One of the most pressing concerns for those with natural hair is “How do I keep my hair moisturized?” Keeping our hair soft, hydrated, and moisturized seems to be a never-ending struggle for naturals.
You may be aware of the benefits of mango butter for the skin. This natural butter is a popular ingredient in beauty products due to its ability to moisturize and soften dry skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and protect against the suns UV rays.
Mango butter is used in many skincare products from lip balms to lotions and can even be used to fade stretch marks, dark marks, and acne scars! It’s great for all skin types, but did you know that it also works wonders on your hair?
If you’ve been struggling with dry hair, keep reading to learn more about this amazing ingredient.
Moisture vs Hydration
First, let’s talk about what it means for our hair to be moisturized. Moisture and hydration are two different terms that we use to describe healthy hair.
The hydration step comes first. You need an adequate intake of water in order to keep your hair follicles healthy so that your hair can grow, and to prevent dry, flaky scalp.
Water also fills your hair shaft to maintain its shape and keep it strong. When your hair strands to not have enough water this is called dehydration. Dehydrated hair feels rough and becomes frizzy.
This is why it is crucial to use hair products that have a high water content. But, of course that’s not the end of the story. Just like water evaporates from a puddle, it also evaporates from our hair unless we do something to keep that water inside our hair shaft.
This is where natural oils come into play. Oil serves as a moisturizer that seals the water into our hair.
The problem with most naturals though, is that they tend to go way overboard saturating their hair in heavy oils or shea butter in an attempt to moisturize the hair. Yes, we want to trap that water inside our hair, but when we overdo it, we’re actually blocking any additional water from entering the hair shaft and basically suffocating our hair strands and hair follicles.
Your primary hair care products - conditioner, deep conditioner, and moisturizer - should be water based. This includes aloe vera, which has a high water content is excellent at hydrating the hair.
Water or aloe should be the first ingredient of these products, and they should also contain a small amount of high quality oils in the mixture. You want the oils or butters to further down in the ingredient list, and you want to have a light texture, not a thick consistency like a body butter.
The benefit of products that are formulated this way, with high water content and a small amount of carrier oils and essential oils mixed in, is that they are able to hydrate and moisturize your hair in a single step!
If you are using high quality hair products made with natural ingredients, you should not need to coat your hair in castor oil, coconut oil, or shea butter after applying your moisturizer. That means there's no need for the LOC method or the LCO method if you are using the right products.
If you still want to use an oil over your moisturizer, you should be using it sparingly. I know we love to grab a big glob of product and spread it all over our hair, but this is unnecessary and when it comes to oils, it can give you the opposite of what you're looking for.
Too much oil makes the hair dry and dull, which is definitely not what we want! Look for a light oil like jojoba oil or avocado oil over a heavier oil such as castor oil.
So how does mango butter fit into the equation? Mango trees are grown in tropical or subtropical climates like Haiti, Peru, and Brazil. Mango butter is made by opening the seed of the mango fruit and taking out the kernel that lives inside. The mango seeds are then crushed under high pressure and the contents are extracted into a butter.
Benefits of Mango Butter
Pure mango butter is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C as well as antioxidants and minerals that support hair health. It seals in moisture, reduces scalp irritation, and helps prevent breakage and split ends. It is also more light weight than shea butter or cocoa butter, so it won’t weigh the hair down or make it feel greasy.
In addition to vitamins A, C, and E, mango butter also contains a high concentration of fatty acids – oleic acid, stearic acid, palmitic acid, and linoleic acid.
Oleic acid is naturally produced inside your body, and also can be found in certain foods. Eating foods high in oleic acid can be beneficial for heart health. When applied to the skin, oleic acid helps reduce signs of aging. When used in hair care, it softens the hair and prevents water loss.
Linoleic acid is one of the essential fatty acids found in various plant oils. It stimulates hair growth and helps keep moisture inside your hair strands.
Stearic acid is a fatty acid found in both plants and animals. It helps to moisturize the skin and can also be used to give moisturizers and lotions their creamy consistency.
Palmitic acid is another fatty acid found in mango butter. This fatty acid is great for retaining moisture in dry skin and hair.
This butter is nourishing for your scalp and hair follicles, which helps prevent dryness, flaking, itching, and shedding. Mango butter is able to penetrate the skin and provide a barrier to prevent dry scalp and sun damage, as well as protecting the hair from environmental damage.
How to Use Mango Butter in Your Hair
You can use mango butter in your hair in a few different ways. It works well as a pre-shampoo treatment to soften the hair prior to washing. Just apply to the hair from root to tip and leave in the hair for about 30 minutes before shampooing it out.
Mango butter makes a great addition to conditioners and deep conditioners due to its emollient properties, which help keep moisture inside your hair. This is essential for healthy hair growth.
Remember that you don’t want your products to contain too much butter. A little goes a long way. Look for it further down the ingredient list (not in the top 3-5 ingredients).
Mango butter can also be used on the ends of your hair to coat your strands and prevent split ends. A small amount is all you need to get the job done.
Finding the Best Quality Mango Butter
Now that you know how to use mango butter in your hair care routine, let’s talk about how to know which mango butter is the best quality?
There are many different types of mango butter on the market. Cold pressed vs expeller pressed, organic or conventional, refined or unrefined – how do you know which one to choose?
Cold pressed mango butter is produced by crushing the mango kernels at a low temperature to preserve the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals inside the butter.
Expeller pressed means that the kernels are pressed using very high heat and pressure to extract the contents. This can degrade the nutritious properties of the final product.
Organic mango butter has been grown without any pesticides or harmful chemicals, which is best for your body and for the environment.
Refined mango butter means that the butter has been bleached and or deodorized after extraction to remove the color and scent. This involves using chemicals to change the natural smell and appearance of the butter.
The refining process increases the shelf life of the product and is the easiest way to remove any impurities from the raw mixture. However, this also reduces the amount of available vitamins and minerals. Due to the relative simplicity of the process and the chemicals used, refined mango butter is less expensive than the unrefined version.
Unrefined butter has not been altered in any way and retains the vitamins, antioxidants, healthy fats, and minerals that make it beneficial to our hair and skin.
I recommend using expeller pressed, organic, unrefined mango butter whenever possible.
If you are looking for a deep conditioner that contains mango butter, Indara Naturals Honey Hibiscus Deep Conditioner is packed with hair fortifying and hydrating ingredients such as amla, hibiscus, and manuka honey, as well as mango butter and aloe vera for a deep moisture treatment that brings thirsty strands back to life. You can find it by clicking here.