12 Benefits of Coconut Oil for Hair

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

Coconut oil is popular and frequently preferred as hair oil around the world. But don’t take our word for it! Before you start using this oil for its many benefits, find out what makes it so special, and why millions of people choose to use it.

Those living in areas where coconuts grow in abundance, know that sweet-smelling coconut oil is their one and only hair oil. These are areas like the Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, Philippines, and parts of the Caribbean.

As per the USDA, coconut oil is rich in carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Coconut oil is not limited to hair; it is used in the preparation of cosmetic soaps and creams and is gaining popularity in various kinds of foods and salads worldwide. [1]

Benefits of Coconut Oil for Hair

Certain components of coconut oil keep the hair strong, nourished and protected from the effects of aging and damage. Let’s see what some of those benefits to hair are, and what components of coconut oil are responsible!

A bottle of coconut oil with coconut and green coconut leaves on a white background

The most-loved coconut oil Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Oil, coconut
Serving Size :
Water [g]0.03
Energy 892
Energy [kJ]3730
Total lipid (fat) [g]99.06
Ash [g]0.03
Calcium, Ca [mg]1
Iron, Fe [mg]0.05
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.02
Choline, total [mg]0.3
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.11
Tocopherol, beta [mg]0.6
Tocopherol, delta [mg]0.18
Tocotrienol, alpha [mg]2.17
Tocotrienol, beta [mg]0.13
Tocotrienol, gamma [mg]0.36
Tocotrienol, delta [mg]0.25
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0.6
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]82.48
4:0 [g]0.01
6:0 [g]0.48
8:0 [g]6.8
10:0 [g]5.39
12:0 [g]41.84
14:0 [g]16.65
15:0 [g]0.02
16:0 [g]8.64
17:0 [g]0.01
18:0 [g]2.52
20:0 [g]0.08
22:0 [g]0.02
24:0 [g]0.03
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]6.33
16:1 [g]0.02
16:1 c [g]0.02
18:1 [g]6.27
18:1 c [g]6.25
20:1 [g]0.04
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]1.7
18:2 [g]1.68
18:2 n-6 c,c [g]1.68
18:3 [g]0.02
18:3 n-3 c,c,c (ALA) [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0.03
Fatty acids, total trans-monoenoic [g]0.02
18:1 t [g]0.02
18:2 t not further defined [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total trans-polyenoic [g]0.01
Phytosterols [mg]86
Sources include : USDA [2]

Hair Loss

Coconut oil has been used since ancient times in India for grooming hair. According to the “Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History” by Victoria Sherrow, remedies were prepared using herbs and coconut oil to prevent hair loss. [3]

How to use:

  • One such remedy can be prepared in modern times by boiling sage leaves in coconut oil. This mixture can be applied to the scalp for hair care, and its use will also prevent hair loss.
  • Another Idea is applying a mixture of lime water and coconut oil can also provide relief from hair loss, as does the mixture of coconut oil and gooseberries. Boil the gooseberries in coconut oil and then apply it on the hair, according to “Nature’s Way: A Guide to Health Through Yoga and Herbal Remedies” by K.R.I. Jagadish. [4]

Hair Damage

According to a research study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science, the use of coconut oil on hair helps reduce protein loss in both damaged and undamaged hair. This oil is rich in lauric acid, has a high affinity for hair protein, and easily penetrates inside the hair shaft due to its low molecular weight. [5]

How to use: It can be applied to hair directly and used for both, pre-wash or post-wash hair grooming.

Cooling Properties

The application of coconut oil to the head and scalp also has a cooling effect. It can cool and soothe people with hotheads, or those who suffer from severe scalp sweating. This is a home remedy, as well as mentioned in the book “Ayurvedic Massage: Traditional Indian Techniques for Balancing Body and Mind” by Harish Johari. [6]

How to use: Coconut oil can be directly applied to the head and scalp and massaged as needed.

Moisture Retention

Coconut oil has high moisture retaining capacity as it is very stable and does not easily evaporate. It does not let moisture escape, thus keeping hair moist and soft, which prevents hair damage.

Hair Conditioning

According to “The Coconut Oil Miracle”, coconut oil is a wonderful conditioner for hair, arguable better than any synthetic ones available in the market. [7]

How to use:

  • The use of warm coconut oil helps in keeping hair shimmering and soft.
  • Apply some warm oil at night and wash your hair the next morning.
  • This can be repeated every few days for healthy, strong, and conditioned hair.

Dandruff Prevention

The various fatty acids present in coconut oil are thought to serve as very good anti-dandruff agents. Regular application of coconut oil can help you get rid of dandruff forever.

How to use:

  • Mix coconut oil with lukewarm water and castor oil. Massage the scalp and hair with this mixture for ideal results. This remedy is effective in treating or at least reducing dandruff.
  • Another home remedy for dandruff can be prepared by mixing coconut oil with sesame oil. Apply this mixture for about 30 minutes and then shampoo the hair. [8] [9]


Coconut oil can be a good styling oil for hair as well, as it melts on heating and then condenses when cooled. When you apply it to your hair, it thins and spreads evenly due to the heat of the scalp. Soon afterward, as the hair comes in contact with air, the oil on the hair condenses, thus working as a styling gel or cream.

How to use: Apply the oil directly on your hair to style it as needed.

Lice Protection

Coconut oil is considered to be a home remedy against lice and helps to get rid of these unwanted pests quickly. There are also commercial products made for this purpose, which are often very effective however contain harsh chemicals; coconut oil is a natural treatment used by many in the past.

How to use:

  • Apply a coat of coconut oil on wet hair
  • Comb the hair with a fine comb to remove the lice

Note: Combing wet hair with a fine comb directly may help get rid of lice, but may also cause hair damage.

Hair Care for Dry Hair

For people with dry hair that is rough and thin, taking good care of hair is a big concern. However, using strong hair care products for cleansing, toning, and conditioning may lead to a dry and flaky scalp. According to the text “Hair Care” by Dr. Renu Gupta, the use of coconut oil can be effective in taking care of this sort of dry hair. [10]

How to use: Regular application of coconut oil before washing or overnight helps to prevent dry hair.

Hair Toning

Coconut oil also helps in the toning of hair, especially dry hair.

How to use:

  • Apply a warm mixture of this oil and lavender essential oil on the scalp at night
  • Wash and rinse your hair the next morning.
  • You may repeat this as frequently as you want until you see your desired results.

Hair Conditioning

According to Dr. Renu Gupta text on hair care, hair conditioner can be easily prepared at home using coconut oil. It is not only effective but it also does not have any side effects. [11]

How to use:

  • Mix some henna with coconut oil and warm milk to make a paste.
  • Apply this to the hair for 20 minutes and then rinse hair properly. This hair conditioner is very effective, particularly for dry hair.

Split Ends

If you have a lot of split ends in your hair, it is generally advised to cut them, but in case this problem appears on a small number of your hair strands, then you can use simple coconut oil to solve the problem.

How to use:

  • Mix coconut oil with almond oil
  • Regularly massage your hair with the mixture for a few minutes; this will help in minimizing the split ends.

Gray Hair and Baldness

Coconut oil is also thought to be beneficial for preventing baldness and gray hair. [12]

How to use: Try mixing Bhringraj or Eclipta alba leaf juice with the oil and apply this to the scalp and hair.

Coconut oil is widely available in the market. Many people choose an odorless variety, use it for any and all hair conditions, and reap all the benefits of a healthy head of hair!

An infographic on health benefits of coconut oil for hair

Massaging your hair with coconut oil before a hair wash helps to lower the chances of hair fall. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Coconut Oil for Shampoo

You may not be aware of this, but your shampoo might already contain coconut oil, at least in small amounts. Lately, people have come to understand how important natural oils are for hair nourishment. Oddly enough, over the past three decades or so, using oil on the hair was viewed as a sign of backwardness or ignorance.

The most popular look was wind-blown, fluffy light hair, resulting from the indiscriminate use of oil-less, caustic, and chemical-based shampoos. Very soon, however, those who oiled their hair continued to do so, while the other group had no hair left to shampoo. The excessive use of shampoo often results in drying up and breaking of hair and total devastation of the health of the scalp.

Commercially, using coconut oil in shampoos showed marvelous results and it was soon a widely accepted additive or pure form of hair care products.

  • Healthy Hair: With the various benefits such as hair nourishment, anti-aging properties, moisture retention, and vitamin E supplementation, coconut oil in shampoo is one of the best things to aid in the health of your hair.
  • Oily Factor: Detergent or soap-based shampoos leave your hair dry, rough, hard, and bleached. That is why you occasionally find that your comb does not go smoothly through your hair after you shampooed it. The oil in shampoo counters this effect. In coconut oil, this component comes from natural saturated fats, and they keep the hair smooth and shiny.
  • Fragrance: Coconut Oil adds a sweet and refreshing fragrance to the shampoos as an added bonus.

Finally, if you are not regularly using a reliable shampoo that contains coconut oil, you can always mix some this oil into your preferred shampoo and enjoy the results. For the best effect, make it an organic or herbal shampoo.

Apart from the uses listed above, it is important to keep hair clean, eat well, use good hair grooming products that have minimal chemicals, and use a good comb that does not break or damage the hair. Have happy, healthy hair everyone!

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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