One of the biggest discoveries of these long pandemic years, for me, has been the world of oils. Facial oils, of course (long time readers will remember my ongoing love affair with Lancer Omega Hydrating Oil, which continues). But also body oils, oil-infused body washes, and hair oils. ONE SIMPLE TRICK, as it were. If you want to see what my first tentative foray into hair oil did for me awhile back, read this.
But, each time I’ve learned about some new way to use oil, I always find out (way later) that Black people have known about it all along.
The latest experience was when I got this sample of Futerer Complexe 5 Scalp Treatment, which uses a base of Orange Peel Oil and Castor Seed Oil, from DermStore, and got SO EXCITED about it that I immediately ordered the full size. And started planning out the Makeup Monday post I was going to devote to it. Only to see a few days later someone on Twitter write, “So i see white people have finally discovered scalp oil…”
I mean, not any oil. You can’t just douse your head in canola oil and have a good outcome. But more oils than you think. Including Castor Oil, which Black folks have been using… forever? For skin and nails but especially hair and eyelash growth.
How much misery and bad skin and bad hair we white folks would have saved ourselves if we’d just… listened to Black folks. But no, we don’t do that…. God forbid we act like Black people have something to teach us.
Anyway, all this to say: if you are not using oils, stop what you’re doing and go out and get some immediately.
Here’s what I’m using and loving.
First off, before I get to major brands I want to give a shoutout to the lovely young women from Brooklyn, Samatha and Genna Adelson, selling their Lively Naturale handmade oil products at the Upper West Side street fair in November!
We had such a great time chatting, and they gently guided me away from the products with almond and macademia oil (allergies) and the products that were “just for Black people” – we all laughed and said, “may as well just be clear about it!” – and we landed on their Rosehip Argan Oil Mix. It smells like heaven and it makes my hair so sleek and wonderful! A little bit goes a long way, so if you’re not accustomed to hair oils, use sparingly to start on hair ends first, then working up. I have coarse hair that loves the stuff and is never weighed down. At $12 for a 2 oz. size, Lively Naturale products are an incredible steal – I’d expect to pay at least $35 for a product of this quality. I plan to try the Aloe-Green Tea Hydration Treatment next, as well as more oils. Kel and I did say we hoped they’d raise their prices, but for now they start at $12 on the website and I urge everyone reading: run, do not walk, to get yours. Tell them Karen from the street fair sent you! Be sure and check out their Hair as a Political and Sociological Statement section, about the politics of Black hair!
Next, a reminder about the Futerer Complexe 5 Scalp Treatment. At $50 this doesn’t come cheap but it’s been great for my scalp and hair. It’s also a delightful bit of self care. You slow down, massage it into your scalp for a few min, sit and enjoy the intoxicating citrus scent, then wash your hair and enjoy the results. I never would have tried it if i hadn’t gotten the free sample, but now that I understand scalp oils, I’m never going back to life without.
My other obsession is Osea Undaria Algae Body Oil. I cannot say enough about this oil. For body oils I actually did try quite a few options, and the vast majority were just too greasy for me. Maybe not for everyone, but for me. But this oil: this oil is literally perfection. I buy multiples so I never run out. It’s become literally something I cannot live without. And judging from reviews, every other user feels the same way. I use it all over my body after towel drying. I follow with a good quality cream to seal it in. My legs look sleek and smooth and did I mention the scent? They make a $12 travel size so if you’re anxious, it’s a great place to start!
At the same time I found the Osea for after shower, I also started looking for the best shower oil cleanser. I again encountered nut oil problems and fragrance issues, but when I tried Glossier Body Hero Daily Oil Wash, I was hooked. At $18 it’s a good price, and it perfectly balances cleansing, oil hydration, and a fresh wonderful scent. I know more prestige items are available and I may move on some day, but for now I am loving Body Hero. When I feel like it I beef it up with EO Body Oil (safflower oil based) in the shower for even more hydration.
Another hair oil I recently discovered is Ouai–again from a free sample, this time from Ulta. I got a two pack of Ouai Hair Oil and Wave Spray, and both were so good I immediately purchased full size. The Wave Spray has been the key to my new spikey hair style!
The Ouai Hair Oil is something I use on rotation with the Lively Naturale oil above–it’s lighter, and like all major brand oils, it’s silicone based, which honestly I don’t care for. But besides the silicone it’s chock full of high quality oils, including Jojoba Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Sunflower Seed Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Adansonia Digitata Seed Oil, Borage Seed Oil, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Soybean Oil, Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil, Moringa Seed Oil, as well as Coconut, and Kaempferia Galanga Root Extract. Unfortunately the major oil is almond oil, so I also have to be vigilant for allergic reactions to my skin and scalp, but I know that major corporate brand nut oils are far more processed than all-natural options, so if I use it carefully, I am fine, it’s very good. You can get a small travel size to try.
This does remind me though: if you’re just starting out in your oils journey, BEWARE SILICONES! They give a slippy feel that feels like oil but is not oil! They impart shine, but no benefit. They won’t “feed” your skin and hair in a way that gives lasting improvement. They are cheap (real oil is expensive) and it’s almost impossible to avoid them entirely if you operate among major corporate brands (a good reason to buy indie, imo), but definitely evaluate all of your oil products to lean toward 100% oil, or close to.
Of course we must mention the world of facial oils.
First off, don’t forget the step 1 oil in the Asian-beauty 2 step cleansing process! The famous one here (even sold at Costco!) is DHC Deep Cleansing Oil from Japan. Apparently one is sold every second across the globe…. A good cleansing oil like this, used on dry skin, is amazing at lifting up impurities without stripping the skin. Then you wet the skin, and emulsify it, and follow up with a regular cleanser. Try it!
And then facial oils: What would I do without them? Lancer Omega Oil is still my beloved. It’s one of the few products I buy, use, use up, and buy again, EVEN WITHOUT A DISCOUNT CODE. First ingredient: Grape Seed oil. You might want to try Lancer’s holiday season stocking stuffer sample pack for $45!
Other terrific places for quality oils are of course Sabbatical Beauty, whose Camellia Gold Oil is a game-changer (I’m allergic sadly), and Odacite, which calls its products serums for some reason, but in fact makes entirely 100% silicone-free all natural oils (maybe white people are just too afraid of the word “oil”?). Here is one ingredient list, for their award-winning Acai Rose Anti-Aging formula: Euterpe Oleracea [Acai*] Fruit Oil, Rosa Damascena [Rose] Flower Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara [Neroli] Flower/Leaf Oil, Jasminum Sambac [Jasmine] Flower Oil, Jasminum Grandiflorum [Jasmine] Flower Oil, Cananga Odorata [Ylang-Ylang**] Flower Oil, Litsea Cubeba Fruit Oil, Vanillosmopsis Erythropappa [Bisabolol] Wood Oil, Canarium Lozonicum [Elemi] Gum Oil, Cedrus Atlantica [Cedar] Wood Oil, Tocopherols [Vitamin E] Oil. My favorite of theirs is their Ca+R Wild Carrot Oil blend which contains exactly two ingredients: Daucus Carota [Wild Carrot*] Seed Oil and Tocopherols [Vitamin E] Oil *Highest-grade cold-pressed wild crafted virgin oil.
Last of all, lip oils are the big breakout star of Summer 2021. I tried a few but I don’t love oil on lips–it just slides right off, for me. No harm in trying, and Ilia makes a nice tinted lip oil product that hydrates the lip (try here in a mini sample combo), but for me the find of the season (thanks to TJ Maxx!) was Dr. PawPaw Overnight Lip Mask, which is a Castor Seed Oil base. This is a UK product, but sold at Ulta. They make quite a few options, included tinted options, but none of them work for me like their Overnight Mask.
And that brings us full circle… back to Castor Oil. All you need to do is check out the … is it still called…. the “ethnic beauty” section? …. of the skin and hair aisle at Rite Aid, etc., and you’ll see all the castor oil you could ever want. Shea butter as well. And maybe for $5.95 or so, that’s all any of us really need? I don’t know, but it’s a worth a try.