Coconut oil is extensively used in beauty treatments. It is becoming extremely popular as consuming it improves the inner health, whereas its external application works wonders for skin and hair. Here, we have enlisted the benefits coconut oil offers for the hair. Our hair makes an important part of our personality and they can completely change our appearance. Lustrous and long hair are definitely on everyone’s wish list. Coconut oil has been used for hair for ages and has shown amazing improvements. The oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides, which are great for healthy hair (1). Coconut oil is certainly a treat for your tresses. Read below to discover what does coconut oil do for your hair. Is coconut oil good for your hair?
Is Coconut Oil Really Beneficial for Hair?
Coconut oil may not be effective for everyone, but for a majority of the population, the oil proves to be a boon. There are no major side effects associated with the oil. The lauric acid present in the oil gets attached to the protein in the hair, guarding the roots and hair against breakage. The oil works similar to sebum, as it maintains the right amount of moisture in the scalp, protecting against the dry and rough hair and helping hair replenish (2). Moreover, this oil is a reservoir of antioxidants and nutrients that promote the scalp and hair health. A regular massage with the oil boosts the blood circulation and allows the scalp to absorb more of nutrients.
How to Use Coconut Oil?
1. Works as a Conditioner
Coconut oil is a natural hair conditioner that is deprived of harsh chemicals that harm the hair. Going by the study published in the journal of cosmetic science, coconut oil surmounts the mineral oil and sunflower oil, being the only oil that reduces protein loss (3). Due to loss of protein, hair becomes dry and gets damaged. The lauric acid and linoleic acid found in coconut oil penetrates deep inside the tissues and nourishes the hair, owing to their small molecular weight. The oil supplies the hair with medium-chain fatty acids, vitamins, and iron. Coconut oil can be left for hours after application to supply the nutrition to the scalp and hair.
Refined oil is a processed form of the oil, which is deprived of some of the natural compounds that befit the hair. Similarly, solvent extracted coconut oil contains traces of detrimental hexane solvent. Unrefined coconut oil is healthy to use as it is pure, consisting of all the natural compounds. This is the best method on how to use coconut oil for hair. Heat a small bowl on low flame for a minute. Remove from heat and put 3-5 tbsp of coconut oil in the bowl. The amount of coconut oil can be adjusted according to the length of your hair. If you have short hair, use 3 tbsp. In the case of long hair, use 5 tbsp. Let it melt. Massage it into the scalp and hair with your fingers. You can use a comb to apply the oil evenly. Cover your hair with a shower cap, and wait for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight before going for a shower.
Note: Coconut oil helps retain proteins, but if your hair is already packed up with protein, it may result in dry or brittle hair.
2. Coconut Oil for Hair Growth
If you are fed up of thin hair that break too often and does not develop into long strands, then coconut oil can help you get longer and stronger hair. Lauric acid and other nutrients from the oil get into the scalp cells, improving the health of hair. Another version of coconut oil is virgin coconut oil that contains polyphenols and fatty acids (4). These polyphenols result in hair growth. Use coconut oil for styling and conditioning your hair. A massage with the oil improves the blood circulation and boosts the moisture retaining potential. It keeps the moisture intact in the scalp and prevents its escape. Due to this, the hair remains soft and silky and not prone to breakage. Take a tsp of oil, and massage it in the hair for 10 minutes. Repeat the process, thrice a week.
3. Removes Dandruff
Many times, the white powdery substance, i.e., dandruff on our clothes near the shoulders lands us in embarrassing situations. It is mainly caused due to a dry scalp and exposure to harsh chemicals. Commercial shampoos contain chemicals, like sodium laureth sulphate, magnesium aluminum silicate, that are detrimental to our health system. Medium-chain fatty acids, like lauric acid and capric acid, have antimicrobial properties that inhibit the growth of bacteria responsible for infections (5). Apply coconut oil regularly to remove the dryness and fungal infections prevailing in the scalp. This will improve the condition in a week.
4. For Styling Damaged Hair
We want to look our best when we go out for a party or a gathering. For that, we style our hair through dangerous equipments, like hair dryers, hot rollers, and flat iron. These electronic items absorb all the moisture from the hair and make them dry and frizzy. The damaged hair is brittle and dries up due to the loss of proteins. Protein rich substances can prove to be a good conditioner for such hair (6). Coconut oil prevents the damage resulting from heat by supplying the follicles with essential nutrients and proteins. To manage the frizzy hair, apply a tsp of oil and massage it gently. Now, style your hair. It may take a little longer to style your hair, but the oil will give it a shiny and lustrous appearance.
5. Protects from Sun
The sun rays are potent enough to damage the skin and hair. Coconut oil is a natural sunscreen having an SPF 8 (7). If you are planning to go out, or are in a job that requires you to travel in the sun, apply a tsp of coconut oil on your strands for the protection. If you want, you can apply a little amount on your face and hands too. It is an effective sunscreen and safe to be used by children.
Note: Those having thin hair should use a small quantity of oil, as larger quantities will make the hair sticky.
6. Detangles the Hair
It is seen quite often that the hair gets messed up through wind, moisture, humidity, etc., giving you a strange look. When you try to detangle the hair, it usually results in hair breakage. Coconut oil improves the hair shaft and prevents hair fall arising while detangling the hair. The oil has been proved to benefit the tensile properties of hair (8). Application of coconut oil makes it easier to resolve the knots.
Note: Use a wide toothed comb.
7. Lice Prevention and Treatment
Breeding of lice is a common problem in small kids. Lice troubles by making the head itchy. According to the study published in European Journal of Pediatrics, coconut oil is more effective than the commonly used lice treatment permethrin (9). Another study published in Israel Medical Association proved to be a greater success, but this time, they added a little amount of ylang-ylang oil to coconut and anise oil. The treatment recorded success in 92.3% of students, and it did not cause any serious side effects (10). Coconut oil drives away the lice and prevents the egg from getting attached to the hair.
Mix 3 tbsp of coconut oil with a tsp each of ylang-ylang, anise, and tea tree oil. Apply the solution to the hair, combing with a wide toothed comb. Cover the head with a shower cap and let it stay for 2 hours. Try to sit in the sun for some time. At the end of 2 hours, mix a cup of water with 2 cups of apple cider vinegar. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray it on your scalp, massaging gently. Bend down over a sink to avoid the water dripping from your head on the floor. Rinse and comb your hair, once again. Apply a little amount of oil, and let it stay till you wash your hair. Repeat the process in every 5-10 days to get rid of lice.
8. Coconut Oil as a base for Hair Coloring
Coconut oil travels deep into the tissues much faster. It makes an excellent base and protects the hair color from fading, making it vibrant. However, hair coloring must be avoided as too much hair coloring can also result in cancer (11).
Take a small and a large bowl. Put a few teaspoons of coconut oil in the smaller bowl. Fill the larger bowl with some hot water. Now, immerse the smaller bowl into the larger bowl in such a manner that the water does not get inside the smaller bowl. Wait for some time, as the oil melts. Combine the melted coconut oil with some coloring herbs. Proceed in the usual fashion by applying the color on hair and washing it after an hour or so with shampoo to get rid of oil and colorants.
9. Removes Split Ends
The problem of split ends is quite common and often more prevalent in women. The protective cuticle at the tip of the hair strands gets ripped off due to harsh treatments (12). Regular trimming is advised to get rid of them. But if the split ends are not severe and some of the hairs are prone to it, then you can opt for simple home remedies to get it cured. Massage your hair with a mixture of coconut oil and almond oil for a few minutes. While many of the essential oils sit on the scalp, coconut oil penetrates deep inside, moisturizing the hair entirely. The method will bring relief from the problem of split ends.
10. Controls Premature Gray Hair
Nobody desires of getting old and having their beautiful locks turn gray. The hair turn gray when melanogenetic clock slows down, decreasing the amount of melanin pigment (its distribution makes the original hair color) that the hair receive (13). But, many middle-aged people and youngsters too develop gray hair due to hormonal imbalance, smoking, or stress. Sometimes, gray hairs are the outcome of certain diseases, like thyroid, or variation in glucose levels. One of the best remedies is to massage pure coconut oil on the head every day and wash it the next morning. To make it more effective, massage with a mixture of curry leaves and coconut oil.
11. Coconut Oil as Shampoo
Shampoos are essential to keep the scalp clean from dirt and oil, along with other environmental pollutants (14). The application of oil is often followed by shampooing. The shampoo loaded with strong chemicals damages the hair. What if, you could prepare shampoo at home by using oil, such as coconut oil? It may be a little hard to digest since we are accustomed to seeing the greasy look of the oil. Below is the recipe that makes shampoo bar for hair with the help of coconut oil.
For Dry Hair
- Coconut Oil– 33 oz
- Water- 12.54 oz
- Lye– 5.32 oz
- Essential oils– 1/2-1 ounce
For Normal Hair
- Coconut Oil– 33 oz
- Water– 12.54 oz
- Lye– 5.44 oz
- Essential Oils– 1/2-1 Ounce
Put coconut oil in a crock-pot and set it on low heat. Add water to a medium sized bowl and add lye to it, mixing gently. Do not inhale the vapors. The mixture will get hot and cloudy. Let it cool for 5-10 minutes. Add the lye dissolved in water to the crockpot. Stir the solution till it reaches the consistency of pudding. Now, cover the pot and cook for 45 minutes. At this time, the mixture will rise on the sides like waves. In the end, soap must resemble translucent Vaseline with no oil droplets.
You can try either of the following methods to check if the soap has been prepared or not. Perform the litmus test in which you are supposed to dip the litmus paper to check the pH. The pH of the liquid must fall between 7 to10. If it is more than 10, it needs to be cooked more. Another method is to rub a small amount of soap on your hands; it should be a little waxy. Add the essential oils now and mix well. Take out the soap prepared and cool it. Cut the bars of soap as soon as it becomes a little firm. Do not wait for a long time as the bar may get too hard to cut. The bar lasts for about 1 year. Store in a cool and a dry place.
12. Cures Boils
Many people experience boils on the scalp, which mainly occurs due to the exposure to heat. In order to have healthy hair, it is required to keep the scalp clean. The antibacterial and anti-fungal properties of coconut oil help get rid of such infection of hair follicles (15). Application of coconut oil removes ringworms or boils from the scalp and keeps it healthy and sound.
13. Boosts Blood Circulation
Coconut oil is enriched with many nutrients and antioxidants that benefit the hair. Vitamin E nourishes the hair and improves scalp health (). Massaging the oil on the head will improve blood circulation that means more nutrients and oxygen would reach your hair follicles, aiding in hair growth. Coconut oil is supposed to provide a cooling effect to the head. In the Ayurvedic system, it is mentioned that a healthy body must have a cool head and warm feet. Those people who have sweaty scalps must massage their head with coconut oil.
14. Coconut Oil for Hair Loss and Baldness
Generally, people get bald as old age approaches them. But today, many youngsters and middle aged people suffer from hair loss and baldness. The reason being an infection, emotional stress, drugs, crash diets, or hormonal changes (17). Coconut oil can help prevent hair fall. This oil is packed with proteins and essential fats that strengthen the hair. Try out the following remedy to fight with the problem of hair fall. Melt coconut oil and an essential oil of your choice with Shana seeds to make a paste. Apply this mixture on the scalp for about 20 minutes. Wash it off with a mild or herbal shampoo.
15. Coconut Oil Hair Treatment
This is a homemade hair mask that gives proper nutrition to your tresses. The hair mask is a great way to infuse your hair with nutrients. Honey used in the mask is packed with copper, iodine, zinc, and phosphate, along with vitamin A, C, H, and B complex vitamins (18). Biotin, a part of B complex vitamin is effective in curing hair loss (19). It is quite easy to make this effective mask using two basic ingredients, i.e., organic raw honey– 1 tablespoon and organic coconut oil– 1 tablespoon. Use a little more amount of ingredients for hair that are damaged. Mix both the oils and heat in a saucepan. It is relatively easy to apply the mask on wet hair. Let it stay in your hair for 30-40 minutes. Wash the mask by using a shampoo, and you will be surprised to see soft and shiny hair.
Word of Caution
- Do not use a microwave for melting the oil, as it destroys the bioactive compounds.
- Applying a large amount of coconut oil can give you a greasy look and clog the pores whereas, a little amount can give your hair the shiny look that can go a long way, providing your hair the care they need.