Is your hair looking a little lackluster these days? You may have heard that coconut oil can help with that — but is it true or just another internet myth?

While coconut oil stops short of being a magical hair growth elixir, it does have a host of benefits that make it worth adding to your hair care routine. Here’s everything we know about coconut oil for hair.

Coconut oil and your hair

Your hair can absorb coconut oil, making the oil an extra nourishing natural hair care option. It can be used as a deep conditioner, deep cleaner, detangler, heat protectant, and lice treatment. It may also help with dandruff control and hair growth.

A little goes a long way, too — so a single jar can provide you with lots of good hair days.

Was this helpful?
coconut oil for hairShare on Pinterest
Marc Tran/Stocksy United

Coconut oil is unique in that it’s able to penetrate the shaft of the hair. Because of this, it can strengthen hair, prevent hair loss, and reduce split ends. The end result: hair that appears thicker and more voluminous.

It’s also totally natural, easy to use and find, and less expensive than many high end hair products that provide similar benefits.

And speaking of benefits…

Want flowy, bouncy, shiny, sleek hair? Time to raid your pantry. Here are some of the benefits and uses of coconut oil for your hair.

  • Deep conditioning. Coconut oil is extra conditioning and makes a perfect deep conditioning treatment a few times per month.
  • Deep cleaning. Coconut oil may help cleanse the buildup of natural oil and hair products at your roots.
  • Dandruff control. The moisturizing, anti-inflammatory qualities of coconut oil may help with stubborn dandruff. It’s also antifungal.
  • Detangling. Got a super-stubborn knot? Massage some coconut oil into the hair to make it easier to brush out the knot without damaging your hair.
  • Shine. Just a tiny bit of coconut oil can add some shine to dull hair without making it look greasy.
  • Heat protection. Pre-treating your hair with coconut oil prior to heat-styling may help protect your hair from heat damage.
  • Lice treatment. Surprisingly, it’s also a pretty great home remedy for lice.
  • Hair growth. While there’s not much evidence to suggest that coconut oil makes your hair grow longer (we can dream though, right?), it does help foster the healthy environment your scalp needs to stimulate growth.

Also, it smells like a tropical vacation. What’s better than that?

Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so you’ll need to prep it a little bit to make it easier to work into your hair.

Scoop a dollop into a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 10-second increments until the oil is softened, but not hot. (We’re trying to condition, not deep fry.)

Alternatively, you can rub some room-temp coconut oil in your hands until it melts. Then, choose your desired benefit and apply accordingly:

  • Deep-conditioning hair mask. Apply coconut oil generously to hair from root-to-tip and let sit for 30 minutes. Try wrapping your hair in a towel after application to lock in moisture and avoid making a mess. Next, shampoo and rinse the oil out. Mask hair up to once a week.
  • Detangling. Gently work a small amount of coconut oil into the knot, being careful not to break the hair or rip through the knot. Then, gently work the knot out with a detangling brush or comb.
  • Heat protection. Apply a small amount of coconut oil to damp hair before blow-drying, or a thin amount to dry hair before heat styling. As coconut oil is a natural heat protectant, it can help reduce damage from flat irons and other hot tools.
  • Shine. Take a small dab of coconut oil and brush or comb into hair, being careful to avoid your scalp and roots so it doesn’t look greasy.
  • Lice. Generously apply coconut oil to your hair, then cover your hair with a shower cap overnight to kill the lice and brush them out with a fine-toothed comb.

Healthy hair starts from the inside. Give your body what it needs and practice a few hair maintenance habits, and you’ll be on your way to Rapunzel-like locks. Here are a few more ways to unlock healthy locks:

  • Take your vitamins. Keeping your body stocked on essential nutrients like vitamins A, B, C, D, and E will support all the processes that maintain healthy hair (we’re talking growth, cell regeneration, and sebum production — aka oil, which keeps hair shiny and luscious). You can reach for supplements targeted at hair growth or take a daily multivitamin. Just remember to consult with your doctor before starting any new supplements.
  • Stop stressing. We know it’s easier said than done, but stress really does have a physical impact. Chronic stress might even affect your hair. Take the time to prioritize self-care and remove any unnecessary stressors from your life. You’ll reap the rewards inside and out.
  • Scalp massage. Daily scalp massage may help stimulate your hair follicles to promote hair growth (ever wonder why they do it at the salon?). It can also help you unwind. Work this into your routine by massaging your scalp for 30 to 60 seconds each time you shampoo. Not into finger work? Invest in a scalp massager!
  • Eat a balanced diet. Remember our supplement talk? The food you eat provides the raw materials your body needs to keep your hair healthy. Reach for fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein to keep hair strong and lustrous.

Hair loss a concern? Don’t be afraid to call your healthcare professional. There are over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medication options to support hair growth. Your doc can help you come up with a treatment plan that works for you.

Should I use refined or unrefined coconut oil?

First, let’s talk about what refined and unrefined coconut oil are. Unrefined coconut oil is minimally processed, with a strong coconut scent and flavor. Refined coconut oil, on the other hand, goes through extra processing to give it a neutral flavor.

So, if you’re not a fan of the scent, go with refined coconut oil, as it will still provide many of the benefits. However, for the true coconut oil experience (and to be sure you’re getting every bit of coconut goodness on your hair), stick with unrefined coconut oil.

Should I use coconut oil in my hair daily?

It’s up to you, and it depends on your hair. If you have really dry hair, giving it a little bit of coconut oil on the daily may be just what it needs.

However, most people probably don’t need to use coconut oil in their hair more than two or three times a week, tops.

What if it makes my hair greasy?

If coconut oil is making your hair look greasy, here are some troubleshooting tips:

  • Use less. You really don’t need much, but it can be really easy to get overzealous with the oil, leaving your hair looking greasy and weighed down.
  • Use it less often. Using it on the daily? Cut back to once every day. If that’s still too much, see how you do with applying coconut oil just once or twice a week.
  • Don’t apply it to your scalp. Avoid your scalp and roots to keep your hair from looking greasy, and be sure to give your hands a wash before you start running your fingers through your hair. (Trust, you’re gonna want to.)
  • Apply it pre-shampoo. If your hair is prone to getting greasy fast, then do all the tips listed above AND apply it in the shower like a hair mask. Let it sit for a few minutes, then shampoo it out.

Coconut oil can totally help you make #HairGoals a reality. It can be used for deep conditioning, adding shine, protecting against heat damage from straighteners and blow dryers, and more. And it’s super moisturizing and smells AMAZING. It’s definitely earned a permanent spot on our bathroom counter.