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Nataly Henderson
Updated on August 19, 2021

Coconut oil is acclaimed as the best oil to use in hair. Mostly made of medium-chain fatty acids, it penetrates deep into the hair shaft to condition and moisturize your locks. It is also used as a scalp treatment, to get rid of dandruff, promote hair growth, and help split ends.

In fact, coconut oil has become such a popular all-in-one treatment for hair, that stories of its epic benefits often seem too good to be true. Let’s take a closer look at what coconut oil does to your hair and how to use it to achieve all the miraculous effects.

The Benefits of Coconut Oil for Hair

As mentioned earlier, coconut oil has a plethora of benefits for hair, many of which have been proven by science. Here are the major ones:

  • Reduces protein loss. Coconut oil prevents hair damage, which inevitably happens when you chemically treat, bleach, or even simply wash and style your hair. It is also known to protect hair from harmful UV rays.
  • Dandruff and dry scalp treatment. Coconut oil has antimicrobial and antifungal properties and is effectively used to deal with dandruff and soothe a dry itchy scalp.
  • Detangling and frizz control. Coconut oil coats your hair, helping it retain moisture and making hair smoother and softer. This prevents tangling and helps to fight the frizz.
  • Reduces hair loss. There is no evidence that coconut oil can be used to regrow hair. In fact, many people spot even more shedding when they start to use coconut oil in the hair, as dead shafts in a telogen stage become silky and slip from their beds. However, coconut oil reduces hair breakage and nourishes the scalp, thus preventing hair loss due to these factors.
Coconut Oil Against Piled Coconuts

Instagram / @grohairproducts

How to Use Coconut Oil for Hair

Despite all the benefits of coconut oil, it should better be not used on a regular basis, especially if your hair is coarse, dry and brittle. The problem is that frequent use of coconut oil can cause protein build-up, which further results in reduced elasticity and shine.

To stay on the safe side, start with a small amount and see how your hair responds. The good news is that buying coconut oil is never a bad idea: if your hair doesn’t love you apply it, you may always use it for skin or cooking. If you are happy with the results, go on to try out various ways to apply coconut oil. Here are the best uses along with the products we recommend trying.

1. As a Hair Mask

The most common use of coconut oil is as a hair mask. A coconut oil mask deeply moisturizes the locks, making them healthy, shiny, and strong. For a hair mask, use coconut oil that is 100% organic and unrefined. A good choice will be a Kopari Coconut Melt, receiving particularly favorable reviews.

Rub some oil between your palms to warm it up and let it melt; then, apply on dry, unwashed hair from root to tip. Twist hair in a bun and let the mask stay in the hair for at least 40 minutes. Better yet, plop hair with an old t-shirt or put on a shower cap to trap heat and sleep on it overnight. You might need to shampoo twice to wash out the coconut oil treatment.

Kopari Coconut Melt for Hair Mask

Instagram / @koparibeauty

2. As a Pre-Shampoo Treatment

It is a well-known fact now that too frequent shampooing is bad for our hair, as shampoos strip hair of natural oils that grant protection and shine. Thankfully, you can use coconut oil to prevent this from happening.

Simply massage your favorite organic coconut oil into your hair from root to tips before shampooing. You may allow this pre-poo treatment to sit in your hair for about 15 minutes before rinsing.

Viva Naturals Coconut Oil

Instagram / @vivanaturals

3. As a Cleanser

Massage some coconut oil into your scalp to clarify it and stimulate hair growth. It would be enough to do this once a week, on the last day before washing. And if you follow a Curly Girl Method, you must be hunting for coconut-based cleansing conditioners that do the cleaning job while leaving your curls moisturized and nourished.

Sulfate-free, coconut oil infused products like Ouidad Curl Immersion Cleansing Conditioner can cope with the task better than any other. Apply it to wet pre-sectioned hair. Gently massage the scalp to remove buildup and comb to distribute the conditioner down your hair. Leave the conditioner in your hair for 3 to 5 minutes before rinsing.

Coconut-Based Cleansing Conditioner

Instagram / @ouidad

4. As a Leave-In Conditioner

As mentioned before, coconut oil can be used to ease detangling and control frizz. The regular one still adds the greasy feeling and is more often used as a treatment, not as an after-shower oil.

One option to reap the maximum effect without added greasiness is using coconut oil-based leave-in conditioners. Sulfate free leave-in conditioners from SheaMoisture or Okay Pure Naturals can be the best to try. Just apply them generously on clean damp hair focusing on mid-length and ends and dry as usual. Otherwise, try adding a few drops of the liquid coconut oil into your usual conditioner to enhance its ability to smooth hair and tame frizz.

Coconut-Based Leave-In Conditioner

Instagram / @okaypurenaturals

5. As a Styler

We are used to approaching hair oils as the way to condition hair or add shine to it on the wash day. However, coconut oil can usually be used to style curly hair too, with no other products added. All you have to do is to apply coconut oil on your hair, scrunch it, and let it air dry. Experiment and see whether it works for your hair condition and porosity.

If you prefer using a product specifically designed for this cause, there is one, too – Wash N’Go Defining Gel-Oil by Shea Moisture. It adds definition and medium hold to curls, while also making them look fresh day after day.

Coconut Custard for Styling Curly Hair

Instagram / @sheamoisture

6. As a Carrier Oil

Besides the common multi-tasking that coconut oil is prominent for, organic fractional coconut oils, like the one by Viva Naturals, can be used as a carrier oil. A carrier oil is the one used to dilute essential oils (when applied directly to skin, these may cause irritation) and maximize their benefits. Fractional coconut oils always stay liquid, which makes them easy to use for DIY essential oil blends.

Liquid Fractional Coconut Oil to Use as Carrier Oil for Hair

Instagram / @vivanaturals

7. As a Source of Vitamins for Hair

If you want to use coconut oil for hair health, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to apply the oil on top of it. Coconut oil is a great source of vitamin E, which supports the scalp, adds shine to the tresses, and prevents hair loss. So, consuming it is just as beneficial for hair as a topical application.

Store some Nutiva Organic Cold-Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil for a healthy diet and steal a dollop for a nurturing hair mask every now and then. Strong, healthy, and beautiful hair is sure to follow.

Coconut Oil for Healthy Hair from Within

Instagram / @nutiva

Can you still resist giving coconut oil a try? Whatever ways to use coconut oil for hair you choose, be sure to share your results with us on Instagram as soon as you try it out!

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