What’s the Difference between Moisturizing Oils vs. Sealing Oils?

The difference between moisturizing oils v. sealing oils
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Did you know that all oils are not created equally? Well, they are not because different oils have different functions. Some oils are moisturizing and some are sealing. But, do you know what the difference is between moisturizing oils and sealing oils? In this article, I am going to explain the difference between these oils to help you have the best hair care journey possible.

Moisturizing v. Sealing Oils


Moisturizing oils are able to penetrate the hair shaft.  These oils tend to work best when used with a water-based leave in conditioner or with water by itself, as the moisturizing agent.  These oils are great for hot oil treatments and pre-shampoo treatments because they won’t leave a film on your hair (since they actually penetrate it).

Here are some examples of moisturizing oils:

1.Coconut Oil – is a key ingredient in many natural beauty products. This oil has natural antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, and can penetrate hair better than other oils.  The molecular structure of the oil is small enough to allow it to penetrate your hair follicle, unlike most other oils, but in a very limited quantity. Coconut oil is usually most effective when used with a bit of water or a water-based leave-in. 

Moisturizing v. Sealing Oils

2. Olive OilOlive oil, in particular, can have a major moisturizing effect. Olive oil adds softness and strength to your hair by penetrating the shaft and retaining moisture. This oil also can leave your hair with shine because it helps smoothes the outer cuticle of the hair.

What's the Difference between Moisturizing Oils vs. Sealing Oils?

3. Avocado OilAvocado oil is ideal for hair that is dry due to heat damage and environmental factors. It’s high vitamin E content strengthens hair to prevent breakage, while helping to smooth the cuticle. It is lighter than olive oil, and will absorb into the cuticle without weighing your hair down. Best used as a pre-poo treatment.

What's the Difference between Moisturizing Oils vs. Sealing Oils?


Unlike moisturizing oils sealing oils are unable to penetrate the hair shaft.  In other words, these oils just literally sit on top of your hair. For best results with sealing oils, you should use them after you’ve applied a good moisturizing (water based product).  People commonly use sealing oils when doing braiding styles or twist outs.  Importantly, once a heavy and thick oil is applied to your hair it creates a seal.  That seal is a barrier that helps prevent moisture from getting out.  Yet, that same barrier prevents moisture from getting in.  This is why it’s best to use sealing oils after you’ve properly moisturized your hair.

Here are a few examples of sealing oils:

1. Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO) – It is no surprise that JBCO is 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 several hair textures.

What's the Difference between Moisturizing Oils vs. Sealing Oils?

2. Jojoba OilJojoba most closely resembles the natural hair sebum our body produces. Jojoba is a fairly light oil that can effectively seal in the moisture added during wash day or other hair regimen activities.  This oil is also very good for people suffering with dry or flaky scalps as it helps to restore the proper pH to your hair.

What's the Difference between Moisturizing Oils vs. Sealing Oils? Photo of jojoba oil

3. Grapeseed Oil– This oil is extremely light and possesses an ability to withstand high amounts of heat. This makes it best for women with finer and thinner strands of hair that want to seal in the moisture for their ends without being weighed down, greasy, or oily.

What's the Difference between Moisturizing Oils vs. Sealing Oils?

I understand the struggle of finding products that work, especially hair oils. This is why I went to work to solve this problem. If you are looking for a hair oil that works together with your already established healthy hair care regime, check out the Voice of Hair PureFix Elixir. This 6-in-1 hair and scalp treatment that works together to support longer, stronger and moisturized hair.

Just in case you’re in a hurry, here are some key takeaways from this article. 

  1. Moisturizing oils generate your hair shaft. 
  2. Some examples of moisturizing oil are coconut, avocado, and olive oils. 
  3. Sealing oils don’t penetrate your hair shaft but help seal in the moisture of your hair.  
  4. Some examples of sealing oils are Black castor, grape-seed, and jojoba oils.
  5. If you’re looking for hair oil that works together with your already established healthy hair care regime, check out the Voice of Hair PureFix Elixir.




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Brandelyn Green
Brandelyn Green is the Founder of VoiceOfHair, a platform to help women of color find the best hairstyles and hairstylists! After living in 8 cities and in Sweden within a 10 year span Brandelyn became frustrated after trying to find trusted hairstylists who could help her maintain her natural hair. Since starting VoiceOfHair in 2014 she has grown the social media platform to over 1MM+ on Instagram and Facebook. As a natural who is also a salon goer, she wanted to create a platform where people could find the best products, hairstylists, advice and trends. VoiceOfHair provides hairspiration (hair + inspiration) as well as styling tips for women with relaxed and natural hair!
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