The Importance of Coconut Oil – Uses and Benefits
Coconut oil nourishes hair, providing shine, giving structure to curls, controlling frizz, preventing breakage, and generally increasing your hair’s manageability. Once you start using coconut oil on hair, you won’t want to stop. And even though organic virgin coconut oil is a little more expensive than the bleached, and refined coconut oil in the grocery store, it is actually quite economical, as you don’t need a lot. Unless of course, you try it on your skin, or use it in cooking, and see how good it is for that too!
Uses of Coconut Oil
The sheer variety of coconut oil hair uses is truly amazing. It can be used as a pre-shampoo treatment, post-shampoo to prevent frizz, as a deep conditioning treatment with or without heat. Can one product do all of that? Well, I don’t know about premature graying of hair, although I would like to believe it. But I have seen no-one talking about coconut oil restoring the original color of their hair on the forums, and many women (and some men!) use coconut oil regularly on their hair.
The only Indian remedy for coconut oil and gray hair that I saw used henna and coffee, so it seems to be that they would hide the gray in the same way dyes do, rather than the coconut oil being responsible. However, in terms of conditioning hair, promoting greater health, shine, strength, and even hair growth, there are many coconut oil hair testimonials. It works on straight hair, wavy hair, and curly hair. It’s very popular in forums devoted to hair care for women of color.
Let’s look at some of the different ways coconut oil for hair is used below.
Coconut Oil Hair – Pre-Shampoo
Each time you shampoo your hair with regular shampoo, a little bit of protein is lost from the shaft of the hair. It may be the Sodium Lauryl Sulphate in most shampoos that cause this, or it may be something else. Certainly, using regular shampoo has a very drying effect. I noticed that after I went to a cleansing conditioner (conditioner-only method), I had a lot of new hair regrowth, and my hair felt a lot thicker.
In any case, when you use a regular shampoo, over time the diameter of the hair shaft actually decreases. This can lead to hair that breaks easily, as well as thinning hair. The good news is, that by using virgin coconut oil on your hair, for at least half an hour, before you wash it, you prevent this protein loss from shampooing actually happening. It doesn’t need to be done each time you wash your hair, just twice a week should be enough. Of course, you may want to do it more because of how wonderful your hair turns out!
Studies have shown that virgin coconut oil actually penetrates the hair shaft. It does this on both damaged and undamaged hair, both as a pre-wash, and post-wash product. The authors of that study believe this is because “Coconut oil, being a triglyceride of lauric acid (principal fatty acid), has a high affinity for hair proteins and, because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft.” Studies have also shown that using coconut oil on hair prevented combing damage.
Instructions For Coconut Oil Hair Application Pre-Shampoo:
- warm virgin coconut oil first if it is solid, by placing the bottle in a pot of warm water. If you don’t want to heat the whole jar, take some out and put it in a mug, then place that in warm to hot water. Do not use the microwave as that is not good for you, your hair, or the oil.
- you can add some essential oils if you like, depending on your particular needs
- apply enough so that the hair is soaked, but not too much that it is dripping!
- put hair in a shower cap or similar. You can even use cling wrap.
- You can leave it on overnight (you might want to put something over your pillow first), or leave it on for an hour or so. If you’re pressed for time, half an hour will do.
- Wash your hair normally. You can use a conditioner as you normally would if you like. Some people find they don’t need to. Of course, you can always use a little bit of coconut oil as your conditioner!
- If you use the conditioner only method you would of course, omit the shampoo and just use your cleansing conditioner.
If you only wash your hair with water, you can still use coconut oil as a pre-‘shampoo’. Just use a smaller amount, adding it to damp hair. Leave it overnight, then wash with water a couple of times. Coconut oil is quite light, unlike other oils which just sit on top of the hair without actually being absorbed, so it will be easier to wash out.
You must use virgin coconut oil for your hair, not the refined, bleached, and deodorized coconut oil that is usually sold in the cooking section of the supermarket. Virgin coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides that are able to penetrate the hair shaft. In coconut oil that is not virgin, the oil is chemically changed – indeed, and sometimes the lauric acid and other medium chain triglycerides are removed completely.
Coconut Oil & Hair – As A Conditioner
Coconut oil can be used as a hair conditioner either on its’ own or mixed in with your own conditioner. If you’re using it on its own, only use a little bit, as it could make your hair a bit greasy. Part of the trick is finding the right balance. You might want to experiment on your days off or the weekend! Although, if you start off with a small amount, like a quarter size, and rub it between your palms to more evenly distribute the oil, you should be right. You may need to use slightly more if your hair is long, or very dry and porous.
You can also mix it in with your conditioner. You would probably use about a tablespoon mixed in with your conditioner, although you may need to adjust that depending on how your hair feels after it’s washed out.
Coconut Oil Hair – Controlling Frizz
You can put a little bit between the palms of your hand and rub them together, then run your hands through your hair, to help control frizz. You could add it to wet or dry hair in this manner, though it will be easier to disperse through wet hair. But then, if its your first time using it this way, it would be easier to see how much you need for your hair length and condition if your use it on dry hair!
Coconut Oil Hair – Deep Treatment
The process for using it as a deep treatment is pretty similar to the way you use it before you shampoo, though you would obviously leave it on for longer. You can also massage it gently into your scalp. This is supposed to stimulate hair growth. Regular oiling and scalp massages will also strengthen your hair at the root, though you may find you lose an alarming amount of hair the first few times you massage your scalp. Over time, this passes. But if it worries you, just be very gentle. You can still use coconut oil as a treatment for your hair without massaging your scalp extensively.
It is recommended that a deep conditioning treatment with coconut oil is done once a week at least. It can also be used to help heal breakage, and is traditionally used in India not only to nourish and protect hair, but to prevent and treat premature graying of hair, and hair loss, promote hair growth, and treat dandruff.