Is Mineral Oil Really All That Bad?

Does mineral oil really deserve it’s ‘evil to black hair’ image?

So what’s the deal with this oil anyway and why does it deserve our cold shoulder? Mineral oil or liquid petroleum is a liquid by-product of the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline and other petroleum based products. It has a multitude of uses from cosmetics to lubricating machines in the food industry.

Mineral oil is of relatively low value so it’s little wonder that it also finds it’s way quite often into our hair products with all those companies trying to cut costs and all.

Mineral oil molecules are large compared to other oils and as such it is capable of holding in much more moisture into the hair by reducing the gaps that moisture is able to escape. Great right? Well, there’s more. The film that mineral oil creates on hair is occlusive which means that it prevents moisture leaving your hair but also prevents moisture getting in which is why it’s often included in pressing oils as it prevents frizz. It is also pretty good at curl clumping so sometimes its included in curl enhancing products. Sigh of relief, doesn’t sound all that bad now does it?

However, mineral oil is also a hydrophobe, it hates water so can only be removed with a surfactant and herin lies the problem. The majority of black hair care products will have mineral oil or a derivative in them. The black women who buy these products are the same ones who believe that water dries black hair so avoid washing their locks until abolutely necessary which is usually in the region of once every 1-2 months. Ewww I hear you say? Well even some ladies who are kind of clued up about black hair care may not avoid water as they know that it will hydrate their locks so they choose to co-wash their hair with their mineral oil laden conditioners while shunning shampoo. Both scenarios lead to hair that breaks because it is deprived of moisture.

If you use mineral oil in your hair, you will have to use a sulphate shampoo to get rid of it every couple of days as the moisture percentage of your hair reduces. The problem is, washing your hair with the sulphate shampoo so often will mean that natural hair oils will become a thing of the past and you are back in breakage city!

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15 Ways To Get Longer Healthier Hair


About Alma

Hi! I'm Alma Ruddock, a full time blogger. I stumbled on a hair care forum in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair forever!. I started as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to bring new information about hair on both this website and my personal blog.

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  1. 1
    GirlNyc1234 says:

    Black women wash their hair once a week or once every two weeks. I’m black and don’t know anyone who washes their hair once every month or 2. With the amount of oil and grease most black women place in their hair it calls for washing more than that.

    • 2

      im black and i know a lot of people who only wash their hair once every month or two so just bc you dont know anyone who does that doesnt mean you have to comment

      • 3
        Nrblack38 says:

        My sister washes her hair every 2mos. or so and I often wonder if her hair stinks or if her scalp is itchy! But for some reason her hair is down her back! Crazy!!!!

  2. 4
    Dominicancubana says:

    Mineral oil de-vitamizes our hair and  eventually breaks it down, hair producers should be ashamed of even putting it in our hair products as Taliba Wijadd who claims to grow our hair with luaral sulfates in the black earth shampoo. She makes me sick and mad because anybody who knows anything about hair knows that mineral oil and laural sulfates is bad for our hair…

    • 5

      “Mineral oil de-vitamizes our hair and  eventually breaks it down,” Do you have links to proof of this, studies etc?

  3. 6
    Shygirlndallas says:

    I am black and I was my hair when it gets dirty, about twice a week. Like the person below said, I don’t know anyone that waits 1-2 months before they wash their hair.

    • 7

      My mum still does and my sisters in law certainly do, its the norm in these parts

    • 8
      creativeone says:

      A lot of women wearing weaves will wait that long to wash their hair.

  4. 9

    I used to wash every 6 weeks. Did that for 20+ years. More because I didn’t know how to do it myself and didn’t have funds to pay for constant shampoo and sets.  I had pretty decent hair.  Now that I have learned to co-wash and do it myself ( I admit I love to play with my hair and experiment with new products) it’s amazing! Long and healthy. Soft and bouncy. It’s a miracle to me that I co-wash 2-3 times a week now.  Thank God for sites like these and YouTube, which is how I learned to care for my own hair. 

    • 10
      Blessed121 says:

      Yes! Thank God for informative websites like this. YouTube is also what helped me in starting my Hair Journey. I have learned sooo sooo much! I’m thankful that people are willing to share information and help out fellow ladies that are struggling (like myself) to take care of their own hair and not have to depent 100% on the salon.

  5. 11

    We never waited that long, but as people have pointed out not everybody does things the same way. In summer it was always at least once a week for us. When I lived in a cold state, the winters went two weeks max. As for mineral oil…my mother and her sisters used it when they were growing up and they had fabulously healthy great looking hair with no problems.

  6. 12

    Hello everyone!!!! For the past couple of months I have been searching hard for a hair line who has ALL PRODUCTS WITH NO MINERAL OIL AND NO petroleum!!!!! Well since no one has commented on this post in over a year I just want to let you know that Kera Care(new updated products) DO NOT CONTAIN mineral oil or petroleum! Also their Hydrating Shampoo contains NO sulfrates!!!! I was sooooo excited when I went to the beauty supply store and realized this!!! I have been tired of using different products from different lines in order to make sure I was avoiding all bad ingredients so today was my first time using all of their products and so far so good!!!! I by the way my hair is about 4b/4c. I will be in contact to let everyone know( in about 4 weeks) what I think ;)

    • 13

      Thanks for the info, I’ve been looking for a line of products to buy actually, I was going to go with curls unleashed by ORS but I will take a look at Keracare too.

    • 14

      Hello again everyone!!! After my first week of using the KeraCare products I am very very very happy!!!!! They are great!!! My hair was very bouncy and full of body and I did not have to use oil on my hair every morning to unwrap it!!!! I used the following KeraCare products: 1) Hydrating Shampoo, 2) Humtecto Conditioner(i know i spelled it wrong),3) Leavin, 4) Wrap Foam, 5) Moisturizing Lotion( two days out of the week)

      • 15

        Good to hear! I love keracare products but I don’t know if there’s any benefit to using just 1 line of products for everything. Have you found that there is a difference in your hair compared to when you use mixed products?

        • 16

          Yes I do notice a big difference..and yes its always best to use all one line of products expespecially when it comes to shampoo and conditioner cause they hepl each other work correctly….also if u read the back of most products it says for BEST results use with their other products. Some people use different products of everything and it works for them I just rather use products the best way to get full effects

  7. 17
    ItcanGrow says:

    My cousin and her two girls were relaxed at a young age. Before u bash us, Forgive us, it was how we were taught! Anyway their hair was in bad condition!!! One was really thin!! I mean not even touching the shoulders, and they were going to a stylist regularly!! We stopped going and started stetching their relaxers (ORS Lye) and applying ORS mayo afterwards. Then we started washing with a sulfate shampoo , deep condition for thirty minutes, wet set, dry (professional dryer) olive oil on the scalp, Liv on the edges, and ORS kiddie moisturizer on hair every Friday. Mosturize morning and nite. Sleep with a satin scarf with satin rollers on a satin pillow! lol…. Threw away all of the hard brushes,and skinny combs (except one which is properly used for setting) finger comb into a loose bun. After week 4 post relaxer, it is straight braid outs, twist outs. Liv on the edges for straightness.. I kid you not when I say that the oldest is at waist length and it is supid thick. The others has gotten so thick and is approaching waist length! The mother is at bra strap, but she is a little rougher with her hair! If u use mineral oil, or a sulfate shampoo make sure u wash and deep condition every week. She sticks to her regimen!! She once set her daughters hair and was throwing up at the same time!!

    • 18

      Wow, very inspiring story. Stretching relaxers is definitely one of the healthiest things that you can do for relaxed hair.

    • 19

      Kudos to you for getting their hair to a healthier state. However this proves that mineral oil isnotr bad for the hair if you have a good regimen. Liv contains mineral oil, petroleum,lanolin, and beeswax. If it were so bad their edges would be gone.

  8. 20
    Robyn Kleinhans says:

    People really do things differently. I hated wash day as a kid. Why? It was Sunday, EVERY Sunday, come hell or high water, my head over a sink, my back and neck killing me as my mother washed my hair, after which it was roller set and I was sent to water the garden while it dried. Today, as a grown up, ironically, I do pretty much the same thing, except that I wash my hair in the shower (yay for no back and neck pain) and I pre-poo and deep condition, which my mom didn’t do. I can’t imagine walking around with dirty hair, regardless of whether I use products containing mineral oil or not. Also, some products containing mineral oil or petrolatum lower down on the ingredients list, in my experience, are not that evil, especially for me, since I have not forgone shampoo. I guess different strokes for different folks.

  9. 21
    toonmili says:

    I wash my hair twice a week. I can’t imagine washing it less because my hair gets stinky pretty fast and the ironic thing is I don’t even put grease or anything really heavy in it. My scalp just sweats and I when I exercise it gets super itchy and gross. Gotta wash it.

  10. 22

    Ok, I personally do not buy into the “don’t use mineral oil” scenario. I have been using MTG which has a great deal of mineral oil in it and it does no damage to my hair. In addition, I started using it to actually “grow” my hair which it has and is doing thank you very much. Another point that I must bring out which has nothing to do with mineral oil is that another myth that is floating around is to “Not use shampoos with sulfates…always use a non-sulfate shampoo. Guess what? I use shampoos containing sulfates. It does not harm my hair so long as I take care of it. Keeping it clean by washing at least twice a week along with deep conditioning once a week. I know of someone else who has been on a hair growth journey and who has very long hair who has consistently used a sulfate shampoo throughout her journey and for whatever reason does not like non-sulfate shampoo. She has a YouTube channel for natural hair. She is a natural hair beauty and her name is Alicia James if you want to look her up and ask her. I personally don’t like non-sulfate shampoos because they do not clean my hair good, leaves residue on the hair and I do not like the way my hair feels after using it. I am not telling anyone to not use sulfate free shampoos, I am just saying that you cannot believe everything you hear that is not supposed to be good for you.

    • 23

      You have a point there Bobbie. There are certainly plenty of women using
      these red flag products who have long hair. Products are very much
      secondary to a good hair regimen. if it aint broke . . .

    • 25

      thank you for pointing that out. Too many people say what they feel they SHOULD and while doing this forgets that people have different types of hair that has to be managed differently…

  11. 26
    Choosen Israel says:

    i use minreal oil doo gro lotion my hair thick grew long it dont effect everybody

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