Top 4 Misused Ingredients: Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Glycerin & Castor Oil

By . - Monday, January 04, 2021

I get a lot of clients who come in upset about their dry hair. I always follow up with the question “What products are you using in your home regimen?” The most popular replies are coconut oil, shea butter, glycerin and castor oil. Now, while these listed ingredients can be equally beneficial to your hair, they are rarely stand alone ingredients for your hair. Essentially, these are popularly misused natural hair products.

All These Oils

Oils are lubricants used to restore natural oils that may have been stripped during shampooing and/or styling process, and also to seal. They can also provide great nourishment to your hair in their own capacity. But, if not used in conjunction with a really good  water based moisturising leave in or cream moisturiser, they can seal in dryness and repel any moisture from entering the strands of the hair. 

Shea Butter 

In its raw state is creamy or solid. But, this is just the state of the oil before being pressed or liquefied. Now if they are mixed with other essential oils and a moisturizing component, known as a humectant, then it now has the ability to retain moisture. Water is also a good source of moisture, so mixing with water is a better option.


Combined with water is popular because glycerin too is a humectant. But, if not immersed in moisture, it will actually draw moisture from your hair! This explains why glycerin and water or glycerin based products work better in the humid summer as opposed to the dry winter. The humidity in the air, breeds an environment of moisture, allowing it to absorb the moisture from the air into your hair. But, if used in drier conditions, it will actually suck up the moisture in your hair. Be careful with glycerin as its effectiveness is based upon its surrounding conditions/environment.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil, though easily passes through the cuticle of the hair, will give a greasy feel, but doesn’t supply lasting moisture. You may need to reapply as needed, or mix with other oils like olive oil (this is my favourite combination), avocado oil, or jojoba oil.

Castor Oil

Castor oil is very thick and often needs to be thinned out with another natural oil in order to be applied easily to the hair or scalp. It also happens to be a humectant and can draw moisture out of the hair if not combined with a water based moisturiser. It can also create product build-up if not rinsed out on some regular basis. In my opinion, castor oil is best as a sealant for the cold winter months. Nothing gets past this thick oil!


  1. When seeking a good moisturiser, water should be listed first. This makes a great base.
  2. Also, if it is promoting itself as “100%” shea butter, vitamin E, jojoba oil and so on, verify that there isn’t anything else listed. (When mixing your own moisturizer)
  3. Other humectants to look for: honey, panthenol, sodium lactate, sorbitol (just to name a few).
  4. When purchasing products, read the ingredients. I love spending time in the store reading ingredients and determining which products are true to their advertisement. Ingredients are listed by concentration, so for example: if it is said to be moisturising, yet lists mineral oil as the 2nd ingredient, or alcohol, avoid at all cost.
  5. Mineral oil gives the illusion of moisture, but quickly evaporates, leaving you to have to use more frequently. 
  6. Good alcohols are: Cetearyl, Cetyl, and Stearyl. These are fatty alcohols that won’t dry your tresses.
How do you use these ingredients in your hair? Leave a comment below. 

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