Is bad hair day becoming a regular issue for you these days? Try resolving your hair issues with a coconut oil treatment.
While environmental damage is inevitable, the inclusion of natural hairfall solutions is a great way to ensure healthy tresses. Rich in tocopherols, lauric acid and a variety of phenolic compounds, coconut oil is an ancient remedy for damaged hair.
Read on to know the various hair benefits of coconut oil and the best ways to effectively use it.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
“Coconut is a Keshya: rasayana for hair. Coconut nourishes the hair, makes it stronger, shinier and thicker. It balances Pitta, the primary dosha responsible for hair fall and graying.”
Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor Of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
Does Coconut Oil Help In Hair Growth?
The use of coconut oil for hair hails down from the ancient ages. Used popularly for healthy hair, body and skin, the essential fatty acids in virgin coconut oil have many benefits. It improves hair follicle health, keeps your scalp free from dandruff and infections, softens your hair texture and protects it from heat damage.
Herbal formulations with coconut oil are documented in the age-old Ayurvedic texts. As per sage Sushruta, ‘Narikela taila’ or coconut oil, has immense therapeutic benefits, both for one’s internal and external health. It:
- Pacifies the Pitta dosha and acts as a cooling agent for the body and scalp. It forms the base of various Ayurvedic formulations used in the treatment of inflammation and irritation.
- Effectively balances the Vata dosha, an excess of which causes dryness, split ends and hair loss.
- Stimulates new hair growth
- Accelerates wound healing
- Treats conditions like diabetes, diseases of the urinary tract, etc.
- Promotes healthy Kapha that keeps your skin and hair nourished.
- Improves immunity
As per Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix, “Coconut is a Keshya: rasayana for hair. Coconut nourishes the hair, makes it stronger, shinier and thicker. Coconut balances Pitta, the primary dosha responsible for hair fall and graying.”
The Ayurvedic characteristics of coconut oil are,
Heavy and oily in nature
Effect On Tridosha
Balances the Vata and Pitta doshas. Increases Kapha
There are about 8 different types of coconut oil characterized as per the extraction process. Amongst these, unrefined, virgin, cold-pressed and non-hydrogenated oils are the best for your hair and health. Avoid refined and partially or fully hydrogenated coconut oils as they contain more saturated fats and are low on phenolic compounds.
Benefits Of Using Coconut Oil In Your Hair
1. Promotes Hair Growth
Malnutrition, environmental aggressions, heat styling and harsh brushing can all inflict damage and affect the rate of your hair growth. Coconut oil is a natural source of tocopherols (vitamin E) , essential fatty acids and about 16 phenolic compounds  such as flavonoids, myricetin, quercetin  and others. It can significantly improve follicle health, stimulate new hair growth and increase the length of your hair shaft.
2. Prevents Frizz And Split Ends
Coconut oil is a rich source of both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Amongst these, lauric acid is present in abundance along with palmitic, stearic and linoleic acid. It helps soften frizzy hair, repair split ends, seal the cuticle layer and trap in essential moisture. This helps condition rough, damaged hair and prevent hair breakage.
3. Prevents Protein Loss
Your hair is mainly made up of a protein called keratin. Regular washes with harsh surfactants, heat and chemical treatments can cause loss of protein, making the hair fragile, thin and prone to breakage. When compared to sunflower oil or mineral oil, coconut oil effectively reduces hair protein loss  in both pre-wash and post-wash treated hair.
Coconut oil’s light molecular formula and the presence of lauric acid make way for easy penetration into the hair shaft. This helps strengthen the cuticle layer and protects the inner layers of cortex and medulla of your hair.
4. Treats Dandruff
From an Ayurvedic point of view, coconut oil pacifies the main doshas of Vata (causes dry scalp and flaking) and Pitta (leads to inflammation and itching). These doshas are responsible for dandruff.
Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides . Along with vitamin E,  these have an anti-inflammatory effect on the scalp and help reduce dandruff and other inflammatory conditions such as dermatitis.
5. Prevents Sun Damage
According to research, coconut oil has an SPF value of 8, which is comparatively higher than other oils such as castor, almond, sesame and mustard oil. This makes coconut oil a natural sun-blocker that can help prevent sun damage when applied to hair.
6. Prevents Scalp Infections
Bacterial and fungal infections of the scalp such as folliculitis, ringworm and others can easily be treated with coconut oil and its formulations. Coconut oil is reported to have anti-bacterial  and antifungal  properties and works effectively against resistant strains of microbes.
7. Kills Head Lice
A study conducted on Israelite children revealed that about 15-20% of the age group between 4 to 13 years have experienced head lice infestations. When tested on various children from different schools in Israel, a natural remedy formulated with coconut oil, ylang ylang oil and anise oil proved to be more effective in treating head lice than a recognized pesticide spray.
8. May Treat Alopecia
A research conducted in 2010 on the effects of tocotrienol (a type of vitamin E) on hair growth in human volunteers showed an increase in hair numbers in those suffering from hair loss. This was mainly due to vitamin E’s antioxidant properties that effectively reduced oxidative stress-related hair-fall.
Thus, coconut oil which contains about 0.20 mg vitamin E/ 100 gms, can be used as a combination treatment with other keshya (hair benefitting) herbs to treat alopecia.
9. May Prevent Hair Greying
According to Ayurveda, an aggravation of the Pitta dosha is the main cause of premature hair greying. Coconut oil’s Pitta pacifying abilities can help delay the appearance of grey hair with regular use.
How To Use Coconut Oil For Hair Growth?
A. As A Hot Oil Treatment
Take a sufficient amount of coconut oil as per the length of your hair in a small glass bowl. Place this bowl in hot water to heat the oil. Once the oil is hot enough, apply it to clean hair that has been combed. Gently massage onto your scalp and through the length of your hair. Secure your hair in a bun and cover it with a shower cap or a warm moist towel for better absorption. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing off.
You can add herbs like amla, triphala, hibiscus or curry leaf powder to your hot oil treatment for better hair health.
B. As A Hair Mask
1. To use coconut oil for hair growth, add 1 tablespoon each of bhringraj and amla powders to 2-3 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil. Mix well and apply onto your scalp and throughout your hair. Leave it on for 30 to 40 minutes and wash off.
2. To treat grey hair with coconut oil, mildly heat the oil in an iron kadai and add a tablespoon of black sesame seeds to it. Cover and soak it overnight. In the morning, strain the oil and add 1 tablespoon each of hibiscus and amla powders to it. Mix well and massage onto your scalp and hair. Leave it on for an hour and wash off.
3. For silky, frizz-free tresses, add1 ½ tablespoons of yogurt to a bowl. To this add an egg, 1 tablespoon of ripe avocado paste and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Mix well and apply on your hair and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes before washing off.
C. As Conditioner And Serum
Aloe vera and coconut oil can be combined to form a great hair serum or conditioner for dry, damaged hair. For conditioning, mix coconut oil and aloe vera gel in equal quantities and apply onto washed, damp hair. Cover with a shower cap and leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes and rinse off.
To use as a serum or leave-in conditioner, add a few drops of coconut oil to a tablespoon of aloe vera gel and apply through the length of your hair.
Does Coconut Oil Have Any Negative Effects On Hair?
“Coconut oil should be used with caution by people who are sensitive to cold / sinus conditions,” says Dr Zeel. The cold, heavy, unctuous nature of coconut oil is known to increase Kapha. Hence, those experiencing oily scalp issues or having Kapha prakriti (body constitution) must use coconut oil in moderation.
Coconut oil is also comedogenic, so massaging a small amount of oil is preferred to prevent oil build-ups and pore-clogging on your scalp. Too much oil can also make your hair feel limp and greasy.
Tips For Using Coconut Oil In Your Hair Care
1. Preheat coconut oil and massage onto the scalp and hair before shampoo, for a nourishing hot oil treatment and to prevent protein loss.
2. Apply a small quantity to avoid greasy hair.
3. Add Ayurvedic herbs as per your hair type to keep your doshas in balance.
4. Rub a small quantity of coconut oil after washing your hair to prevent frizz and split ends.
5. Apply coconut oil before heat styling or stepping outside, to protect your hair from heat or sun damage.
Frequently Asked Questions About Coconut Oil For Hair
1. Which Coconut Oil Is Best For Hair?
Coconut oil prepared from fresh coconuts rather than from copra is more nutrient-dense and beneficial for hair growth. Look out for terms such as cold-pressed, virgin and certified organic coconut oil on the label before making your purchase.
These terms indicate that the oil has not gone through the various levels of processing that strip off its essential fatty acids, phenols and other nutrients. Coconut oil can also be made at home from fresh coconut milk, as it is as good as virgin coconut oil.
2. How Long Should You Leave Coconut Oil In Your Hair?
This will depend on your hair type and the condition you seek treatment for. For dry to normal hair, leaving coconut oil for a few hours is fine. However, for an oily scalp, wash the oil off after 15 to 30 minutes of application. Ayurveda also does not encourage leaving coconut oil on the scalp overnight especially if you are prone to Kapha-related health issues such as cold, bronchitis, asthma etc.
3. Can You Use Coconut Oil On Your Hair Everyday?
A small quantity of coconut oil can be applied to hair every day to battle dryness, breakage, infections and UV ray damage. However, remember coconut oil is heavy and comedogenic, so keep your scalp clean to prevent excess oily conditions.
The Last Word
Coconut oil has been used as a hair therapy for ages. Its antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and UV ray protecting abilities help minimize the chances of scalp infection and stimulate new hair growth. While coconut oil is suitable for all hair types, it is always advisable to consult your Ayurvedic doctor to know the correct dose and herb additions that will holistically enhance your hair health.Know Your Dosha Now
1. Tocopherols And Phytosterols Content Of Coconut Oil Blends Prepared For Coconut Oil Consumers And Non Coconut Oil Consumers, 2010 August
2. Other Common And Exotic Foods With Growing Importance As Antidiabetic Agents, 2019
3. Quercitrin Stimulates Hair Growth With Enhanced Expression Of Growth Factors Via Activation Of MAPK/ CREB Signalling Pathway, 2020 September
4. Effect Of Mineral Oil, Sunflower Oil, And Coconut Oil On Prevention Of Hair Damage, 2003 March-April
5. Fish Oil-Based Injectable Lipid Emulsions Containing Medium-Chain Triglycerides Or Added ɑ-tocopherol Offer Anti-Inflammatory Benefits In A Murine Model Of Parenteral Nutrition-Induced Liver Injury, 2019 April
6. The Anti-Inflammatory Role Of Vitamin E In Prevention Of Osteoporosis, 2011 November
7. Comparison Of Antibacterial Efficacy Of Coconut Oil And Chlorhexidine On Streptococcus Mutans: An In Vivo Study, 2016 September-October
8. In Vitro Antimicrobial Properties Of Coconut Oil On Candida Species In Ibadan, Nigeria, 2007 June
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