Using coconut oil for your hair is one of the best ways to avoid harmful chemicals that are in many commercial hair care products.
It is rich in anti-microbial properties, lauric acid, and medium-chain fatty acids that strengthen the hair, condition the scalp and help the hair to re-grow.
In India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, Philippines and Caribbean, women have been using coconut milk and oil to keep their hair silky, long, and naturally coloured for hundreds of years.
Benefits of Coconut Oil For Hair
If your hair is dry and brittle, you might not be getting enough water in your diet. Water helps keep the whole body hydrated, including the hair and skin. Hormones also play a significant role in the health of hair as well.
Try to aim for at least 3-4 litres of filtered or spring water ever day. Include healthy fats in your diet like avocado, chia seeds, hemp seeds, as well as soaked and sprouted seeds like sunflower, pumpkin, almond, etc.
Also, take a look at your hair care products to ensure they don’t contain drying ingredients like alcohol, and harsh chemicals. Opting for natural hair care products, as well as utilizing coconut oil as a hair mask once a week will provide you with beautiful looking locks others will dream they had.
Coconut oil is rich in antioxidants, and is as well a strong anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. When used on the hair, it nourishes the scalp, fights fungus and other infections, supports hair growth, and has the added benefit of providing lustre and shine your hair (all without the use of harmful chemicals).
1. Repairs Hair Damage (Conditioner)
Coconut oil is an excellent conditioner, and it is one of the only oils that reduces protein loss in the hair (1). Protein loss in the hair can lead to dryness and breakage. Laurie acid in coconut oil helps penetrate the hair shaft, nourishing the hair with vitamins, minerals and medium-chain fatty acids.
You can leave coconut oil in the hair as an intensive conditioner for a couple hours, or even overnight. If you’re wanting to use it as a leave-in conditioner, you do not need a lot!
How To Use As Conditioner:
Leave-in treatment: for short hair, use only a 1/4 teaspoon and warm in between the palms of your hand. For longer, thicker hair, you may need up to half a tablespoon. If your hair is thinner, use 1/2-1 teaspoon. Pay attention to the ends and the shaft of the hair.
Intensive conditioner: for short hair, apply 1 teaspoon, or apply 2 teaspoons for shoulder-length hair. For longer hair than the shoulders, apply 1 tablespoon. Warm in between the palms of your hands and then run through the hair, paying special attention to the hair shaft and ends, as well as the scalp. Cover with a shower cap, and then leave on 1-2 hours, or overnight. Wash with an all-natural shampoo, then let air dry.
If your hair is particularly damaged and dry, add in some sandalwood or geranium essential oil to either of the above treatments. These oils support moisture retention, and increase the conditioning effects of coconut oil.
2. Makes Your Hair Smooth
Frizzy hair is usually caused by excessive dryness of the cuticles and hair shaft. Coconut oil is hydrophobic, meaning it repels water, but also retains moisture within the hair shaft.
Apply the above recommendations for coconut oil in the hair 10-15 minutes before washing. This will leave your hair silky and smooth. You can also apply a small amount of coconut oil to split ends to make them easier to brush through. For styling, use a little bit of oil to tame flyaway, and slick down the hair to create smooth up-do’s.
Hair is also prone to sun damage, so coconut oil can be used as a natural sunscreen for the hair. Use it as a leave-in conditioner for all day protection.
3. Prevents Hair Loss, and Promotes Hair Growth
If you have thinning hair, coconut oil can help. It can aid in growth so that hair becomes longer and thicker. Incorporating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like pumpkin, chia, and flax seeds all support healthy hair from the inside out. Coconut oil also helps reduce inflammation, which can also be the cause of hair loss.
Massage coconut oil into the scalp to improve blood circulation and hair growth. Massage the oil into the scalp with gentle pressure for 10 minutes, 3-4 times per week. All you’ll need is 1 teaspoon to do the trick.
Adding in some rosemary essential oil will also help promote new hair growth by up to 20% (2). It increases circulation to the scalp, and when used with coconut oil can produce amazing results.
Place a shower cap on the head after massaging the oils into the scalp, and then follow with a gentle shampoo cleanser, such as those made by my friend at Beauty From Bees. Her shampoos are loaded with hair-healthy coconut oils and fats, and leave your hair feeling silky smooth (plus no chemicals to boot!).
4. Fights Dandruff
Dandruff is a common chronic scalp condition where the skin begins to flake on the scalp. This can be caused by dry skin or fungus and yeast (like candida). It can also be an allergy to harsh chemicals in hair care products.
The strong anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties of coconut oil make it great for targeting fungus, as well as bacteria and viruses that may be lurking on your scalp. And if you’re using prescription dandruff shampoos, or over-the-counter dandruff shampoos, you can be sure that these will just make the situation worse.
Coconut oil actually makes the scalp healthier, free from fungus, and moisturized – all things needed to prevent dandruff from coming back. Results might take a week or so, but it is well worth it in the end.
To treat dandruff, mix 2 teaspoons of coconut oil with 5 drops of either tea tree oil or thyme essential oil (these will increase the fungus and yeast-fighting benefits). Massage into the scalp, and really be sure to focus on areas of the scalp, from the neck to the forehead, and behind the ears. Cover with a shower cap, and if you can, sit in the sun for 20-30 minutes to increase the heat (or just use a hair dryer on low setting to heat the cap).
Remove the cap, and then wash with an all-natural, gentle shampoo. Repeat 2-3 times per week, and you’ll notice a dramatic difference in no time.
5. Lice Prevention and Treatment
Most conventional lice treatments are toxic and burn the scalp and damage the hair. I know from first-hand experience that coconut oil combined with essential oils is one of the best ways to treat lice in children and adults alike.
Coconut oil coats the lice and slowly suffocates them. It also prevents them and their eggs from hanging onto the hair shafts. One study even found that a coconut oil and anise spray was 40% more successful than permethrin, a chemical-based lice treatment (3).
Use coconut oil as mentioned above as a leave-in hair conditioner. If there is an infestation of lice, mix 3 tablespoons of coconut oil with 1 teaspoon each of ylang ylang, anise and tea tree oil. Apply all over the scalp, massage in, and pill through the ends. Comb through the hair with a finetooth comb, and then cover with a shower cap, letting sit for 2 hours. Once done with the shower cap, seal in a zip lock bag and dispose.
Comb the hair again, and then rinse thoroughly with 2 cups apple cider vinegar in 1 cup of water. Lean over a sink while doing so, massaging lightly. Rinse thoroughly and then comb again with a finetooth comb. Follow with a light application of coconut oil, and then cover with a shower cap. This coconut oil should remain in the hair until next washing.
This process should be repeated every 5-10 days for a couple of weeks. Between treatments, comb the hair with a finetooth comb morning and night, and use coconut oil as a leave-in conditioner.
6. Graying Hair
Pigment cells located at the base of each hair follicle are responsible for the colour of your hair. However, as you age, these pigment cells begin to die and become less efficient.
Coconut oil helps prevent graying hair by nourishing your scalp and protecting the base of your hair follicles. The healthier your hair, the longer you’ll be able to avoid the gray (although lets be honest, who doesn’t love silvery and white locks? There is nothing wrong with aging, or aging hair!).
Massage your hair with coconut oil and lemon everyday for at least 15 minutes. Use coconut oil as a leave-in conditioner, or use it as an intensive treatment (outlined above) 1-2 times per week.