Lush, shiny, manageable and healthy hair can be yours, with coconut oil!
You can even clear out commercial conditioners, shine, and styling products, and replace them with this all-natural solution. Coconut oil is rich in anti-microbial properties, lauric acid, and medium-chain fatty acids that strengthen hair, condition the scalp, and help to regrow hair.
While I have supported the internal health benefits of coconut oil for quite sometime, it’s time to bring light to coconut oil’s other uses, one of which is using it as an all-natural, multi-tasking hair care product. Rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, the nourishing benefits coconut oil for hair keeps your hair strong, shiny and looking great!
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Hair
If your hair is dry and brittle, chances are you are not consuming enough fresh water. Water helps to keep the entire body hydrated, including hair and skin. As we age, hormone health plays a significant part in the health of hair as well.
Eat for your best hair health by including lots of healthy fats, drinking plenty of water, and using natural hair care products, including coconut oil for hair, instead of dangerous chemical laden shampoos, conditioners or styling agents.
Coconut oil is rich in antioxidants, and has antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. When used on hair, it improves scalp health, fights infections and fungus, supports hair growth, all while adding volume and shine without the common harmful chemicals.
If you look on the ingredient labels of many of your favorite cosmetics and hair products, you will find coconut oil listed. However, most cosmetics and hair products also contain other ingredients that can be harmful to your health, while actually damaging your hair and skin.
The harsh chemicals in commercial hair care products can leave your hair flat, dry, and damaged. Adding coconut oil in small amounts simply isn’t enough. So avoid traditional products and add coconut oil to your regimen along with your favorite natural organic shampoos and products.
While some of these healthier hair products may cost a little more, the good news is that food-grade coconut oil is safe, affordable, and can effectively replace many hair care products in your cabinets.
5 Ways to Use Coconut Oil for Hair
Coconut oil is free of the scary chemicals that lurk in commercial hair products, and is an excellent conditioner, for all types of hair. According to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science, coconut oil out performs sunflower oil and mineral oil, and is the only oil that reduces protein loss.(1) Avoid all beauty products that contain mineral oil, especially for children.
It is the protein loss in hair that leads to dryness and breakage. The lauric acid has a low molecular weight, and is able to actually penetrate the hair shaft, nourishing the hair with vitamins, minerals and the medium-chain fatty acids.
Coconut oil helps to prevent damage from combing and brushing, and it is safe to use on children. It can be used as a leave-in conditioner, or used as an intensive conditioner for a couple of hours, or overnight. The key to using all natural coconut oil as a leave-in hair conditioner, is finding the right amount for your hair. A little goes a long way.
For short hair, start with just a ¼ teaspoon, warmed in your palms. For longer, thicker hair, you may need up to a ½ tablespoon. You want to use sparingly on thinner hair, as it can weigh hair down if too much is used. Pay particular attention to ends and the shaft of the hair. Smooth through hair, and proceed to style as normal.
As an intensive conditioner to restore hair, after washing with a gentle natural shampoo, apply 1 teaspoon (for short hair), 2 teaspoons (for shoulder length hair) and 1 tablespoon (for long hair) after warming in the palm of your hands. Apply to hair shaft and ends, and then rub into scalp. Cover with a shower cap, and leave on for 1-2 hours, or overnight. Wash with gentle shampoo, and style as normal.
For dry or damaged hair, add a couple of drops of sandalwood essential oil and/or geranium essential oil for both leave-in and intensive coconut oil for hair conditioning treatments. These essential oils support moisture retention, and work to increase the moisturizing and conditioning effects of the coconut oil for hair.
2. Hair Growth
Coconut oil is a safe, effective, and reasonably priced solution if you have thinning hair. It can actually help grow hair, longer and thicker. The essential nutrients including the lauric acid, penetrates the hair shaft improving the overall health of the hair.
The health of hair is often a result of internal issues, and incorporating natural hair loss remedies will help. Foods high in Omega-3 fats, pumpkin, chia, and flax seeds, and green tea, and all help support healthy hair growth, from the inside out. Before trying prescription hair growth preparations that only work for 50% of individuals (2) and only works with continued use, modify your diet, and use coconut oil for hair conditioning and styling. The harsh chemicals can cause scalp irritation and even hair growth where hair is not desired.
HAIR GROWTH TREATMENT:
When massaged into the scalp, coconut oil helps to improve blood circulation, supporting hair growth. It is important to massage the coconut oil into the scalp with gentle pressure for 10 minutes, 3 or 4 times per week. If you want to just focus on scalp conditioning and hair growth, you will only need 1 teaspoon.
However, if you want the benefits of a deep conditioning, follow the steps above. Instead of using sandalwood essential oil, add 4 drops of rosemary essential oil, which is known to increase new hair growth over 20%. Rosemary oil also helps to increase circulation in the scalp, and when used with coconut oil can produce fantastic results.
After massaging the oils into the scalp for 10 minutes, place a shower cap on, and allow the heat of your body to work with the oils to improve scalp health. Follow with a gentle cleanser like my Homemade Rosemary Mint Shampoo. It smells great, and is gentle on all hair types.
Rich with vitamin K and vitamin E, coconut oil helps to reduce dandruff, and make hair follicles healthy. These treatments are not just for thinning hair; if you are experiencing hair fall while washing, brushing, or style, these treatments with essential oils can help.
People have used coconut oil for skin for hundreds of years to fight dandruff. This unsightly, and often itchy, condition can be caused by dry skin conditions, sensitivity to the harsh chemicals in hair care products, and commonly yeast-like fungal (Malassezia) infections.(3)
Coconut oil’s medium-chain fatty acids including lauric acid and capric acid, have strong antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties that target the fungus and help to kill it as well as viruses and bacteria that may be lurking on your scalp.
Many prescription and over-the-counter dandruff shampoos can actually make dandruff worse, and don’t fix the root cause of the flakiness. If the problem is fungal, or if the problem is dry skin, topical applications of coconut oil will make a difference.
Many commercial shampoos contain chemicals that are harmful. These include parabens, propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, and many others. Dandruff shampoos are even worse, and contain ammonium laureth sulfate, magnesium aluminum silicate, and selenium sulfide.
And the majority of the time, these preparations simply do not work. The goal is to make the scalp healthier, free from fungus, and moisturized, to put an end to dandruff. Treating with coconut oil will not make dandruff go away overnight, but many can see results in just a week or so.
TO TREAT DANDRUFF:
Essential oils including lavender, wintergreen, thyme, and tea tree, all help to fight fungus and yeast. For an intensive dandruff treatment, after washing hair, mix 2 teaspoons of coconut oil with 5 drops of one of the oils mentioned above, or a combination, and massage into the scalp.
Be sure to really work the mixture into the scalp, from neck to forehead, and behind the ears. Cover with a shower cap, and if possible sit in the sun for 20-30 minutes to increase the heat, or simply use a hair dryer on a low setting to heat the cap.
Remove cap, and wash with a gentle natural shampoo. Repeat this 2 to 3 times per week, or even more often, as desired. Like with the conditioning or hair growth treatment, you can leave it on overnight. Just be sure to wear the shower cap to avoid staining bed linens.
Yes, coconut oil is a great styling agent, and free from the dangerous chemicals in conventional hair care products! This is one of the most overlooked coconut oil for hair uses. Hair dryers, flat irons, hot rollers, and curling irons zap the moisture out of the hair shaft causing it to be brittle and prone to tangling.
Coconut oil helps to prevent this type of thermal damage, and when used in the proper amount for your hair length and texture, tames fly aways, frizz, and more. People with thick curly hair often fight frizz in humid climates. Coconut oil helps to tame the frizz, by penetrating into the curls. It can be applied throughout the day for touch-ups, just be sure to use it sparingly.
TO TAME FRIZZ:
Start with a tiny amount (1/4 teaspoon – 1 teaspoon) depending on hair, warming in palms. Smooth from root to tips, and blow dry and style as desired. It will take just a bit longer to dry your hair, but it will be soft, shiny, and manageable.
Disguise split ends, and nourish them at the same time by using just a tiny bit of coconut oil on just the ends.
TO PROTECT FROM THE SUN:
Hair, like skin, is prone to sun damage. Coconut oil is a natural sunscreen, with an SPF of 8.(4) If you are planning a day out in the sun, use it as a leave-in conditioner for all day protection. And, while you are at it, use it on exposed skin as well. Coconut oil is a safe and effective sunscreen for children and adults alike.
Detangling hair is a chore; and can often cause breakage. Coconut oil improves hair break stress by penetrating the hair shaft. (5) It also surrounds the hair, and makes it easier to remove knots after washing, or in the evenings. Smooth a small amount through hair, paying particular attention to tangled areas and damaged ends. Use a wide toothcomb, starting from the bottom, and slowly work your way up.
Using coconut oil for hair regularly will improve the overall health of the hair, and help to prevent tangles. If tangled hair is a continuing problem, trimming the damage ends will help.
NOTE: If you have thin or fine hair, apply coconut oil sparingly to hair for styling. Also, do not apply it to the scalp as this can weigh down the hair.
5. Lice Prevention & Lice Treatment
One of the best uses of coconut oil for hair is in the treatment and prevention of lice! According to a study published in the European Journal of Pediatrics, combination of coconut oil and anise spray is more effective, than the commonly used prescription lice treatment permethrin.(6)
In fact, in the controlled study, the coconut oil based spray was 82% successful and the permethrin was only 42% successful, and 33 of the 50 participants reported scalp irritation when following the conventional treatment.
Another study published in the Israel Medical Association Journal found greater success, although they added ylang ylang oil to the coconut oil and anise oil combination. The treatment was successful in 92.3% of children and caused no serious side effects.(7)
Because coconut oil penetrates the hair shaft, and the scalp, it helps to repel lice and can keep their eggs from attaching to the hair. With the addition of essential oils including ylang ylang, tea tree, and anise, lice don’t have a chance.
To keep lice at bay, use coconut oil as mentioned above as a leave-in hair conditioner, or to detangle and style hair. If there is an infestation of lice, mix 3 tablespoons of coconut oil with 1 teaspoon of each ylang ylang, anise, and tea tree oils. Double the recipe for longer hair; this should be enough for shoulder-length hair.
Apply the solution all over the scalp, massage in, and pulling through the ends. Comb through the hair with a fine toothcomb. Cover in a shower cap, and allow to sit for 2 hours. If possible, sit in the sun or use a hair dryer to periodically warm up the cap. Carefully remove shower cap, and seal in zip lock bag for disposal.
At the end of 2 hours, comb hair once again, prior to washing and rinsing thoroughly, twice. While hair is still wet, combine 2 cups of apple cider vinegar and 1 cup water in a small spray bottle. Saturate the hair, spraying ½ the bottle on the scalp and hair. Lean over the sink and pour the remaining mixture over the hair, massaging lightly.
Rinse thoroughly and comb hair once again with a fine toothcomb. Follow with a light application of coconut oil, cover with a shower cap, or style as desired, and allow to remain on the hair until next washing.
As with most lice treatments, the process needs to be repeated every 5-10 days for a couple of weeks. This helps to ensure that all lice, and their eggs are eradicated. Between treatments, comb hair morning and night with a fine toothcomb, and use coconut oil as a leave-in conditioner.
As coconut oil both repels and kills lice, at the first notification of a lice outbreak, start using coconut oil as a leave-in conditioner.
Coconut Oil Hair Recipes
Coconut Oil Shampoo
Here is one of my favorite coconut oil shampoo recipes, that will leave your hair feeling soft and healthy. As every person’s hair is different, feel free to adjust the coconut oil level to suit your hair needs. For fine hair you may reduce the coconut oil amount as needed to 1/4 cup, and for thick dry or curly hair, you may need to increase this amount or add a few drops of avocado oil as well.
- 1 cup liquid castile soap
- 1/3 cup canned coconut milk
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 50-60 drops of favorite essential oils
Melt coconut oil and coconut milk together over very low heat, as to not damage any of the nutrients. Pour into a bottle with a secure lid, and top with the castile soap. Shake well. And then, shake some more. Add 50 drops of your favorite essential oils, and shake again.
Great essential oils for hair include lavender, wild orange, peppermint, lemongrass, rosemary, clary sage, and rosemary.
This shampoo will not be as thick as commercial shampoos; squeeze on hair directly from the bottle. Wash, and rinse well.
Coconut Oil Conditioner
- 2/3 cup coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon vitamin E oil
- 1 tablespoon Jojoba oil
- 10 drops of your favorite essential oil
Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a hand mixer until well combined. This may take several minutes. You want a smooth and creamy conditioner. In the shower, after washing hair with Coconut Oil Shampoo, use a teaspoon or two and smooth through hair. Allow to penetrate hair for the remainder of your shower, and rinse very well.
NOTE: If you color your hair, especially red, coconut oil may fade the color. For most hair types and colors, it will not.
BONUS: Coconut oil is a great base for natural hair colors as it penetrates the hair shaft. For darker hair, mix 2 tablespoons of coconut oil with 1 cup of strong coffee, with 1 tablespoon of spent grounds, and apply to hair. Allow to sit for 45 – 60 minutes, the longer you leave it, the darker the results. Rinse well and style as desired.
For blonde hair, or to add subtle highlights, mix 1/2 cup of strong chamomile tea, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, and ¼ cup coconut oil in a blender until emulsified. Apply to hair and roots and cover with a shower cap. Sit in the sun, or use a hair dryer to keep the cap warm for 45 minutes to 75 minutes. Rinse well.
Shopping for Coconut Oil
Using coconut oil for hair is one of the best things you can do to avoid harmful chemicals that are in many commercial hair care products. Protect hair from the elements, keep it strong, nourished, shiny, and manageable by using coconut oil for conditioning, styling, hair growth, to get rid of dandruff, and treat lice.
Look for extra virgin organic coconut oil; when you open the jar, the aroma should remind you of fresh coconuts.
READ NEXT: 77 Coconut Oil Uses & Cures
If you feel like you could use some more in depth information on essential oils, Dr. Josh Axe is hosting a free webinar going over, in great detail, uses and tips for using essential oils. Click below to learn more.