Is coconut oil good for your hair?

Lily Collins wet hair

We spoke to two hair experts to find out

Coconut oil continues to be one of the buzziest ingredients floating around the health and beauty spheres at the moment. Considering it’s good for you when ingested, and good for nourishing a dry face and body, it begged the question: is coconut oil good for hair, too? And after chatting to two top hair experts – co-founder of IGK Hair, Aaron Grenia, and Creative Director for JONNY+JUNE Hair, Simon Bright – we discovered the answer is a resounding yes. “Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids and replenishes lost proteins in hair. As such, it can make hair look and feel softer, shinier and healthier,” explains Grenia.

Using coconut oil for hair conditioning has become popular because it has both moisturising and antimicrobial (bacteria and fungus-fighting) properties. These unique qualities make it one of the best oils for hydrating and taming dry hair (including bleached hair), curly hair and frizzy hair, while promoting hair regrowth. Here, we walk you through the many benefits of using the nourishing hair treatment, plus how to use coconut oil on your strands ans how long to leave it in for the best results.

The benefits of using coconut oil on hair

Coconut oil has so many uses for hair – here are some of our most recommended ways to incorporate coconut oil into your haircare routine:

As a conditioning hair treatment
“Coconut oil is one of the best oils for reducing protein loss for any hair type (damaged and undamaged),” explains Grenia. He adds that because it’s a principle fatty acid, “coconut oil has a greater effect on hair proteins and penetrates into the hair shaft better than other oils”.   

As an anti-dandruff hair mask
Because a lack of moisture on the scalp is one of the main causes of dandruff, regular coconut oil treatments will rehydrate the skin to prevent an itchy and flaky scalp (remember, dandruff isn’t just a condition that affects men). Furthermore, coconut oil has been found to leave a protective barrier on the skin, which effectively prevents any further dryness and irritation from occurring.

While the multi-functional oil can prevent dandruff production and heal a damaged and irritated scalp, you may need to also use a shampoo and conditioner that’s been specifically formulated to tackle dandruff if you’re suffering from more serious scalp issues.

As a hair growth stimulator
Coconut oil has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties that help decrease local inflammation – an issue which has the ability to mess with your hair’s growth cycle and may lead to thinning hair and hair loss. It’s also packed with lauric acid – a long-chain fatty acid known to help strengthen and hydrate hair. And we all know that the stronger and healthier your hair is, the quicker it will grow.

How to apply coconut oil on hair

Before you apply the first coconut oil you can find to your strands, you need to make sure you’re equipped with the right one. Pure and unrefined coconut oil should be your top choice says Bright, as it hasn’t been exposed to the chemical processes that often damage the oil’s nourishing properties. “These can be purchased in most supermarkets and health food stores. My favourite is Macro Organic Virgin Coconut Oil from Woolworths,” he adds.

If your coconut oil has solidified, sit the jar in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes – the oil will soon revert back to a liquid. 

For the best results, you’ll need to ensure you have at least an hour or two to set aside when putting coconut oil on your hair – the longer you leave the oil in, the more effective it will be. To apply coconut oil to hair (it can be applied to wet or dry hair), Bright advises using your fingers to gently massage the oil throughout your hair before evenly distributing it with a wide toothed comb. To avoid any oil drips, wrap your hair up in a towel or shower cap.

After an hour or so, Bright advises washing the coconut oil out of your hair with an all-natural shampoo such as JONNY+JUNE Original Shampoo. You may need to shampoo your strands more than once to remove all remaining traces of the oil.

TOP TIP: For a deep conditioning treatment, leave the coconut oil in your hair overnight and simply wash with shampoo and conditioner as per normal the next morning.

If using pure coconut oil as a DIY treatment sounds like too much hard work, you can always reach for products that hero the nourishing ingredient. Two of our favourites are IGK MISTRESS Hydrating Hair Balm and Shea Moisture 100% Coconut Oils Daily Hydration Leave In Treatment.

JONNY+JUNE Original Shampoo

IGK MISTRESS Hydrating Hair Balm

Shea Moisture 100% Coconut Oils Daily Hydration Leave In Treatment

On the hunt for more ways to improve your hair? Then learn how to wash your hair the right way; discover the best dry shampoos for tackling oily hair; and if you’re thinking about making a dramatic hair change, check out these before and after celebrity hair transformations for inspiration.

Do you use coconut oil on your hair and skin? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.

Main image credit: @lilyjcollins

Kate has worked for BEAUTYcrew since early 2016, first as a contributor, before being named Beauty Writer in 2017. She loves picking the brains of the industry's top experts to get to the bottom of beauty's toughest questions. Bronze eyeshadow palettes are her weakness and she's forever on the hunt for the perfect nude nail polish to suit her fair skin. Her words can also be found in Men's Health magazine.