Why Coconut Oil is Good for Your Hair

Few natural oils rival coconut when it comes to the multitasking benefits for your hair. Rich in nourishing fatty acids, coconut oil helps to hydrate, prevent breakage, and strengthen strands. So it’s no wonder the ingredient has amassed a cult-like following in the beauty world. But there’s been discourse lately around whether or not coconut oil is good for your hair. It’s been used to relieve dandruff, tame frizz, and strengthen, but is coconut oil good for your hair? We’re getting into it, plus breaking down the benefits and telling you how to add coconut oil to your routine. And it’s all ahead now!

Benefits of Applying Coconut Oil to Hair

Coconut oil is made up of a medium-chain fatty acid called lauric acid. This gives it a long, straight structure, which is more easily absorbed deeply into the hair shaft. So what does coconut oil do for your hair? Well it tames frizz, enhances shine, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and aids in healing damaged strands. Let’s take a closer look below.

Repairs Dry Hair / Moisturizing Effects

Coconut oil is packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids along with vitamin E, for nourishment and hydration. This makes it an ideal ingredient for treating dry hair and adding luster and shine to otherwise dull strands.

Manages Dry, Itchy Scalp and Accompanying Dandruff

The same reasons that make coconut oil beneficial to your dry hair apply to a dry scalp. Coconut oil penetrates the scalp deeply and creates a protective barrier against irritation. This helps prevent dandruff and soothe a dry, itchy scalp

Has Anti-fungal and Anti-inflammatory Properties

Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties which have been reported to benefit the scalp microbiome. These antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties help to eliminate dandruff and act as a natural moisturizer.

It Influences Hair Growth

So can you use coconut oil for hair growth? The answer is yes. Its lightweight nature, richness in zinc, vitamin K, and vitamin E. make it ideal for oxygenating hair follicles and enhancing hair growth when used on the scalp.

It’s a Natural Heat Protectant

Coconut oil is also a natural heat protectant and can be used to protect your hair from the heat. Applying a small amount of coconut oil to your damp hair before you style can help reduce damage from blow-dryers and other hot styling tools.

Is Coconut Oil Suitable for All Hair Types?

Because of its high fatty acid formula, you may be wondering, is coconut oil good for curly hair only? And although it’s especially beneficial for natural, curly hair and dry or damaged strands, coconut oil can benefit all hair types and textures. There is however, some evidence to suggest that overusing it can make coarse hair stiff, so avoid buildup. Coconut oil can also weigh down fine hair, making it appear limp, flat, and greasy. The same goes for low-porosity hair. Hair that is porous has trouble absorbing moisture, so the coconut oil will just sit on the hair and build up on the scalp. In these instances, use coconut oil sparingly.

Applying Coconut Oil: Best Practices

Wondering how to apply coconut oil to hair? The best way to apply it is by warming the coconut oil in-between your palms. Make sure it's warm enough to break up clumps and maintain a smooth consistency. Using coconut oil on your hair daily may cause a buildup on your hair and scalp. It’s best to use it a few times a week to see how your hair reacts to it, and build up use as needed. Apply your coconut oil in the form of one of the following treatments.

Hair Mask

Coconut oil can be used as a hair mask by massaging it throughout the mid-lengths and ends of your hair. Depending on the thickness and length of your hair, use 1 to 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and let it sit for a few hours or overnight before washing it out thoroughly.

Scalp Treatment

Use coconut oil as a deeply hydrating skin treatment by massaging it directly into your scalp. Warm a small amount in your palms and massage it into your scalp in circular motions. Let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes before washing it out of your hair.


Using coconut oil as a pre-wash creates a protective barrier for your strands that prevents moisture loss through the hair shaft. Apply 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to the middle and ends of your strands. Leave it on for 15 to 30 minutes before washing your hair thoroughly.


Another way to reap the benefits of this hair-loving ingredient is to use it in place of your usual conditioner. After washing your hair, run a small amount of coconut oil through your mid-lengths and ends, before rinsing it out thoroughly. Or you can mix a few drops of coconut oil into a bottle of your favorite conditioner.

Styling Product

Coconut oil can be used as a styling product on dry hair to tame flyaways, but it works best on wet hair, as a conditioning treatment. To use it on dry hair, rub a very small amount between your fingers and smooth it out over your hair. Remember less is more!

The Potential Drawbacks of Using Coconut Oil for Hair

By now you’re likely wondering what the controversy could be with this superstar, hero ingredient. Well too much of anything is a bad thing. And coconut oil is no exception. Over-applying coconut oil can cause protein to build up on your scalp, blocking your follicles, and preventing moisture from reaching your scalp. This leads to dry, brittle hair. Coconut oil can also worsen dandruff as the type of yeast that causes it feeds off lauric acid. Some people also experience clogged pores and scalp breakouts with coconut oil. So ultimately, is coconut oil good for your hair? While alone, it’s not as effective as a shampoo to cleanse hair, it will condition and strengthen your strands as a pre-shampoo treatment. After you treat your hair with coconut oil, make sure to use your regular shampoo to wash it out.

Comparing Different Types of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil comes from pressing the edible white flesh, or meat of the coconuts. It's edible and plant-based, and it’s been used for centuries in cooking as well as in health and beauty remedies. At room temperature, coconut oil is solid, and when heated, it becomes a liquid. There are two main types of coconut oil: refined and virgin. Refined coconut oil is made from dried coconut meat, and virgin is made from fresh coconut meat. Refined coconut oil undergoes some processing to make it better suited for cooking. While virgin coconut oil remains in its pure form and is richer in lauric, myristic, and palmitic acids and consists mainly of medium chain triglycerides. You’ll often see unrefined or virgin coconut oil labeled as “cold pressed,” which means that no heat was used in its extraction. It’ s best to purchase cold-pressed virgin or extra virgin coconut oil. The only difference between virgin and extra virgin olive oil is the acidity. Extra virgin has a fatty acid level of 0.8 percent or lower, and virgin has between 0.8 percent and 2.0 percent. These pure forms contain more nutrients than the processed versions, as well as have a longer shelf life.

In Summary: Coconut Oil and Hair Care

So is coconut oil good for your hair? The answer is a resounding yes! Few natural oils come close to coconut in terms of benefits for your hair. Rich in nourishing fatty acids, coconut oil tames frizz, enhances shine, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and aids in healing damaged hair. It’s no wonder coconut oil has amassed a cult-like following among beauty enthusiasts. But too much of anything is a bad thing, and overusing coconut oil can lead to build up on your scalp, causing dry, stiff hair, limp strands, breakouts and dandruff. So add coconut oil into your routine only a few times a week. See how your hair reacts to it, and build up use as needed. And always make sure to thoroughly wash it out. Whether you’re already a loyal fan of coconut oil, or just getting started on your coconut journey, follow our tips for adding it into your routine. For best results use only high-quality hair products while using coconut oil, like the ones from Davines. And if you’ve got tips or for using coconut oil share them in the comments. Still have questions about your hair or what products to use? Talk to a hair stylist in your area for personalized advice.

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by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor

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