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If we published a list of the most hydrating and multi-tasking beauty ingredients of all-time, using coconut oil for hair would not only top the list, but probably be considered one of our most frequent go-tos. Though its benefits are somewhat up for debate when it comes to skincare, for healthy hair maintenance—especially for those with dry and damaged hair—it may actually be the holy grail. “I like using coconut oil [on my clients], because it helps to grow healthier, thicker, and longer hair,” colorist and R+Co Collective member Richy Kandasamy tells BAZAAR.com. “Its vitamins and fatty acids help nourish the scalp while penetrating through its cuticles. Coconut oil also smooths cuticles on your split ends and controls frizz when in humid weather or if you have breakage.”
According to professionals, a 30-minute coconut oil mask can do wonders to restore hair moisture, while an overnight one can protect it for weeks on end. As an added bonus, purchasing a tub of coconut oil for hair care and creating a homemade treatment mask is pretty budget-friendly—especially since the majority of the ingredients can be found in most grocery aisles.
What Are the Benefits of Coconut Oil for Hair?
“Coconut oil’s chemical structure is behind its ability to protect hair, because the fatty acid called lauric acid is easily absorbed into the strand, protecting both the inner and outer layers,” explains hair stylist and Curl Rehab brand educator Robin D. Groover.
In addition to hair protection, here are a few more of the all-star ingredient’s benefits:
- Smooths hair and reduces frizz. “Coconut oil smooths the cuticle and reduces damage, because it acts as a barrier of protection from physical friction, harsh chemicals, and UV rays,” Groover explains.
- Keeps curls moisturized. Coconut oil is especially great for curly hair, which is more prone to dryness. “Coconut oil benefits curly hair by conditioning inside and outside the curl, giving a smooth strand for less frizz and flyaways,” she adds. “The nourishing oil moisturizes and helps with breakage. Curls are tamed and have soft definition with great shape and style memory.”
- Soothes dandruff. The scalp benefits don’t end there either. “Coconut oil does help with dandruff, dry scalp, and eczema,” she says. “It boosts good bacteria, plus is anti-inflammatory and moisturizing.” You can thank the lauric acid, which “provides microbial balance properties that help soothe a dry, flaky scalp and rebalance the scalp’s microbiome,” Groover says.
- It may even help prevent hair loss. The nutrient-rich oil strengthens strands, in turn preventing breakage and helping hair look fuller. “Coconut oil provides fatty acids to protect and prevent breakage while encouraging length retention,” she adds. “Coconut oil as a scalp treatment kills bacteria and provides a clean palette for the hair and scalp to thrive. The vitamins and fatty acids help the hair alleviate dryness, one of the number one causes of breakage.”
How to DIY a Coconut Oil Hair Mask
Don’t be intimidated by the extra elbow grease the letters DIY can imply. We’ve found coconut oil hair masks that use less than five ingredients and can be whipped up in as many minutes. Whether you want to encourage hair growth, protect against breakage, or boost shine, the right coconut oil hair mask can restore your locks to perfect hair day glory. And as Kandasamy explains, coconut oil, “heals while it treats and adds shine at the same time.”
For Dry Hair
A no-frills coconut oil hair mask will infuse dry, brittle hair with moisture. To whip up this simple recipe, you’ll need:
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin coconut oil
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1 egg
If the coconut oil is not already in a liquid state, melt it on a stovetop or in the microwave. Whisk the egg in a separate bowl, then combine the egg with the heated (but not too hot!) coconut oil. Add the honey and whisk again until the mixture is consistent.
After separating clean, damp hair into sections, gently massage the hair mask into each section from root to tip. Make sure each section is evenly covered. Then, wrap your hair in a shower cap, T-shirt, or towel for 30 minutes.
Finish by rinsing out the hair mask with water and your favorite shampoo. You may need two or three rinses to entirely wash out the mask.
For Dull Hair
Coconut oil is a shortcut to moisture, while apple cider vinegar is great for deep cleansing. For this double-benefit hair mask, you’ll need:
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin coconut oil
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
If the coconut oil is not already in a liquid state, heat it until it is melted. Then, in a bowl, combine the oil with the apple cider vinegar, mixing well.
When the mixture is cool enough to work with, apply the mask to dry or damp hair in sections, evenly covering each section from root to tip. Leave on for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse out. Follow with your routine shampoo and conditioner.
For Damaged Hair
“Coconut oil by itself overnight is good for extremely dry damaged hair,” Groover says. For deep conditioning, all that’s needed are two tablespoons of coconut oil.
After gently heating the coconut oil (if needed), apply it to damp or dry hair as is. Then, wrap the hair in a towel or shower cap and wear it overnight. (We recommend keeping the mask on for at least seven hours.) In the morning, rinse out the mask with your preferred shampoo and let your hair dry.
Pure coconut oil is also fantastic for protecting hair from the elements. “I always apply coconut oil on my ends before going swimming or in the ocean,” notes Mane Addicts celebrity hair stylist Amanda Lee. “It not only will protect my hair from the chlorine, but when you’re in the sun, it doubles as a hot oil treatment!”
If you’re finding that the pure coconut oil is too rich, you can try a treatment specifically made for masking. “The hair will only absorb so much into the strand,” Groover advises. “I love the Curl Rehab Coconut Milk Repairing Oil Treatment, because it is formulated for maximum product absorption and retention.”
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