Personally, I love coconuts. I love drinking them. I love eating them. They’re a full meal in themselves and they even come in their own handy vessel! But what about coconut oil for hair growth? Have I just found another reason to love coconut?
Why yes, yes I have.
The coconut tree – or Cocos Nucifera L. – is also known as the “tree of life”, thanks to its many, many uses. Across the globe, various cultures cultivate and use it for a truckload of different things. And its oil has been traditionally used as a medicinal agent for a range of digestive, anti-inflammatory and dermatological purposes.
For the purpose of this post, however, I’ll mainly focus on what we baldies want to hear – can coconut oil help hair loss? And can it encourage growth?! Let’s see.
Psst… If you’re stuck on time and want to skip reading about the many benefits of coconut oil, check out these 6 coconut oils for hair!
Hi, I’m Emma. I’m an alopecian, I’m not a doctor! Any advice I give is based on my own research and personal experiences with alopecia. I also participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program – meaning I may earn a small commission from the Amazon products I link to. But I only endorse ones that I’ve tried or trust! This fascinating Disclaimer Page has more info.
Here’s the thing. Coconut oil has been hailed as the beauty industry’s best-kept secret for AGES. So much so that, well, it ain’t a secret no more! 😉
Why do experts love it so? Well, for one thing, it’s a superfood – with healthy saturated fats that are great for both brain and body energy. (Ketone fans, you’ll know what I mean.) And unlike some other oils that can help with hair growth, you can eat this one for amazing overall health benefits!
Coconut oil is also a great carrier for other essential oils you might use. You don’t need to buy a crazily expensive one, either. Meaning those fancy essential oils can last longer.
Here are 5 more winning components of coconut oil… and specifically, how they can help your hair!
Even though coconut oil includes Vitamins K and E, minerals like iron and lots of other nutrients, what really makes it great is all those essential fatty acids.
For instance, coconut oil is said to be the most abundant source of lauric acid. It makes up about 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil and it’s known for its antimicrobial, hormone-balancing properties.
This tidbit might be particularly useful for people with autoimmune conditions as a result of gut microbiome issues (like me!) And it’s a much gentler solution to addressing these issues than a course of antibiotics. Phew.
Oh, and if lauric acid can help our hormones, that’s great too. Because, as we now know, hormone imbalance is one of the major factors that can trigger hair loss.
The antiviral components of coconut oil help to ward off unwanted bacteria and provide immune support. Again, if you have an autoimmune condition, which can be triggered by an inflammatory response to these kind of things, that’s good to know.
Applied topically, the oil’s antifungal properties work to rid the scalp of excess build-up, sebum and debris to promote a healthier scalp and, in return, healthy hair. So you can say goodbye to hair problems and scalp conditions like dandruff, eczema or psoriasis. Woohoo!
Those vitamins and minerals I mentioned come in handy for retaining your hair’s natural moisture, plus for giving it an deep conditioning kiss. Oh, and coconut oil can penetrate the shaft, too (easy tiger, I mean the hair shaft!)… so it fosters healthy, shiny hair right from the root.
Basically, coconut oil is like wearing an extra layer on your hair, sealing in moisture and preventing it from drying out. This keeps your hair nice and soft, while preventing frizz, split ends, breakage and brittleness. Nice one.
Like other natural oils you might apply to your hair, coconut oil coats each strand, acting as a shield between your hair follicles and any damage that your environment might cause them.
Whether that’s traffic fumes or other pollution, UV rays or even styling products, coconut oil can protect your noggin to minimize environmental damage.
One study showed that coconut oil blocks out about 20% of UV rays (although sesame oil is slightly more effective). This protective barrier is also an offshoot of that lauric acid I mentioned before, which binds to your hair’s natural keratin protein and helps with hair strength as well as thickness. Yay!
Yep – you can actually use coconut oil to style your hair, too! Now, there’s a time and a place for styling products, especially if you’re trying to cover up small bald patches. But these chemicals can do a helluva lot of damage to your hair.
So use a little coconut oil in place of your usual styling gel. Since coconut oil hardens when it cools, it’s great to do this in a colder climate. But if you live in tropical heat, and don’t want a load of oil running from your hair into your eyes, I’d use something else. 😉
There are a few particular occasions, aside from styling, when I love to apply coconut oil to my hair. (Well, what little I have left!) But I’ll get to that in a sec.
First, let’s look at a couple of the most popular products on the market. Personally, I don’t think there’s a massive difference between them. Just as long as you buy organic, something that’s 100% coconut oil and that has a high MCT content (for maximum antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties), you’re on the right track!
I won’t go into a huge amount of detail for each oil as they’ve all got great reviews. Rather, I’ll point out what makes each one particularly special. 😉
In this oil, pretty much all the long-chain triglycerides are removed, leaving mainly medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). That means it’s a great MCT oil, which comes with a bunch of health benefits.
Use it topically to rub on your nails, lather on your skin or smear on your hair – the good news is it isn’t greasy! NOTE: Unlike virgin coconut oil, fractionated oil is refined… this takes away the coconut smell. You shouldn’t cook with it or eat it, either.
✓ 60-day money-back guarantee
✓ Odorless, Non-greasy
✓ No chemical or synthetic compounds
✗ Pump dispenser is a little awkward
✗ For external use only
Another pure fractionated oil, this product is odorless, colorless and non-greasy. Fractionated oils also make great carrier oils because they stay liquid (whereas virgin coconut oils may harden when in cool conditions).
The light texture of this oil means you can even use it as a daily moisturizer without the fear of a shiny face or clogged pores. NOTE: It’s also for external use only so do not eat it!!
✓ Odorless, Non-greasy
✓ No chemical or synthetic compounds
✓ Great as a carrier oil
✗ For external use only
✗ More refined, which means more processed
This cold-pressed extra-virgin oil serves a range of purposes. You can cook with it, you can eat it and you can use it for a range of skincare or cosmetic applications. It should be a staple in your kitchen AND your bathroom cabinet… and it’s pretty good value, so you might as well have it in both!
This product is also kind to the environment, and to your body. It’s USDA-certified, free from GMOs, gluten-free and sustainably harvested. Yay!
✓ No chemicals or pesticides
✓ The coconut smell isn’t overpowering
✓ Brilliant for chemically treated and damaged hair
✓ USDA-Certified Organic and GMO-free
✗ Some reviewers say the bottle leaked
This cold-pressed oil retains all the lovely natural goodness of coconuts without anything being lost in a refining or heating process. Its raw, pure nature can be applied for a bunch of holistic purposes – whether it’s to improve digestion, whiten your teeth, grow your nails, boost your energy or moisturize your hair!
This brand has won a bunch of awards and customer reviews (particularly on Amazon UK) are overwhelmingly positive.
I don’t know if I buy into all the marketing hype – like it claiming it’s “the only coconut oil on the market which is 100% guaranteed 1st pressed from selected ripe fresh organic coconuts, unlike any other virgin coconut oils”. That seems like a grandiose claim to me.
But hey, it’s an award-winner for a reason: UK consumers voted it as their #1 coconut oil in terms of taste, quality, nutrition and product effectiveness.
✓ 60% MCT content
✓ Vegan, Dairy and Gluten-Free
✓ Unrefined, no Preservatives
✓ Healthy Awards Winner 2017 (Best Coconut Product)
✗ A little more expensive
With a strict policy to only use young coconuts (no older than 3 days) and a special extraction process, this company promises pure virgin coconut oil that’s free from weird colors, smells or textures. As their Amazon listing states: “This coconut oil is silky smooth, crystal clear and won’t go rancid!” Good to know. 😉
These guys have established themselves as providers of luxury products without the ludicrous price tag. Highly recommended.
✓ Cold-pressed from coconut to oil in 48 hours
✓ Mild coconut scent
✓ Available in travel-size jars
✗ Complaints about “price to size ratio”
Like the last few ones on this list, this is a virgin, cold-pressed oil. And virgin oils generally contain more antioxidants than regular coconut oil or refined oils. Plus, they haven’t been exposed to chemicals during the extraction process. Which is good news if you want the purest solution for your skin, hair and tummy!
This oil has almost 3,000 reviews on Amazon, and clocks up 4.5 stars. It sounds almost too good to be true. For one thing, all the reviews seem to come from India. Nothing wrong with that, and they sound legit.
But when I tried to click into the couple of 1-star and 2-star reviews, I couldn’t – so maybe it is too good to be true, after all!
✓ Unrefined, No Preservatives
✓ Multi-purpose: for skin, nails, hair and cooking
✓ Good value
✓ Most popular on Amazon
✗ Uncertain about credibility of reviews
Each of the hair products I’ve mentioned has a lot of pros, and not many cons. So you can’t go wrong with any of them, really!
But to help you narrow your search:
If you can’t find any of the products I’ve shared, or if you want to try something new, I recommend cold-pressed and virgin coconut oil as it seems to be the one with most applications.
Now you’ve snapped up the hair oils that are fit for your purpose, you might want to know the best way to use them.
Well, it ain’t rocket science! It isn’t even something that requires a few steps – sometimes even lather, rinse, repeat can get overly complicated! 😉
Simply apply 2 tablespoons (tbs) of coconut oil on your head, rub it in from root to tip and leave it on for a few hours – even overnight, if you like. Rinse it out the next morning and marvel at how soft ‘n’ shiny your strands are!
LA Says: You can also use a little coconut oil in place of a conditioner. Those prone to really dry, brittle hair might prefer to leave it in (especially on the ends) rather than rinsing it out. Try it both ways and see which works for you!
Remember I mentioned there are some occasions when I really love to use coconut oil for my hair? Well, I’m about to share these with you now. Whoop!
Here are a few coconut oil treatments and hair masks (masques?!) that you can make at home.
If I’m having a self-care night and am cracking out the face mask, takeout ‘n’ Netflix combo, I’ll make sure to include a hair treatment in the mix! Because living in Vietnam, my hair often gets very dry and brittle… thanks to the sun and the fumes of a million motorbikes.
So when I get the chance, I apply this intensive treatment.
Coconut Oil Treatment
What I use: Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
I leave it that way while I watch whatever cheesy film my boyfriend wouldn’t normally endure (and that I can watch alone, guilt-free!) If my hair doesn’t feel too greasy, I’ll leave the oil in until shampooing it out the next day.
NOTE: For this intensive treatment to really work, you should ideally leave it in for at least 7 hours.
Before my friend’s wedding last year, we had a sleepover at the bride-to-be’s house. Us bridesmaids decided that some pampering was in order! We were a little wary of face masks – if anything was to go wrong! – so we decided to do hair masks instead.
We tried the following recipe and our hair was so shiny and soft the next day… which, in hindsight, made my mohawk style much harder to achieve. Oops. 😉
Coconut Oil Moisturizing Mask
What you’ll need: Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 1 x egg, 1 Tbsp Honey
Like I said, this comes with the territory of living in Vietnam! While I love the sun and sea, my poor hair – what’s left of it, anyway – often disagrees. It can get quite brittle and prone to breakage, especially when I neglect to give it extra moisture.
So I’ve just come across this simple treatment, which I’m looking forward to trying out!
What I’ll need: Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar
These are just a few ways to treat your hair to some coconut oil – but a quick Google will offer up dozens more! Get creative with your coconut and enjoy the results.
Refined (or fractionated) oil is more processed, which often removes the coconut smell and results in a milder flavour. Unrefined oil is purer and retains its coconut flavour. If cooking with it, bear in mind it has a lower smoke point so ideally, you won’t heat it at all but maybe use it as a spread or in smoothies for immune-boosting functions.
The amount of coconut oil you should use, and the frequency of use, really depends on your hair type and condition. According to the folks at Coco & Co, you should apply an intensive coconut oil treatment (3-4 tbsp to damp hair, which you leave on for at least 7 hours) depending on the following hair types: 2-3 times a week for dry hair, 1-2 times a week for normal hair and once a week for oily hair.
Usually, yes. But pay attention to the label – some cosmetic ones (like the first two fractionated ones I recommend) are for external use only.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I’m nuts about coconut. And I just love that something so natural can taste so good, be so beneficial for your immune health and act as such a great beauty product!
I’ve used coconut oil as a nightly moisturizer/cleanser for years. And I rub it into my scalp, to improve the texture of my dry hair – when I remember to, that is. But during my research for this article, I became amazed at how many other people use it for hair care, too… how many of them swear by it.
So it’s something I’ll make more of an effort to apply frequently. Starting with that apple cider vinegar recipe!
Have you used coconut oil for hair growth or hair loss? Or any other purposes you’d like to share? What about your favourite brand – is there one you love that I’ve left out? Let me know in the comments below!
Like the natural approach to treat your alopecia? Then check out these posts, too!
1. Aloe Vera for Hair Loss – Could it work?
2. Meditation and Alopecia – What’s the connection?
3. Alopecia Diet Tips – How a healthy lifestyle fosters healthy hair.
4. Neem Oil – The “village pharmacy” that could be great for your hair!
5. Experiment with Peppermint – Add this baby to your coconut oil. Here’s why…