By Jai Soots
Championed for its health benefits as a superfood, coconut oil is also an amazing beauty hack. A safe, plant-based ingredient, organic coconut oil meets NVBL standards and is actually one of the best natural hair products you might already have at home.
How is coconut oil made?
Coconut oil is extracted from the meat of the coconut through the following methods: centrifuge, expeller-pressed, cold-pressed, or chemical extraction.
Centrifuge: A centrifuge rapidly spins the coconut meat, separating it from the oil with no additional processing.
Expeller-pressed: The oil is separated from dry coconut meat, or copra, by heating then pressing, followed by further heating or steaming to remove flavor and odor. It may be bleached to remove additional impurities.
Cold-pressed: Through this process, the oil is extracted through a press, but the temperature remains much lower than the expeller-pressed. Cold-pressed coconut oil is less processed overall and is not exposed to high heat which can break down beneficial nutrients.
- Chemical Extraction: The use of harsh solvents to refine coconut oil is an inexpensive, industrial method of manufacturing coconut oil. Definitely avoid coconut oil made by this process.
Refined vs. Virgin– What to look forRefined coconut oil has been significantly processed to remove the smell and taste. Additionally, it is made from dried, rather than fresh coconuts. If you are averse to the coconut scent, look for steam refined oil and check the label to ensure the manufacturer doesn’t use harsh chemicals.
Virgin coconut oil is made from fresh coconuts and typically involves less processing and heat to retain its coconutty smell and taste. Studies suggest that virgin coconut oil may offer increased antioxidant benefits. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals that damage cells and prevent diseases.
Which coconut oil is best for hair?The coconut oil you are most likely to find at your local grocer is cold-pressed or expeller-pressed. Look for organic, virgin (there’s no difference between virgin and extra virgin), and cold-pressed or unrefined coconut oil. Essentially, you want coconut oil that is minimally processed.
Virgin coconut oil that has been cold-pressed, made without hexane, and never deodorized or bleached makes the best natural hair product. Keep an eye out for brands that are forthcoming about their processing methods and business practices. Companies that are transparent, sustainably-minded, and fair trade certified are going to be your best options.
Naturally nourishing propertiesColoring, styling, and winter weather can cause hair to become dry, brittle, and prone to breakage. Using coconut oil as a hair mask can restore luster and even offer benefits that may strengthen hair and nourish a dry or irritated scalp over time. Here are some of the incredible benefits:
Moisturizing: Hair is made of proteins, with an inner and outer cuticle. If you look at your hair under a microscope, you can see that each strand has overlapping scales. When those scales crack or lift up from heat, styling techniques, or chemicals, it leads to damage. Keeping the cuticle of the hair shaft smooth and hydrated helps prevent breakage.
Penetrating: When you take a shower, the keratin-rich protein layers of your hair's inner cuticle swell, causing the outer cuticle to open and become vulnerable to damage. The relatively small molecules of coconut oil can deeply penetrate the hair shaft and act as a water barrier, protecting your hair.
Itch relief: Thanks to its antimicrobial, antibacterial and hydrating properties, coconut oil may offer relief from eczema and other scalp conditions.
Why a hair mask?
Studies show that coconut oil penetrates hair most (about 70%) in the first hour after being applied to damp hair. We recommend leaving the mask on for a minimum of 10 minutes. However, coconut oil continues to be absorbed for about 7 hours, so you are welcome to try this as an overnight hair treatment.
Make our favorite coconut hair mask
Restore your natural shine and tame frizz in 6 easy steps:
- Place a towel over your shoulders to protect clothes. Hair and scalp should be slightly damp. Spritz with a spray bottle if necessary.
- Scoop about 2 Tbsp of organic virgin coconut oil into a clean, dry dish. You may need to adjust the amount based on hair length. If the oil is solid, warm in the palm of your hand until liquid.
- Start application at the ends, or driest sections of your hair, and work your way up until hair is evenly covered.
- Leave for 10-60 minutes. (A shower cap may come in handy.)
- Rinse with warm water. Shampoo and condition as usual. A second shampoo may be desirable. The oil will prevent the shampoo from lathering as much as you may be accustomed to on the first wash.
- Any leftover oil may be applied to damp, towel dried hair before styling. Spray Oway Glamshine Cloud oil if you’re looking for extra sheen.
Add a coconut oil mask to your hair care routine just once-a-week for smoother strands and curls. Although people with dry or damaged locks will most benefit from this rich and moisturizing hair treatment, it is a wonderful treat for any hair type.
We love this convenient and cost-effective DIY method, but if you’re looking for the ultimate organic hair treatment, specific to your hair type, check out our favorite nourishing hair masks by Oway and Rahua.