A few years ago, coconut oil was declared to be the cure-all to our worries, its wellness powers knew no bounds. Hungry paleo, yet on a five hour flight? Have a scoop of coconut oil. About to get busy and need some lube? Layer on some coconut oil. Too broke for white strips? Oil pull with coconut oil.
Your love for coconut oil will depend on where your enthusiasm lies on the natural beauty scale. While it doesn’t miraculously stimulate hair growth, it will improve the health of hair, paving the way for longer, more luscious locks. The medium-chain fatty acids, vitamin and mineral-rich nutrients and low molecular lauric acids work to nourish the hair shaft and penetrate into damaged nooks and crannies.
As a resident beauty guinea pig, I’ve tried and tested most of the coconut claims out there, but I am rummaging my kitchen cabinets for coconut oil the most when it comes to my hair, especially as the cooler fall air starts to crack and dry out everyone’s hair. Here are some of the lessons I have learned when using coconut oil for hair.
Lesson #1: Know Your Hair Type
Despite what you’ve heard, coconut oil is not for every hair type. It is best suited for fine and normal hair types. For those with coarse or dry hair, coconut oil might lead to more brittle hair, and heaven forbid, hair loss. If you have coarse/dry hair, it is better to use argan oil. If you have thick and dry hair, it’s safe to use coconut oil, a pro-tip is to coat the hair mid-shaft before showering for extra moisturizing. Dandruff is best served with almond oil to counter dryness as coconut oil can clog the scalp, but you’ll need some real head & showers to get to the root cause of dryness.
Lesson #2: Get the Good Sh*t
Use extra virgin coconut oil when possible and make sure it is organic and sustainably harvested. Pure, unrefined coconut oil is au natural and chemical free. Also, most people don’t cross-contaminate their beauty and cooking coconut oils as that can be hairy. But if you find yourself cooking with coconut oil, by all means, wipe off excess oil on the tips of your hair.
Lesson #3: Pregame
Coconut oil is best when warmed up, but it is important to not overheat or zap the nutrient dense molecules. To heat, use a small bowl of hot water and add a scoop of coconut oil to the water. If you are channelling Emeril Lagasse, kick it up a notch and add honey or yogurt for a more luxurious hair mask.
Lesson #4: Work it Baby
Sure, the 90s are back, and so is a little grunge. If you’re going for the super grease look and are okay with rocking that look for a few days, then sure, throw some coconut oil on your scalp. But please be warned, oil will lock in everything, including everything on our scalp and will be hard to fully wash out. Try instead to apply coconut oil on the ends of hair or mid-shaft.
It’s easier to spread on damp hair. I like putting a little water in my hands and running it through my hair, then adding a coconut mask BEFORE showering. Use a comb to distribute the oil evenly amongst hair. I’ll sit with the mask on my hair anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, some people even sleep in the mask with a shower cap, but be warned this can be dangerous for precarious sleepers.
Lesson #5: Heavy Reinforcements
Once locks have lapped up all of the moisture, shampoo with warm water to get all of the coconut oil out. I’ve found that natural shampoos don’t have the muscle to fully eradicate the oil, and it is best to use a shampoo with chemicals or double shampoo. The more oil that is on the scalp, the harder it will be to remove.
Lesson #6: Coconut Oil On-the-Go
If you need a little touch up to tame away frizz, and don’t have the time for deep oil session, warm up a pinch of oil in your hands and work it through ends for smoother locks. Build slowly, a little goes a long way.
Lesson #7: There Is Such a Thing As Too Much of a Good Thing
For those with dry hair, a hydration miracle boost like coconut oil can be hard to hold back from. Just one run-through of the smooth hair remedy through cracked, stubborn, and dried-out hair is already the soothing cure your hair was asking for, and with such quick results you might feel the urge to keep adding more. We’ve all been there, the harsh effects of cooler fall temperatures start to weigh down heavily on your hair and you feel a need to over compensate with the hydration fix. But trust me, you do not want to get carried away. If you’re one of the lucky ones who has never experienced what greasy hair can look like on you, an overdose of coconut oil will turn that around.
Top Recommendation: The Hair Mask
As you can see, coconut oil is best for hair masking, and can provide some serious moisture to help nurture enviable locks. Next self-care night, easily whip up a honey coconut hair mask for deep conditioning. Here is what you’ll need:
- Two tablespoons plain yogurt
- One and a half tablespoons of raw, organic honey
- Half a teaspoon coconut oil (warmed up)
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, and apply on damp hair. Work the mixture from your ears down to the ends of hair, paying extra attention to the tips, and then using a comb to slick all of the goodness across hair. If you need to, add more oil if you have longer hair. The lactic acid in yogurt helps cleanse, honey retains moisture, and coconut oil rebuilds damaged strands. Chill out with the mask on as long as possible before washing. For best results, use this mask once a week.
Beyond masking, there is a plentiful array of coconut-infused products on the marketplace to add into your beauty routine:
I’ve been using Smoke & Mirrors Conditioning Cleansing Oil for a few years after my platinum blonde friend recommended this as a super gentle cleanser for those who spend their paychecks going blonde. It is a paraben and sulfate-free cleansing oil, so it won’t suds up like other shampoos, but it will protect color treated locks.
You could say I collect sea salt sprays. The Herbivore Texturizing Salt Spray has an added benefit of coconut oil to counter the drying nature of sea salt spray.
For slicked-back styles, this is a cult-favorite pomade from Bumble and Bumble. Keeps hair in place while moisturizing with coconut oil.
John Masters Organics makes a lovely smelling Geranium & Grapefruit Body Milk with coconut oil to deeply moisture the skin.
You’ve likely seen OGX’s range of coconut hair products. I like the OGX Weightless Hydration Coconut Water Shampoo as a budget buy that doesn’t weigh the hair down.
Briogeo is leading the conditioner marketplace, and their Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-exfoliating Shampoo is worth splurging on.
Guilty Pleasure: Bring Your Hair into the Kitchen
Does this friendly little jar look familiar to any of you? For those of us who have joined into the clean eating craze, virgin coconut oil is a welcome staple is the kitchen cabinet. But aside from a less processed, better-for-your-insides alternative to canola oil, olive oil, or butter, this cooking essential is perfectly fine to put in your hair. That’s right folks, if stocking up on coconut-infused beauty products isn’t for you, or you don’t have time to blend this beauty into a homemade face mask, your beauty cabinet can just take a loan from your kitchen. You can just scoop out a spoonful of oil from the jar and rub it between your hands to smooth it out before bringing it to your hair, or another viable alternative is to microwave a spoonful to really get it into that serum-like consistency that meshes so well into hair.
Across the board, coconut oil is a rockstar in the beauty world, especially when it comes to hair. Standalone or within other products, coconut oil delivers some of the most concentrated moisture, with few downsides. And hey, compared to other super nutrients and beauty treatments out there, it is relatively cheap. Give it a try with a weekly hair mask, and be careful when entering the scalp area. Like skin care, you’ll achieve maximum benefits when using the highest quality ingredients and following a routine custom to your skin and hair type. For best results, use alongside a healthy diet, drink loads of water, and hey, throw some coconut in your smoothie. Beauty from within and all that jazz.