Curly Methos - Oils & Butters

What they are and the differences between them

Without going into purely technical disquisitions, an oil or a butter are both composed of a series of substances that do not bind to water, so we can say that once applied to the hair in the appropriate way, they penetrate and / or form a protective film on the outer surface, impermeable to water. We will explore this aspect in the next paragraphs.

It is important to remember that all oils and butters are never composed of a single substance, but are always a mixture of numerous different substances produced by a plant and concentrated in an extract. They can be obtained from the flowers, seeds, leaves or other plant parts of numerous plants, all with different characteristics and therefore also with different properties.

What is the difference between an oil and a butter?

The main difference between a butter and an oil is its consistency. The term oil indicates a LIQUID compound, the term butter indicates a SOLID compound. However, their consistency is linked to temperature, an oil like coconut oil can easily solidify at room temperature below 20 degrees and turn into a buttery and no longer liquid compound. For this reason oils and butters can be considered equal but with a different consistency. As we recommend on CurlySelection, using butters for styling in the winter is not an appropriate choice because they could solidify and therefore lose most of their qualities towards the hair. Butters are more suitable for summer or hot climates. Being liquid at room temperature, oils suffer less from solidification but it is always better to pay attention to which oil you choose to use. Some of them, such as coconut oil, avocado, babassu and others, tend to solidify at not very low temperatures, easily reachable outdoors during the winter.

Why using an hair butter or oil?

Although all oils and butters share basic chemical-physical characteristics, we can identify and divide them based on their ability to penetrate the hair on the one hand and their ability to form a protective film on the outside of the hair on the other.

The greater or lesser predisposition of an oil or butter to penetrate the hair is mainly due to its composition. For example, an oil rich in triglycerides and mono-unsaturated fats tends to penetrate more than an oil whose quantity of these two elements is lower.

However, as oils and butters are blends, there is no clear cut limit between penetrant and sealant. Before deciding at the table that a certain oil is not good for your hair you should try it, each hair has a slightly different porosity and physical structure, so as often happens, the best thing is to try, experiment on yourself and not rely on uniquely numeric data. In summary, all oils and butters are more or less penetrating or sealants depending on their composition but not all react in the same way on different hair types.


Let's see why to use an oil or butter that can penetrate inside the hair.

The first and perhaps the most important work an oil or a butter does is acting as an emollient agent, it softens the hair making it more flexible and less prone to breakage and damage because it is less fragile and therefore more elastic.

It works as a lubricant and allows the hair to bond together without excessive friction and reducing frizz.

In the presence of a very porous hair it can prevent too much water from penetrating too quickly. In a nutshell, it is able to prevent over-hydration on damaged and very porous hair, in this way the hair does not swell with water being protected by a waterproof substance, it instead maintains balanced hydration.

A penetrating oil or butter counteracts the washing action of the shampoo, reducing its aggressiveness towards the hair. This is useful in various cases, for example in the case of oily skin you may decide to want to do a purifying wash focused on the scalp, protecting the rest of the hair or just the tips by applying a modest amount of oil or butter with a good penetrating ability.

A penetrating oil or butter offers decent protection against the chlorine contained in the water of both the pool and the tap. It offers good protection against some substances contained in sea water, and in some cases constitutes a real physical barrier around the hair. There is no doubt that oils and butters have been used since the dawn of human civilization to protect and even perfume hair.

A penetrating oil or butter is excellent in the case of particular hairstyles, braids, protective-styling etc ... on any type of hair, whether it is curly, wavy or straight. The ability of an oil or butter to work as an emollient allows the hair to be more resistant to damage due to drawing in practically any hairstyle.


Let's see instead why to use an oil or butter that tends to seal.

The main function of this type of oils and butters is more related to styling than to protecting the hair, even the quantities used are very modest, we are talking about a few drops at each use.

As previously mentioned, this type of oils (mostly) and butters (to a lesser extent) are film-forming, i.e. they form a film on the outside of the hair that helps to avoid the evaporation of water from inside the hair, especially in those with high porosity. In this way, hydration is retained inside the hair, keeping it balanced and avoiding dehydration.

A film-forming can be helpful when breaking the cast. A few drops on the palm of your hands and that's it. This reduces the frizz and increases the definition.

Usually this type of oils and butters is also used to obtain a glossy visual effect, which is not always the case with penetrating oils and butters. Using very few drops can offer an extra shine after styling. Similarly it can be used to split clumps (strands) into smaller strands while providing extra shine and reducing possible frizz


In addition to the individual oils extracted from a single and specific plant, there are oil mixes specially developed for curly hair, completely suitable for the Curly Girl method and offering hybrid characteristics that make them balanced multifunctional products, suitable both as penetrating oils and as sealants, combining a specific fragrance depending on the chosen line.

Their particular formulation means that they are often "non-fat" with little tendency to grease. The presence of a fragrance studied by the manufacturer should not be underestimated, because most of the oils extracted from a single plant usually have no particular olfactory note, they are often odorless.

The various fragrances that we find in specific oil mixes can be considered hair perfumes. There are essences with citrus notes, vanilla notes or more complex and refined ones. Those who love to use perfumed essences on their body will not be disappointed by the intense and varied fragrances that they will find in the special oil mixes selected by CurlySelection.

Tabella indicativa della capacità di penetrazione nel capello

How to use oils and butters?

The general recommendation is: they should be used in modest quantities to avoid an unwanted oily effect. Usually a FEW DROPS are enough for any use. Here are some examples of use:


We can use penetrating oils and butters as a pre-wash, taking care to allow time for the product to penetrate inside the hair. This is not a fast process, on the contrary, it is rather slow and as such it is advisable to let the oil or butter soak for several hours, even 12 or more. The longer the application time, the greater the possibility that the product penetrates deeply into the hair. At this stage it is advisable to use a thermal cap that provides a slight warmth to speed up the process.

It is also advisable to increase the amount of product used until the hair is saturated, a few drops are insufficient for this purpose, however it is better to apply a few drops at a time at repeated intervals rather than a larger amount at one time. 

Sea / Chlorine

Also in this case, the more oil or butter has penetrated into the hair, the more it will be protected. Always apply a few drops at a time trying to saturate the hair without exaggerating.

Capillary massage

Both types of oils and butters are excellent for delicate capillary massages, both performed with the fingertips and with a special massager such as the Scrunch-It Scalp Massager. Just apply a few drops on the fingertips or on the massager and without applying too much force, stimulate the micro-circulation and therefore the oxygenation of the tissues thanks to a pleasant and relaxing massage.

Ideal to use a mix of scented oils of your choice such as The Mane Choice - Heavenly Halo Oil Mist or also Flora & Curl - African Citrus Superfruit Hair Oil to combine the therapeutic massage with a pleasant fragrance that will in turn help to create a relaxing environment to maximize the benefits of massage.


For styling, as we have seen, an oil with greater sealing capacity is recommended. Whether used to break the cast, divide the locks or for particular styling techniques. a few drops should be used. Using too much does not lead to optimal results.

For example, in the LOC technique (Leave in - Oil - Cream) the leave-in is applied to wet hair, then with a few drops of oil on the hands a protective oily film is formed that seals the water and product inside the hair and finally  a styling cream is used to shape and define.

For further information, please visit this article published on Science-y Hair Blog:

Related products

Comments (0)

No comments at this moment
Product added to wishlist
Product added to compare.