7 Simple Ways to Use Coconut Oil for Strong, Beautiful Hair

coconut oil and coconuts, palm branches close up
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Coconut oil has quickly climbed the ranks of natural beauty products because of the many ways it can be used both for skin and hair. This multifaceted tropical fruit is packed with richly nourishing ingredients like fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants that have numerous benefits for your hair.

Unrefined oil from coconuts is also one of the more sustainable ingredients in the skin and hair care industry. All parts of a coconut tree can be used, so there’s not much waste in the production of coconut oil.

We’ve rounded up six reasons you should consider introducing coconut oil into your daily hair care routine. Having gorgeous hair while being environmentally friendly doesn’t get any easier than this. 

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Moisturize and Style Your Hair

One of the most common hair problems is dryness caused by environmental conditions and overuse of products and heat. Harsh chemicals in hair dye, shampoo, conditioner, and styling products can strip hair of natural oils that keep it soft and pliable.

Heat damage from blow drying, straightening, or curling can damage the hair’s cuticle. When the cuticle doesn’t lay flat, it allows moisture to escape from the strand, leaving it dried out and even more vulnerable to damage. 

You can also achieve the wet look of hair gel using coconut oil on dry hair. By switching out your styling products for coconut oil, you can avoid drying alcohols and instead lightly coat your hair with a natural protective barrier filled with medium-chain fatty acids that easily absorb into strands. Smoothing coconut oil through your hair before blow-drying or styling also will keep heat from completely toasting your tresses.

How to Apply

  1. Start out with 1/2 a teaspoon of melted oil and concentrate on the ends of your damp hair.
  2. Work the oil up to the middle of your strands, but try to avoid the roots which tend to naturally be more oily.
  3. Style as usual. You can also use the same amount of oil applied to dry hair to slick hair back and get a sleek wet hair look.
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Apply for Pre-Swim Protection

Maybe you love going to the beach and playing in the waves. Or maybe you swim laps as part of your exercise routine. Either way, you’re putting your hair in danger of major damage.

Saltwater can quickly suck the moisture from your hair, leaving it prone to damage. The chlorine in pool water can not only cause hair to become brittle and crunchy, but it can actually change the color of your hair.

Luckily, coconut oil’s hydrophobic properties help it repel water that may contain salt, chlorine, or other harmful chemicals. Even the World Open Water Swimming Association recommends massaging coconut oil into hair before jumping into the water.

How to Apply

  1. Distribute melted oil evenly through your hair with fingers or a wide-tooth comb. In this case, it's ok to apply oil to the roots.
  2. Cover hair with a swim cap.
  3. After swimming, remove the swim cap and shampoo and condition as you normally would. It may take more than one shampoo cycle to remove all of the oil.
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Fight Frizz

When water penetrates the hair’s cuticle and makes its way into the shaft, it can cause the strand to swell. The effect of each swollen strand of hair twisting and turning in different directions is what’s known as frizz—that's why you may have noticed that your hair gets frizzier the higher the humidity is. Your frizzy hair may also be the result of damage from heat styling.

For either issue, coconut oil can help your hair resist absorbing water in the first place, preventing out-of-control frizz. It can also tame frizz by helping to seal the hair’s cuticle so it lays in the same direction as every other strand. This creates a sleek look and feel without using chemicals made in a lab. 

How to Apply

  1. Take 1/8 of a teaspoon of solid coconut oil (about the size of a pea) and rub it between your fingers and palms to melt it.
  2. Using your fingers, spot apply the oil to frizzy sections of hair, being careful to avoid applying too much to the roots.
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Boost Shine

Who doesn’t want healthy-looking, lustrous hair? Hair reflects light when the cuticle lays evenly and flat along the shaft. When the cuticle is damaged, less light bounces off and your hair loses its shine and may even look less colorful. Coconut oil helps smooth the cuticle, restoring that reflective surface and giving your hair a healthy glow. 

If you're finding that your hair is looking particularly dull these days, consider applying a small amount of coconut oil to immediately increase shine.

How to Apply

  1. Put 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a spray bottle.
  2. Place the bottle into a bowl of warm water until the oil has melted completely.
  3. Spritz hair lightly with oil to create shine without a greasy appearance.
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Nourish Long Strands

One of the most important parts of hair is the protein known as keratin. Hair fibers are made of up to 95% protein which keeps the hair supple and gives it elasticity. When hair loses protein, it becomes weak and brittle. It may even break off as a result of the damage.

If you’ve ever tried to grow out your hair, you know that damaged, broken hair can seriously slow down the process. In a 2015 study, scientists found that coconut oil in particular was able to reduce the loss of protein in hair when used before and after washing. Try mixing up a coconut oil conditioner to prevent protein loss and keep your hair strong and healthy.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon jojoba oil
  • 1 tablespoon vitamin E oil

How to Apply

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until they are combined. The consistency should be creamy.
  2. Apply 1-2 teaspoons to freshly washed hair, starting at the ends and working the conditioner up the strands but stopping before you get to the scalp.
  3. Leave the conditioner in place for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Rinse well.
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Easily Detangle Hair

Speaking of breakage, tangles can wreak havoc on already weakened hair. Add water to the equation, and you’re setting yourself up for disaster. That’s because when hair gets wet, the protein in the hair wants to bond with the hydrogen from the water. And if your wet hair is tangled and you take a brush or comb to it, the weakened hair can only stretch so much before it snaps.

Fortunately, you can help prevent damage by adding in a bit of coconut oil to damp hair. By adding this protective layer, you’ll keep your hair intact and help it easily slide out of tangled knots. 

How to Apply

  • Take 1-2 drops of liquid coconut oil and rub them between your palms, distributing the oil evenly.
  • Apply the oil to the bottom half of your hair only. Putting coconut oil on the roots can leave your hair looking greasy.
  • Use a wide-tooth comb or your fingers to gently work the coconut oil through your strands and detangle any knots.
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Deep Conditioning Hair Mask

One of the biggest benefits of coconut oil is its ability to get deep into the hair shaft and protect your hair from moisture loss. The more time the coconut oil spends in contact with your hair, the better it can be absorbed.

A great way to ensure maximum absorption and protection is to whip up a DIY coconut oil hair mask using just a few simple ingredients that you most likely already have on hand.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 large egg

How to Apply

  1. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients.
  2. Spray hair with water to dampen it.
  3. Part your hair into 3-4 sections and apply the mask to each section, starting at the ends and coating the strands evenly.
  4. Cover your hair with a shower cap. For extra deep conditioning, wrap a warm towel around the shower cap.
  5. Let the mask sit for a minimum of 1 hour. You may want to leave the mask on overnight to make sure your hair gets the full benefits of each ingredient.
  6. Rinse the mask out of your hair with warm water, then use shampoo and conditioner as you normally would. It may take more than one shampoo cycle to get the ingredients fully out of your hair.