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      Everyone Else's Hair is growing...Are Hair Grease, Pomades the reason yours is not?

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      Everyone Else's Hair is growing...Are Hair Grease, Pomades the reason yours is not?

      Hair Grease on Your Natural Hair: Problem or Benefit?

      "Sit here." "Be still." "Stop pulling your head." "Turn around." Pop! goes the comb; Spank! goes the brush. Yes, you guessed it - this was my traumatic weekly hair combing routine as a child. No, I did not get my hair combed daily, and for good reason as you'll soon understand.

      As a young girl, my hair was exceptionally thick, very soft, and intensely curly. My grandmother lovingly described it as "tender headed." Because of the density, texture, and curl pattern, detangling my hair was an arduous process that my mother and I approached with dread every weekend.

      As soon as the comb and brush made first contact, I would erupt into tears. My mother would then spend the next agonizing minutes pulling, tugging, and yanking while I twisted, turned, jumped, twitched, and jerked in an effort to minimize the pain. It was all-out war - my hair versus the comb!

      To limit these battles, my mother only combed my hair once a week and washed it about once a month. After each wash, she greased my scalp thickly with hair grease. But what did she do during the week to maintain and refresh my hair when it wasn't being fully detangled? The answer: more grease and water!

      My Hair Looked As If It Was Never Combed

      My mother would liberally apply grease and water to my hair in between washes to get the look she wanted - soft, perfectly defined curls and waves that appeared freshly styled. However, no sooner than she finished combing, my resistant locks would revert and mat into knots overnight.

      By the next day, it looked as though my hair had never seen a comb or brush! To tame my defiant tresses, my mother would friction small amounts of grease and water into my hair daily, and I'd sleep with a nylon stocking cap on my head to set the style. Hair grease or some of call it hair pomade and water was our steady routine all week long until the next full wash day arrived.

      I loved this low-maintenance grease and water regimen. It required very little manipulation, kept my hair soft and moisturized, and amplified my natural curl pattern beautifully. As a child, it was a dream - no painful tugging required! But years later I had to wonder - is this constant greasing actually good for black hair and scalps?

      The Benefits and Purpose of Natural Oils

      Now as a natural hair care professional, I understand that black hair inherently needs generous amounts of moisture and oil to stay lubricated and healthy. Our scalps naturally produce an oil called sebum, critical for keeping thick, coiled hair strands from becoming dry and brittle.

      Sebum moisturizes our hair from root to tip, creates the ideal environment for hair growth, and prevents itchy, irritated scalps. However, many black women inadvertently disrupt the production of sebum by using hair care practices that strip the scalp of these beneficial oils. This is according to black hair expert Dr. Ayesha Malik.

      "The Science of Black Hair," many women end up increasing sebum-depleting activities while decreasing moisture-boosting ones. Over washing, over manipulating hair, heat styling excessively, chemical relaxing, coloring, and using products with harsh detergents or alcohols strip away the scalp's natural lubricants faster than the body can reproduce it.

      If sebum oil is not replenished consistently, it leaves hair extremely parched and vulnerable to damage such as thinning, shedding, and breakage. For those with chronically dehydrated strands, friction from brushing and combing feels unbearable. Thus, adding supplemental oils is critical for ensuring adequate moisture.

      The Problem With Petroleum-Based Greases

      So while oils undoubtedly help hydrate and condition black locks, not all oils are created equal. Growing up, the grease my mom reached for again and again contained petroleum and mineral oil - common ingredients found in many mass-marketed hair greases today.

      While petroleum-based greases feel ultra-moisturizing initially, they can wreak havoc on hair and scalp health over time. Why? Because petroleum and mineral oils are occlusive, meaning they create a suffocating film that blocks moisture from entering or exiting hair strands and follicles.

      Repeated applications essentially trap dirt and bacteria against the scalp and seal the hair cuticle completely to keep water out. This not only clogs hair follicles and pores to inhibit growth, but also prevents the scalp's natural sebum production. Strands become brittle and begin breaking as their protective lipid layer is stripped away.

      Additionally, common grease ingredients like mineral oil require strong detergents like sulfates to dissolve and remove. So grease encourages more frequent shampooing which depletes moisture further. Ultimately, while petroleum greases make the hair look and feel softened temporarily, long term dependency ultimately accelerates damage.

      Healthier, More Hydrating Alternatives

      For those trying to revive and grow out their natural hair texture, regular petroleum grease use is counterproductive. While water and oil are fundamental to hydrating black hair, consider using all-natural, non-comedogenic oils instead.

      Look for product formulas made with lightweight plant oils like grapeseed, jojoba, avocado, sweet almond, or coconut oil. These options sink in readily to nourish hair on a cellular level without blocking follicles, pores, or moisture absorption. Always do a patch test before applying any new product if you have sensitive skin.

      Additionally, be mindful not to overload your hair with any oil, even natural ones. Excessive product build-up can still smother strands and prohibit moisture circulation. Focus on maintaining a balanced regimen instead - gently shampoo and condition hair weekly focusing just on the scalp, then loosely style hair applying leave-in creams and botanical oils in moderation.

      Your goal is to keep each hair strand supple and hydrated day-to-day, not product-coated and weighted down unnecessarily. Think of oils as sealants to lock in the hydration water-based products supply. With this approach, your hair will feel touchably soft while retaining healthy moisture levels overall.

      Petroleum Free All Natural Hair Grease

       

       Hair Grease on Your Natural Hair: Problem or Benefit?

      Pomades have been used for ages to style and groom hair. The word "pomade" comes from the French word "pommade" meaning "ointment or balm".

      1. Ancient Origins: The concept of pomade can be traced back to ancient times. The ancient Egyptians, for instance, used a substance similar to pomade made from animal fats and other ingredients to style their hair and wigs. This practice was not only about appearance but also about hygiene and protection from the harsh sun.

      2. Middle Ages and Renaissance: In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, pomade-like substances continued to be used in Europe. These were typically made from bear fat or lard. The purpose was to keep hair in place, make it shinier, and sometimes to mask the smell of unwashed hair, as frequent washing was not a common practice.

      For African Americans, using grease and oils for haircare can be traced back centuries to traditions in Africa. Long before modern pomades, natural butters and botanical oils were used by tribespeople to nourish, style, and signify one's marital status. Products likeshea butter, palm oil, and castor oil protected hair from dryness and damage under the hot African sun.

      One oil hailed for its exceptional hair repair benefits was chebe powder made from the nuts of chebe plants. Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and proteins, chebe oil was revered for reversing breakage and stimulating quicker growth. Today, many natural hair greases and pomades incorporate chebe as the star ingredient to heal overprocessed hair.

      MyHair Looked As If It Was Never Combed

      As a young girl in the late 90s, the hair grease my mom reached for was Dark & Lovely's Ultra Sheen grease - a mass market product found in most drugstores then. With mineral oil as its base, this petroleum-based formula defined curls temporarily but couldn't nourish my dense strands long term. My hair's moisture needs weren't fully met.

      The Benefits and Purpose of Natural Oils

      Decades later, pomades and greases containing natural oils like chebe, coconut, shea, and jojoba better cater to my 3b/3c curly hair texture. These alternatives don't interfere with my scalp and strands' moisture absorption. When shopping, I look for pomades clearly labeled "no mineral oil” to keep my spirals touchably soft and strong week-to-week.

      Healthier, More Hydrating Alternatives

      While oils undoubtedly help hydrate and condition black locks, not all oils are created equal. Focus on pomades with lightweight plant oils like grapeseed, jojoba, avocado, sweet almond, or coconut oil over traditional petroleum grease. These penetrate easily to nourish hair without blocking follicles, pores, or moisture circulation as pomades for long, curly hair.

       Hair Grease Making a Comeback!

      In Summary

      If your priority is simply amplifying and setting your curls weekly like my childhood regimen, traditional petroleum hair grease remains an accessible option. But proceed mindfully, doing occasional clarifying washes to prevent excessive product buildup.

      However, if your goal is to nurture hair growth by maintaining scalp health and hydration, ditch the traditional grease for natural oil alternatives. When used judiciously as finishing sealants, plant-based oils enhance softness, definition and moisture absorption without compromising follicles. Consult a certified trichologist or natural hair stylist for personalized product recommendations.

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