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Hair Oils for Curly, Kinky, and Coily Hair

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

If you have textured hair, oils are a must. In addition to imparting shine, they’re key when it comes to moisturizing, conditioning, and reducing (or, when they’re really good, even eliminating) frizz. “Oils are definitely our best friend,” says celebrity hairstylist Ursula Stephen, who particularly likes avocado, almond, coconut, and jojoba oils (the latter, she says, because it’s so similar to the natural sebum actual hair produces, and works well on coarse hair, fine hair, and hair that falls somewhere in between). We talked to Stephen and eight other hairstylists and beauty editors about their favorite oils for curly, kinky, and coily hair — and many included the products they themselves use.

Best Pretreatment Oil

Akili King, beauty assistant at Vogue, recommends Bomba Curls Dominican Forbidden Oil as a pre-shampoo treatment to help detangle hair before washing, noting its thicker, but still nonsticky, consistency. “I saturate my scalp and strands and let it sit while I’m doing chores around the apartment, or keep it in overnight, then wash it out the next day,” she says. “I like that it protects my hair from shampoos, which often strip your hair’s natural moisture.”

Best Oil for Hair Growth and Repair

ishonest No.501 - Frizzy Hair

No.501 - Frizzy Hair

Nigella Miller, owner of Nigella Hair Studio, likes Eden BodyWorks Peppermint- Tea-Tree Hair Oil for its ability to decrease dandruff (that’s thanks to the combination of peppermint- and tea-tree oils) and deeply moisturize and condition (via the coconut oil). “I love to use it on my clients to make sure their scalps are getting the nutrients they need,” says Miller.

L.A.-based celebrity stylist Angela C. Styles likes to use natural-oil blends on curly textures. Her absolute favorite, for its versatility, is jojoba (it works well on a variety of different hair types and textures). Cantu Beauty’s Tea Tree & Jojoba Hair & Scalp Oil is her favorite product for repairing and preventing damage. “It combines several of my favorite oils — namely, jojoba and tea tree,” she says, “and helps prevent breakage, encourages hair growth, promotes healthy, shiny hair, and conditions the scalp.”

When Elle beauty director Chloe Hall was looking to transition back to her natural texture, she relied heavily on Carol’s Daughter Monoi-Oil Sacred Strengthening Serum to keep her hair strong: “This was the first product I grabbed,” she says. “The monoi oil is extremely nourishing on my scalp, and it did an exceptional job repairing my damaged strands.”

Best Oil That Doubles As Heat Protectant

A heat protectant is essential for ensuring curly hair bounces back to its natural state, whether you’re stretching it on low heat or taking it from coily to straight. Miller recommends using Cantu Thermal Shield Heat Protectant for this, an oil-based formula that spritzes out in a thin mist. “It behaves like a water-based product,” she says, “but it’s very lightweight, so the hair can suck it right up.”

Best Versatile Oil

For strong and hydrated hair

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It’s not uncommon to use different oils depending on your hair’s state (ultra lightweight when straight, something heavier for a protective style or wash- and-go), but this editor-favorite works well across the board. Maya Allen, Marie Claire beauty editor, says it “changed the game” for her, and helps to define and nourish her 4C curls. Newby likes to use it to take down a completely dry flexi-rod set, noting that it locks in moisture, smells amazing, and controls frizz.

If you’re on the market for an oil with an in-between consistency (ideal if you have a coarser texture but don’t want to weigh your hair down), Love Beauty and Planet Rose & Almond Natural-Oils Infusion is a favorite of Stephen’s, who likes its versatility (it can be used on hair in any state) and penetrating, nourishing properties.

Best Oil for Locs

People with locs can use any of the oils mentioned when prepping hair for styling or regular maintenance, but Miller says Mane Choice Exotic Cool Laid Mellow Melon & Nectarine Melted Shine Oil is the best option for use during the final step when completing a style. The nectarine and melon enhance hair’s natural shine, and the rosemary- and tea-tree oil encourage a healthy, flake- free scalp.

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