Why Is Coconut Oil So Beneficial for Hair Health?
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on September 2, 2018 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Hair-Healthy Foods and Recipes
If you were to enter a hair salon or beauty supply store and take a look at the haircare products being sold, you would see a wide variety of ingredients and proposed benefits on the many bottles. However, one extremely common ingredient you’ll find in many shampoos, conditioners, hair masks and leave-in treatments is coconut oil.
Hair stylists swear by coconut oil, claiming it is a “miracle product” for hair. Not only does coconut oil help moisturize your hair and give it a beautiful shine, but it can help promote growth, prevent breakage and even clear up dandruff!
Coconut oil is composed of medium-chain fatty acids that make it able to penetrate deep into the hair shaft in ways that other oils can’t. This unique property allows it to provide the host of benefits that it does. Not only that, but coconut oil is 100 percent natural, meaning you don’t need to worry about chemical damage or dryness when using it every week.
If you’re looking for a new way to add some extra “oomf” to your haircare routine, try out a few products containing coconut oil or go grab a jar of virgin coconut oil from the store. (Once you use it in your hair, you can use it for other beauty routines and even for cooking.)
The many benefits of coconut oil
Coconut oil can do a lot of great things for your hair thanks to its penetrating and moisturizing qualities. One of the most popular things about coconut oil is that it isn’t manmade—this all-natural product won’t damage your hair like other chemical-based products can.
Another great quality of coconut oil is that it helps reduce protein loss from the cortex (middle section) of the hair shaft. When the hair cuticle (outer section) is damaged, protein loss may occur and lead to dry and brittle hair. Coconut oil is easily absorbed into the hair cortex and helps it retain its proteins, leading to stronger hair.
The fatty acids in coconut oil make it ultra-moisturizing, making it the ideal product for dry and lifeless hair. It can also help moisturize the scalp, easing signs of dandruff caused by dryness. Coconut oil also has antibacterials and antioxidants that can help stimulate hair growth, leading to longer, fuller hair over time.
Additionally, because coconut oil is able to penetrate the hair shaft quickly and easily, users can typically see signs of improvement in their hair right away.
Implementing coconut oil into your haircare routine
Because of its wide variety of uses, it might be confusing to know exactly how to use coconut oil to your benefit. Fortunately, you can do just about anything with coconut oil on your hair to help it become shinier, fuller and stronger.
- Apply directly to the hair: To help detangle and moisturize your hair after washing, warm up a small amount of coconut oil and apply it to the roots, combing it down through the length of your hair. Let the oil sit in your hair for thirty minutes before shampooing and rinsing it out. This allows the oil to act as a conditioner and penetrate the strands deeply to promote shine and softness.
- Leave it in overnight: If you suffer from dandruff, your scalp might benefit from a deep-conditioning with coconut oil. Apply warm oil directly to your scalp, then wrap your hair in a cap or towel and leave it in overnight. Wash the oil out in the morning. Repeat the process every few days to notice a healthier scalp.
- Mix with other ingredients for masks: You don’t have to use coconut oil alone! Mix the oil in with other hair-health ingredients like yogurt and honey to make a hair mask. Apply the mask and let it sit for thirty to sixty minutes before washing your hair.
- Apply to just the ends: For people with thinner hair, applying too much coconut oil can leave your hair looking greasy. However, if your strands are frizzy or unruly, apply just a little to your ends or all over your hair to tame your ‘do.
- Buy styling products with coconut oil in them: For curly hair or hair that requires other styling products, look for products with coconut oil in them to reap its many moisturizing and strengthening benefits.
There are two things to remember before applying coconut oil, though. First, always use small amounts—work it in between your hands and apply, adding more if necessary. Second, avoid using coconut oil every day. If you’re using it for leave-in masks or conditioners, aim to use it only once a week to prevent clogging your pores and making your hair greasy.
Within just a few applications, you will likely notice a major difference in how your hair looks, feels and styles. By making coconut oil a permanent part of your haircare routine, you can minimize the number of damaging products you use on your hair and say hello to healthier locks!
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan