Here’s Why Hair Butter Is Your Natural Hair’s Secret Weapon

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If you ask anyone with natural hair what’s in their collection, they’ll immediately list off a few essentials like a clarifying shampoo, a deep conditioner, a leave-in conditioner and so on, but they might forget to mention one super-secret weapon: hair butter. See, this styling product is a must for some naturalistas, especially in the colder months. If you’re unsure about whether you should add hair butter to your routine, we asked a few experts to share all the benefits of using one and how it can be incorporated into your existing line up.

Meet the Experts:

25 Best Styling Products for Natural Hair

a design image of a woman applying hair butter to her natural curls
Design Art By Dasha Burobina

What is Hair Butter?

Hair butter is a styling product that’s formulated with creamy butters (like shea, mango or cocoa) and natural oils (like castor, jojoba and coconut). This rich blend offers definition and protection, and seals in moisture to your natural locks, which is why it’s often used as the last step in a haircare routine.

What Are the Benefits of Using Hair Butter?

Hair butter has many benefits that cater to natural hair. You’ll find that…

  • It helps with definition. “Hair butter can help define curls and keep them moisturized, which is very important during dry winter months,” says Wilson. The rich formula also brings your curl pattern to life. Aside from the curly gals, both founders of DreamGirls note that hair butter is also great for protective styles (aka twists, braids, etc.) to smooth and define the style.
  • It maintains moisture. “Hair butters have a rich and hydrating blend of ingredients that deeply nourish and moisturize your hair, which reduces dryness and frizz, and prevents breakage,” says Sims. Once applied to your natural hair, it’ll add and lock in moisture, so you prevent dry, frizzy strands for the rest of the week.
  • It reduces dryness. Moisture is key for all hair types, but especially for naturalistas. Hair butter reduces dryness, split ends and overall damage. “Hair butters can also help to improve scalp health, especially those with a dry scalp,” adds the founders.
  • It protects your hair. Most formulas contain anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. As a result, hair butter can help improve your overall scalp health by reducing irritation, inflammation and dandruff.

Can All Hair Types Use Hair Butter?

According to the experts, the styling product works best if your hair is often dry, frizzy, coarse or brittle. It’s also beneficial for high porosity or high density hair. A coily gal is a great example of someone who would benefit from using hair butter. As Sims explains: “4c hair has tight coils and tends to be the driest [of the hair types]. Hair butters can give coily hair the extra moisture it needs for styling and daily maintenance.”

When it comes to people with fine hair, oily scalps or low porosity hair, these groups should refrain from using hair butter. It can weigh down strands and increase product build up to your scalp. If you fall into these hair categories, a hair cream might be more suitable for you. They tend to be more water-based, so your strands still receive moisture without leaving you with greasy, limp strands.

How Often Should You Use Hair Butter?

No one knows your hair better than you do. Start with a small amount (about a dime or quarter-sized scoop) and run it through each section of your hair. It’s suggested to apply it on damp hair after a wash. There’s also the option to apply it directly on dry hair, but be cautious about how much you’re applying. “Hair butter should be used as needed, but we don’t recommend using it daily, as it can weigh down your hair and cause product build up over time,” explains Thompson.

Are There Other Ways to Use Hair Butter?

The most popular way to use hair butter is at the end of a haircare routine, but you can also use hair butter as a pre-shampoo mask, a leave-in conditioner or even a hair mask. Hair butter can be kept on your hair or washed away to maintain moisture whenever you need it.

Is Hair Butter Better Than Hair Oil?

Both haircare products serve their purpose and one might be better for certain hair types than the other. It’s up to you which one you prefer to use on your natural hair. “Butters and oils are two separate things that can be used for different results. Butters are heavier than oils and provide more moisture,” explains Sims. “You can always add oil to your butters when applying treatments. You can also use oil to pull out your twist outs and natural styles.”

Bottom Line

Whether you have super dry hair or coily locks, hair butter can be a great addition to your haircare routine as it can bring back moisture and define your natural hair. While you can go the DIY route (like this mango butter mix which works just as great on your hair and body), we have a few favorites straight from the beauty aisles to get you started:

If you’re seeking intense moisture, look no further than this miracle masque. It’s formulated with five butters—shea, murumuru, capuacu, mango and Brazilian bacuri butter—to moisturize and repair your strands. The hair butter is also infused with honey to add shine and soften hair. “I bleach my hair, so I'm always looking for a great hair mask. I decided to try this one and was not disappointed. It's thick which I love and it spreads evenly through hair. It also leaves hair super silky, smooth and moisturized,” says one reviewer.

Whether you have dry, brittle or damaged hair, this butter will bring back the moisture it needs. Its nourishing blend (featuring flaxseed, shea butter, avocado, castor oil and honey) offers hydration and definition for every hairstyle. It also aims to reduce thinning and split ends, strengthen damaged strands and soften locks. “I had to see if all the reviews were right and they were! This had my 4C hair feeling soft, manageable and it even gave me a nice curl. [It has a] nice scent that’s not too overpowering and a little really goes a long way. I put this in my hair and comb my hair in twists. A week later when I took it out, it was still moisturized. Aunt Jackie has the formula, so you won't be disappointed,” shares one customer.

This daily moisturizer is a hair butter and cream hybrid. It’s formulated with shea butter to lock in moisture and vitamin E to promote healthy hair growth. The combo also claims to reduce frizz and improve shine. Use it to define your curls or apply it while you’re twisting your natural hair for the night. “I have been looking for a daily moisturizer for years for my 4C hair. This product is not too greasy, does not leave a film and smells great! The smell is very mild and not overwhelming like other products. It serves as a hair lotion and I love that you can use it daily,” explains one reviewer. “I use if every 2-3 days and it never disappoints. It leaves my hair soft and well moisturized.”

Need some serious curl definition? This hair butter delivers on shaping, detangling and moisturizing your ringlets, thanks to the butter and oil combination. See, the formula includes shea butter to soothe itchy scalps and condition hair, as well as coconut oil to encourage health growth and palm kernel oil to strengthen and moisturize strands.

"This product is great for my 4C hair. I used to avoid creams (only using hair mousse or gels) for twisting my hair because it would leave white flakes. This product does not flake and it has made my two-strand twist look better than before," shares one buyer. "I don't have to constantly retwist my hair at night. The product also has a great hold and it offers superb moisture. This [creme] adds so much more moisture than any mousse or gel I've ever used."

Whether you just washed your hair or need a weekly moisturizer, this twisting butter is great for any style. Its key ingredients—sweet almond milk and honey—aim to nourish and define your natural hair. “I love using this to moisturize my hair. I have thick coarse hair and it makes it feel soft and easier to style without leaving it greasy. It also smells like cake batter, [which is] so good,” says one reviewer.

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Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...