Coconut oil is an extremely versatile oil. It is one of few natural oils that can be found in kitchen cabinets for culinary use as well as bathroom cabinets where it serves as a skincare or hair care product.
For hair, it is named as one of the most effective natural oils for regrowth and thickening of hair. There are so many great things said about it, one wouldn’t be blamed for wondering if all the praise is indeed merited. Many have dismissed it as just another passing fad.
Read on for answers as to whether coconut oil does help regrow and thicken hair and more importantly, why. What is it about coconut oil that makes it so great for hair growth?
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Prevents damage from daily grooming
As long as there is some hair on your head, you cannot get away from basic grooming. It must be washed, combed, and perhaps styled to keep yourself looking presentable.
These processes take a toll on your hair mainly by damaging the cuticle (the tough, protective external layer of hair), leaving the fibrous proteins exposed and unprotected.
Coconut oil works its magic by providing a barrier that prevents potential damage and breakage. Its protective ability is attributed to a unique chemical structure consisting of a medium-chain fatty acid called lauric acid which gives it a lengthy, straight structure, which makes it easily absorbed into the hair shaft.
Other oils such as sunflower oil are not as protective because they contain linoleic acid which has a bulkier structure so it is not as easily absorbed.
When it comes to moisturization, coconut oil benefits both scalp skin and hair.
Scalp moisturization and antimicrobial properties
It keeps the scalp well hydrated thus preventing itching. You may be wondering how itching affects hair growth. Well, excessive itching could cause one to damage their scalp skin. Scarring from such damage slows hair growth and in some instances stops it altogether.
When scalp irritation is caused by dandruff or bacteria, coconut oil helps to curb the growth of fungus or bacteria to give room for continued hair growth. This is thanks to lauric acid (about 47%) which is considered the best source of antimicrobial properties in the skincare industry.
Your hair needs moisturization too.
According to NaturalAll, the secret to hair growth and long hair is a combination of two factors. Actual growth and length retention. Moisturizing is necessary for the latter because hair requires moisture to retain its elasticity. Without elasticity, it easily breaks when combing so it never gets longer.
Dry hair is also more prone to tangling which almost always ends up in breakage.
Rich in vitamin E
Coconut oil is generally associated with vitamin E. It does contain significant amounts of this vitamin but what makes it great for hair growth?
Firstly, vitamin E contains natural antioxidants which help to reduce oxidative stress and free radicals which are often behind the breakdown of hair follicle cells.
Secondly, this vitamin helps to increase capillary circulation in the scalp which in turn increases hair growth. In fact, this is how Minoxidil, a popular hair growth medication, works but with a much stronger effect.
Natural UV protection
When you think of UV protection the first thing that comes to mind is sunscreen to protect your skin from the harmful effects of sun rays. But sun protection shouldn’t stop at your hairline. Your scalp (despite being covered by hair), and hair are also at risk of sun damage.
UVA and UVB rays damage scalp skin just like they would skin on any other part of your body. On hair, they damage the cuticle, the outermost protective layer of the hair which leaves the softer inner parts of the shaft exposed and susceptible to damage.
Coconut oil is one of a few natural oils which have been found to have sun protection ability. According to various experts, it has a sun protection factor (SPF) of about 5. It must be noted, however, that this amount of sun protection is nowhere near enough. If you want to go all-natural, you will need to reinforce it using other natural oils or a physical barrier such as a hat.
Other natural oils known for sun protection are raspberry seed oil, olive oil, and peppermint oil. These can be mixed into coconut oil for better sun protection.
How to Use Coconut Oil to Regrow Hair
There are more than a few ways to use coconut oil on hair. Each is determined by the purpose for which it is being applied.
For everyday hair and scalp moisturization, apply small amounts of oil on the scalp and rub lightly. Follow this with a light application on the hair strands after which it can be styled for the day.
As a treatment
For deep penetrating treatment, start by warming the oil by placing it over a hot water bath for a few minutes. Once it is warm, apply generous amounts on the scalp and hair strands then cover using a waterproof cap.
Leave it on for at least half an hour to allow the oil to penetrate sufficiently.
As sunscreen for hair
For homemade sunscreen, a small amount of coconut oil is mixed with other sun-protective oils such as jojoba oil, shea butter, and red raspberry seed oil. You could also add zinc oxide powder which is also known for sun protection, and beeswax to bulk the concoction.
As a swim cap
Before you head out to the pool or the beach, wet your hair using tap water then slap on some coconut oil. It provides a protective barrier that locks in moisture from the tap water and keeps out chlorine or salt which damages hair.
The verdict is in. Yes, coconut oil can help to regrow and thicken your hair. Its seemingly magical powers can be attributed to its ability to form a coating over scalp skin and hair strands, therefore creating a protective barrier against damaging agents.
Another strength is its unique chemical structure which makes it easy to absorb. Unlike other oils, it quickly penetrates deep into hair and scalp skin for better and longer-lasting nourishment.
We must mention that you may notice some shedding when you first start using coconut oil but it shouldn’t worry you. It is actually quite normal as the oil causes the hair that was already detached from the scalp to fall away.