coconut oil for hair
Photo by Magone -- Getty Images
Women with curly and straight hair alike swoon over this highly saturated, fatty oil. Lauric acid is the major fatty acid with 45-53% of the oil’s composition. (Fabian, D. 2015). Coconut oil possesses a plethora of health benefits with nearly 4,000 years of documented historical use of the fruit as a food and a pharmaceutical asset. Tropics and subtropics are the natural habitats of the plant and the coconut is a plant that favorably grows on the shorelines and prospers on sandy soils. The coconut is actually a drupe and not a nut. A drupe consists of three layers the exocarp, mesocarp and endocarp with the mesocarp containing a coir (seed fiber).  Read more You Need These Good Fats for Healthy Hair

Benefits of coconut oil

Lauric acid is the big winner in the benefits of the coconut. It is one of the good fats that comprises about 50% of coconut oil and is a rare medium-chain fatty acid found in Mother’s milk that supports a healthy metabolism and has anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial health-protecting properties. It is more easily absorbed by the body and are a source of dietary energy. Lauric acid has the strongest antimicrobial activity among all saturated fatty acids against gram-positive bacteria and some viruses and fungi. (Fabian, D. 2015).

Read more: What You Need to Know About Antibacterial, Antioxidants, Antifungal, and Anti-inflammatory Oils

Coconut oil also has capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid, linoleic acid, oleic acid, phenolic acid, vitmain E, vitamin K, and iron. It is great for skin care and is a highly effective moisturizers especially for dry skin sufferers. It delays the appearance of wrinkles and sagging skin and treats various skin problems like dermatitis, eczema, and even psoriasis. It helps with high cholesterol, digestion, immune boosting, and even weight loss as it increases the body’s metabolic rate by removing stress on the pancreas, thereby burning more energy.

  • Frizz-fighter– just a dab of coconut oil rubbed on your hands and then through your hair will help get rid of minor frizz.
  • Shine enhancer and pliability– when added to dry hair it will add shine and increase hair fiber pliability. This in turn reduces friction and static electricity between strands. 
  • Scalp rehydrator and stimulator– actually great for your entire body for rehydrating dry skin, coconut oil was found in a 2013 study discussed in the Journal of International Dermatology found that virgin coconut oil improved skin barrier function in patients with atopic dermatitis. Irritated or dry scalps benefit from a coconut oil scalp massage as plethora of fatty acids fight skin ailments while hydrating a dry scalp. 
  • Blood circulator– a coconut scalp massage will effectively improve scalp circulation and most nutrient and oxygen delivery to your hair.
  • Vitamin and nutrient importer– the natural antioxidants and nutrients in coconut oil deliver critical resources to improve your hair’s strength, softness, and luster.  

Here are two recipes with the powerhouse coconut oil but we’ve even got a few hair care products that have it in their ingredient list too.

2 Ways to use coconut oil for hair

Coconut aloe leave-in conditioner

via Bustle

  • 1 cup of coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp. of aloe vera leaf extract (or pure aloe juice)
  • 2 Tbsp. of sunflower seed oil
  • 1 tsp. of vegetable glycerin
  • 12 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 8 drops of pure vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients except the essential oils in a blender until you get a smooth consistency. Now add the essential oils. A little goes a long way so try small amounts first to determine how much your hair needs and this is perfect for braided styles, twists, and updos.

Coconut oil and honey hair mask
  • 1 Tbsp. organic coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. organic raw honey
  • Sauce pan
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spoon
  • Towel
  • Shower cap (optional)

Apply all the ingredients into a small saucepan and heat but not to boiling! Can be applied to wet or dry hair but make sure to apply to all strands but focus on the ends. Place hair in a bun and add a plastic cap and allow mask to sit for 30-40 min. Wash mask out in shower with regular cleanser and style as usual.

Products with coconut oil

If DIY is not your thing and store bought is more your speed, here are six products that contain coconut oil.

Will coconut oil make your hair dry?

From discussions here on NaturallyCurly and our Facebook pages, we know that while many people love this oil, there are also many who find that their hair feels drier and tangles easily when they use coconut oil. According to The Natural Haven, “The straw like feel some people find with coconut oil is usually related to using too much product because coconut oil is not as viscous as other oils. Hardening of the hair is related usually to temperature because coconut oil solidifies at a fairly low temperature so a cold winter breeze can stiffen hair very fast.”

The only way to find out if your hair will react well to an ingredient or not is to try it out on a small "test" section of hair and see how your hair feels. We recommend doing this before slathering coconut oil all over your hair or trying one of the recipes above. If you find that the oil hardens on your hair when used as a leave-in conditioner, you may prefer to use it as a treatment that you wash out of your hair.

We'd love to hear in the comments below how your hair reacted to coconut oil - did you love it? Or did you feel that it hardened on your hair?