There's no denying that coconut oil is a popular ingredient in many hair care products and it’s for good reason. Coconut oil has been found to be an amazing source of hair care benefits! Learn more in our ultimate guide – we'll explain is coconut oil good for your hair and show you the best way how to use coconut oil, the best hair products with coconut oil and so much more.
What are the Benefits of Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil (Cocos nucifera) is an incredible source of many nutrients that can boost the health and appearance of your skin, hair and health. It is loaded with fatty acids such as the medium chain fatty acids, also known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), of lauric (C12:0), capric (C10:0) and caprylic (C8:0) acids, minerals such as calcium, iron and zinc as well as vitamins such as vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and vitamin K (phylloquinone) and polyphenols. These components nourish the skin and scalp while strengthening the hair strands to help protect against hair breakage. Coconut oil is used by itself as a moisturizer and has emollient properties for the skin, scalp and hair. Additionally, coconut oil can create a protective barrier on the outside of your strand while shielding against damage.
9 Benefits of Coconut Oil for Hair
- Coconut Oil Increase Hair Shine and Moisture – When you first think about adding coconut oil to your hair routine, the first benefits that come to mind are the ability of coconut oil to increase hair moisture and shine. Coconut oil in hair lays down your cuticles on the outside of the hair shaft. When your cuticles are moisturized and sealed, that’s when your hair looks much shinier and vibrant.
- Coconut Oil Prevents Frizz – Frizzy hair can be unmanageable hair. It can make hair look dry and tangle more easily. The GOOD news is frizzy hair is fixable! Frizziness is caused when the cell membrane complex swells with water. Too much water can cause the hair shaft to swell, which then lifts the cuticles, makes hair look frizzy and lose hair’s smooth texture. Coconut oil can help seal the cuticle and reduce water absorption into the hair, especially in humidity. Reducing water absorption into the hair, helps to smoothen the cuticle and stop frizzy hair.
- Coconut Oil Helps Detangle Hair – Going hand-in-hand with improving moisture and reducing frizz, is reducing tangles. When your hair is tangled, it is often because the cuticles are lifted and catching onto each other. The lifting of the cuticle is potentially caused by many types of damage and is the reason why hair not only tangles, but also causes the cell membrane complex to swell with too much moisture (frizziness) and lose shine. Using coconut oil can help the hair cuticles behave better so hair cuticles lay flat and are less prone to tangles.
- Coconut Oil Helps Condition the Hair – Many people love the deep conditioning properties of coconut oil. An overnight application of coconut oil hair mask allows for a slow and controlled penetration of coconut oil’s nutrients deep into the hair shaft. From there, the principal fatty acid, lauric acid with a straight medium sized chain and weighing less than other oils like sunflower oil or mineral oil, can penetrate further.
- Coconut Oil Prevents Hair Damage, Protein Loss, and Keratin Damage – In a 2003 report published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science, researchers noted that coconut oil was effective in preventing hair damage. Coconut oil was found to reduce protein loss remarkably for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product. The results were credited to coconut oil’s composition containing high concentrations of lauric acid. This specific fatty acid is incredibly important because it not only is of low molecular weight and a medium chain, but it is also linear. This weight, size and linear shape allows coconut oil to penetrate the hair more easily and effectively than many other oils, however there are other natural oils rich in lauric acid such as Babassu oil. After penetrating the hair, the lauric acid in coconut oil has an affinity (liking) for hair protein. Coconut oil’s attraction to hair protein and keratin helps reduce the amount of water absorbed into your hair, reduce protein loss and reduce hair damage. Another similar study found the affinity of coconut oil to hair protein reduced the process of hair swelling and deswelling. This process of water moving in and out of the hair is called hygral fatigue and is one of the major causes of hair damage. This study showed that coconut oil, which is a better penetrant than many other oils, provided better protection from damage by hygral fatigue.
- Can Coconut Oil Fix Split Ends? Split ends are a type of hair damage, but located at the ends of your hair. This is the section of your hair is the oldest and thus has incurred the most damage, is the driest and weakest part of your hair. Just as we've mentioned before, coconut oil has the ability to travel to the core, protecting hair protein and helping to laying down and seal the cuticle. These coconut oil benefits can help reduce the look and prevention of split ends to an extent but unfortunately, split end repair from coconut oil alone will leave you disappointed. It takes a village when it comes to split end repair, which is why we recommend using a product like Save Me From Chemical Conflict Bond Building Hair Repair that is formulated with bond repairing ingredients like creatine, biomimetic keratin and vegan proteins to help reduce split ends.
- Coconut Oil Can Help Hair During Heat Styling – Next time you jump out of the shower and your hair is still damp, warm a little dab of coconut oil between hands and apply to hair before heat styling. Coconut oil is considered a natural heat protectant and because coconut oil helps reduce hygral fatigue (water swelling and deswelling the hair), it will also help protect your hair from damaged caused by too much swelling while also helping to seal in moisture. It has a smoke point of about 350 degrees Fahrenheit but can be as high as 400 degrees if using a refined coconut oil. If you want to turn the dial higher than 350 degrees, we recommend using a product like Save Me From Thermal Obsession. This heat protectant not only offers 450-degree heat protection, but it also helps reduce frizz and repairs heat damaged hair.
- Does Coconut Oil Block UV Rays? Although we’d love to tell you coconut oil is a wonderall that coconut oil can protect your skin and hair from UV damage, it just isn’t as effective as a physical blocking or chemical sunscreen. Coconut oil is estimated to provide a sun protection factor of a little less than 8. Coconut oil is not an approved OTC ingredient for providing sun protection and it will not protect your skin against skin cancer. It is best to find an OTC monographed and proven SPF of 30 or higher. OK, now that we have that covered…. You should still use coconut oil when you go out into the sun. Protein degradation is most caused by sun exposure. In a 2008 study in Croatia, researchers found that UVB radiation causes protein loss and UVA radiation causes color loss. Protein loss causes the hair shaft to weaken, while color loss shows how deep the UVA rays go as melatonin is in the core of our hair shaft. A coconut oil hair mask goes deep and protects every part of the hair shaft to keep it from incurring damage. So, you should still wear a little coconut oil as a leave-in treatment for your hair before going out to enjoy the sun!
- Can I Use Coconut Oil on Hair Before Swimming? Stop swimmer’s hair and swim proof your hair with coconut oil. Natural oils like coconut oil can be used as a leave-in chlorine protectant for hair to help reduce hair damage caused by chlorine. Coconut oil can provide a protective layer for hair to protect against the chemicals in the pool, including chlorine or salt from being absorbed into your strands and drying out hair. We love Save Me From Sun + Sweat Hair Repair because it not only contains coconut oil but other ingredients that help to protect and repair against damage to swimmer’s hair.
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Skin and Scalp
- Coconut Oil Helps Reduces Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL) and May Help Those with Middle to Moderate Atopic Dermatitis – Aside from the obvious fact that coconut oil can help relieve dry and itchy skin, as well as relieve a dry and itchy scalp, coconut oil can help preserve skin hydration and is a good source of antioxidants with anti-inflammatory benefits. In a study published in International Journal of Dermatology, topical application of coconut oil for eight weeks was superior in results compared to mineral oil. In another study, the topical use of virgin coconut oil was shown to bring about anti-inflammatory activity that helped improve barrier function.
- Coconut Oil Helps Improve Scalp Microbiome and May Be Beneficial for Dandruff – In a 16-week study published in Scientific Reports in 2021 evaluating is coconut oil good for the scalp, they found that coconut oil helped maintain a healthy scalp and help modulate a good scalp microbiome. Check out microbiome-friendly scalp products.
- Coconut Oil for Hair Growth? Although coconut oil has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic hair rituals, there is not much evidence that coconut oil itself can help with hair growth, however, many times hair loss is often confused with hair breakage. Because coconut oil can help prevent protein loss and hair damage, it can be helpful in reducing hair loss due to hair breakage (not hair fall).
How to Use Coconut Oil for Hair Care - or – How to Make a DIY Coconut Oil Mask
Coconut oil is found in many conditioners to help moisturize and hydrate the hair and nourish the scalp. If you have dry, damaged hair, you might consider applying straight virgin coconut oil from your kitchen pantry directly to your hair. Coconut oil on hair can help. It will not only help repair hair damage, but its nourishing compounds can also help make your hair stronger and healthier. Here are a few questions you might have and the best step-by-step tips for using coconut oil at home.
1) How often can you use coconut oil on hair? Although you can find products with coconut oil that are appropriate for daily use, when applying a DIY coconut oil mask for hair, we recommend doing this about once a week, and up to three times a week. Before starting, be sure you’re properly prepped. We recommend using unrefined, virgin coconut oil to ensure it is not chemically processed. Coconut oil is typically solid at room temperature and should be warmed. You can do this by rubbing it between your hands or gently melt it in a microwave. Also, because coconut oil slowly penetrates the hair strand, its best to leave coconut oil on the hair for a few hours to overnight. We recommend applying your DIY coconut oil mask at night and using a hair wrap.
2) Should I put coconut oil on dry or wet hair? We recommend starting with clean, damp hair divided into 3 to 6 sections. Although you may have read the suggestion to apply coconut oil to dry hair, we don’t agree. When hair is wet, the cuticles are prepped to allow coconut oil to penetrate more easily. Slightly damp hair followed by wrapping hair with a hot towel will allow for optimal penetration.
3) How much coconut oil should I use? Always apply in moderation. Start with a tablespoon or two and melt more if needed. Apply melted coconut oil from ends to roots. Again, this is where our suggestion may differ from others. Since hair is older, dryer and more damaged at the ends, it is best to start the application of product from the ends and work your way up to scalp. Now, this does not mean to run the product up from tips to the roots in one long swoop but rather slide the oil on the sectioned hair by using a downward motion while working your way up inch by inch. The goal should be to apply more coconut oil midshaft of the hair to the tips with only using a small amount that will be gently massaged on the scalp. Repeat this per section of damp hair until every strand feels coated.
4) How long should you leave coconut oil in your hair? Use a wide-tooth comb to ensure even distribution of the coconut oil on hair and to prevent tangles. Then gently twist hair all together into a loose topknot, ensuring that the hair is not wrapped too tightly. Using a warm towel, wrap hair so your pillow doesn’t get gunky (and the heat from the towel can help optimize the coconut oil on hair) and leave in overnight.
5) Should I wash my hair after applying coconut oil? The following morning, you will shampoo and condition the coconut oil out of your hair. But first, let the steam build in the shower to allow the steam and heat to reactivate the coconut oil a little further. You may also soak your towel in hot water and wrap once more around hair before shampooing.
6) Can I use coconut oil instead of conditioner? Check to ensure all the coconut oil feels removed from your hair. You may have to repeat your wash until your hair feels clean. Then follow with conditioner as normal. You may use coconut oil alongside your conditioner, but conditioners contain other beneficial ingredients for hair to ensure the hair is hydrated, moisturized, detangled and more manageable.
7) Can I leave coconut oil in my hair? Yes, in moderation. After rinsing out your conditioner and towel drying your hair, you may apply a dab of warmed coconut oil to ends of hair or better yet, your favorite Save Me From Tip to Root Hair Reboot Treatment to seal in moisture, build bonds and improve your hair health. Want to know how to treat split ends, frizz and hair damage caused by heat styling? Using coconut oil as a leave in hair treatment is a great way to manage damage from heat styling and split ends. Massage warm coconut oil into your clean, damp hair before you style it. With straight coconut oil, you’ll want to make sure to apply it from midshaft to the ends of your hair. With Save Me From Tip to Root Hair Reboots, they are formulated for application from the ends of the hair to the scalp. That way, hair damage can be treated higher up the hair shaft without weighing the hair down.
What are different types of coconut oil? Which Kind of Coconut Oil is Best to Use for Hair
Not all oils are created equal. We suggest using virgin coconut oil rather than refined but we also like hair products made with caprylic/capric triglycerides that can offer a non-greasy emollience along with coconut oil benefits. Refined coconut oil means it was harshly processed and contains chemicals and preservatives. At room temperature, it is often a liquid and completely clear in color. However, it may be bright white when solid (showing off the bleach used in creating it). Refined coconut oil is made from old, more stale coconuts and not while they are at their peak.
- What is virgin coconut oil? What is extra virgin coconut oil? What is refined coconut oil? These are often interchangeably used terms. Virgin coconut oil uses fresh meat, while refined coconut oil typically uses copra, which is dried coconut meat. Virgin coconut oil meat is dried quickly with a small amount of heat, then pressed with a machine to remove the oil. If the “wet” method is used, the milk from the coconut is separated from the oil by fermentation, enzymes, or centrifuge. Virgin coconut oil typically has a smoke point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Refined coconut oil on the other hand is machine-pressed to release the oil. The oil is then steamed or heated to deodorize the oil and then bleached. Sometimes chemical solvents are used. This results in a coconut oil with a higher smoke point of about 400-450 degrees F but the high heat can also affect some of the nutrients from coconut oil.
- What is fractionated coconut oil? Normally, coconut oil is solid at room temperature, but fractionated coconut oil is more liquid than solid. Fractionated coconut oil can also feel less greasy, almost a silicone like feel, but without the silicones.
- What is caprylic/capric triglyceride? Caprylic/capric triglycerides are an ingredient used to improve the function and feel of skin care and hair care products. They are made from the compounds of naturally occurring fatty acids found in coconut oil. Caprylic/capric triglyceride works as a great emollient that softens skin and helps trap moisture into the skin, but they also have the benefit of acting as an antioxidant. All Save Me From products contain caprylic/capric triglycerides made from organic coconut oil.
How to Choose the Best Coconut Oils and Hair Care Products.
With a variety of purpose-built coconut oil hair care products on the market, it can be difficult to determine which to choose. The most important first step is to read labels carefully and select products made with natural coconut oil. Make sure that the product you're selecting is free from harsh chemicals or artificial dyes, as well as appropriate for your hair type. When we formulated Save Me From Hair Repair products, we used the best ingredients for hair repair and scalp nourishment.
What Other Natural Ingredients Work Best with Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is an amazing emollient that can help preserve and protect hair protein while helps to reduce hygral fatigue but to have your healthiest hair, we recommend using coconut oil alongside some other great ingredients to condition, repair, and add shine to your hair. The list the best hair repair ingredients is endless, but these are some of our favorites that compliment coconut oil well. The amount of each ingredient used will depend on the desired results, but combining these natural elements creates a nutrient-rich treatment that will leave your hair soft and healthy looking!
- Phospolipids – These skin-identical ingredient not only help the skin and scalp, but they’re also important for the hair. They can work similar to hyaluronic acid for hair, providing hydration and a lightweight protective layer. Ready more about the benefits of phospholipids for the hair
- Creatine – Coconut oil can help protect and preserve your hair bonds but what happens when your hair is already damaged or your hair is damaged by chemicals? This is where the importance of hair bond repair steps in. Creatine for hair, not to be confused with Keratin but a friend of keratin, is the bond building powerhouse for hair you should add to your routine.
- Hemi-squalane – This lightweight oil derived from fermented sugar cane works similar to hyaluronic acid for hair but with silicone-free benefits for hair.
- Fenugen – When you’re searching for a nutrient rich ingredient that checks all the boxes, you stop at Fenugen. Made from concentrated fenugreek for hair and scalp benefits, it gives the scalp a needed boost.
The Ayurvedic Spice That Can Change Your Hair
Coconut oil is an amazing Ayurvedic remedy. It's also worth mentioning the hair reparative benefits of Fenugen. Inspired by Ayurvedic medicine, Fenugen harnesses rich phytonutrients from fenugreek. This includes medium and long chain fatty acids that can help preserve hair protein, terpenoids and polyphenols for antioxidant health benefits, phospholipids for smart hydration and vitamins A, C and B variety vitamins for overall nourishment. Fenugen pairs these nutrients with bio-boosters like ubiquinone (also known as Coenzyme Q10 for hair), organic karanja (also known as pongamia) and the medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s) from coconut oil. Through a patented eco extraction process, Save Me From hair treatments are formulated with Fenugen for its phytonutrients that power our clinically proven technology. Fenugen possesses the rich nutrients of fenugreek seeds in a complex 5x more potent in polyphenols. These nutrients include Vitamin A, B Vitamins, Vitamin C and more. With consistent, long-term use, hair bonds are rebuilt, hydration is restored helping to reduce frizz, the scalp is energized and nourished from within allowing hair that's more resistant to damage to emerge. Rooted in Ayurveda, our Fenugen is clinically proven to transform hair from tip to root, inside and out. Find out more about the benefits of fenugreek here.
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