Having curly hair can both be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, we have hair that has great volume and is unique and beautiful to look at. On the other, though, maintaining and managing curly hair can be such a chore! Natural oils are lauded as lifesavers, but is coconut oil good for curly hair?
Oh, I’d forgotten another hassle when you have curly hair – tangles! There are tangles everywhere and combing through our hair gets so difficult sometimes.
Don’t even get me started on the frizz and split ends we always end up getting!
Finding products that address these problems can be a daunting task, to be honest.
Products loaded with chemicals can sometimes have unwanted effects such as excessive dryness and fading colo-treated hair.
We have to careful in choosing products. What else can we try, then? Well, going by the centuries-worth of testimonials (and experiences), natural oils are our best friend.
Coconut oil in particular has been hailed as the holy grail when it comes to nourishing and promoting healthy hair growth.
This is true, from seeing the hair journeys of some of my friends and family. There are also ladies I know in the natural hair community that swear by coconut oil.
Now, if you have low porosity don’t get excited yet.
What is coconut oil?
First things first. Let’s look at the composition of this incredible oil.
Coconut oil comes from the “meat” (also called kernel) of mature coconuts – fruits that come from Cocos nucifera, or the coconut palm.
This oil is high in fat, as it is actually made up of a whopping 99% of fat, mainly of saturated fats at 82%.
Due to this high saturated fat content, coconut oil does not oxidize quickly and thus lasts for up to six months without spoiling.
And since it comes from a fruit, coconut oil is edible, too!
However, coconut oil consumption must be limited due to its high fat content, which may not be good for the body when taken in big portions.
How coconut oil benefits the hair
The saturated fat coconut oil is predominantly composed of is called lauric acid.
This acid helps to restore and strengthen the protein structure of the hair shaft.
Coconut oil, therefore, helps to restore hair to health primarily because it’s instrumental in strengthening it.
Protein loss leads to brittle and weak hair, as proteins in the hair are what strengthen the mane to make it healthier.
Besides many other benefits that I’ll be looking at shortly, this particular benefit makes coconut oil special and gives it an edge over other natural oils when it comes to hair care.
Coconut oil and low porosity hair
If you have curly hair that is low porosity, you might want to keep looking. Let me explain.
The lauric acid contained in the coconut oil is a fatty acid of medium length, typically straight in its composition.
As a result, lauric acid is able to fit more easily into the hair shaft, so it gets easily absorbed deep into the scalp.
While this is a good thing, it’s not all smiles for people with low porosity hair.
Low porosity hair doesn’t easily absorb liquids because it has tightly-closed cuticles.
According to cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson, this means that if you’re wetting your hair, there’s less space for water, and the hair doesn’t get as saturated as it would without the coconut oil.
This can lead to excessive hair dryness among some coconut oil users. Dryness easily leads to brittleness.
If you fall under this category, it might be advisable to look for other oils for low porosity hair that will be more kind to your hair and keep dryness at bay.
Is coconut oil good for curly hair?
Though coconut oil has been proven to be effective for most hair types, it’s especially loved by us with curly hair.
Coconut oil has tons of benefits that can help transform your hair to a healthier, more manageable mane without you having to break the bank going for expensive hair products.
Let’s look at the wonders this miracle oil can do for curly hair:
Prevents dryness and locks in moisture
While coconut oil in itself does not serve as a moisturizer, it helps to hydrate hair by locking in moisture.
It seals in moisture from water or leave-in conditioners which contain water as the first ingredient.
Oil is a permanent fixture in the LOC and LCO methods of moisturizing hair because of this ability to lock in moisture, thus preventing dryness.
Due to its structure and composition, coconut oil is able to penetrate the hair more easily and thus guard it against protein loss.
With proteins retained and moisture locked in, hair generally becomes softer, shinier, and even healthier.
It helps protect the hair
Lauric acid’s ability to restore and strengthen the hair shaft’s protein structure means you are sure also to preserve the very components of your hair that keep it from being brittle and weak.
At the same time, coconut oil is also great at preventing external damage to the hair.
For instance, wet hair is actually very prone to damage, since wetting the hair opens up the cuticles and makes it vulnerable to damage during styling.
Using coconut oil before or after wetting the hair makes the hair softer and also coats the hair cuticle to prevent it from opening, which allows for gentler brushing and styling.
Coconut oil is also believed to contain a natural SPF of 4-5, which helps with keeping the hair safe from the UV rays of the sun which can be detrimental to your hair.
At the same time, you don’t have to worry about the scorching sun, since the locked-in moisture in your hair will prevent it from drying up and getting damaged.
It helps with managing frizz
While it does repair the hair internally, coconut oil also makes the hair look great from the outside.
Smoothing and applying a small amount of coconut oil all over the hair will be enough to give it a natural shine, while also taming frizz and removing tangles.
It helps fight dandruff
Dandruff isn’t a problem for curly heads only, but we all know how hard dealing with dandruff can be when it’s so easy for it to get caught up in our curls!
Thankfully, coconut oil also helps with this problem. Coconut oil has certain antibacterial properties that are great in protecting the scalp against dandruff.
The sealed moisture in the hair certainly helps fight dandruff, too!
Now that we know what coconut oil has in store for our curly hair, let’s find out what we can do to include it in our daily hair routine.
Ways to use coconut hair for curly hair
There are many ways you can use coconut oil for your daily routine – you can do masks, shampoos, conditioners, and many other variations you can think of.
The options really are endless, but still, practice caution!
Too much of anything – even of something good, like coconut oil- can be detrimental to your hair if you aren’t careful.
Here are a few tried and tested ways on how to use coconut oil for the hair.
These are great places to start, but you can experiment too to see which ones work best for you.
Let’s break them down one by one:
As a hair mask
Using coconut oil to make a hair mask helps to replenish moisture lost through things like chemical treatments,
using heat styling appliances or exposure to harmful UV rays.
These masks also tap into coconut oil’s ability to reduce protein loss. This, therefore, helps in strengthening the hair strands.
There are many different versions of how to create a coconut oil hair mask for the hair, but here’s a simple, all-natural method:
To prepare the hair mask, you will need the following:
- Virgin coconut oil (3 tablespoons)
- Honey (1 ½ tablespoons)
- 2 pcs egg yolk
- Essential oil (few drops; optional)
- Warm towel
- Prepare around 3 tablespoons’ worth of virgin coconut oil. Melt it at low heat over a saucepan, or by microwaving it for around 1 minute.
- Add in 1 ½ tablespoons of honey to the melted coconut oil. Whisk this in vigorously, as it takes some time for the two to mix.
- Make sure the mixture isn’t too hot, then add in 2 egg yolks (we don’t want the eggs to cook, so be mindful of the temperature of your mixture!). Whisk these into the mixture until completely incorporated.
- Add in a few drops of other essential oils as an optional final step. You may consider using oils proven to be good for the hair, such as castor oil, argan oil, or even tea tree oil!
That’s all you will need for your hair mask!
Afterward, just make sure to apply it all over the hair, from your roots to the ends, and then wrap your hair in a warm towel for around 45 minutes or even overnight for damaged hair.
Make sure to rinse thoroughly afterward using a gentle cleanser.
As a pre-poo treatment
I’m a big fan of pre-pooing my hair (especially after taking down a protective style) before the actual hair cleansing process begins.
Pre-poo is a shorter way of saying pre-shampooing. This is a pre-wash activity that is before washing and conditioning.
Benefits of pre-pooing the hair range from preventing hygral fatigue to lessening the drying effects of shampoo.
I have hair that tends to get dry, so I always incorporate pre-pooing in my wash day routine.
Oil is one of the most common ingredients used for pre-pooing.
You can mix coconut oil with other oils and use the mixture as a pre-poo treatment.
Wet your hair and apply the oil mixture from the scalp to the ends of your hair while massaging your scalp.
You can rinse off the pre-poo oil mixture after an hour.
As a natural detangler
Coconut oil has an amazing consistency, making it a great detangler for curly hair that tends to get tangled.
All you need to do is to wet your hair with a bit of water, rub a few drops of coconut oil all over the ends of your hair, and comb it or finger detangle.
It’s best to use wide-toothed combs rather than brushes (major no-no!) to make sure your hair doesn’t get damaged.
As a quick frizz tamer
If you find your hair dry and frizzy, worry not!
Coconut oil can also save you from dryness and frizz.
As with a detangler, all you need to do is to get some coconut oil and apply it all over your curls.
Make sure not to use too much oil, since your hair will end up looking oily and greasy!
A few drops should do the trick – you’ll get frizz-free hair looking radiant and healthy in no time!
But, this comes with a caveat!
If you want to use coconut oil to help you in taming the frizz before styling your hair, make sure to keep the temperature of your blow dryer or flat iron lower than 350 degrees.
Any more than that and you’ll risk cooking the coconut oil (and consequently your hair) which can cause more damage.
It may be better then to use coconut oil as a quick remedy to tame your frizz, rather than as a prep for hair styling.
As a booster shampoo or conditioner
Some of the best hair products have coconut oil in them for moisturization benefits.
However, finding the right shampoo for you can already be difficult on its own; so if you have hair products you already swear by, you can opt to simply add a few drops of coconut oil to them instead!
To harness the benefits of coconut oil alongside your favorite shampoo or conditioner, just add a little bit of coconut oil in them for a better, deeper moisturizing effect.
You may also opt to simply rub a bit of coconut oil on top of your hair after shampoo and conditioning, leave it on for a few minutes, and then rinse.
As dandruff treatment
To use coconut oil for dandruff, simply rub a few drops of coconut oil on the affected areas of the scalp.
Leave this on for up to 10 – 20 minutes, then rinse off with warm water.
How to apply coconut oil to hair
Merely using coconut oil on the hair is enough to turn it from dull and brittle to shiny and healthy.
But what if we told you there’s actually a secret technique to maximizing the effects of coconut oil for the hair?
Since extra virgin coconut oil is solid at room temperature, you should warm it up to make it easily applicable to the hair.
Thirty seconds or less in the microwave can do the trick – make sure it’s warm, and not boiling hot, though!
Experts recommend applying coconut hair at night, rather than in the morning.
If you are using coconut oil as a sealant or to increase the hair’s luster, you’re better off using it in the evening.
It can end up making the hair greasy – and you wouldn’t want to get oil on everything that your hair gets into contact with!
It’s best to apply coconut oil after your evening shower; and if you plan on using it as an overnight treatment, then keep it in the hair for the night and rinse it in the morning.
Section your hair
It’s advisable to section your hair when applying the oil.
This ensures that you focus on one part of your hair at a time, ensuring it’s covered with just the right amount of oil.
From experience, it’s good to apply the oil from the scalp moving towards your oldest hair- the ends.
You can apply a little bit more oil on the ends since they usually bear the brunt of hair dryness.
How long do you leave coconut oil in your hair?
The amount of time you leave coconut oil in your hair depends on your purpose for using it.
If you are using it as a hair mask or pre-poo, you can stay with it overnight.
It might be best to start doing this with caution, say, once a week at first, and then gradually increase usage if you find it doesn’t have any negative effects on your hair.
If you are using the coconut oil as a scalp treatment for dandruff, 20 minutes should be enough for the scalp to soak it up and reap its benefits.
When using coconut oil for quick fixes such as detangling and taming frizz, you can use it daily but small amounts.
If you have low porosity hair, I’d advise you to use coconut oil for things like detangling and scalp treatment for dandruff.
This is because it can be washed out after a few minutes.
To avoid suffering from dryness or worse still, getting flakes, don’t use it as a sealant.
Using it as a sealant means you have to leave it in your hair for extended periods of time.
If your hair is overly porous or of normal porosity, you can use coconut oil without any worries on whether it’ll cause dryness and brittleness.
All in all, coconut oil is a great, cost-effective fix for curly hair.
There are many different ways you can add it to your hair routine, so just pick one that works best for you and stick with it!
However, certain care must still be practiced when using coconut oil, so if you experience adverse effects or irritation, make sure to discontinue use and perhaps consider other oils instead.