Coconut vegetable oil is relevant in hair care. Its high concentration of lauric acid gives it a strong affinity for hair proteins.
The benefits of coconut oil for hair.
What is the composition of a hair strand?
Hair is composed of three layers:
The medulla, also known as marrow or medullary canal, is the inner layer of the hair shaft. In other words, it is the soft and central part of the hair stem. Thick hair contains a large amount of medullary substance, while thin hair has almost none.
The cortex, the thickest layer, which covers the medulla. It contains a large amount of fibrous proteins (mainly keratin) and the pigment that gives the hair its colour.
The cuticle, is the tough, protective outer layer of the hair. Washing, styling, and colouring the hair can damage the cuticle, rendering it unable to protect the central parts of the hair shaft. This is where coconut oil comes in!
Coconut oil, the ally of dry and damaged hair.
Firstly, numerous studies have demonstrated the unique ability of coconut oil to penetrate deeply into hair shafts. This property is due to its unique concentration in lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid. This gives coconut oil a long and straight structure, which is more easily absorbed deep into the hair shaft because it is similar to the structure of keratin. Thus, coconut oil penetrates the hair fibre deeply to hydrate and nourish it.
Furthermore, its application along the lengths allows for the deposition of a protective film on the surface of the hair, thus limiting its dehydration. This veil also enables the hair to be better protected from various external aggressions such as pollution, exposure to UV rays, smoking, etc... Thanks to coconut oil, the hair is coated and strengthened. It also regains its shine and radiance!
Coconut oil to limit dandruff.
A study conducted in 2021 on 140 individuals in India - 70 with dandruff and 70 without - demonstrated that topical applications of coconut oil on the scalp had antibacterial and antifungal effects. This vegetable oil also reduces scalp flaking. Further research indicates that coconut oil can aid in repairing the skin barrier, that is, the top layer of the skin, which is also present on the scalp. It was also found that coconut oil combats yeast infections of the scalp.
Coconut oil for hair growth: myth or reality?
To date, no serious scientific study has yielded conclusive results regarding the activity of vegetable coconut oil on hair growth. Coconut oil, however, can help to strengthen hair and nourish the scalp. By reducing hair breakage, the hair becomes less fragile and appears healthier. This can indirectly speed up hair lengthening, as less breakage can result in longer strands over time.
How to use coconut oil for hair?
Depending on the benefits you are seeking for your hair, you will not use the same type of coconut oil-based treatment:
For those who do not wish to apply pure oil to their hair, you can mix a few drops into your shampoo to strengthen the hair fibre, add shine, or even prevent and/or eliminate dandruff.
Particularly recommended for dry, curly and damaged hair, a coconut oil mask restores strength to damaged fibres and prevents breakage and the appearance of split ends. Depending on the condition of your hair, it can be applied as a mask in the shower and rinsed off after a few minutes of pause, or left on overnight and rinsed off the next morning.
Purecoconut oil can be applied directly to the ends and lengths of the hair for optimal nourishment, avoiding the scalp so as not to make it greasy. As for the frequency of use, fordry hairandbrittle hair, apply coconut oilonce a week. For other hair types,once or twice a monthis sufficient.
Note: Thecoconut oil solidifies below 20/25 °C, but this does not affect its quality. To warm it up before use, place the jar under warm water so it liquefies.
Saxena R, Mittal P, Clavaud C, et al. Longitudinal study of the scalp microbiome suggests coconut oil to enrich healthy scalp commensals. Sci Rep. (2021).
Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-inflammatory and skin barrier repair effects of topical application of some plant oils. Int J Mol Sci. (2017).
Gavazzoni dias MF. Hair cosmetics: an overview. Int J Trichology. (2015).