The Benefits of A Long-lived Hair Staple
The memories of sitting in between my mother’s legs with a jar of thick blue gunk come to mind when I think of hair grease.
And who could forget the little pink bottle of Luster’s Pink Hair Lotion? It did not matter if my hair was relaxed, natural, preparing for braids, or because it was the day before school, I could always count on a saturated scalp with grease or lotion.
Even as I made the transition to embrace my natural hair during my junior year of college, I relied on ole reliable hair grease until I learned and could afford the best natural hair products. With the rise of the natural hair movement and a generation that has become the most health conscious, hair grease and lotion do not seem to hold their weight in our haircare regimes as they once had.
Unnatural, unhealthy and just plain wrong have dawned the reputation of once staple items. But is hair grease and lotion terrible products doomed to exile from our hair arsenals forever? Or are there still some truth to the benefits and even nostalgia that comes along when someone mentions “greasing their scalp?”
There are tons of misconceptions about hair grease and hair lotion that also surprised me to find out!
Greasy Fun Fact!
Did you know how hair grease even began to become a favorite staple?
I honestly never recall my mother purchasing hair grease, it always seemed to be readily available in our home. Hair grease entered our homes (as a culture) long before my shiny pigtails. For African Americans, this tradition began on African shores.
At the time and in our native land, the herbs, oils, and tools were accessible to us for taking care and beautifying our hair. However, during slavery, African slaves had to get creative with hair care products. African Americans used anything from petroleum jelly to baking grease to ease scalps and prevent lice and other vermins.
After years of this method, Madam C. J. Walker improves this formula with her Wonderful Hair Grower pomade. Shortly after her product made her the first self-made African-American female millionaire, other products soon followed suits such as Murray’s Hair Pomade and Blue Magic.
With a product that has been able to stand the test of time and hair trends, there are pros (and of course cons) to adding this product to your hair routine.
Here are five misconceptions about hair grease and hair lotion you might be surprised to know:
Hair Grease Helps Grow My Hair
Hair grease in and of itself does not have any nutrients to provide for your hair to stimulate growth; therefore, it is probably not the hair grease that is helping your hair grow.
This misconception is rooted in the belief that hair grease provides hair with the needed moisture to grow hair. The main ingredient in hair grease is petroleum oil or mineral oil, which is a sub-product of cleaned petroleum (like what is used to make the gas for your car).
Although it provides shine, it does not have moisture elements or nutrition that your hair and scalp need. However, hair grease, in moderation, can be used as a sealant after you have thoroughly moisturized your scalp and strands. Hair grease acts as a barrier to the elements and keeps water inside strands.
If you are ever in a bind and do not have your trusty coconut oil on hand, a small amount of hair grease is a great replacement.
Hair Grease Is Beneficial For My Scalp
Although the history of hair grease seems to warrant it the benefits of helping our scalp, it does the opposite.
Remember that African Americans, during slavery, used hair grease to prevent fleas, lice and other insects from being in their hair. Therefore, hair grease creates a thick barrier for your scalp and the outside world.
The issue is that our scalp needs to breathe to stimulate hair growth and prevent product buildup. Hair grease enables product buildup, which causes your scalp’s health to deteriorate. Besides, your scalp produces sebum (or natural oils), which helps moisturize your scalp naturally. Today, we use serums and natural oils to stimulate our scalp.
Hair grease can have other benefits, but slathering it on your scalp helps no one.
Hair Lotion Is Great Before Heat Styling
If I could holler through the screen, I would. No! Don’t do it, sis!
It is a misconception that hair lotion adds can act as a heat protectant for your strands when heat styling. This is not true. Hair lotion is too thick to use before heat styling and would dramatically weigh your hair down with the product.
Additionally, the moisturizing agents in a typical hair lotion do not repel heat damage caused by your styling tools. Adding a small amount of hair lotion to your damp hair during your moisturizing routine can help to hydrate your hair before using heat styling tools.
However, it is always better to use a protect designed explicitly as a heat protectant to ensure the safety of your hair when you are switching up your style.
Hair Lotion Is Great For Styling
There are plenty of ingredients in hair lotions that can contribute to the shine of your hair.
However, hair lotions can affect the style and volume of your hair. A small amount of hair lotion can not only add shine to your hair but also tame frizziness and flyaways. Hair lotions are cream-based and add moisture.
Although these products are great for some styles, hair lotions lack the alcohol-based ingredients to hold a style in place. Hair lotions would work better for defined styles like curls and braid outs. This product will not be your go-to if you are trying to achieve significant volume as hair lotion tends to weigh down the strands, especially with those that have fine hair.
There are some that love their hair lotions and the formulas have come a long way since that familiar pink bottle. But use it liberally to achieve a great look without the seemingly drenched hair look.
Hair Grease or Hair Lotion Bad For My Hair
As we have seen, hair grease is not all bad for your hair.
I would go as far as saying that are no good or bad haircare products, but it is about finding the products and methods that work best for your hair. Yes, the technique of slathering hair grease onto your scalp is not beneficial to your hair follicles or your scalp.
But hair grease can be used to seal in moisture on your strands instead. Today’s newer iteration of hair grease is promptly called pomade that has come a long way from petroleum jelly mixed with fragrance. Pomades have natural oils, extracts, and nutrients that can add strength and nourishment to your strands.
Hair lotion also is not a bad product. Hair lotions help to hydrate hair and add definition to your curly, wavy or set styles. Everything good is okay in moderation. Again, our hair lotions today are not the same from when our mothers were growing up. There is plenty of variation to meet the needs of every hair type and hair texture.
Do not be afraid to try a new product, especially an oldie but a goodie.
If you were to ask me, I think that hair grease and lotion will continue to be staples in the African American households.
The formulas will continue to improve and embody the healthy standards demanded our beautiful tresses. Again, hair grease and hair lotion are not bad products, but we can alter our traditional use of them now that we have access to more knowledge about hair and plenty of PLE articles to read.
What are the names of the hair grease and hair lotion products that were in your home? Were these products staples? Share your thoughts on the misconceptions of hair grease and hair lotion in the comments section below.
I’d love for us to continue the conversation.