Updated: May 7
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Coconut oil is oil made from the meat of the coconut (the white part inside). For a full background on coconut oil click for the "Is coconut oil the miracle everyone says it is?” article. This one will just be focusing on treating your hair with it!
Does it do anything for my hair?
What does it do?
Coconut oil works because it can actually get into the hair shaft [vi]. This is helpful because a big reason that hair gets damaged is due to “hygral fatigue” (hair swells from hydration but then shrinks once it dries out which can cause it to break)[vii]. When the coconut oil gets into the shaft it gives the hair some protection because it limits hygral fatigue!
Coconut oil also prevents damage from combing untreated, treated, and just generally damaged hair [viii]. It looks like the oil gets into the hair, makes a protective film on the hair cuticle and this film stops the surface of the hair from being broken by the comb. Pretty cool!
When coconut oil is used as a pre-wash and a post-wash product it stops the hair from losing its own proteins [ix]. One of the main proteins it binds to is keratin which is just another way it helps strengthen the hair follicles.
The last thing I found research on was preventing hair loss [x]. Lauric acid (and other similar fatty acids) seem to work in formulations that combine them with vasoactive substances (these are things that can increase or decrease blood pressure). If you are suffering hair loss I would recommend starting with just the coconut oil and seeing how that goes before moving on to something more intense. In my opinion coconut oil helps with hair loss more because it strengthens the hair you still have versus actually helping grow more hair [xi].
Also it makes your hair smell like a beach dream.
How to get it into your hair care routine
There are lots of ways you can incorporate coconut oil. Because it works really well dealing with water in the hair you can try applying some coconut oil about an hour before washing your hair to protect it (as a curly haired girl I live for this). You can add it to your existing conditioner in the shower or add it as a leave in conditioner after (use very little the first time as it is quite greasy!).
It works really well to bring frizz down as well as to (at least temporarily) stick your split ends together.
Kiki Health makes certified organic and unprocessed coconut oil
How to use it
Coconut oil is usually solid in the jar you buy it in because it melts at around 24°C (76°F for my American readers). There are two ways to get it into liquid form to use in your hair.
1. Take a little bit in your hand and rub it between your fingers until it becomes a liquid and then run it through your hair.
2. Scoop a little into a spray bottle and put that bottle into a bowl of warm water until the oil liquefies and then you can spray it directly onto your hair.
Some recommended brands of coconut oil that I have researched:
Enjoy trying out this tropical oil and let me know how it goes!