The Benefits of Coconut Oil for Hair

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For centuries, women in tropical regions where coconut palms grow naturally have been using coconut oil to care for their hair. The result is hair that is notable for its luster and fullness. Today, scientific research is uncovering plenty of evidence that this natural oil not only enhances the appearance of hair but also promotes its healthy growth and development.

Prevents and Repairs Damage

Indian researchers at Mumbai’s Marico Industries’ Nature Care Division looked closely at how hair treated with mineral, sunflower and coconut oils resisted the damage caused by combing. Their study, published in the March/April 2003 issue of the "Journal of Cosmetic Science," covered both damaged and undamaged hair to see how it responded to treatment with the three different oils. For the purposes of the study, each of the oils was used as both a pre-wash and post-wash conditioner. Coconut oil was the only one of the three to significantly reduce protein loss in both damaged and undamaged hair.

Adds Shine and Luster

Bruce Fife, a naturopathic doctor and author of “Coconut Cures: Preventing and Treating Common Health Problems with Coconut,” writes that regular use of coconut oil gives hair a “shine and healthy luster” while also enhancing its natural color. He also points out that coconut oil promotes scalp health and helps to prevent dandruff. To get these and other benefits of this healthy oil, Fife recommends the following hair treatment. Take 1 to 2 teaspoons of oil and massage it thoroughly into the scalp. Completely coat the hair and scalp with the oil without letting it become dripping wet. Leave the oil in for at least 15 minutes and for an hour or more if time permits. Once you have given the oil time to work its magic on your hair and scalp, wash thoroughly to remove all traces of oil.

Reduces Scalp Inflammation

There is no evidence that coconut oil can cure male-pattern baldness. However, coconut oil -- on its own or in combination with other substances -- may help you hold onto the hair you’ve got a little longer. Scalp inflammations, which may manifest as seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff, can speed the process of hair loss, particularly for those with male-pattern baldness. Raymond Teets, M.D., an integrative family medicine physician, outlines his recipe for an herbal remedy to reduce such scalp inflammation: Mix 10 parts coconut oil with one part rosemary essential oil, and massage 1 teaspoon of the mixture into your scalp nightly.