It is really important that we can distinguish between a moisturizing oil vs. a sealing oil because if not you could be setting your regimen and your hair up for failure… or at least minor frustration and confusion. I don’t know how many times I’ve sat down and completed the LOC method only to be disappointed in a few hours that my hair looks/feels dry. There are of course various reasons as to why this may happen… but a main reason is the use of the wrong type of oil. Just as there are differences between carrier and essential oils, there are differences in moisturizing and sealing oils.

A moisturizing oil is an oil that is used to penetrate the shaft of the hair and actually moisturize it. Not all oils can do so. The oils that can not penetrate the hair shaft are best used to seal the hair and lock the moisture in. Also it is best not to use sealing oils on your scalp. Think about you will be sealing your scalp causing it to become clogged. A moisturizing oil is best applied to the scalp to help it stimulate growth. Here’s a quick list to help differentiate the two types of oils, and which you should be using when.

Moisturizing Oils: Oils you want to use on your scalp/ and with your leave in conditioners!

moisturizing oil vs. sealing oilCoconut Oil
Coconut oil  may be one of the best oils out there for hair care, beauty, and skin care. It has a endless list of benefits and uses. Coconut oil is a naturalist’s best friend! In its unrefined state (extra virgin is best) it is the least processed, and is actually both a moisturizer and a sealant (WHAT!)  Well coconut oil is capable of penetrating the shaft due to its molecular structure, but in limited amounts.  Because of these limits most of the oil stays on the outside of the hair (acting as a sealant) The most optimal time to use coconut oil as a moisturizer is in the presence of water or a water based leave in conditioner.

moisturizing oil vs. sealing oilBabassu Oil 

Babassu Oil is also a similar story to coconut oil. The molecular structure of this oil is most similar to coconut oil and may in most cases works better for certain hair types and women with differing porosity in their hair. Babassu oil can penetrate the shaft of the hair ,and is much lighter than coconut oil therefore does not leave a heavy greasy feeling/film on your hair. Most of my Babassu oil uses comes during deep conditioning so I use it more so for a moisturizer in addition to my water based deep conditioner instead of using it to seal my ends or hair  during the LOC method.

moisturizing oil vs. sealing oilOlive Oil
Another 2 for one oil is Extra Virgin Olive Oil that is known to penetrate the hair shaft and moisturizing the hair/scalp. As with coconut oil and Babassu oil to get the best moisturizing effect you must use it in conjunction with water or a leave in that is water based.  Olive oil is also great for moisturizing when used in your deep conditioner as it increases shine and manageability of your strands. I’ve been using olive oil in my hair regimen from my transitioning days and it has never let me down. Plus it is fairly inexpensive and easy to find!

moisturizing oil vs. sealing oilAvocado Oil
Avocado oil has large amounts of essential vitamins and nutrients that are able to penetrate through the shaft of the hair. This oil also helps to increase growth stimulation if used on a regular basis. I haven’t had the chance to use avocado oil in my regimen yet but I used actual avocados in my pre-poo for almost a year. I was always pleased with the results, just not pleased with the mess.

Sealing Oils: Oils that do not penetrate the shaft of the hair and are best used to loc in moisture to your strands.

moisturizing oil vs. sealing oilJamaican Black Castor Oil
It is no surprise that JBCO makes the list as one of the best sealing oils a naturalista can use.  JBCO helps to soften the hair while drawing out toxins/impurities that prevent hair growth. Because this oil is extremity thick it is a great sealant for thicker textures especially.

moisturizing oil vs. sealing oilGrapeseed Oil
Grapeseed oil is fairly new in my arsenal as I found it in Trader Joes for fairly cheap. This oil is extremely light and possesses an ability to with stand high amounts of heat. This makes it best for women with finer/ thinner strands that want to seal in the moisture for their ends without being weighed down or greasy/oily.

moisturizing oil vs. sealing oilJojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is a bit pricier than the oils mentioned above so I don’t dabble in it too much. However Jojoba most closely resembles the natural hair sebum our body produces naturally. It is a fairly light oil that is most effective in sealing in the moisture added during wash day or other hair regimen activities.  Jojoba is also very good for people suffering with dry or flaky scalps as it helps to restore the proper pH to your hair.

Which is your favorite oil to moisturize or seal during your wash day/ hair regimen?

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29 Responses to Moisturizing Oil Vs. Sealing Oil

      • Does this work on naturally curly 3b hair. Mine is damaged from straignting with a flat iron and curls are gone and hair terribly dry. I look like chewbaca

        • Hi Aisha,

          I’m so sorry to hear that! Unfortunately there is no fix for heat damaged hair. You are going to have to grow out the damage and chop it off! I’m so sorry!

  1. […] 2. Seal In Moisture: Moisture is the key to keeping your ends happy, but adding moisture alone will not get the job done. The best source of moisture is water hands down! And water does not just sit around, we know very well that water will evaporate eventually. In order to keep the moisture in your hair, and most specifically in your ends you are going to want to follow the LOC method and seal the moisture in with a heavy oil. If you are looking for sealing oils that work best with your hair type you can take a look at a list we have compiled here. […]

  2. I have straight hair and it’s slightly dry and has fly aways/frizz, and it’s not as soft as it used to be. I don’t know if I need a sealant or moisturizer. But I do feel like something not super thick, that would leave a buildup for me, is what I DONT want. What natural oil do you think would be best to reduce frizz, restore shine and smoothness, and be lightweight? I am new to cosmetics and beauty products. Thanks in advance!


  3. Hi!
    If JBCO is a sealant, what are your thoughts on using it assist in regrowing edges? Do you believe it works or it’s a myth? You mentioned sealant when used on the scalp, can clog the scalp.
    If you don’t believe JBCO works on edges, then what do you recommend?


    • I think it helps with the regeneration of cells to help regrow edges and helps to seal in the moisture so they aren’t dry/brittle and snapping off. But I don’t think JBCO alone can help it is a mix of proper eating and a healthy hair care regimen.

  4. Very helpful article!

    So how does this sound:
    1. Deep condition with a coconut/Babassu/olive mix
    2. Oil scalp with a coconut/olive/avocado mix
    3. Do the LOC method with
    L: White Peony Leave-In (It has Jajoba Oil in it too)

    O: Almond Mint Oil (But if this goes on the hair and not the scalp how will the peppermint promote blood circulation for hair growth?)

    C: Avocado Hair Milk (this article says avocado should go on the scalp but I love Mielle Organics Avocado Hair Milk. Should I use this for the scalp and hair? I could also try their Sachi Inchi Curl cream for the C or a mixture of the two?)

  5. Can I use jojoba and coconut oil together I don’t mean mix together like for example apply coconut oil to the scalp and jojoba to the rest of my hair like the ends?

      • I only apply oil when my hair is wet after a wash day. Sometimes it’ll be damp if I’m refreshing my hair. But I can oil my scalp whenever it is dry. I try to add oil to my hair when it is in a fully dry state so it won’t be weighed down. You can mix the oil with your styler for an extra boost if need be

    • You can if you plan on washing it out at some point. I wouldn’t just leave oil in the hair as you don’t want your hair to be too greasy or oily.

  6. Hi! I born and live in west side of Puerto Rico where the sun it’s REALLY HOT and VERY YY HUMIDDD. Should I use oil on my 3b and 3c hair.? My hair is Very FRIZZY. I wash my hair my hair weekly with Pantene curl perfection 2 in 1 shampoo and condition. Then condition with ultimado 10 BBcreme from Pantene too. Dry my hair with an old t-shirt. Then apply a little of curl perfection moisturizing conditioner. Follow with enough organic root stimulator antifreeze olive oil glossing polisher and finish with eco olive oil gel. I let it air dry. It will last at least for 3 days if I pineapple bun at night and used a silk wrap at night. But during summer my hair can be very dry just stepping out the house for 2 hours. Should I used oil? What can you recommend my. Thanks . Blessings!! Enid.

  7. Thank you for all the information on how to use these oils I’ve been using the oils all wrong I now see why my hair isn’t growing. Thank you so much.

  8. I really enjoy reading your articles! Have read many and find yours to be really informative and relatable.I have low porosity 3c hair,currently transitioning which is quite challenging. Thanks a million for the great advice and tips on caring for my hair easily. Will now be an ardent follower of your blog.

  9. Great article. I have created 3 separate oils thanks to this article. 1. sealing oil 2. Hot oil pre-poo mix (penetrating oil) 3. Nightly scalp oil to encourage hair growth (mostly includes Ayurvedic powders) I knew certain oils serve separate purposes and this explains it very well so thank you.

  10. I’m trying to figure out the best ingredients for a deep conditioning mask for dry hair. I like to leave on after a shower and put a heat cap on.

    Would including a “sealing” oil in the mask be helpful or would it mess it up? Should sealing oils only be used as leave ins?


  11. Hello! Thanks for the help with identifying the different types of oils. My question is do I need both a moisturizing and sealant oil? Or do I just pick one.

  12. Outstanding!!!! This article resolved so many of my natural hair issues; extremely informative!!! My hair can’t thank you enough! ?