the hair boards and don’t know which to try first. What’s your favorite oil Nikki?

May I share two? I’m in love with Argan oil and Castor oil. I've used them together, alone, as a pre-poo, for warm oil treatments, as a leave-in on wet hair to seal, on my dry ends and length, even as a styler... all with great success. For the most part, an oil, is an oil, is an oil. But for me and my finicky hair, these two were truly a cut above the rest.

Argan oil has been all the rage as of late, and I must say... I get it. Argan oil leaves my hair, even the rough old ends, (uncharacteristically silky) smooth, soft and strong. It cuts my frizz tremendously and provides intense shine. I never get the 'crunch factor' like I do with coconut oil, and it seems to help keep my hair stretched, while oils like jojoba curl it back up. According to Curl Chemist Tonya Mckay, “…when Argan oil is incorporated into a hair conditioner or styling product, the monounsaturated fatty acid component (oleic) and the medium chain saturated fatty acids are able to penetrate the cuticle, which helps increase the suppleness and elasticity of the hair. The polyunsaturated fatty acid remains on the surface of the hair, where it is able to provide emollience and softness.”

Argan oil is expensive as hell because of difficult production, but I honestly feel, especially with its ability to penetrate the cuticle, that it's worth the splurge. Plus, cutting it with other oils will help it stretch! Which brings me to my other boo, Castor oil.

Castor oil is an excellent emollient and humectant for hair. It’s often used (with anecdotal evidence) as a treatment for thinning hair and prevents dry scalp. Also, its antifungal properties help you maintain a healthy scalp. With continued and frequent use, Castor oil has left me with thicker looking, soft, shiny dark hair. It's a bit too thick to be used alone, but cut with another oil, it can do some amazing things!

My Holy Grail mix includes both Argan and Castor oil. To create the mix, I secure a cheap, plastic, color applicator bottle from Sally’s Beauty Supply and score the oils from Whole Foods. I’m no mixtress, so please excuse my informal measurements! I pour in the castor oil and then slowly mix in the argan oil until it reaches the consistency of a hair serum (not too thick, not too runny). It usually ends up being 1:1. That’s it! I use this mix for everything, even a little on my skin from time to time. Also, the small applicator tip is great if you want to apply the oil directly to your scalp for a growth stimulating massage! As always, remember that every hair product and technique is not for every curly. You won’t know what works for you until you try it! Hopefully my mix will give you a solid starting point and you can branch out from there!

Nikki "CurlyNikki" Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural haircare, maintenance, and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. Visit her at her blog CurlyNikki or follow her on Twitter @CurlyNikki.

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