If you’ve ever dealt with dry hair but don’t have any hair moisturizer on hand, you’ve probably considered other options.
In a pinch, skin lotion may seem like the perfect solution to restore moisture to your thirsty curls, being that it feels slippery and has moisturizing properties. But is lotion okay for your hair?
In this article, we’ll address that question and more.
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Can You Put Lotion in Your Hair?
You can use lotion on your hair; however, body lotion is not designed for your hair. We love the idea of multi-use products, as they allow us to save money and space, but some things should be used only for their specific purposes.
Body lotion is formulated to moisturize your skin throughout the day, and its ingredients reflect that. Your hair’s physical makeup is very different from your skin’s makeup, which is why you shouldn’t use skin lotion for your hair.
This advice applies regardless of hair type and covers all types of lotions. We don’t recommend using any type of lotion on your hair unless it’s specifically formulated for hair care.
This includes baby lotion, cocoa butter lotion, Jergens lotion, Cetaphil lotion, Calamine lotion, and other hand lotions that aren’t formulated for hair treatments.
Common Body Lotion Ingredients and Their Effects
Body lotions often contain ingredients that are great for keeping your skin moisturized, but they may not work for your hair. Some of the ingredients that you’ll find in lotions include:
- Mineral oil – This ingredient is excellent at combating dry skin. But, when mineral oil is applied to your hair, it can easily cause buildup and make your hair difficult to moisturize. This can lead to hair damage and breakage.
- Fragrances – Many lotions contain artificial fragrances that can cause scalp irritation. Some manufacturers also use artificial scents to cover up other smelly ingredients, which could be harmful.
- Lanolin – Lanolin is another ingredient often found in lotions. It’s a heavyweight skin protectant. However, if it comes in contact with your hair, not only will you have a goopy mess on your hands, but you may end up with stubborn buildup on your hair and scalp.
- Parabens, DMDM Hydantoin, BHA – These other ingredients show up in body lotions to stabilize the product or extend its shelf-life. Though these ingredients won’t necessarily harm your hair, they can negatively affect your health.
- Non-Water-Soluble Silicones – For anyone with natural hair, it’s imperative to avoid some silicones, namely non-water-soluble silicones. The problem with these silicones is that they’re difficult to wash away and easily create a film on your hair. This makes your hair harder to moisturize, which could lead to hair weakness and breakage.
This is not an exhaustive list of problematic ingredients you may find in lotions. Other lotion ingredients can leave your hair looking greasy.
Some of our research suggests that certain chemicals in lotion can cause premature graying, although we’ve not been able to confirm the veracity of this claim.
So, if your lotion contains any of the ingredients listed above, you may want to stop by the store and pick up a moisturizer designed specifically for hair care. Some great options include shea butter, coconut oil, aloe vera gel, hair milk, hair mask, and other daily conditioners.
Not All Lotions are Created Equal
It’s important to note that not all lotions are created equal. There are some lotions out there that are chock full of sticky ingredients that will suffocate and buildup on your hair strands.
But, on the other hand, there are some simply formulated lotions that will be free of ingredients that’ll harm your hair. So, we recommend that you look at the ingredient list on your lotion to see if it’s okay to apply lotion to your hair.
Try Lotion in a Pinch
In some cases, you might be out and about with a lion’s mane of frizz and some lotion you found lying around.
If so, you’ll want to limit body lotion usage on your hair. It’s not the best idea, but it’s certainly better than having no product on hand.
If you have absolutely nothing else to tame your frizzy hair and get you through the day, you can use lotion in a pinch.
If you decide to do so, use the following tips to minimize the risk of hair damage:
- Check the packaging and make sure that none of the above ingredients are present. If they are, you’ll have to decide whether you want to take the risk and try it on your hair.
- Use only as much lotion as you need to make your hair look presentable. We recommend starting with a dime-sized amount and applying the lotion to dry hair. Just in case your lotion has some ingredients that aren’t good for your hair, we recommend that you minimize the amount you use.
- As soon as you can, wash the lotion out of your hair and wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo. That way, if there was anything questionable or damaging in the lotion, it won’t be sitting in your hair for an extended period.
If you plan on using lotion on your hair on an ongoing basis, keep an eye on your hair’s health.
If your hair ever becomes difficult to manage and feels coated in something, clean your hair thoroughly with a deep cleansing shampoo to remove any buildup.
And if you suspect that the lotion is to blame, switch out that lotion for another one or use a product formulated for hair.
When you don’t have hair products, body and hand lotion are not the only options to try. Here are some alternatives to consider:
You’d be surprised by the great things good ole’ H₂O can do for your hair. If you’re dealing with frizz, you can add some water to your hair and use your fingers to smooth it out.
This works especially well if you already have gel or moisturizer in your hair, as the water will help to reactivate the product that’s already in your hair.
If your hair feels dry, spray it down with water to moisturize it until you can get your hands on some moisturizing products.
Most of us have olive oil in our kitchen cabinets. To add some moisture to your thirsty strands, spray your hair down with some water, dispense the oil into the palm of your hands, rub them together, and then apply the oil to your hair. The oil will give your hair a bit of hydration.
Lotions for Your Hair and Body
If you want to use lotion on your hair to save money and decrease the number of self-care products you use, this section is for you!
There are lotions out there that you can use for both your hair and skin, and we’ll share a few with you below.
- Alaffia Coconut Strawberry Hair & Body Lotion – This is a lotion formulated for dual use: hair and skin. It’s a super lightweight lotion that is as good for your skin as it is for your hair. You can use it to moisturize your skin, tame flyaways, and hydrate and smooth your strands. But what’s great about this lotion is that it doesn’t have any of the offensive ingredients that natural girls like to stay away from, including parabens, sulfates, and artificial fragrances. The product is marketed toward kids but can be used by adults as well. It’s all-natural, vegan, and good for ladies with sensitive skin.
- Tea Tree Hair and Body Moisturizer – This is a hair and body moisturizer that contains natural ingredients for curly hair, like tea tree oil, peppermint oil, and jojoba oil. These natural ingredients combine to hydrate your hair, scalp, and body. The moisturizer is paraben-free, color-safe, and vegan. The various natural hair oils are also great for better-smelling hair.
- Ancient Greek Butter Cream – This moisturizer is packed with multiple oils, including vitamin E, almond oil, lavender oil, and more. It keeps your skin looking youthful and hydrated. But the biggest plus is that you can use it to smooth and moisturize your hair. In addition, this product is free of parabens, GMOs, and gluten.
Take your pick of one of the above moisturizers to keep both your skin and hair healthy and happy. Just keep in mind that applying body lotion to your is not recommended and should only be used in a pinch.
- How To Keep Curls Moisturized All Day
- How to Moisturize Low Porosity Hair Between Washes
- Should I Wet My Natural Hair Everyday?
- How Often Should You Moisturize Your Hair
Now you know that you shouldn’t use body lotion on your hair unless you have no other choice. If you’re a rebel and want to give lotion a try, minimize the amount you use as much as possible. Too much lotion will likely lead to hair problems.
If you like the idea of using lotion on your hair, try a hair and body lotion from this article. We hope that this article is helpful to you on your natural hair journey.
Kenneth Byrd holds a BS in Accounting and Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a serial hair blogger that has been writing about hair care since 2008, when he co-founded Curl Centric and Natural Hair Box. Curl Centric is a website operated by a husband and wife team that encourages healthy hair care.