Coconut Oil for Your Hair: Benefits, Uses, and Tips

coconut oil. photo:

Coconut oil can enhance the health and appearance of your hair. By preventing protein loss in your hair, it works to improve its condition. To get the best results, it is recommended to apply coconut oil to your hair both prior to and after washing it.

Coconut oil is a versatile health and beauty product that is used for various purposes, including cooking, cleaning, moisturizing skin, and removing makeup. It is also a popular choice for those seeking to improve the health and appearance of their hair.

This article examines the benefits and drawbacks of using coconut oil on hair.

Daily grooming practices can damage your hair

Everyday hair care practices like washing, brushing, and styling can harm your hair and result in frizziness, breakage, and dryness. To understand why this occurs, it's important to know about the structure of your hair. 

Your hair is made up of three layers: the soft medulla at the center, the thick cortex filled with proteins and color pigments, and the outer protective cuticle. 

When you wash, style, or color your hair, the cuticle layer can become damaged, causing the hair to become thin, weak, and prone to breaking. This is because the damaged cuticle layer can no longer protect the inner parts of the hair, leading to loss of hair proteins and making your hair more fragile.

Note: Daily grooming practices, such as washing, brushing, coloring, and styling, can harm the structure of your hair, making it more vulnerable to breakage.

Why coconut oil is better at protecting your hair than other oils

The idea that coconut oil is the best oil to use on your hair to maintain its health and reduce protein loss is a popular one. Despite being a trendy concept, there is scientific evidence supporting it. 

A 2003 study compared the effects of using coconut oil, sunflower oil, or mineral oil on hair before and after washing. The researchers measured the amount of protein lost from the hair after each treatment and found that coconut oil was more effective in preventing protein loss than the other oils, whether applied before or after washing.

The results of the study showed that coconut oil was more effective in reducing protein loss in hair than mineral and sunflower oils. Coconut oil was found to be effective in protecting all types of hair, including undamaged, bleached, chemically treated, and UV exposed hair. 

The chemical structure of coconut oil, predominantly made up of lauric acid, is believed to be the reason for its superior ability to protect hair. Lauric acid has a straight structure that can be easily absorbed deep into the hair shaft, whereas the bulkier structure of oils like mineral and sunflower oil does not allow for easy absorption and only coats the hair.

Note: Coconut oil is more effective in reducing protein loss in hair compared to sunflower and mineral oils, according to a study published in 2003. This is due to its chemical structure, which consists primarily of the medium-chain fatty acid lauric acid, that is more easily absorbed into the hair shaft.

Rubbing oil on your hair before or after washing helps prevent damage

Another way to use oil on your hair is to apply it after washing as a leave-in conditioner. This will help lock in moisture and reduce frizz.

Lastly, you can use coconut oil as a hot oil treatment, which involves warming the oil and applying it to your hair. This allows the oil to penetrate deeper into the hair shaft and provides additional benefits for your hair.

Regardless of which method you choose, be sure to use a small amount of oil and avoid using too much, as this can leave your hair feeling greasy.

Wetting your hair causes the cortex, the thick central layer, to absorb water and expand, altering the structure of the cuticle. The hair cuticle is composed of flat overlapping scales that are attached at the root and point towards the tip.

To minimize hair damage, it's recommended to apply oil before washing and after washing. When wet, the cortex of the hair swells and causes the cuticle scales to rise, making it more vulnerable to damage. By applying oil before washing, the water absorbed by the hair shaft is reduced and the cuticle remains flattened, reducing the risk of damage. On the other hand, coating the hair in oil after washing makes it softer and smoother, reducing friction during styling and reducing the likelihood of breakage.

Note: Wet hair is more susceptible to damage, but applying oil both prior to and after washing can help prevent damage to your hair.

Coconut oil could help you grow your hair longer

Many individuals aim to have long, smooth, and lustrous hair. Nevertheless, regular activities such as styling, grooming, exposure to weather and pollutants can cause damage to your hair, making it challenging to grow longer hair as it can become increasingly damaged and fatigued with length.

Coconut oil may aid in promoting longer hair growth by:

  • Keeping your hair hydrated and minimizing breakage
  • Guarding your hair from protein loss and harm during wetness
  • Defending your hair from external damage caused by wind, sun, and smoke.
For optimal results, incorporating coconut oil into your beauty routine consistently is recommended.

Note: Coconut oil minimizes harm to your hair from regular activities. Incorporating coconut oil in your hair regimen may lead to the growth of longer and healthier hair.

Coconut oil may offer additional benefits for your hair, but these have not been thoroughly tested through proper scientific studies. Some possible benefits include:

  • Prevention of lice infestations, as a small study showed that coconut oil mixed with anise in a spray was 40% more effective at treating head lice than the chemical permethrin.
  • Protection from sun damage as some laboratory and skin studies have found that coconut oil has a sun protection factor of 8.
  • Dandruff treatment, as it has antimicrobial properties and could be useful for controlling dandruff.
  • Prevention of hair loss, as coconut oil can help maintain the health of your hair and prevent damage from excessive grooming.
There are claims that consuming coconut oil can improve hair health due to its nutrient content, but there is limited evidence to support this.

Note: Coconut oil may have potential in eliminating lice, shielding hair from the sun, and reducing dandruff, but further research is required to confirm these benefits.


Coconut oil is generally considered safe for use on skin and hair (13Trusted Source). However, excessive use can result in an accumulation of oil on the hair and scalp, making it look greasy and dull, particularly for those with fine hair. To prevent this, it is recommended to start with a small amount and apply it to the midsection to the ends of the hair. Those with fine hair may want to avoid applying coconut oil to the scalp. Additionally, while it is normal to shed 50-100 hairs per day, some people have reported increased hair loss while using coconut oil. However, this is often not due to the oil itself but rather because it can cause previously detached hair to fall away more easily.

In conclusion, while coconut oil is considered safe, overusing it can cause greasiness in hair, but it is not usually the cause of hair loss.

How to use coconut oil for beautiful hair

Here are some ways to incorporate coconut oil into your hair care routine to improve its health:

  1. As a conditioner: After shampooing, comb coconut oil through the midsection to the ends of your hair.
  2. As a post-wash detangler: After washing and conditioning your hair, apply a small amount of coconut oil to protect it while brushing.
  3. As a hair mask: Massage coconut oil into your hair and let it sit for a few hours or overnight before washing it out.
  4. As a pre-wash protector: Apply coconut oil to your hair before washing it.
  5. As a scalp treatment: Before bed, massage a small amount of coconut oil into your scalp and leave it overnight. Rinse it off with shampoo in the morning.
You can use these methods for your hair care routine, whether frequently or occasionally, to achieve stunning, healthy, and glossy hair. The amount of coconut oil needed depends on the length and type of your hair. Most individuals only apply enough to cover from the midsection to the ends to avoid greasiness.

It's best to start with a small amount of coconut oil and increase it as needed based on your hair length and texture. For short or fine hair, only a teaspoon may be needed, while for longer or thick hair, up to two tablespoons may be required. There are various types of coconut oil available, including virgin (unrefined) oil which can also be used in cooking.

Coconut oil can be applied to hair as a conditioner, hair mask, or scalp treatment to improve its health and appearance. The amount needed will vary based on hair length and type, but starting with a small amount and gradually increasing it is recommended. There is no difference between using unrefined or refined coconut oil for hair, as both have moisturizing properties. The main benefit of coconut oil for hair is its moisturizing properties.

Can Coconut Oil Help with Hair Growth?


Coconut oil is a solid, white fat derived from raw or dried coconuts that melts when heated. It is commonly used as a food, cooking oil, and beauty treatment for hair and skin.

There is significant research on the health benefits of coconut oil for the body, skin, and hair. Some people apply coconut oil to their hair and scalp with the belief that it promotes faster hair growth. In this article, we will examine the validity of this belief.

Coconut oil and hair

There's no scientific evidence to support that coconut oil can make your hair grow faster, but it may help improve hair and scalp health, giving the appearance of faster hair growth. Coconut oil has antifungal properties and has been shown to help eliminate some types of fungal infections in lab studies. This suggests that coconut oil may be beneficial for preventing or treating dandruff and other scalp fungi, but more research is needed to confirm its effects on the skin and scalp.

- Moisturizes and Calms Scalp 

Coconut oil is a natural saturated fat, which can help moisturize and calm the scalp by reducing irritation, flaking, and itching. Its high fat content helps lock in moisture, keeping hair healthy and shiny.

- Prevents Split Ends 

Research has shown that coconut oil is more effective than mineral oil and other oils at penetrating the hair shaft, helping to prevent hair breakage and split ends. By using coconut oil regularly, you may need fewer haircuts, making your hair appear to be growing faster.

- Reduces Protein Loss in Hair 

A study conducted in India showed that coconut oil can reduce protein loss in hair, making it less prone to dryness, brittleness, and breakage. Coconut oil is used both as a pre-wash hair mask and a leave-in conditioner after showering.

- Coconut Oil Protects From Heat Damage 

Applying a small amount of coconut oil to your wet hair before using heat styling tools can help protect it from water and heat damage. This can reduce the risk of hygral fatigue, which is a condition where the hair swells up from excessive water and becomes weaker and drier over time.

Other purported benefits

Healthy fats are an important part of your daily diet and should make up about 30% of your total calorie intake. Incorporating coconut oil into your meals and using it for cooking can contribute to a balanced diet.

Consuming coconut oil may result in healthier, more robust hair growth. This could be particularly noticeable if your diet lacks adequate healthy fats and nutrients.

As a hair and scalp treatment, coconut oil has the potential to effectively eliminate head lice and their eggs.


It's important to use coconut oil in moderation, as excessive use can cause greasiness in your hair and skin. Overuse can also clog pores and lead to skin irritation, such as acne. When using coconut oil as a deep conditioning hair mask, make sure to wash it out thoroughly. It's recommended to only use a small amount as a leave-in treatment for your hair.

How to use it

To make a coconut oil hair and scalp treatment mask, you can follow these steps:

  1. Put a small amount of coconut oil in a bowl.
  2. Heat the oil in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  3. Ensure the oil is soft but not fully liquid.
  4. Test the temperature to make sure it's warm but not hot.
  5. Use your fingers to massage the oil into your scalp, then apply it to your hair from roots to tips.
  6. Put your hair in a bun and cover it with a towel.
  7. Leave the oil in for 30 minutes to a few hours.
  8. Thoroughly wash the oil out with your regular shampoo.

Other healthy, natural ingredients that can be added to a coconut oil hair mask include:

  • Aloe vera gel
  • Whole egg or egg white
  • Avocado
  • Argan oil
  • Olive oil

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