Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids that nourish and moisturize the scalp and hair. Polynesian cultures historically have and still do use extra virgin coconut oil as a beauty product, notes the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu, Hawaii. A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science found that coconut oil applied to the hair reduced hair breakage, and another study in 2005 from the Journal of Cosmetic Science noted that coconut oil penetrated the hair follicle better than the most common ingredient in hair conditioners, mineral oil.
According to the book Coconut Oil: Amazing Health, Skin And Cooking Benefits by Gene Ashburner, aside from making a great moisturizer for hair and scalp, the oil has been used as a natural remedy to combat frizz; get rid of dandruff; remove and prevent lice; and promote hair growth. Coconut oil can even be used to extract chewing gum from hair.
While pure coconut oil can improve scalp health, therefore improving the conditions for growing thicker, fuller hair, it does not treat the underlying cause of hair loss and cannot be relied on for treating baldness related to dihydrotestosterone.
According to some sources, coconut oil can also soothe cradle cap, an issue commonly seen in babies. Its antibacterial properties may ward off folliculitis, an infection of the hair follicles, and may also fight fungal infections, such as ringworm of the scalp. You can easily replace expensive, deep-conditioning salon treatments by using this great smelling coconut oil conditioner at home.
Read more: Is Coconut Oil the Miracle Food It's Cracked Up to Be?
How to Heat and Apply Coconut Oil to Your Hair
In order to correctly heat coconut oil, use this method. Warming in the microwave or directly over high heat in a pan can degrade the quality of the oil, making it less beneficial. Pour 1 cup of hot water into a small bowl.
Scoop 2 tsp. coconut oil out of the jar, using a clean spoon, and put it into a glass cup. Use extra virgin coconut oil and, if possible, make sure that it's organic and sustainably harvested.
Read more: Nutrition Facts of Coconut Oil
Place the cup of coconut oil into the bowl of warm water. Leave the cup in the bowl until the coconut oil melts. Pure coconut oil is solid at cold temperatures but melts quickly at 76 degrees F or above.
Massage the coconut oil onto your scalp and throughout your hair. If your hair is long, you may need to use additional coconut oil. Apply the coconut oil to dry or damp hair, whichever you prefer. The oil spreads more easily through damp hair.
Comb your hair to distribute the coconut oil evenly. If you are using coconut oil for hair growth or scalp health, be sure to massage it into the roots of your hair. However, if you are prone to an oily scalp and just want the conditioning benefits, you can apply the oil mid-shaft, a few inches from your scalp.
Put a shower cap on your head, and tuck all of your hair inside of it. Leave the coconut oil on your hair for at least 30 minutes or you can leave it in overnight. The longer you leave the coconut oil on, the more it will condition your hair.
Shampoo your hair and repeat if necessary to remove the coconut oil completely. Using warm water will help get the oil out of your hair.
Read more: 9 Things to Do for Amazing Hair
Melt a pea-sized amount of coconut oil in the palms of your hands by rubbing your hands together, and apply it lightly throughout your hair for extra conditioning, concentrating on the ends of your hair. Skip this step if your hair does not need extra conditioning. Style your hair as normal.
Purchase extra virgin coconut oil for best results. Pure, unrefined coconut oil is processed without chemicals. Chemical processing destroys the oil’s valuable nutrients. Unrefined coconut oil is sold in many stores, and you can purchase pure, unrefined coconut oil that is sold for cosmetic use or for food use. Mix one drop of your favorite essential oil into the coconut oil before putting it into your hair to give the oil a pleasant scent. Jasmine oil and honeysuckle oil work well with coconut oil.
Rose Kivi has been a writer for more than 10 years. She has a background in the nursing field, wildlife rehabilitation and habitat conservation. Kivi has authored educational textbooks, patient health care pamphlets, animal husbandry guides, outdoor survival manuals and was a contributing writer for two books in the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Series.