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Coconut oil for your hair

Benefits, uses, and tips

Unlock the secrets of coconut oil for hair: Discover its benefits, uses, and transformative power!

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
We look at both sides of the argument and strive to be objective, unbiased, and honest.
Top benefits of coconut oil for hair health and growth
Last updated on January 31, 2024, and last reviewed by an expert on September 25, 2023.

Coconut oil is a versatile product for both wellness and beauty.

Top benefits of coconut oil for hair health and growth

It’s a popular choice for numerous tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, hydrating the skin, and even makeup removal.

Additionally, many people turn to coconut oil to enhance the quality and health of their hair.

Let’s dive into the benefits and downsides of applying coconut oil to your hair.

Regular hair care routines can damage your hair

Routine hair care actions like washing, combing, and hairstyling can weaken your hair, leading to a frizzy, brittle, and dry appearance.

To grasp why this occurs, it’s crucial to understand the anatomy of your hair.

Hair consists of three main layers:

Frequent hair washing, styling, and dyeing can weaken the cuticle, compromising its ability to shield the inner parts of the hair strand.

This leads to a reduction in the fibrous proteins in the hair’s cortex, resulting in hair that’s more delicate, thin, and easily breakable.

Summary: Regular hair care activities can adversely affect hair health, increasing its vulnerability to damage and breakage.

How coconut oil excels in safeguarding your hair compared to other oils

It’s commonly believed that coconut oil is the premier choice for maintaining hair health and minimizing protein loss.

While some might think of this as just a passing trend due to coconut oil’s rising popularity, there’s legitimate research to support its benefits.

A study from 2003 explored the effects of applying coconut, sunflower, or mineral oil to hair either before or after shampooing.

Researchers assessed hair health by gauging the protein loss from each oil treatment.

The results showed that coconut oil was superior in preventing protein loss compared to sunflower and mineral oils, regardless of whether it was applied before or after shampooing.

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Across all tests, including those on undamaged, bleached, chemically treated, and UV-exposed hair, coconut oil consistently performed the best.

In contrast, mineral and sunflower oils didn’t show the same benefits in protein loss prevention.

The magic of coconut oil might lie in its chemical makeup. It predominantly consists of a medium-chain fatty acid named lauric acid. Due to its long, straight structure, it penetrates the hair shaft more effectively.

In comparison, sunflower oil is largely made of linoleic acid, which has a bulkier structure, making it less absorbable by the hair. Hence, while oils like mineral and sunflower can coat the hair, they don’t penetrate as deeply as coconut oil does.

Summary: Coconut oil, when used before shampooing, has proven more effective in preserving hair protein than sunflower and mineral oils.

Applying oil to hair pre or post-shampoo can ward off damage

Using oil on your hair offers multiple protective benefits.

Firstly, oiling your hair prior to shampooing can diminish potential harm during washing and while it remains damp.

Intriguingly, wet hair is the most susceptible to damage. This susceptibility is due to the structural shifts that happen when hair absorbs water.

Upon wetting, the hair’s core cortex absorbs water and expands, which alters the external cuticle layer.

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The cuticle consists of overlapping, flat scales that point from the root towards the hair tip. As the hair cortex swells with water, these scales protrude outwards. Consequently, wet hair becomes more damage-prone, especially during brushing or styling.

Oiling your hair before shampooing can reduce the cuticle scales’ protrusion by limiting water absorption, making hair less likely to get damaged when wet.

Additionally, applying oil post-shampooing enhances hair texture, making it softer and sleeker. This lessens friction during styling, reducing chances of hair breakage.

Summary: Hair is especially prone to damage when wet. Oiling it both before and after washing aids in safeguarding against potential harm.

Coconut oil may aid in achieving longer hair

A lot of people dream of having long, smooth, and glossy locks.

But frequent factors like styling, grooming, environmental elements, and pollutants lead to hair damage.

This consistent damage poses challenges in growing longer hair since the more it grows, the more susceptible it becomes to wear and tear.

Coconut oil can play a pivotal role in growing hair longer by:

For optimal results with coconut oil, it’s advisable to integrate it consistently into your hair care routine.

Summary: Coconut oil combats everyday damage to hair, potentially aiding in growing healthier, longer locks.

Additional advantages of coconut oil for hair

While coconut oil offers numerous benefits for hair health, some haven’t been thoroughly verified through rigorous studies.

Potential benefits are:

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There are also claims that consuming coconut oil can boost hair health due to the nutrients it provides, but concrete evidence supporting this is sparse.

Summary: Coconut oil has the potential to treat lice, shield hair from UV rays, and alleviate dandruff. However, further research is required to substantiate these claims.

Potential pitfalls of using coconut oil on hair

Coconut oil is generally well-received when applied to hair and skin.

However, there are instances where the excessive use of coconut oil can lead to an accumulation on the hair and scalp.

This accumulated build-up can render your hair looking oily and lifeless, and this effect can be more pronounced in individuals with particularly thin hair.

To circumvent this outcome:

  1. Use the oil in moderation. Commence with a modest quantity and concentrate on spreading it evenly from the mid-length of your hair down to its tips. Those with extremely thin hair might opt to not apply the coconut oil to the scalp at all.
  2. Some individuals observe an increased shedding of hair with the use of coconut oil. However, the oil isn’t typically the direct cause of this. Instead, it facilitates the shedding of hair that has already disengaged from the scalp.

Summary: Overutilization of coconut oil can lead to oily hair. It’s not typically responsible for hair loss but can accelerate the shedding of already loosened hair.

Optimal methods to utilize coconut oil for lustrous hair

Considering the multifaceted benefits of coconut oil, there are several ways to harness its properties for hair health.

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  1. Conditioning Agent: After the regular shampooing ritual, evenly distribute coconut oil through your hair, concentrating from the midsection down to the ends.
  2. Post-Wash Detangler: Subsequent to shampooing and conditioning, dab a tad bit of coconut oil to shield your hair as you detangle it.
  3. Nourishing Hair Mask: Distribute coconut oil throughout your hair and let it rest for a few hours, or perhaps overnight. Subsequently, rinse it out.
  4. Pre-Wash Protective Agent: Before washing your hair, distribute coconut oil through it.
  5. For Scalp Nourishment: Prior to hitting the bed, massage a slight amount of coconut oil into your scalp. Rinse it out with shampoo the subsequent morning.

Depending on your hair’s attributes and requirements, these methods can either be incorporated frequently or sporadically to enhance the health and sheen of your hair.

The quantity of coconut oil required is contingent on the length and type of your hair. It’s optimal to commence with a minimal amount and adjust based on your hair’s reception to avoid excessive oiliness.

For those with shorter or fine-textured hair, a teaspoon might suffice. But individuals with lengthier, more voluminous hair might opt for up to two tablespoons.

There’s a plethora of coconut oil variants available in the market. Some people gravitate towards virgin (unrefined) coconut oil, particularly if they also incorporate it in their culinary endeavors. Nonetheless, there’s a lack of specific research delineating one type as superior for hair. Both refined and unrefined variants exhibit equivalent hydrating attributes.

Summary: Coconut oil can be effectively incorporated in various ways in your hair care regimen. The type and quantity used should be adapted to individual needs and preferences for the most radiant results.


Coconut oil is a great hydrator for your hair.

You can apply it both before and after shampooing to reduce hair damage and give it a glossy, healthy appearance.

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