Why Are Hair Experts Cuckoo for Coconut Oil?
I’m researching a hair story for a national magazine, and the experts I’ve been interviewing keep waxing poetic on the healthy-hair benefits of coconut oil. (To clarify, they’re not advocating you eat food cooked in coconut oil, though that’s not a bad idea. Rather, most are suggesting you slather it on like a VO5 hot oil treatment.) My stylist Nunzio Saviano has been touting the benefits of coconut oil for a few years, so its accolades are not new(s) to me. But, given that several experts offered up coconut oil as a “surprising” source of good-hair health, it seems word is not getting out...
So, why is coconut oil good for your hair? For starters, it offers all the hydrating benefits of, say, olive oil, but is lighter and far easier to rinse out, making it appropriate for all types, even those with very fine strands. It’s also anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, so, when massaged into the scalp, it deep-cleans and helps remove buildup there (this is especially beneficial if you’re someone who goes days...and days between shampoos).
Nunzio once told me that his clients who use coconut oil as a deep treatment at least once a week swear they see stronger, more robust hair growth. I have no scientific proof to back up this claim, but it does make sense that a healthy scalp equals healthy hair follicles...which equals healthier new-hair growth.
As I write this, my hair is coated in coconut oil. I prefer to apply it as a pre-shampoo treatment, scooping it straight from the jar in its Crisco-like natural state. My routine is to leave it on for about about a half-hour, then get in the shower and shampoo and condition like usual. If you prefer a more VO5-like, liquidy consistency, you can also nuke a quarter cup of solid coconut oil in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, then massage it into your hair and scalp (either way works fine, I just find the liquid rather messy to apply).
So why is coconut oil any more hydrating than a deep conditioner you buy at the salon or drugstore? It’s not, necessarily. But it is completely natural (a bonus if clean beauty is something you care about)—plus it’s considerably less expensive than any comparable hair hydrator you'd buy at the salon or Sephora. Note: I'm not saying to stop using a luxe deep conditioner you love (I'm certainly not giving up mine); I'm just letting you know that coconut oil may be an effective, crazy-affordable, occasional alternative.
So there you have it. Word’s out now. Already using coconut oil as a beauty staple? Let me know how you like it at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or tell us all in the Comments below.