Brushing And Oiling 101
As you may know, I am once again doing curly and wavy hair over here in San Francisco. I’m seeing lots of heads again and besides a good shaping, it is clear that we could all use a little reminder of the basics of healthy hair. So with that in mind, I present Brushing and Oiling: an old-fashioned technique which does nothing for the sales of beauty products, but does a great deal for the health of your hair. Not only does this technique make soft silky hair, it removes scalp buildup, and stimulates hair growth. Please forward this to anyone who could use this advice. Let the revolution begin!
Recently, awareness about the damaging nature of harsh shampoos containing alkaline ingredients such as sodium laureth sulfate has become common knowledge. Conscious hairstylists and estheticians are finally speaking out against the industry-pushed idea of “better living through chemistry.” The idea that shampooing daily is damaging—rather than healthy—for our hair has finally taken hold, and people, especially curly-heads are dramatically cutting back on the amount, and harshness of the washing they do. I am very pleased by this and am seeing much healthier curls that are easier to style. Unfortunately, I am also seeing scalp buildup and the problem of oily scalp with dry, brittle hair. Not shampooing is not quite enough. I’d like to teach you how to actually use your natural oils as nature intended, via brushing and oiling. Brushing distributes natural oil throughout the hair, protecting and softening it. Oiling the scalp emulsifies and disperses scalp build-up without stripping or disrupting the natural pH. Together they leave you with silky, rich hair and a clean, healthy scalp.
Brushing and Oiling 101:
Brushing is done before oiling and washing, when the hair is nice and dirty. It is always done on dry hair. The proper brush is natural bristled. Plastic bristles are helpful for detangling only.
A natural bristle brush. This is usually made of boar bristles, and is the only kind of brush that will actually distribute oil throughout the hair. Unless you have very fine hair, you will want one that is natural bristle, with a single nylon tine in each tuft. The nylon tine helps allow the soft, natural bristles to pass through your hair. If yours is fine try all bristle. Remember: this is not a detangling brush. We are trying to smooth oil from the scalp through the hair.
Hair Oils. There are many oils that are appropriate for this, and most cultures have their own traditional oils. The only thing you do not want to use is mineral oil. Really, any plant-based oil will do. I have used sweet almond oil, jojoba, sesame, etc. but my personal favorite remains good, extra virgin olive oil. It is light, does not gum up or stain, and is inexpensive for its excellent quality. To this base oil any number of herbs and essential oils can be added for specific needs. I mix in essence of rosemary for dark, lustrous hair and chamomile for bringing out natural highlights in lighter, and red hair. The possibilities are endless but please remember: essential oils are extremely strong! Never use more than a couple drops in a treatment. I don’t want anybody making themselves sick. Make your own or come get some pre-mixed from me.
Step 1. Brushing
Using a natural bristle brush, start brushing section by section. You can clip away hair you are not working on. If you are very tangled, focus just for a moment on getting the ends detangled, but then go right back to the idea of moving oil from scalp out. It will all detangle slowly, I promise. Smooth in all directions. For example, brush the hair above your forehead back until it is smooth, then forward over the forehead, then right, and left, smoothing in all directions. Think about getting that oil on the scalp all the way to those dry little tips. It will feel strange at first, like you are trying to brush a sweater, but the hairs will start to line up, allowing for smoothing to occur. You will feel the hair softening. It will be very slightly oily to the touch. You may see a lot of dandruff coming up in certain sections of your head. Focus on these sections. Usually the hair will be more starved for oil in those same sections where the oil is compacted on the scalp.
The coarser and kinkier your fro, the more daunting this will feel. But if this description fits you, let me also say that most likely, your scalp is in the greatest need of an overhaul.
Brush ‘till you can brush no more. Get comfortable. Have a glass of wine. Turn on a movie. You might be here a while. But I will say this: it begins to feel really good—like a nice scalp massage. I am now downright addicted to brushing.
Step 2. Oiling
Using the oil of your choice (as discussed earlier) pour out about the size of a quarter onto your palm or a dish. Dip the tips of your fingers and begin working it into the scalp. Oil cleans oil. Focus on those sections where dandruff came up. You will notice it emulsifying away! This part only takes a few minutes, but feels great. Your scalp is covered in muscles; give it some good lovin’.
Part 3. Washing
Wash immediately, or put it up for the night and wash in the morning. I often enjoy the texture my hair has after all that brushing, and work the big, soft focus 70’s thang for a day or two, before washing it. A pair of combs…mmm, mmm.
Anyway, if you have pulled up a whole lot of buildup you may want to do a sugar scrub, than a gentle ‘poo & condition. Some people will just rinse and condition. Use your favorite washing method.
I am not proposing that you do this every time you wet your hair; none of us has that kind of leisure time. But once or twice a month, over time, will do wonders.
As with any natural remedy, the effects take time to come to fruition. It took about 6 months for me to get to the point where I could stop using styling product. But it happened, and has made my life a whole lot easier, and my hair a whole lot more luscious.