The Complete Guide to Carrier Oils for Dreads

The Best Carrier Oils for Dreads: The Complete Guide

This is part two of a guide I wrote on the oils that are recommended for your scalp and dreads. If you missed the first part, you can find it here: The Best Essential Oils for Dreads

Like in the previous guide, I listed the oils in alphabetical order to make it easier for you to scroll straight to the oils you’re interested in learning more about. 

In this blog, you will get an idea of what each oil’s unique benefits are, how long they last, and what the best methods are for applying them to your head so that you don’t get residue building up on your scalp.

I did a lot of research to find the best carrier oils that would work well on dreaded hair. Note that everyone’s hair type and texture is different so what may be dreadlock-friendly for one person, is not guaranteed to be dreadlock-friendly for you. It could take a little trial and error before you come up with the oil blend that best suits you. Always spot test a new oil to make sure that it doesn’t produce an adverse reaction on your skin. 

Disclaimer: Please consult with your doctor prior to trying out a carrier oil you’re unfamiliar with. I’m not a doctor and I don’t know what will work best for YOU specifically. Some oils can be harmful to pregnant women and nursing mothers so please get the approval from a licensed health care professional. Several of the oils I recommend are extracted from nuts, so if you have any allergies get a doctor’s approval before trying them out.

What are carrier oils? 

Carrier oils (typically vegetable oils) are used as base oils for diluting essential oils. Vegetable oils have a shelf life- usually of one year. Make sure you don’t use rancid oils on your dreads. 

Carrier oils are very important because they provide much-needed moisture and nutrition to your scalp and hair follicles. They’re also important because essential oils cannot be used without them.

I recommend you use cold-pressed oils because they maintain the most health properties with that kind of extraction process. I prefer to use organic oils as well, but that’s entirely up to you.

Some oils are thicker than others and should be handled differently than lighter oils. Thick oils will leave a waxy feeling and residue on your scalp if used in excessive amounts.

Let’s talk carrier oils!

In case you’re wondering, my favorite carrier oils are jojoba, apricot kernel, and grapeseed oil.

Apricot Kernel Oil

Apricot Kernel Oil

Benefits:      

  • Vitamins A, B, C, E, and K
  • Minerals: copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, and potassium.
  • It contains a high percentage of oleic (70%) and linoleic (23%) acids.
  • Its moisturizing properties boost hydration to the scalp, relieving dandruff and dryness.
  • Improves the quality and quantity of hair follicles. It softens the hair while making it more elastic thereby preventing breakage.
  • It has a mild aroma and lightweight oil that absorbs into the skin quickly.
  • It has a shelf life of 1 to 2 years if it’s stored correctly.

Ideal for:     

  • Those with dry scalp and dandruff. 
  • Those who have brittle hair.

How to use it:     

  • Mix it with essential oils and massage your scalp with it. Since it’s a lightweight oil, it can be left on your head overnight. It doesn’t leave any residue so you can use it several times without having to wash your head and not have to worry about buildup on your scalp.

Warning

  • If you have a nut allergy, consult a healthcare professional prior to trying apricot kernel oil.

Where to buy it:     

This is the one I have and I really like it.

Avocado Oil

Avocado Oil

Benefits:      

  • It’s full of amino acids and vitamins A, B, D, and E
  • It contains a high percentage of oleic (65%), linoleic (15%), and palmitic (14%) acids.
  • It provides a heavy penetrating moisturizing treatment.
  • It promotes hair growth because it strengthens the roots and nourishes the scalp.
  • It has a shelf life of up to 1 year if it’s stored correctly. 

Ideal for:     

  • Hot oil treatments and a warm scalp massage. 
  • It’s a great alternative to castor oil. 
  • It should be used by people who have a very dry scalp, especially during winter months.

How to use it:     

  • For a scalp massage, mix a tablespoon of avocado oil with a tablespoon of any lighter carrier oil of your choice and a few drops of your preferred essential oil. Warm up the oils in a warm water bath and then massage them onto your scalp. After about two minutes, wrap your hair in a warm towel and relax for 30 minutes to an hour. Then, wash it off.
  • This oil has to be used sparingly because it’s too thick. Too much of it can leave your scalp with build-up. 
  • Mix it with olive oil for the best results. Olive oil will lighten it up which will make it easier to wash off later.

Warning

  • If you have a nut allergy, consult a healthcare professional prior to trying apricot kernel oil.

Where to buy it:     

You can buy avocado oil at the grocery store and here on Amazon.

Coconut Oil – Extra Virgin

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Benefits:      

  • Antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties.
  • It contains vitamins A, B, E, and K
  • Skin-softening properties. 
  • It maintains, cleans, and protects the hair and skin and scalp. It stimulates new hair growth, nourishes damaged hair, and treats scalp conditions, such as dandruff. It maintains the proteins within the hair shaft.
  • Natural SPF properties protect the hair from heat damage.
  • The shelf life of coconut oil depends on the procedure used to extract it and if it has been stored correctly. Generally, it has a very long shelf life.

Ideal for:   

  • Those with damaged hair, including split ends. 
  • Those who need a boost of moisture to their locs.

How to use it:    

  • Apply it topically by massaging your scalp. You can add essential oils to it if you want, but you don’t need to.
  • It can be left in your scalp as a conditioning treatment.
  • I recommend using it in moderation since it can leave some people with a very greasy scalp. Less is more in my opinion.

Where to buy it:     

You can buy it at most stores nowadays. I find the best deals at Walmart and Trader Joes. Alternatively, you can also buy it on Amazon.

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed Oil

This is one of my favorite carrier oil for dreads because it’s super light and easily absorbs into the skin. 

Benefits:      

  • Anti-inflammatory, 
  • It contains a high percentage of linoleic (65%) and oleic (23%) acids.
  • It’s a lightweight oil so it absorbs well and quickly into the skin.
  • Moisture-retention properties: It provides deep moisture to the hair follicles and promotes hair growth. It prevents the hair from thinning, breaking, or getting split ends. It tames the frizz as well. Meanwhile, it adds healthy shine without an excess of greasiness.
  • It treats scalp conditions, such as dermatitis, scalp inflammation, itchiness, and dandruff. 
  • It balances the production of sebum in the scalp.
  • Hypoallergenic qualities. 
  • Cleansing properties. It doesn’t clog pores or cause breakouts.
  • It’s odorless so it can be mixed with any essential oil. 
  • It has a shelf life of 6 to 12 months if it’s stored correctly.

Ideal for:     

  • All hair types. 
  • All skin types, especially oily and acne-prone skin. 
  • Those who are experiencing hair loss.
  • It can be used frequently.
  • Those who are sensitive to scents. 

How to use it:     

  • Add a little bit to your daily moisturizing spray (which includes essential oils and distilled water). Shake well before you use it because the oils and water will naturally separate. 
  • Massage it directly on the scalp after you get out of the shower, while your head is still wet.
  • It can be mixed with thicker oils to encourage the thicker oils to absorb better into the skin. 

Where to buy it:     

You can buy it at the grocery store. That’s probably the cheapest and most convenient way. The same oil you put on your salad can be put on your hair and face so don’t be fooled by the misleading labels. Just make sure it’s 100% pure grapeseed oil (organic if possible) with no additives. If you want to buy it on Amazon, this brand has some of the best reviews.

Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp Seed Oil

Benefits:      

  • It contains Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E
  • It’s rich in omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: It reduces irritation in the skin.
  • Healing properties: It helps to heal wounds and scarring.
  • Moisturizing properties: It leaves the hair feeling conditioned and smooth.
  • It improves blood circulation to the scalp.
  • Lightweight oil makes it easier for the skin to absorb. 
  • It doesn’t clog pores and doesn’t leave the scalp feeling sticky. 
  • It has a shelf life of 14 months if it’s stored correctly. 

Ideal for:     

  • Those with dry and irritated skin.
  • Those with scalp conditions, including acne.
  • Those with dry, brittle hair.

How to use it:    

  • It can be used on its own in a scalp massage.
  • It can be mixed with essential oils for a scalp massage. Cedarwood essential oil pairs really well with hemp seed oil.
  • Since it’s such a light oil, it can be mixed with thicker oils like coconut. It allows the thicker oils to absorb better into the skin.  

Warning:

  • Hemp seed oil and CBD oil are not the same things. Hemp seed contains no psychoactive effects whatsoever.
  • Hemp oil contains beta-caryophyllene. Those who are sensitive to it may experience contact dermatitis so it’s always a good idea to spot check before applying anything directly to your scalp. 

Where to buy it:  

You should be able to buy it at any health food store or here on Amazon.

Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Benefits:   

  • It contains vitamins B, C, and E.
  • It’s rich in omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acids
  • Anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. 
  • Moisturizing properties.
  • Sealing properties: It absorbs moisture and locks it in. This allows the hair to grow stronger, longer, and thicker.
  • It stimulates blood circulation to the scalp. It’s used to encourage hair growth.
  • Cleansing properties: It doesn’t clog pores and treats scalp conditions, like dandruff, and infections.
  • Detoxifying properties: It removes impurities from the scalp.
  • It has a shelf life of up to 3 years if it’s properly stored. It’s preferred that you use it within the first year of the manufacturing date. 

Ideal for:    

  • Those with dry and thick hair. It’s not recommended for those with thin hair and an oily scalp.
  • For those who are balding or have traction alopecia.
  • For those with brittle hair who are experiencing thinning or breakage. 
  • Those who want longer and thicker dreads.
  • For those who want thicker eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard. 

How to use it:     

  • Use it in small amounts. Castor oil is very thick (like honey!) so using it on its own may attract lint and dirt. It should be mixed with a lighter carrier oil (like coconut oil) to allow it to absorb properly on the scalp without leaving unwanted residue.
  • It’s best used around the edges of the scalp where the hair is thinning or balding. Apply it to the hairline once a week right before you shower. First, spray distilled water (or rose water mixed with vitamin E oil) on the hairline, and then apply the oil. Leave it on your hair for 30 minutes and wash it off with residue-free shampoo.
  • If you don’t dilute castor oil with a lighter carrier oil, it will be harder to wash off and remove.

Warning:

  • Pregnant women should NOT use castor oil.

Where to buy it:     

This is a good Jamaican black castor oil.

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba Oil

This is one of my favorite scalp oils! 

Benefits:    

  • It’s the oil that best mimics sebum.
  • It contains vitamins A, B, D, and E.
  • It’s high in Eicosenoic acid.
  • It has antibacterial properties.
  • Its moisturizing properties allow the hair to grow thick and strong, as well as giving it elasticity and a healthy shine. 
  • Its sealing properties lock in the moisture.
  • It stimulates the blood circulation in the scalp, which encourages hair growth.
  • It helps to control the production of sebum and balances the scalp’s pH, thereby preventing an overly greasy and overly dry scalp. It reduces dandruff.
  • It does not clog the pores.
  • Soothing properties.
  • It has a natural SPF that protects your hair and scalp from sun damage.
  • It’s a lightweight oil that absorbs easily into the skin.
  • It has a shelf life of 2 years. Mixing it with other oils extends the shelf life of the other oils.

Ideal for:    

  • Those who have brittle hair.
  • Those whose sebum is unbalanced. 
  • Those who have dandruff and other skin conditions. 
  • Prevents other oils from becoming rancid.

How to use it:     

  • Mix a few drops of jojoba oil with a few drops of the essential oil of your choice. Massage your scalp for a couple of minutes and then allow the oils to
  • Use jojoba oil in moderation. If used too often, or in large quantities, build-up can occur on the scalp.

Where to buy it:     

This is the one I use and I’m really happy with it. Good price and great quality.

Kukui Nut Oil

Kukui Nut Oil

Benefits:      

  • It contains high percentages of linoleic acid (42%), alpha linoleic acid (29%), and oleic acid (20%). 
  • It contains vitamins A, C, and E.
  • Its healing properties help to treat minor burns, wounds, and conditions of the skin such as irritation, dandruff, scars, eczema, and psoriasis. 
  • Its moisturizing properties brighten up dry and aging skin, as well as proving it much needed nutrients to maintain its natural glow. 
  • Its softening properties leave the skin feeling smooth, soft, and shiny.
  • Protection properties guard your skin and hair from the environment, especially the sun and wind.
  • It’s a thin oil that absorbs well into the skin.
  • It has a shelf life of up to 1 to 2 years if properly stored.

Ideal for:     

  • Those who have skin conditions, including itchiness and dandruff.
  • Those who spend a lot of time outdoors in the elements. 
  • Massaging your scalp.
  • For those who are sensitive to odors. Kukui nut oil has a very mild nutty scent. 
  • It’s very popular in Hawaii.

How to use it:     

  • It works best as a leave-in moisturizer for your scalp. After shampooing or spraying your hair with your moisturizing spray, massage a few drops of kukui nut oil on your scalp and leave it to absorb. You can leave it on overnight.

Warning

  • If you have a nut allergy, talk to your doctor prior to using it.

Where to buy it:   

You can find it on Amazon although the best quality kukui oils can be found in Hawaii so keep a space open in your luggage if you’re vacationing there!

Moroccan Argan Oil

Moroccan Argan Oil

Benefits:      

  • Rich in vitamin E
  • Rich in omega 3 and omega 9 fatty acids.
  • Its antioxidant properties work to restore the damage done to the scalp and hair.
  • Its anti-inflammatory properties relieve dry, flaky skin as well as other conditions of the scalp, such as dandruff, itchiness, and acne. 
  • Its moisturizing properties nourish the hair to grow soft, smooth, strong, and shiny. 
  • Its healing properties help to prevent brittle, frizzy hair and split ends. It also heals and protects the hair that has been heavily damaged by chemicals, heat (from a blow dryer), and the elements, like the sun or wind. 
  • It smells delightful. 
  • It has a shelf life of 6 months to 2 years depending on when the bottle was opened and the way it was stored. 

Ideal for:     

  • Mature dreads only. It can unravel weaker knots forming in baby dreads. It’s a lubricant-type of oil. 
  • Those who have had excessive damage done to their hair. 

How to use it:     

  • It can be used while your hair is dry or damp. 
  • Massage a few drops of oil in your scalp and cover your head with a bonnet or scarf. Allow the oils to soak in and restore your hair for an hour or more. 
  • Overuse of argan oil can cause buildup on the scalp. Use it sparingly. 

Warning

  • If you have a tree nut allergy, consult a doctor prior to using it. Argan oil is nut-based.

Where to buy it:     

This is one I recommend.

Olive Oil- Extra Virgin

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Benefits:      

  • It has high levels of vitamin E and is rich in antioxidants. 
  • It’s rich in oleic acid (65 to 80%), linoleic acid (6 to 25%), and palmitic acid (5 to 12%). 
  • It stimulates the blood flow to the scalp which promotes hair growth. Nutrients are provided to the hair follicles and the scalp which encourage healthy hair.
  • Its hydrating properties enhance the strength and shine of the hair.
  • Its healing properties work to restore damage, such as brittle, dry, frizzy, and dull hair. It also treats skin and scalp conditions, such as dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis. 
  • It has a shelf life of up to 20 months once the bottle is opened. An unopened bottle can last much longer when properly stored. 

Ideal for:     

  • Those who suffer from scalp conditions, irritation, and itchiness. 
  • Those whose dreads are lacking luster.
  • Those who are experiencing hair loss and thinning. 

How to use it:     

  • Massage your scalp with a few drops of olive oil and a couple of drops of essential oil (your choice). Leave it in your head for 15 minutes so the oils soak up. Then, wash your head with residue-free shampoo.

Where to buy it:     

You can get the best deal if you buy it at the grocery store. The same oil that you use on your salad dressing goes on your hair, so don’t buy expensive olive oil just because companies advertise it differently. Make sure it’s 100% olive oil, preferably organic. Amazon sells olive oil too.

Sweet Almond Oil

Sweet Almond Oil

Benefits:      

  • Olive oil highly resembles apricot kernel oil. 
  • It contains vitamins A, B, D, and E. 
  • It’s high in omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acids. 
  • It normalizes the pH of the scalp and removes dead cells that have caused buildup. 
  • It has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Its moisturizing properties nourish the scalp, protect the hair, and promote hair growth.
  • Its sealant properties allow the moisture to stay locked in within the scalp. 
  • Its healing properties repair the damage done to the hair by heat, such as spending too much time in the sun and heat from a blow dryer. It also treats conditions of the skin, such as dermatitis, inflammation, seborrhea, and dandruff.
  • Its soothing properties alleviate the scalp and leave the hair feeling soft and looking shiny.
  • It’s a non-greasy oil that absorbs easily into the skin. 
  • It has a shelf life of 1 year if properly stored. 

Ideal for:     

  • Those with dry hair and scalp.
  • Those who are prone to scalp conditions, like eczema and seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Those who have an irritated and itchy scalp due to dryness and dandruff.

How to use it:     

  • It’s effective as a leave-in scalp moisturizer. You can massage a few drops directly onto your scalp (add a few drops of essential oils if you wish), cover your head with a bonnet, and leave it in for several hours or overnight.

Warning:

  • If you have a nut allergy, consult with your doctor prior to trying sweet almond oil. 

Where to buy it:     

You can find it here on Amazon.

Vitamin E Oil

Vitamin E Oil

Benefits:      

  • It has anti-inflammatory, regenerative, and preservative properties. 
  • Its moisturizing properties reduce dryness and prevent dry hair and dandruff. It provides a natural conditioner for the hair.
  • It has hair-strengthening properties that allow the hair to grow healthy and long with a better chance that it won’t fall out. 
  • It stimulates blood circulation to the scalp.
  • It contains antioxidants that nourish the hair follicles and scalp. 
  • Its “preserving” properties prolong the shelf life of other oils.
  • It has a shelf life of 2 to 3 years if stored properly.

Ideal for:     

  • Those with brittle and dry hair. 
  • Strengthening hair follicles.
  • Those with an itchy scalp.

How to use it:     

  • You can buy vitamin E oil in gel capsules and in a glass jar with a dropper. If you use a capsule, poke it with a needle to get the liquid out. 
  • For a hair growth treatment, mix a few drops of vitamin E oil with any pure oil of your choice (a lighter oil). Massage it on your scalp for about two minutes and wrap your head with a bonnet. Leave it on for a couple of hours or overnight, and wash it off with residue-free shampoo the following morning.
  • Vitamin E oil is very heavy. Use it sparingly so that it doesn’t cause buildup on your scalp. For better results, mix it with a lighter oil like coconut.

Where to buy it:     

You can buy it in liquid form with a dropper here.

More carrier oil tips

1. If you notice an adverse reaction to any oil, discontinue using it immediately.

2. Never use unnatural oils, like mineral oil. Never ever!

3. Use heavy oils sparingly and mix them with lighter oils for better absorption. Lint and dirt are attracted to heavier / sticky oils.

4. Use high quality and cold-pressed oils. Cold-pressed oils are extracted with minimal heat so that the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals aren’t damaged/ destroyed. High-quality oils are more expensive but provide better long-term results.

5. If possible, choose organic. Read the labels to make sure there are no additives nor unnatural ingredients and absolutely no hidden chemicals.

6. Consistency is key. Keep up the routine to get results. Some oils can, and should, be used every day.

7. Every carrier oil has its own properties and every person reacts differently to them. If you have any pre-existing conditions, allergies, or are pregnant/nursing, talk to a doctor prior to using a carrier oil you’re unfamiliar with.

8. Avoid putting oils directly on your locs. This will weigh them down and attract lint and dirt. Apply carrier oils to the scalp only or heavily diluted in water.

9. For hot oil treatments, pour a tablespoon or two of the oil of your choice in a sealed plastic bag. Place the bag in hot water until it’s warm. Put warm oil on hair, wrap your head in a warm towel, rest for 20 minutes, and then wash it off.


I hope this guide was helpful to you and that you will notice amazing benefits when using them in your hair-care routine. 

If you missed my complete guide to essential oils for dreads, you can find it by clicking on the link!

If I missed one of your favorite carrier oils, leave me a message in the comments below. I will do some research on it and add it to the list.

🙂

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