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How Coconut Oil Can Strengthen Hair, Reverse Thinning and More — For Pennies!

The affordable kitchen staple works better than pricey products to treat aging hair

You’ve probably heard about the impressive things coconut oil can do when it comes to everything from skin care to gum health and weight loss benefits. And it’s also long been hailed as a hair care hero. Case in point: Dana Ionato, a colorist at Sally Hershberger NoMad Salon in New York City, who’s worked with Jennifer Lopez and Scarlett Johansson, calls coconut oil a “miracle product” for hair. Thanks to beauty influencers on TikTok, applying the natural ingredient to hair has gone viral recently as videos tagged with #coconutoilforhair have over 30 million views. And this is all good news for your wallet as a 16-ounce jar of coconut oil costs about $8 on average, and will last you for more than a month. But maybe you’ve never used the oil on your hair before and are curious: does coconut oil strengthen hair?. If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place! Read on for all you need to know about using coconut oil to strengthen, thicken and just generally make hair and scalp healthier.

Bottle-of-coconut-oil-and-fresh-coconuts-with-palm-leaf-on-wooden-board-over-brown-background
Inna Dodor/Shutterstock

Does coconut oil strengthen hair?

The short answer: Yes. Stephanie Angelone, a hairstylist at RPZL in New York City says coconut oil is one of the most beneficial things for your hair (and your skin, too). “It has natural fatty acids in it and proteins, which make it a versatile product that I recommend to every client.” Ionato agrees, saying “not only does it make your hair healthier, it prevents protein loss and penetrates deep into your hair cortex.”

This is beneficial for hair that’s become thinner and weaker with age, especially for those dealing with thinning. While hair loss can be caused by a number of reasons, a decline in protein is a factor. So adding protein back to hair in the form of coconut oil strengthens hair from the inside-out to limit fallout.

5 more hair benefits of coconut oil

Now that we’ve covered does coconut oil strengthen hair, you’ll be happy to hear more ways the oil treats hair.

1. Coconut oil repairs dry, damaged hair

The fatty acid lauric acid makes coconut oil a great remedy for treating overly dry and damaged hair, according to Ionato. That’s because this acid deeply hydrates parched strands to lock in moisture long-term. And it also mends damage at the cellular level of hair, which is common after frequently using hot tools and chemical hair treatments.

2. It improves scalp health

A healthy scalp equals healthy hair and coconut oil does just that. The oil hydrates scalp skin to ward off inflammation and flakes. And if your scalp is oily, applying the oil thwarts excess oil production that can clog hair follicles and cause shedding.

3. Coconut oil tames frizz and flyaways

Coconut oil reduces frizz and flyaways by lightly coating the hair shaft and smoothing out hair’s cuticle.

4. It makes hair healthier

The added moisture provided by coconut oil’s lauric acid gives hair a healthy sheen.

Related: Dull Hair Over 50? Not Anymore! These Easy Tips Add Shine, Strength and Bounce

Brunette woman brushing her hair after using a DIY coconut oil treatment
puhhha/Getty

DIY ways to use coconut oil for hair

Here, two ways Angelone and Ionato recommend using the oil on hair at home.

1. Use coconut oil as a hair mask

Apply coconut oil (preferably in solid form) to your hair. “Scoop it and massage it into your hair, or heat it up until it’s an oil [melted] and comb it through,” says Angelone. Tip: Ionato advises starting at the ends and working up to roots since ends are drier. Let sit for 15-20 minutes, then rinse with shampoo. Repeat once a week to maintain results.

Related: “I Tried Reverse Hair Washing and Was Shocked at How Thick My Hair Looks Now”

2. Use coconut oil as a leave-in spray

Add 1 Tbs. of coconut oil to a heat-safe bowl and warm in the microwave until melted. Then pour into a spray bottle filled with ¼ cup water; shake to combine. Lightly mist onto hair and let absorb.

Related: “I Tried the ‘Everything Shower’ Trend — and I Loved It!”

The best coconut oil for hair

While there many hair products with coconut oil (most contain synthetic coconut oil) in them on the market, Ionato doesn’t recommend them. “They’re triple the price of what you’ll find in the supermarket and they usually have the smallest amount of actual coconut oil in the ingredients.”

When picking a coconut oil from the grocery store, Ionato says to be aware that there are different versions: extra-virgin, virgin, refined or unrefined coconut oil. “The main differences are really for cooking, but I recommend getting unrefined coconut oil,” she says. The reason why? It has the most fat in it that deeply moisturizes hair. This is especially beneficial for those with straight, fine hair as strands are often too weak to accept protein from your conditioner, she says. “You need to get things to penetrate and coconut oil’s lauric acid has that capability without breaking your hair or causing further damage.” One she recommends: Spectrum Essentials Organic Virgin Coconut Oil (Buy from iHerb, $8.70).

Check out the below video from YouTuber and trichologist-in-training Abbey Yung to learn more tips and tricks for using coconut oil on hair.


For more on how natural oils can help hair health, click through these stories:

This $14 Oil Can Promote Healthy Hair Growth, Add Shine, and Nix Grays

Does Castor Oil Really Improve Hair Growth? Here’s What You Need To Know

Slugging: This New Spin on an Old Hack Hydrates Hair Like Nothing Else — For Pennies!

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