Coconut Oil for Hair Growth: Fact or Fiction?
Coconut oil has been a darling in the health and beauty spheres for a while now and with good reason!
It contains healthy fats and essential fatty acids that can encourage our bodies to burn more fat and reduce hunger. Plus, it might raise good cholesterol levels to protect heart health. It also has several benefits as a protectant and moisturizer for hair, skin and teeth and might even act as a weak sunscreen by blocking out up to 20% of UV rays!
But does coconut oil for hair actually help it grow? Read on to find out if this white, fatty oil is the solution you need to boost hair growth.
What Does Coconut Oil Do for Scalp and Hair Health?
While there haven’t been any studies looking directly at coconut oil’s impact on hair growth, the main benefits coconut oil will provide you on your journey to a luscious and fuller head of hair is by supporting scalp health. Because healthy hair starts with what? A healthy scalp!
Coconut oil supports scalp and hair health from a variety of different angles.
Antibacterial and Antifungal Benefits
Thanks to its lauric and capric acid content, coconut oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties that have been shown to fight certain yeast infections of the scalp and can even soothe irritation caused by atopic dermatitis (eczema).
Research has shown that coconut oil can be a great moisturizing agent for the skin, and when used long-term, it might even help prevent skin damage and infection.
Not only that, but one study suggests that virgin coconut oil might be especially good at moisturizing the scalp. By supporting the skin’s natural barrier, coconut oil was able to prevent water loss and thereby boost hydration.
We at VEGAMOUR know that healthy hair begins with a healthy scalp, so we developed the GRO Scalp Detoxifying Serum from all-natural ingredients to give your scalp a weekly reset and balance out its microbiome. For example, Zinc PCA, a key ingredient in the serum, not only works to reduce excess oils but also soothes scalp irritation and offers moisturizing benefits by supporting the skin's natural moisturizing factor.
For an extra boost, try GRO+ Advanced Scalp Detoxifying Serum, featuring broad-spectrum hemp to calm scalp stress and eliminate bacteria harmful to a healthy scalp and hair.
Anti-Inflammatory and Pain-Relieving Benefits
Coconut oil might also be helpful in soothing upset scalps. Virgin coconut oil might have anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation has been linked to hair shedding and hair loss in several different ways:
The lauric acid in coconut oil can help reduce inflammation on your scalp and around hair follicles, offering an all-natural way to keep scalp inflammation in check.
Protecting and Strengthening Benefits
Here’s where coconut oil’s benefits for your actual locks shine. Research has shown that thanks to coconut oil’s medium-chain triglycerides, it can deeply penetrate the hair shaft to both thicken strands and prevent protein loss. This can translate into fewer split ends and breakage due to dryness, along with smoother, shinier and healthier-looking hair.
“They found that coconut oil was better at preventing protein loss than both mineral and sunflower oils when applied either before or after the hair was washed. In fact, coconut oil was the best at reducing protein loss in various types of hair, too: undamaged, bleached, chemically treated and UV exposed,” said Dr. Ailynne Marie Vergara-Wijangco, a clinical dermatologist and researcher with Thank Your Skin.
Researchers in India found that these benefits might be best harnessed by using coconut oil as a pre-shower hair mask and as a leave-in conditioner after showering (stay tuned for more ways to use coconut oil for your hair health).
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How to Use Coconut Oil for Hair
Before we get into the how-to for using coconut oil on your scalp and hair, let’s start with the basics: What kind of coconut oil should you use?
While it might seem logical to assume that coconut oil is coconut oil, the truth is there are several different kinds of coconut oil out there, with various levels of purity and refinement:
- Refined: Undergoes various levels of processing, contains no coconut flavor or aroma and is lacking in much of its natural benefit.
- Unrefined: Less processed and typically made from fresh coconut, has not been bleached, deodorized or refined.
- Virgin: Made from the first pressing of fresh, raw coconut; this term can be used interchangeably with “unrefined” and “extra-virgin.”
- Extra-virgin: No regulation around how brands use this term for coconut oil in the U.S., so it is often similar (if not the same) as “virgin.”
If you’re trying to harness the natural benefits of coconut for your scalp and hair, it’s definitely best to stick to unrefined, virgin/extra-virgin coconut oil.
So how can you incorporate coconut oil into your hair care routine?
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1. Use It as a Daily Protectant
We’ve covered how coconut oil can help enhance the natural skin barrier to trap moisture on the scalp, and it can do the same for your locks, too.
Your hair shafts (or strands) are most susceptible to damage when they’re wet. This happens because the strands become saturated with water, and it creates a structural change that leaves them more susceptible to breaking. When applied before washing, coconut oil can protect your strands while they are wet.
When applied after washing to damp hair, it can make your hair softer and smoother while also providing a protective barrier against heat damage while styling. Added bonus: It will also act as a natural detangler!
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2. Use It to Soothe and Moisturize Your Scalp
Apply a modest amount of coconut oil directly to the scalp, massaging your entire scalp gently to distribute it evenly. Next, comb any excess through the rest of your hair to deep condition your strands. Leave it on for a few minutes (or overnight) to make sure the oil has a chance to penetrate the scalp. Then, rinse it off thoroughly or wash as normal.
3. Use It as a Deep-Conditioning Hair Mask
While you could use coconut oil as a hair mask all on its own, you can also use it as a base and add other beneficial ingredients to it, such as essential oils like lavender or rosemary, or other plant oils, like jojoba, almond and argan. Apply the mask by massaging it gently all over the scalp and then massaging it into the hair from root to tip. Cover your hair up with a hair wrap or shower cap to prevent any inadvertent messiness, and let the mask do its work for 15-30 minutes before washing it out.
4. Use It as a Conditioner
After shampooing, apply coconut oil in place of a conditioner for extra moisture. Massage it into the hair, from midsection to tips, and allow it some time to penetrate the hair shafts before rinsing. Dry hair, be gone!
Other Ways to Support Scalp and Hair Health
One of the driving philosophies here at VEGAMOUR is that hair health is a holistic effort. Vegan, all-natural and cruelty-free hair wellness products are right up our alley. For example, our delicious, strawberry-flavored GRO Biotin Gummies contain biotin, folic acid and vitamins B-5, 6 and 12, plus other vitamins and minerals to help promote a healthy scalp and fuller, thicker-looking hair.
In fact, you can use our full line of carefully formulated hair wellness products to support healthier, fuller-looking hair from the inside out, such as shampoo and conditioner, dry shampoo, hair serums, hair foams, hair ties and more.
But we also believe hair health takes a 360-degree approach, so along with using targeted hair wellness products, support your overall health and wellness with things like:
Consider This When Using Coconut Oil for Hair
Coconut oil is an all-natural and safe oil to use for your hair and scalp, but there are a few things to know before beginning your journey.
First, too much coconut oil can make your hair look limp and greasy or leave you with a head full of dull hair. So always begin with a very small amount (about a dime-sized scoop’s worth) and work your way up, if needed, from there.
Second, some people will experience a sensitivity or allergy to coconut oil, which could result in irritation and rashes. If you notice any scalp or skin irritation when using coconut oil, stop using it and consult with a doctor. You can also do a small patch test on your scalp before using it to check for potential sensitivities. Wait at least a full day to see if any irritation or itchiness develops.
Coconut oil is comedogenic, meaning it can clog pores. This is particularly important for folks who are prone to acne, whose condition could be made worse by coconut oil. If you notice acne or other skin irritations either on the scalp, around the hairline or on the forehead develop while using it, coconut oil might be the culprit. Make sure you’re not going overboard with quantity, and always rinse or wash coconut oil off thoroughly.
The bottom line is that coconut oil for hair has several benefits, but if you're hoping for hair growth, it's not the answer. Using it as a hair mask and leave-in treatment may help moisturize the scalp and lock moisture into your strands. It also might help soothe and protect the scalp from damage, infection and irritation, while protecting your locks from split ends and hair breakage.
“For these reasons, coconut oil might make your hair look shinier and stronger. However, there’s not yet evidence that coconut oil can boost hair growth or make your hair grow faster or longer,” concluded Dr. Vergara.
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