Can I Use Shea Butter & Coconut Oil Mixtures to Lock Natural Curls in Place?

Coconut oil is rich in curl-enhancing moisture and emollients.

Photo: Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Turning tight kinks into loose curls can be done with texturizers, relaxers and perms, but the salon cost is nothing compared to the toll chemical treatments take on your hair. Locking in curls with shea butter and coconut oil will give you sleek and silky coils without drying or damaging your hair. Curls locked naturally fade faster than chemically processed ones, but your hair will benefit from the gentle treatment it gets from natural shea butter and coconut oil.

Butter it Up

Shea butter as a beauty aid dates back nearly to the dawn of time in Africa. Refining shea butter from the nuts of the shea tree has traditionally been women’s work, and in modern Africa many women support their families by selling fair trade shea butter. It is rich in emollients, which moisturize hair and protects the shine and bounce of natural curls. Start your curl-locking process by massaging pure shea butter from the roots to the tips of clean, wet hair.

Oil it Down

Coconut oil is a mainstay of Ayurvedic beauty. Oiling the hair and scalp is a centuries-long tradition women do for themselves and their children. Coconut oil adds moisture and moisture makes hair curlier. Separate your shea-buttered hair into sections about the thickness of your thumb and smooth a few drops of coconut oil into each bunch.

Comb It Out

Creating loose curls out of tightly curled hair involves a little stretching, which is why it is necessary to first coat your hair with shea butter and coconut oil. The shea butter helps protect your hair from breakage, while the coconut oil adds moisture and shine. Comb each section out from the root to the tip, twisting and gently stretching it into the curl you prefer. If necessary, keep a spray bottle of water handy and use it to keep each section wet.

Lock It In

Arrange your hair exactly the way you want it as far as where the part is and how the curls fall. Sit under a hood-style dryer for at least an hour or until the hair is completely dry. The shea butter helps protect your hair from the heat and the coconut oil helps counteract the dryness of the hot air. You can use a blow dryer to lock in curls, but you have to do it one curl at a time. The ones in back may be hard to reach, especially if you have lots of layers of curls.

Keep it Clean

Raw, unprocessed shea butter and coconut oil contain no preservatives, which means they will spoil if they're not refrigerated. They can start to smell bad after a week or so in your hair and may also attract bugs. Use unprocessed shea butter and coconut oil lightly on your hair. Wash and re-lock it at least every two to three days to keep your curls smelling as fresh as they look.

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