Like a gawky guy who grew into a full-blown hunk, coconut oil is now the sexy, most in-demand oil. Gwyneth Paltrow swishes it in her mouth to whiten her teeth, Poppy Delevingne sleeps in it, and Kelly Osborne wants you all to tap some on your cheekbones for a natural highlight. Coconut oil does not actually moisturize — no oil does — but used strategically, it can soften, add shine, and help repair dry hair.
Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids that nourish and moisturize the scalp and hair. Polynesian cultures historically have and still do use extra virgin coconut oil as a beauty product, notes the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu, Hawaii. A study published in the “Journal of Cosmetic Science” in 1999 found that coconut oil applied to the hair reduced hair breakage, and another study in 2005 from the Journal of Cosmetic Science noted that coconut oil penetrated the hair follicle better than the most common ingredient in hair conditioners, mineral oil.
According to the book “Coconut Oil: Amazing Health, Skin and Cooking Benefits” by Gene Ashburner, aside from making a great moisturizer for hair and scalp, the oil has been used as a natural remedy to combat frizz; get rid of dandruff; remove and prevent lice; and promote hair growth. Coconut oil can even be used to extract chewing gum from hair. While pure coconut oil can improve scalp health, therefore improving the conditions for growing thicker, fuller hair, it does not treat the underlying cause of hair loss and cannot be relied on for treating baldness related to dihydrotestosterone.
According to some sources, coconut oil can also soothe cradle cap, an issue commonly seen in babies. Its antibacterial properties may ward off folliculitis, an infection of the hair follicles, and may also fight fungal infections, such as ringworm of the scalp. You can easily replace expensive, deep-conditioning salon treatments by using this great smelling coconut oil conditioner at home.
Coconut oil provides a lot of different benefits, from helping with digestion to brightening up your skin. It also happens to be wonderful for your hair. The following tips are going to give you some different ways you can use coconut oil in your hair.
Video – 10 Ways to Use Coconut Oil
Use it as a Conditioner
This is one of the most common ways that people use coconut in their hair. It is the perfect leave-in conditioner, or you can use it as a hair mask that you will rinse out. The great thing about coconut oil is that it is safe to leave in your hair overnight, and it won’t leave behind any weird residue or odd texture to your hair. You can replace your current conditioner with it, or just use it once a week in addition to your regular hair conditioner. It can also be used with all different hair types.
Video – How To Deep Condition Your Hair With Coconut Oil
Help Get Rid of Dandruff
If you have been struggling with dandruff and buildup on your scalp, then you will be happy you discovered coconut oil! This is actually quite the magical elixir when it comes to dandruff. It also contains no chemicals, so it won’t be harsh on your hair or your scalp, and can even be used if you have some sensitivity or scratches on your head. This is something you can’t get with store-bought dandruff shampoo. All you have to do is put a small amount of coconut oil in the palm of your hands, warm it up by rubbing it between your hands, and use it just like shampoo. Make sure you let it sit on your scalp for a few minutes to really work through that buildup.
Video – Recipe To Cure Dandruff with Lemon and coconut oil
Add More Shine
Are you looking for a way to get more shine in your hair? If so, you should definitely start adding some coconut oil to it. This is one of the many reasons to use coconut oil on your hair. Even if you use a good conditioner that leaves your hair feeling soft and silky, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to have the shine you are looking for. Shiny hair can bring life to it, allowing it to look just as healthy as it feels. You just need a small amount of coconut oil added to your hair regularly to give it some luster and shine.
Video – DIY Coconut Oil Hair Mask for Shiny Looking Hair
Get Rid of Tangles With Coconut Oil
Don’t forget that coconut oil can also help to smooth out your hair, not just for health, but to get rid of tangles. Add some oil to your hair whenever you are struggling with knots, and they will be much easier to remove.
Video – Coconut Oil! Best Way To Detangle Natural Curly Hair!
Use It as a “Pre-Shampoo”
Here’s a trick that’s particularly helpful for folks with dry or curly hair: Avoiding the scalp, coat hair with a glob of coconut oil an hour or so before hitting the shower. The oil protects each strand from drying out while you shampoo. Rinse the oil from your hair after shampooing and apply a conditioner as normal. (Note that if you have thin hair, the oil might be too much for you.)
Leave It In
This is a handy fix for people with thick, dry hair. After you shampoo and conditioner, comb any moisturizing cream throughout your hair (DevaCurls’ Styling Cream and Oyin Handmade’s Hair Dew are really great). Then, take a quarter-size amount of coconut oil and layer it on top of the moisturizer. Dry your hair as you normally would. The oil will lock in the moisturizer and help your hair stay hydrated for longer.
Bling Out Your Hair
Scoop a few dollops of coconut oil into a spray bottle and spritz your hair for a natural shine. If you’re working with oil that has solidified, sit the bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes so the oil can revert back to a liquid.
Swim Without Fear
The worst part about taking a dip? The havoc saltwater and chlorine wreck on your hair, of course. Before you head to the pool or beach, cover your hair with coconut oil. The oil acts as a barrier between your strands and the water, to a certain degree. Think of it as a natural swim cap (or a swim cap that doesn’t make you look like a dork).
To tame flyaways and frizz, rub a pea-size amount of coconut oil between your fingers. Transfer the oil to the frizzy parts of your hair to calm rogue strands. A little goes a long way!
Video – Coconut Oil Hair Serum for Frizzy Hair
Heal Split Ends
Coconut oil won’t glue your split ends back together (nothing will, despite what some products claim), but it can hide frayed ends for a short while. Simply rub a small amount over your ends. The oil will add luster and temporarily smooth the tattered hair.
Video – Use Coconut Oil for Dry Split Ends!
If you really hate the idea of using medicated lice treatments, coconut oil is a surprisingly effective alternative. A 2002 study looked at 940 children who were administered a hair cocktail of coconut oil, anise oil, and ylang ylang oil. The mixture was applied to each child’s hair three times a day for five days. The coconut oil combination was successful for 92.3 percent of the lice cases, faring slightly better than the medicated control group, which saw a success rate of 92.2 percent.
Video – Coconut Oil For Head Lice
Some Things Coconut Oil Will NOT Treat …
Hair loss or dandruff. There are no credible, peer-reviewed studies that prove coconut oil can regrow hair. It’s a little boring, but your best bet is still Rogaine. As for dandruff, coconut oil might actually trigger more flakes! If used on your scalp, coconut oil clogs pores and prevents hair follicles from “breathing.” This in fact, dehydrates your scalp, and can make a case of dandruff more pronounced. The solution? Try a very un-sexy bottle of medicated shampoo. It’s not trendy, but it works.
How to Apply Coconut Oil to Hair
To no surprise, coconut oil is equally effective on your hair. According to a study published in The Journal of Cosmetic Science, it greatly strengthens your hair shaft: “Coconut oil, being a triglyceride of lauric acid (principal fatty acid), has a high affinity for hair proteins and because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft.”
There’s a specific way to apply it to your strands to get it to work best, though. We called on Nunzio Saviano, owner of Nunzio Saviano Salon in NYC, to fill us in on how to apply coconut oil to hair. You’re going to want to know this for the next time your locks need a re-up. “The best time to use coconut oil is at night, and it works best on dry hair,” says one well known hairdresser. “I recommend warming the coconut oil so it becomes liquified and rubbing in your hands to lather on the ends of your hair. You want the coconut oil to be warm (not hot) to open the hair cuticles, which allows the molecules to penetrate the hair.” They also recommend against using coconut oil in the morning because it takes time to soak up and your hair can end up looking greasy.
Video – How to Apply Coconut Oil to your hair
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Hair
Healthy hair depends on protein, which is your hair’s main component. However, chemical processes like dyeing and highlighting—and even daily activities like washing and styling—can damage protein and wreak havoc on your hair. There’s some evidence that lauric acid (a type of saturated fat abundant in coconut oil) may benefit your hair by protecting against protein loss. In a 2015 report published in the International Journal of Trichology, for instance, researchers reviewed a number of studies testing the effects of plant-derived oils on human hair. The report’s authors note that coconut oil “has a high affinity for hair proteins” and a unique ability to penetrate into the hair shaft. This penetration is essential for limiting the amount of water absorbed into your hair—a key factor in everyday hair damage.
In addition, one of the reviewed studies determined that coconut oil was the only oil capable of reducing protein loss for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product.
Video – 10 Benefits of Coconut Oil For Your Hair
How to Use Coconut Oil in Hair Care
Even though it’s fairly light, coconut oil can weigh your hair down or lead to a dull, greasy appearance when used in excess. To avoid buildup, start with a small amount—no more than a teaspoon—and gently massage the oil through your hair, starting at the midsection and continuing to the ends.
For best results, some hair-care experts suggest using coconut oil about two to three times a week. It’s said that regular use of coconut oil can gradually enhance your hair’s texture, ease dryness, and fight off frizz.
Some people find that applying coconut oil directly to the scalp can alleviate dryness, but others struggle with issues like irritation and clogged pores. If you’ve never used coconut oil on your scalp, keep cautious by starting out with a very small amount. One of the most versatile hair-care oils around, coconut oil can work wonders as a pre-shampoo treatment, conditioner, styling aid, or mask. Here’s a look at some simple ways to revitalize your hair-care routine with coconut oil: As a pre-wash protector – When applied pre-shampoo, coconut oil can stop your hair from soaking up too much water (and, in turn, stave off damage and dryness). Try applying coconut oil about 15 to 30 minutes before you wash, focusing on the midsection and ends of your hair. As a conditioner – Like any good conditioner, coconut oil may help strengthen the hair shaft and prevent breakage. You can use coconut oil as an alternative to standard conditioners, or just add a few drops of the oil to your usual conditioner to boost its smoothing power. As a styling aid – Just a dab of coconut oil can go a long way when it comes to taming frizz. For easier absorption and optimal styling, make sure to apply the oil to damp hair. As a hair mask – For a super-nourishing hair treatment, massage a teaspoon or two through your hair and let it work its hair-softening magic. You can wash the oil out after a few hours or leave it on overnight for exceptionally dry or damaged hair.
Is Coconut Oil Right for My Hair Type?
While coconut oil may benefit all hair types—especially dry, damaged, or color-treated hair—there’s some concern that repeated use of coconut oil may lead to stiffness in those with a coarse hair texture.
More Tips on Using Coconut Oil in Hair Care
Here’s a few more helpful hints for making the most of coconut oil in your hair care regimen:
When shopping for coconut oil, select the unrefined variety and—if possible—opt for organic, sustainably harvested products. If your coconut oil has solidified, simply melt the oil by placing a small amount in your palm and rubbing your hands together. When it comes time to remove coconut oil from your hair, keep in mind that a second application of shampoo may be necessary to completely eliminate the oil. For extra beauty benefits, add a few drops of essential oils like lavender or peppermint to your coconut oil. You can also blend coconut oil with hair-nourishing natural ingredients like yogurt, honey, avocado, or lemon juice.