It seems that the world has fallen in love with coconut oil. You can cook with it, remove your makeup with it, comb it through your hair, and smooth your legs with it. Not many products can multitask the way coconut oil can. Is it any wonder why coconut oil for hair is also so beloved?
But does coconut oil really live up to the hype? And is it a great treatment for stronger, shinier hair?
Let’s take a closer look …
What’s In Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil contains three key fatty acids, each with its own unique properties and benefits. They are all considered to be medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are famed for their health benefits.1
1. Lauric acid
Lauric acid, which makes up about 50 percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil, exhibits antibacterial properties.2 This means it can help keep the scalp free of bacteria that can cause irritation and hair fall. It’s also shown the ability to reduce protein loss in hair. Protein loss can cause hair loss. When tested against coconut oil, neither sunflower oil or mineral oil (which are used in many hair cosmetics) showed any similar ability to reduce protein loss in hair.3
2. Caprylic acid
Caprylic acid is a fatty acid which has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.4 Understandably, this makes it ideal for the skin, including the skin on your scalp. Medium-chain triglycerides like caprylic acid are especially great at going after yeast infections, like the fungus Malassezia, which can cause dandruff.5 When left untreated, dandruff can become so itchy and inflamed that it may cause hair loss.
3. Capric Acid
Capric acid rounds out coconut’s three MCT fatty acids. Not to be overlooked, capric acid has likewise shown antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory activity.6
4. Antioxidant Vitamin E
It may not be a fatty acid but it’s important to draw attention to vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant in coconut oil. Vitamin E helps protect your tissues from free radicals (which can harm your cells). But it’s also shown potential to:
- Increase hair growth7
- Lock in moisture8
- Boost shine9
How To Use Coconut Oil For Hair
Here’s how you can utilize the benefits of coconut oil for hair:
As a Nutritional Hair Growth Mask
Massage coconut oil into the scalp with gentle pressure to kick-start blood circulation. Wrap your hair under a shower cap for 10 minutes, and let those fatty acids really work their magic as a mask – especially to boost your hair protein. Rinse, then gently shampoo and condition your hair as usual.
To Smooth Frizz and Split Ends
Smooth split ends while nourishing them by applying a little coconut oil just to the ends of your hair. This can be done while your hair is still damp or even between shampoos on dry hair. Apply just a little at a time, so you don’t wind up with overly oily ends.
The same goes for frizzy hair. Rub some coconut oil between your palms, and lightly smooth it onto your hair. Keep the oil away from your roots, as it can make them look too oily. For curly hair, you can even “scrunch” coconut oil into your locks.
To Tackle Dandruff
Coat your entire head with coconut oil for hair, taking the time to really work it into your scalp. Wrap up your hair in a shower cap and, if possible, try to warm the cap under the sun or low hair dryer heat for about 20 minutes. Or better still, try sleeping in the cap overnight. When you’re done, gently shampoo and condition as per usual.
As a Deep Conditioning Treatment
Take your hair mask to the next level by coating your hair in coconut oil, wrapping it under a shower cap and then leaving it on overnight. Keep in mind that thin hair requires less oil than thicker, frizzier hair. Because of its powerful moisturizing abilities, you may still feel the coconut oil on your hair shaft after you shampoo and condition. So, if your hair is very thin, or naturally oily, don’t overdo it.
As a Styling Agent
There are so many pricey hair smoothing creams and pomades on the market. But coconut oil for hair is a natural option, helping to tame flyaways and frizz while styling. Smooth a little coconut oil through your hair before blow drying, especially around the ends, or touch up those flyaways after styling. Just remember: a little goes a long way.
To Help Fight Lice
Coconut’s MCT oils can help fight fungus, but they can also fight lice. One European clinical trial found that a mix of coconut oil and anise sprayed onto the hair was 82 percent more effective than prescription lice treatments.10
As a Natural Sunscreen
Just when you thought you couldn’t be surprised by coconut oil for hair anymore, you find out that it’s a natural UV protectant! In fact, coconut oil has an SPF factor of 8.11 If you’re a beach baby but find that your hair is easily damaged by long days in the sun and sea, smooth on some coconut oil as a leave-in UV conditioner.
Coconut oil is certainly the kind of friend that you’ll want to have readily available around the home. What other hair product can you also bake muffins with?
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