Coconut oil is very penetrating in hair, it's one of the most penetrating in fact. It penetrates well because it's made of mostly short, straight saturated fats. Refined coconut oil is similar to virgin, but odorless. Fractionated coconut oil has had the less saturated and longer fatty acids taken out, leaving only the two shortest saturated fats. The virgin and refined oils are 50% lauric acid, and the fractionated oil is 90% caprylic acid. Your hair may prefer one over the others.
Because it's very penetrating, I find it more useful as a deep conditioning treatment or before conditioning, rather than as a leave-in. It may make your hair feel gunky or stiff if you put it over a certain other products, because it won't be able to penetrate as well. However many people like it as a leave in, it depends on your hair type and the other products you use.
For a gloss, I prefer a less penetrating liquid oil, like olive oil.
Coconut oil binds to protein in the hair, slowing protein loss. Some people sensitive to protein may not like it. None of the oils actually contain protein though.
Because of the protein retentive properties, these oils are excellent as a pre-treatment before bleaching and other chemical treatments. They protect the hair and don't interfere with results.
For more about coconut oil in the hair, see ktani's blog: http://ktanihairsense.blogspot.com/s.../coconut%20oil
Coconut oil is not good for the skin if you're prone to acne, because it's comedogenic. Otherwise it can have the same protective properties for the skin as it does for the hair.
It's great as a cooking oil. The virgin oil has a nice nutty flavor and raises HDL. All kinds are also good for the digestion because the short fatty acids have antimicrobial properties.
It's also good as an ointment for cuts to prevent infection.
It's also great as a diaper rash cream. The antimicrobial properties treat the rash and it won't ruin cloth diapers like many commercial diaper rash creams can.
Babassu & palm kernel oil have similar fatty acid profiles and can be used as substitutes.
The wikipedia article on coconut oil is a good overview of the non hair uses.
2c (3a potential?), M, ii, porous, good elasticity, APL, dark brown with a silver lining.
Love coconut oil, olive oil, and Everyday Shea!
HGs are simple, natural, and destroy frizzzz!!