Coconut oil is prized for its health-giving properties. It is not just an amazing oil for cooking and frying foods, but it is a key component of various cosmetic products too.
Coconut oil has been used as a hair-care product, since ancient times. Its ability to nourish and strengthen the hair and to fight against various bacterial and fungal infections of the scalp makes it a perfect oil for your hair.
Composition of The Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is made by crushing copra, the dried kernel that contains approximately 60-65% of coconut oil. This oil contains 92% of saturated fatty acids and most of them are in the form of medium chain fatty acids. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid, which is responsible for most of the benefits of coconut oil. These fatty acids make coconut oil an excellent hair care product.
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Hair Treatments
Studies have even pointed out that coconut oil is better than the non-sticky mineral oils available in the market. Let’s have a look at how this wonderful potion improves the texture and health of your hair and scalp:
Prevents Hair Damage
Coconut oil has always been the first choice for healthy hair. Studies have found that prolonged use of coconut oil has been associated with healthy looking long hair. In Southern part of India where coconut is found in abundance, people use coconut oil in cooking and for skin and hair. This Southern Indian women are well known for their long, dark and thick hair.
The lubricating effect of coconut oil prevents damage to the cuticle and reduces abrasive damage while combining the hair.
It was further found that application of coconut oil as a pre-wash conditioner coats the hair and prevents the penetration of water into the hair.
The cuticle is the outer protective shield of the hair. Regular application of coconut oil on the hair prevents chipping away of the cuticle and reduces hair damage.
Coconut oil has a low molecular weight; therefore, it penetrates deep into the hair and nourishes the roots. Hence, coconut oil is more effective than sunflower oil and mineral oil when it comes to hair protection.
A Natural Moisturizer
Coconut oil is a natural moisturizer. It softens the hair and prevents hair fall. This unique oil does not allow the moisture to escape, thus it keeps the hair soft and moist. It prevents loss of protein from the hair and helps in replenishing the natural oils. Such a property of coconut oil further prevents hair fall and hair loss.
Coconut oil is also effective in the treatment of dry scalp. This oil penetrates deep into the scalp, keeps it moist and prevents itching and irritation associated with dry scalp.
Promotes Hair Growth
Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a fatty acid, that allows the oil to penetrate into the hair shaft and promotes hair growth. A regular coconut oil hair and scalp massage increase the flow of the blood towards the scalp. This ensures an effective supply of oxygen and nutrients to the hair and hence, it promotes hair growth and reduces hair fall.
Dry hair is unmanageable, and hair fall and hair loss is common in individuals with dry hair. Coconut oil moisturizes the hair and helps in the better management of dry and rough hair. As the hair becomes soft and healthy, hair loss is less likely to happen.
Great Source of Antioxidants
High level of oxidative stress and free radical attack can damage the hair, increase hair fall and lead to thinning of the hair. If oxidative stress is not controlled, it may even cause pattern baldness.
Coconut oil is a good source of antioxidants. These antioxidants scavenge free radicals and fight oxidative stress. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant present in coconut oil, which breaks the chain reaction and enhances the impact of natural antioxidants present in the body.
Hence, regular application of coconut oil on your hair and scalp can nourish and enhance the health of your scalp and hair.
Fights Scalp Infections
Coconut oil is an amazing anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent. Regular application of coconut oil keeps your scalp clean and free from infections. Such a beneficial property of coconut oil is attributed to the presence of lauric acid in it.
Lauric acid has the ability to disintegrate the bacterial cell wall and thus, it helps in the treatment of the bacterial infections of the scalp. It inhibits the survival and colonization of bacteria on the scalp and causes its complete elimination.
Infection of the scalp also affects the health of the hair and hair fall becomes common in such cases. With the eradication of bacteria, the infection subsides and all you have is a healthy and clean scalp, which automatically promotes good hair health.
Treats Head Lice
Head lice infestation can affect any individual, but it is more common among school-going children. Some of the symptoms include itching, irritation and tickling feeling.
Coconut oil is an effective and natural way for the treatment of head lice. Lauric acid present in coconut oil helps in killing the lice.
An interesting study found that a shampoo containing coconut oil reduced the head lice infestation. Regular use of this shampoo helped in the complete clearance of head lice.
Besides this, it also helped in the reduction of re-infestation. Coconut oil creates an environment, where it becomes difficult for the lice to breathe and to suck blood. This causes suffocation, which kills the lice.
Coconut oil may be a slow healer, but unlike other anti-lice products it is not harsh on your scalp and hair and does not cause any side-effects too.
How to Use Coconut Oil for Hair Growth
- Coconut oil can be applied to dry as well as damp hair, but it spreads easily and deeply when applied to damp hair.
Note: Do not apply it on wet hair.
- Do not directly heat coconut oil on the gas or microwave. Put coconut oil in a small bowl and place this small bowl in a large bowl containing hot water. The heat from the hot water will directly pass on the oil.
- Apply warm or normal coconut oil properly on your hair and scalp and leave it for 1-2 hours. Cover your hair with a shower cap and wash your hair using a mild shampoo.
- You can even apply a small amount of coconut oil on your hair. This will nourish your hair as well as improve the texture of dry and rough hair making them more manageable.
You can even make coconut oil hair pack for extra hair nourishment and strength.
- Mix coconut oil with Aloe Vera gel and apply this mixture properly on your hair and scalp. This mixture acts as a natural hair conditioner, which makes your hair soft and lustrous
- Mix coconut oil with other hair oils like tea tree oil, jojoba oil, argan oil and castor oil for quick hair growth and to reduce hair fall.
- For treating rough hair and dry scalp mix coconut oil and coconut milk. Apply this mixture to your hair and scalp and leave it for 45 minutes. Wash your hair using a mild shampoo.
How to Store Coconut Oil
- Store coconut oil away from the sunlight. Place it in a drawer or a cabinet, where it is not exposed directly to the sunlight.
- Do not store coconut oil in a clear jar or bottle. Store it in a dark or amber-colored bottle to protect it from the sunlight.
- Store coconut oil in a cool and dry place. Do not place the bottle in the bathroom, where it can come in direct contact with the water.
- Make sure the cap of the bottle or the lid is secure and closes properly. If the lid is loose, coconut oil will be exposed to the air continuously, which can spoil the oil and reduce the beneficial compounds in it.
- Check the smell, texture and color of the oil before use. Presence of any odor or unusual color is an indicator that the oil is not fit for application
Allergy to Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a superfood and allergy to coconut is rare but, some people are allergic to coconut oil. Application of coconut oil in hypersensitive individuals can cause contact dermatitis and lead to symptoms like:
There are many hair care products available in the market but, coconut oil is safe, economical and natural. It does not contain any harsh chemicals that can affect your hair and scalp health in the long run. You can even add coconut oil to your shampoo for extra hair smoothness, strength and luster.
Rough and unmanageable hair can be managed by using coconut oil regularly.
Irregular application of coconut oil will not improve the hair and scalp health. Make sure you use it regularly for best results. You can see the difference within 1 month of regular coconut oil application.
Combining it with other natural hair oils can further enhance the health of your hair and scalp. Do not fall prey to unnatural and chemical containing hair products. Instead opt for coconut oil, which is completely natural and affordable.
- S. Rele, R. B. Mohile, Effect Of Mineral Oil, Sunflower Oil And Coconut Oil On Prevention Of Hair Damage, Journal Of Cosmetic Science, Volume 2, 2003 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12715094)
- Aluísio M. da Fonseca, Délcio D. Marques, Telma Leda G. Lemos, Gisele R. Aguiar, Fatty chemical composition and antioxidant activities of coconut oils (Cocos nucifera L), Journal of Medicinal Plant Research, Volume 8, 2014 (http://www.academicjournals.org/journal/JMPR/article-full-text-pdf/72F27EE47406)
- Abbas Abel Anzaku, Antimicrobial Activity of Coconut Oil and its Derivative (Lauric Acid) on Some Selected Clinical Isolates, International Journal of Medical Science and Clinical Inventions, Volume 4, 2017 (http://valleyinternational.net/index.php/ijmsci/article/view/942)
- Connolly M, Stafford KA, Coles GC, Kennedy CT, Control of Head Lice With A Coconut-Derived Emulsion Shampoo, Journal of The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 2009 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18631276)
- Krishna Gopala A.G, Raj Gaurav, Ajit Singh Kumar, Coconut Oil: Chemistry, Production and Its Applications- A Review, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, 2010 (http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=IN2011000120)