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Coconut oil is a fatty, edible oil that comes from coconuts. It is a popular ingredient in a wide range of products. Hair serums, conditioners, shampoos, and moisturizing products all claim to improve hair using coconut oil.
With a little experimentation, coconut oil can work for a wide variety of hair types, from fine and limp to coarse and thick.
A little bit of coconut oil goes a long way. It is best to start with just a drop or two, see the results, and then adjust the amount accordingly if necessary. People with thick, coarse hair generally need to use more oil.
People can use coconut oil for their hair in a variety of ways, including:
Most oils sit on the surface of the hair, but research shows that coconut oil penetrates more deeply into the hair shaft, which may lead the hair to feel softer and smoother.
The oil helps fill the hair shaft, making dry and damaged hair look healthier. Having moisturized hair may reduce the damage that some products, such as harsh shampoos and styling products, can do to the hair.
A person can try applying coconut oil before washing their hair or using a styling product that makes the hair appear dry.
People with a dry scalp or skin conditions that cause dryness, such as eczema, may also benefit from coconut oil’s moisturizing effects. Anyone with a serious skin condition should speak to a doctor before using any new products though.
Coconut oil also has a hydrophobic effect, which means that it repels water. This effect may prevent the hair from absorbing water and dry it out over time. Therefore, although occasional use will help moisturize the hair, it is best not to use coconut oil as a long-term strategy.
Hair becomes frizzy when water gets into the hair shaft, causing it to swell and look uneven. Coconut oil stops the hair from absorbing water, especially in humid climates, which can help prevent frizz.
Damaged hair tends to look frizzy, even in dry weather. As coconut oil can penetrate the hair shaft, it can also help smoothen damaged, uneven hair.
Try applying a drop or two to dry hair, especially before going out in humid or wet weather.
Some people believe that coconut oil can help treat hair loss and promote hair growth. Many product recipes combine coconut oil with other oils, such as Indian gooseberry oil or nut grass oil.
The results of a 2015 study in rats suggest that formulas containing coconut oil might promote hair growth and increase hair thickness.
Another 2015 study examined hair loss due to environmental damage and pollution. The researchers concluded that coconut oil was able to protect the hair from damage, reversing or treating hair loss.
Coconut oil penetrates and fills the hair shaft, which may help prevent other harmful substances from getting into the hair. In turn, this might prevent hair damage, especially for people who use coconut oil strategically.
For example, a person planning to swim in a chlorinated pool can reduce the quantity of chlorine that gets into their hair by protecting it with coconut oil.
Similarly, coconut oil may also protect the hair from the damaging effects of air pollution.
Like other oils, coconut oil can leave the hair glistening and smooth in appearance. Some people use a few drops as a shine serum on dry hair.
People who want to avoid silicones and similar ingredients may choose to replace silicone-rich shine serums with coconut oil.
Many people with dry, coarse, or curly hair go longer in between hair washes to avoid drying out their hair. After a few days, however, the hair may lose its style or texture. Spraying water on the hair sometimes helps, but water can also cause frizz.
Coconut oil works well as a hair refresher, and because it keeps water out, it can also prevent frizz. Simply run a few drops through the hair before scrunching or twisting it.
Many harsh chemicals can damage the hair, including those in bleaches, dyes, and shampoos with heavy detergents.
Putting coconut oil on the hair before using these chemicals may help prevent serious hair damage. People can try coconut oil as a pretreatment before using a clarifying shampoo or hair dye.
With so many hair products on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right one. Some of the benefits of using coconut oil include:
- Knowing the ingredients. Although many products contain coconut oil, using coconut oil alone or as part of a homemade hair serum ensures that a person knows exactly what is in their hair product. This awareness may be especially important for people with allergies or chemical sensitivities.
- Saving money. Coconut oil is affordable in comparison with many brand-name hair care products.
- Environmental consciousness. Using coconut oil to make homemade products or replace an alternative hair product or two can reduce environmental impact by decreasing plastic waste and the volume of chemicals going down the drain.
Coconut oil is readily available in supermarkets, health food stores, and online. As with any new hair care routine, it can take the hair some time to adjust to the oil.
Talking to a stylist or another hair expert can help a person determine the best way to incorporate coconut oil into their hair care routine.
People with eczema, psoriasis, or scalp conditions may want to consult a dermatologist before trying coconut oil. For most people, however, it is safe to use coconut oil on their hair.