5 February 2011

The Buzz about petroleum and mineral oil...Take 1

So, one thing for sure is that whether your hair is loc'd or naturally kinky and healthy I believe we need to moisturize it. Otherwise my hair becomes dull and brittle.   Let me add my-

DISCLAIMER: I'm not some authority so please, don't quote me. 

I do have questions though and one such relates to the use of petrolatum and mineral oil in our daily hairdress conditioners. I am more aware now that my hair is natural and going thru the process of locking of some of these concerns. So, I spend more time now reading hair product labels! 

The resounding result though is: Stick to products which contain as many natural and essential oils as much as you can. I have realised that from talking to my friends and from just reading up on the net. And, it is one thing my loctitian did let me know when I first began. 

But why not do the heavy greases like we did when we were growing up?  Simple: 'cos we know a bit better now and I'm not knocking anyone's products, we are all free to choose. 

IN LAYMAN'S TERMS: Petroleum is a substance used widely in the cosmetics industry, made for our skin and included in some hair greases, pomades and daily conditioning hairdress. It is a lubricant. Mineral oil is a derivative of petroleum and is also a lubricant.  

 According to various sources, petroleum is meant to add shine to dry, brittle hair. It acts as a kinda 'film' on the hair and even on the scalp, stopping any real nutrients or oils from moisturizing the area.  Mineral oil in our hair greases or daily hairdress also works against us in that it coats the hair and once again, acts as a 'film'. This prevents any moisture from reaching the hair shaft. So, our hair cannot breathe. :(

So we will add shine, but we get no real moisture. 

I know that at times it might be unavoidable but I have endeavored to limit the number of products that contain mineral oil. Even in my Jamaican Mango and Lime (JML) Shea Butter Conditioning Shine there is Shea butter (how much I don't know), Olive oil, Grapeseed oil, Vitamin E (derived from natural sources or other industrial stuff, I don't know) and, yes...you guessed it...Petroleum and Mineral oil! {Just tossed that!}.

And of course, we have mentioned nothing about the -parabens and tocopheryl which can aggravate skin rashes or dry, flaking scalp. Gessh! What can of worms have I opened?!

So, at least we are informed. For sure I'll do what I can to limit any such elements but it is not always possible; especially given our market size here in Barbados. We do not retail alot of the really natural products that are available in the US or even European markets. For example: Jane Carter Solution, Koils by Nature, Miss Jessie's, Oyin Handmade and other products in that line. Many persons will simply purchase them online which is a good option. I know of others still who blend heir own solutions using the Essential oils found in many of the products to ease itching and dryness of scalp; for moisturizing  & growth  and, daily shampooing and conditioning.

For sure, give me your feedback. 

And stay tuned for Take 2...Essential Oils and how we can best use them.


  1. I pay a lot more attention to product labels now too. I feel that the people in the shops sometimes wonder what it is I am doing, picking up jar after jar of grease/conditioner/gel and looking at them for so long.

  2. I've thrown away my share of products after finding that despite the pretty packaging the product was filled with things that aren't good for my hair or my body in general. Thankfully, our local health food stores carry a range of skincare and haircare brands that don't contain all the junk. They even carry some of the brands that are popular in the North American natural hair community, like Giovanni and Aubrey Organics. I guess the most important thing is to have the information about what our hair does and does not need. So thanks for sharing! Looking forward to reading part 2!

  3. One more thing! When I'm researching products I sometimes go to cosmeticsdatabase.com. It's a website run by an environmental agency that tests beauty products and rates them according to how hazardous the ingredients are. It can be a bit scary but I still find it useful.

  4. You're welcome Erica. You have me thinking about going to Jenn's. Need to source some of those dark bottles in which we find oils like eucalyptus and olive oil, etc.

  5. Thank you for this series. I do pay more attention when purchasing products.

  6. I would normally make my own hair oil. It's a mixture that my parent, grands and great-grands used. I usually mix olive oil, glycerine, castor oil and coconut oil (sometimes). I have a peppermint tree at home so I add the leaves to the mixture and sometimes a bit of tea tree oil. And that works for me. Joyann

  7. Hi, Joy. Thank you for the information...you have all this good stuff hidden from us all!


Hi there! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I enjoy having your feedback. Please check back to see how others have shared on this post.