My experiment with petrolatum Having been natural for awhile, I swore off mineral oil, petrolatum (petroleum) and silicone products near the beginning of my journey. These are supposed to contribute to buildup on the hair that blocks subsequent moisture and increases dryness after awhile. Fast forward to a couple of months ago when I was browsing the hair care aisle at my local Target. I saw the Cantu for natural hair coconut curling cream. I'd heard rave reviews about it and used to love Cantu's leave-in repair cream. So I decided to give it a try. I was in a rush so I glanced at the ingredients and noted the advertising claims of no this and that included (ex. no sulfates, no parabens, no mineral oil, etc). I got home, used it and loved it. It just melted into my hair. But as I read through the ingredients more carefully, I saw that petrolatum was in the top few ingredients. I was shocked b/c I really liked how it performed in my hair. Then I remembered that it was supposed to be over time where the problems cropped up. So I decided to do an experiment. The experiment: On the right half of my hair I'd use the Cantu coconut curling cream and on my left I'd continue using my normal products. I'd use the exact same products on both sides otherwise. Except on the left I'd replace the Cantu with the Shea Moisture curl enhancing smoothie, a Camille Rose butter or other natural hair butter/cream. All products that I liked and had used before. I wanted to see if over time the right side of my hair really did start to get drier or dull or otherwise go downhill. The results: The right side of my hair (where I'd used the Cantu with petrolatum) immediately started to be less frizzy than the other half of my hair (even when using gel on both halves). It made sense to me because petrolatum creates a barrier over the hair that's supposed to block future moisture. And in my case it did this by blocking humidity and reducing frizz. But I wanted to see if continued use would see that moisture blocking equal drier hair. So I continued on. Next, I noticed that my hair appeared shinier on the Cantu side. But we all know that shine doesn't equal health. It could just be that the petrolatum on my strands reflected light better. Then I noticed that the right side also seemed smoother and less stripped feeling after shampooing my hair (the left side wasn't stripped per se, but it was definitely a bit rougher and the cuticle didn't seem as laid down). I wash my hair with a sulfate shampoo weekly. So I figured maybe the right side was smoother because the shampoo maybe wasn't strong enough to cleanse off all of the petrolatum and buildup was occurring to reduce the effectiveness of the shampoo. I also observed that the right side seemed to be getting less split ends and tangles. Not a crazy difference, but a noticeable one. I decided to reserve judgement. Finally, I noticed that the right side of my hair (where I applied the Cantu on freshly washed hair once a week and sometimes more often in between) felt more moisturized on completely dry hair (days after washing). This was the one result I wasn't expecting. Using a product with petrolatum was supposed to be increasing my dryness over time, not reducing it. I even asked people, who didn't know that I was doing two different things on each half of my hair, which side looked better. Each chose the right side where I'd been using the Cantu. Conclusions: I conducted this experiment for around 4 months. I wanted there to be plenty of time for any negative effects to show up. Upon final analysis, I have to saw that the left side of my hair (where I used my regular products with no change) continued to look and behave the same way it has for the past few years. It stayed fairly moisturized and in good condition. No setbacks or changes. It was only in comparing it to the right side of my that its condition started to seem not as good. The right half of my hair, where I'd consistently used the Cantu, was noticeably shinier, the strands laid down better, the cuticle of each strand looked smoother, the curls seemed to clump together better (ex. when wearing a wash n' go), there was less frizz and the hair felt more moisturized. I even appeared to have a few less split ends. Eventually I conceded that if the negative effects hadn't shown up yet, they probably wouldn't. So last week I decided to start using the Cantu coconut curling cream on my entire head and see if I could improve the condition of the hair on the left side of my hair over time. Which is by no means in poor condition currently. I've been natural for years and have discovered a lot of things that my hair likes. But this experiment showed me that I can take things to the next level. Other considerations: As I mentioned before, in addition to using the Cantu weekly, I also used a sulfate shampoo weekly. So I'm thinking the issues with buildup and dryness may be negated if you're not on a sulfate-free routine (I've tried exclusive co-washing and sulfate-free routines. But personally I prefer to stick to using sulfates). The Cantu has glycerin in it so that probably helped with the moisture retention. I always applied the Cantu as the last step in the process (expect on the days where I used gel). It was applied over top of my leave-in and any oil I might use to seal with. The effects were cumulative in regards to using the Cantu. It took weeks of consistent use for all of the benefits to show up. On the left (non-Cantu half) I continued to switch between butters and creams like I normally do. Though, like I said, I used the same leave-in, gels sealers, sprays, etc. on both halves each styling session after washing. The only product that never changed on the right was the Cantu. That's why I attribute the positive changes to that product. But it's possible that if I found a really good natural cream/butter, without petrolatum, and used it as consistently I'd see a similar type of improvement. Consistency can be hard for a product junkie and only doing this experiment made me use the Cantu each week without fail (though I loved the way it made my hair feel). I have a lot of products. So sometimes, even if I love a product, I may only use it for a week or two before switching it out for something else. Final thoughts: I'm not saying that my hair would love any product with petrolatum, and I'm not extending my feelings to mineral oil just yet. But just as any product with wonderful all natural ingredients may not work for a person, products with the "forbidden" ingredients for natural hair may have to be taken on a case by case basis. For me, the Cantu coconut curling cream is now on my staple products list. I absolutely adore it. And I plan to continue using it as long as it works for me and give me the results I want. Your mileage may vary. Edited to add pictures: Ok, just got up to take some pics. I'm deep conditioning my hair right now and my hair is wet. I have my hair in two ponytails and attempted to pull them forward and capture them both in one picture. So I apologize for the awkward photos. If I can remember, I'll try to come back after my hair is freshly washed with no product in it and maybe again when it's dry. If my hypothesis is true, people should be able to tell a difference, with each half shown side by side. And like I originally said, I don't think the half where I continued with business as usual looks bad. I just think the half where I used the Cantu does show some improvement. So, can you see a difference? Btw, I trimmed my ends right before putting my hair is these braids. I would have waited if I'd thought about taking pics. But as an anecdote, I had to do additional trimming away of single strand knots and splits (after the initial 1/2 inch trim) on the left side of my hair (where I didn't use the Cantu). Also, since I ended my experiment last week, I had used the Cantu on both sides of my hair in the pics above. So the frizz difference isn't as major as normal, but I think it can still be seen (since the benefits of the Cantu were cumulative and took a few weeks to come to their full potential).