Coconut oil can protect and moisturize the hair and makes an effective natural hair mask. Someone can make a coconut oil hair treatment at home using ingredients they may already have.

In recent years coconut oil has gained attention for its anti-inflammatory properties and active compounds to treat and prevent certain health conditions.

In addition, people use coconut oil topically on their skin and hair as a moisturizer or treatment for conditions such as eczema or irritation.

This article discusses how the active compounds in coconut oil may improve someone’s hair, explains how to make a coconut oil hair mask at home, and provides several recipes for coconut oil hair masks.

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According to a 2015 review, saturated fats such as coconut oil diffuse into the hair much better than polyunsaturated oils, reducing the amount of water the hair absorbs.

This prevents the hair from repeatedly swelling and drying out, which results in hair damage. Oils can fill the gap between the cuticle cells and stop chemicals in shampoos penetrating the follicle.

The review indicates that coconut was the only oil that reduced protein loss compared to sunflower oil and mineral oil in an older 2003 study on both damaged and undamaged hair.

Coconut oil’s principal fatty acid is lauric acid, and this has a high affinity for hair protein because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain.

Coconut oil can make an effective hair mask and may have the following benefits:

  • improves the condition of hair
  • prevents protein loss
  • strengthens hair and minimizes breakage
  • hydrates dry hair
  • reduces frizz and increases shine
  • repairs the effects of styling methods such as straightening
  • moisturizes and soothes the scalp

A coconut oil hair mask may be suitable for anyone who wants to improve the condition of their hair, but for some people, it may be particularly useful.

People who have a scalp condition

According to a 2019 laboratory study, virgin coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and skin protective properties. In addition, virgin coconut oil is nonirritant and can soothe and protect the skin by enhancing skin barrier function. This means that someone who has a scalp condition such as dandruff, psoriasis, or eczema may benefit from a coconut oil hair mask.

In a 2021 study supported by L’Oreal Research and Innovation, a 1-week treatment with coconut oil enriched healthy scalp bacteria and reduced fungal species that caused dandruff in Indian women.

Applying coconut oil to children’s hair or scalp may relieve symptoms. One older study from 2013 found that coconut oil effectively treated atopic dermatitis in pediatric patients who used it for 8 weeks.

Atopic dermatitis may have a link to premature hair loss, according to a 2018 study, so a coconut oil mask may also be suitable for a person who has thinning hair.

Research suggests that sensitivity to p-phenylenediamine in hair dye can occur in some people causing contact dermatitis.

Although there are no specific studies using coconut oil as a treatment for this, someone could try a coconut oil hair mask to test whether it soothes their scalp.

People with hair breakage

A 2020 study found that participants who regularly used coconut oil once or twice a week had 65% lower hair weakness than those who did not.

The researchers suggest that coconut oil can help prevent breakage in hair because it penetrates the hair and protects it during washing.

People with curly or Afro hair

According to a review in the International Journal of Trichology, curly hair is more susceptible to breakage, and those with Afro hair may be prone to a more oily scalp but drier hair fiber.

Styling methods such as straightening or using anti-dandruff shampoos can worsen the condition of this type of hair and make it more challenging to manage.

Using oils such as coconut oil may reduce the friction and abrasion between hair strands and minimize the damage that chemical straightening procedures can cause.

People can make a hair mask at home with coconut oil and add ingredients according to their hair type.

Coconut oil and honey for damaged hair

Adding honey to coconut oil makes a rich, soothing hair mask for damaged hair.

To prepare the mask:

  1. Mix 2 tbsp of coconut oil with 1 tbsp of honey.
  2. Melt in a pan until they are well combined.
  3. Apply the mask to damp hair and leave on for around 20 minutes.
  4. Rinse the mask off and shampoo the hair.

Coconut oil and apple cider vinegar for dull hair

Apple cider vinegar deep-cleanses the hair and can help make it brighter and shinier.

Mix 2 tbsp of melted coconut oil with 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and apply as above.

Coconut oil with banana or avocado for curly or frizzy hair

The smoothing emollient properties of avocado and banana can deeply nourish curly or frizzy hair and improve appearance.

Someone can make this hair mask by either mashing the ripe fruits or blending them with melted coconut oil and applying them to damp hair.

After 15–20 minutes, rinse the hair and shampoo as usual.

Individuals can also use coconut oil as a finishing serum on dry hair.

A person should take care not to use too much as this make the hair appear greasy, but smoothing a little oil on the hands and applying lightly after styling the hair can add gloss and reduce any frizz.

Additionally, some people may wish to try coconut oil as a treatment for headlice. According to a study in 2010, coconut oil and anise spray was a more effective treatment for head lice than permethrin lotion.

Coconut oil penetrates the hair and reduces the loss of protein, helping to minimize breakage and damage and improving the condition and appearance.

Making a coconut oil hair mask at home is a natural and inexpensive way to boost hair strength and make it easier to manage.

Coconut oil hair masks may benefit people with scalp conditions, weak hair, or curly hair.

Additional ingredients such as honey or avocado can increase the beneficial effects depending on hair type.