Coconut oil can do amazing things for your hair! I want to share some of the main benefits I found in my experience and research, so you can see why it’s worth adding to your hair care routine.
The Benefits of Using Coconut Oil on Your Hair
Coconut oil provides many benefits for hair health and beauty. Here is more detail on some of the key benefits:
- Coconut oil can help reduce protein loss from hair when used as a pre-wash or post-wash treatment. This is due to its unique chemical structure and ability to penetrate the hair shaft more effectively than other oils. Reducing protein loss helps strengthen hair and prevent breakage.
- Coconut oil is effective at moisturizing all hair types, but is particularly beneficial for dry, damaged hair. The fatty acids help coat the hair strands to lock in moisture. This helps improve hair softness and shine.
- Coconut oil can help kill some lice due to its fatty acids like lauric acid which can suffocate the lice by blocking their breathing pores. However, it is not as effective at killing eggs/nits.
- One small study found coconut oil mixed with anise spray was more effective than the chemical permethrin at treating head lice, eliminating lice in 40% more people.
- Coconut oil may help some people reduce dandruff flaking and symptoms of dry scalp due to its antimicrobial and moisturizing properties. However, it could worsen dandruff for others.
- Heat and massage can enhance absorption of coconut oil into hair but are not absolutely necessary to see benefits. Focusing on the mid-lengths and ends is ideal.
- Coconut oil provides temporary strengthening to hair by reducing protein loss but does not permanently repair damage from coloring, heat styling, etc. Other treatments are needed for that.
- Virgin or unrefined coconut oil is best for hair health, as refined versions may use harsh chemicals in processing.
Fact Checking Common Claims
While coconut oil has proven hair benefits, some common claims are not well supported:
- Coconut oil helps reduce protein loss but does not directly boost hair growth.
- There’s no evidence it prevents baldness from male pattern hair loss.
There are several nourishing components in coconut oil that make it beneficial for hair:
The Nourishing Properties of Coconut Oil
- Lauric Acid – This fatty acid penetrates hair strands to deeply moisturize hair and scalp.
- Vitamin E – A powerful antioxidant that protects hair from damage while conditioning and repairing.
- Fatty Acids – In addition to lauric acid, coconut oil contains moisturizing fatty acids that nourish hair follicles.
- Antimicrobial Properties – Coconut oil has lauric acid and caprylic acid that fight bacteria and fungi to improve scalp health.
My Favorite Coconut Oil Hair Mask Recipes
Here’s a super nourishing hair mask recipe I love using about once a week. Please note, these recipes can be adjusted by changing the amount of coconut oil and other ingredients based on your hair’s needs.
Coconut Oil and Avocado Hair Mask for Normal Hair
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 drops essential oil like lavender (optional)
I mix the ingredients together until smooth and apply to damp, freshly washed hair. I leave the mask on for at least 30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly with cool water. The egg yolk and honey add extra hydration and shine!
Coconut Oil Hair Mask for Dry Hair
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or almond oil
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon honey
The coconut oil and olive/almond oil will provide deep hydration and moisture to dry hair. The egg yolk contains proteins and lipids to strengthen and nourish hair. Honey is a humectant to attract and seal in moisture.
Coconut Oil Hair Mask for Oily Hair
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 drops tea tree essential oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Use a smaller amount of coconut oil for oily hair to avoid weighing it down. The apple cider vinegar helps gently clarify hair and balance pH. Tea tree oil reduces oil production and fights bacteria. Lemon juice adds shine without extra oils.
How I Like to Use Coconut Oil on My Hair
Derived from the meat and milk of coconuts, this tropical oil can improve hair in a variety of ways with regular use. I’ve found some easy ways to incorporate coconut oil into my regular hair care routine. Here’s a little guide on how I use it:
As a Pre-Shampoo Treatment
One of the most effective ways to use coconut oil is as a pre-shampoo conditioning treatment:
- Apply 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil to dry hair and scalp before washing. Focus on the mid-lengths and ends.
- Gently massage the oil into your scalp and smooth it over your hair to coat strands thoroughly.
- Cover hair and let the coconut oil soak in for at least 15-30 minutes, or even overnight.
- Shampoo your hair as normal 2-3 times to fully remove the oil.
Leaving coconut oil on for an extended time allows the fatty acids and nutrients to penetrate deeply into hair strands. This helps replenish moisture, reduce protein loss and improve shine.
As a Hydrating Hair Mask
Another great way to use coconut oil is as a hydrating hair mask:
- Melt 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil by gently heating it until liquid.
- Apply the melted coconut oil to damp hair after shampooing, focusing on the mid-lengths and ends.
- Leave the mask on for 30 minutes up to overnight with hair wrapped in a towel or shower cap.
- Rinse out the coconut oil thoroughly with cool water and follow with regular shampooing.
The moisturizing hair mask boosts hydration and repairs dry, damaged hair. Leaving it on damp hair allows the coconut oil to penetrate better.
As a Leave-In Conditioner
You can also use a small amount of coconut oil as a leave-in conditioner:
- Rub a dime-sized amount of solid coconut oil between palms to melt slightly.
- Smooth the oil through wet, freshly washed hair, avoiding the roots.
- Style as usual, allowing hair to air dry.
The coconut oil will provide light hydration and frizz control without weighing hair down. Focus on mid-lengths and ends.
On Scalp for Health
- Scoop a teaspoon of solid coconut oil and melt between fingers.
- Massage lightly into scalp and hair roots.
- Allow it to soak in for 10-20 minutes before washing out.
This helps moisturize, exfoliate and soothe the scalp. The lauric acid in coconut oil also has antimicrobial properties to fight bacteria and inflammation.
How to Get the Most Benefits from Coconut Oil
To really get those amazing benefits for your hair, there are some tips for using coconut oil effectively:
- Use it consistently – Like any hair treatment, you need to use coconut oil regularly to see results. I aim to use it at least once or twice a week.
- Apply to damp hair – Putting coconut oil on damp, freshly washed hair helps it penetrate better before you shampoo it out.
- Heat it up first – You can melt the coconut oil slightly before applying, either in a bowl over hot water or by rubbing it between your palms. This helps it coat and absorb into hair better.
- Focus on lengths – Concentrate the coconut oil on your mid-lengths and ends to condition the oldest, most damaged parts of your hair.
- Leave it on – Letting the coconut oil sit for at least 30 minutes, or even overnight, gives it more time to work its magic.
- Rinse thoroughly – Make sure to shampoo multiple times to wash out all the oil, or it can leave hair limp and greasy.
Using coconut oil as a pre-shampoo treatment, hair mask, leave-in conditioner or scalp treatment can provide extensive benefits for hair health and beauty.
Take advantage of its nourishing properties by using coconut oil regularly as part of your hair care routine. With continued use, you’ll see improvements in hair softness, shine, strength and manageability.