I’ve been a fan of coconut oil for a really long time. It is a highly nourishing oil with hundreds of uses, and lately I’ve run across many sources touting the benefits of coconut oil for hair. It can certainly be beneficial for certain hair types when used correctly, but many sources recommend using it in ways that may do more harm than good.
Before you use coconut oil for hair treatment or pouring it all over your head, make sure you know how to use it correctly to get the benefits without harming your hair!
Why Use Coconut Oil for Hair?
Coconut oil is the richest natural source of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), special types of fatty acid with antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that are very nourishing to the body. It is especially high in the C12 chain of MCFAs known as Lauric Acid.
Lauric acid is naturally occurring in breastmilk as well and is supportive of hormone health and cellular health. This beneficial property of coconut oil is also one of the reasons it can help prevent protein loss in hair (for some people). Coconut oil’s structure allows it to penetrate hair in ways that other oils are not able to, which is why some people notice amazing results relatively quickly when using coconut oil for hair.
The idea of putting oil directly in the hair can seem counterintuitive, especially to anyone with naturally oily hair. Nourishing hair oil treatments have been used for thousands of years, though these use a certain ratio of beneficial oils (and I add honey and magnesium) and these are not used as an everyday product.
When it’s Harmful to Use Coconut Oil for Hair
There is no doubt that certain oils can be beneficial to hair and that many of us strip out beneficial oils from over-shampooing, leading the body to increase natural oil production to compensate. Due to over-shampooing and poor diet, many of us are also missing vital nutrients we need to build healthy hair in the first place, but is adding oil to the hair the solution?
Certain oils do seem to be pretty much universally beneficial for hair, but coconut oil isn’t always one of them. For instance, Castor oil is an age-old beauty secret for increasing hair growth. I use it on my hair and eyelashes and have seen amazing results, and hundreds of commenters have had a similar experience.
Coconut oil, on the other hand, gets mixed results. Some people report immediately healthier and smoother hair, while others claim that their hair fell out by the handfull after using it. So what is the reason for the discrepancy and how can a person know if coconut oil is going to be beneficial or cause hair loss?
How to Safely Use Coconut Oil For Hair
Those who think that coconut oil may be beneficial for their hair types can benefit from using it, but there are some best practices when using coconut oil for hair:
- Avoid the scalp: Though coconut oil seems to be beneficial for those who struggle with dandruff that has a fungal component, others may see negative effects from using coconut oil directly on the scalp. Coconut oil may clog pores and cause irritation for some scalp types (just as it does on certain skin types), and is best used directly on the hair and not the scalp (of those with the right type of hair).
- Start with small amounts: Again, more isn’t better. Especially until you know how your hair handles coconut oil, use a small amount and see how hair responds.
- Add other ingredients: Adding other oils can change how coconut oil affects hair. As a deep treatment, blending coconut oil with honey and yogurt may offer more benefit than coconut oil alone.