Like a gawky guy who grew into a full-blown hunk, coconut oil is now the sexy, most in-demand oil. Gwyneth Paltrow swishes it in her mouth to whiten her teeth, Poppy Delevingne sleeps in it, and Kelly Osborne wants you all to tap some on your cheekbones for a natural highlight. Coconut oil does not actually moisturize — no oil does — but used strategically, it can soften, add shine, and help repair dry hair. Read on for nine great ways you can incorporate coconut oil into your hair routine.
1. Use It as a “Pre-poo”
Here’s a trick that’s particularly helpful for folks with dry or curly hair: Avoiding the scalp, coat hair with a glob of coconut oil an hour or so before hitting the shower. The oil protects each strand from drying out while you shampoo. Rinse the oil from your hair after shampooing and apply a conditioner as normal. (Note that if you have thin hair, the oil might be too much for you.)
2. Pump Up Your Conditioner
Coconut oil will give any conditioner a hydrating boost. After saturating your hair with conditioner, add a layer of coconut oil on top. The oil is occlusive, so it will trap the the conditioner’s hydrating ingredients within your hair, allowing them to penetrate the shaft more effectively and longer. Wait at least 15 minutes or up to an hour before rinsing — the longer you wait, the softer your hair will be.
3. Leave It In
This is a handy fix for people with thick, dry hair. After you shampoo and conditioner, comb any moisturizing cream throughout your hair (DevaCurls’ Styling Cream and Oyin Handmade’s Hair Dew are really great). Then, take a quarter-size amount of coconut oil and layer it on top of the moisturizer. Dry your hair as you normally would. The oil will lock in the moisturizer and help your hair stay hydrated for longer.
4. Detangle Huge Knots
Knotty hair? Run coconut oil over the sections that need a little help. The oil provides a helpful “slip” that makes combing a less harrowing ordeal.
5. Bling Out Your Hair
Scoop a few dollops of coconut oil into a spray bottle and spritz your hair for a natural shine. If you’re working with oil that has solidified, sit the bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes so the oil can revert back to a liquid.
6. Swim Without Fear
The worst part about taking a dip? The havoc saltwater and chlorine wreck on your hair, of course. Before you head to the pool or beach, cover your hair with coconut oil. The oil acts as a barrier between your strands and the water, to a certain degree. Think of it as a natural swim cap (or a swim cap that doesn’t make you look like a dork).
7. Fight Frizz
To tame flyaways and frizz, rub a pea-size amount of coconut oil between your fingers. Transfer the oil to the frizzy parts of your hair to calm rogue strands. A little goes a long way!
8. Heal Split Ends
Coconut oil won’t glue your split ends back together (nothing will, despite what some products claim), but it can hide frayed ends for a short while. Simply rub a small amount over your ends. The oil will add luster and temporarily smooth the tattered hair.
9. Kill Lice
If you really hate the idea of using medicated lice treatments, coconut oil is a surprisingly effective alternative. A 2002 study looked at 940 children who were administered a hair cocktail of coconut oil, anise oil, and ylang ylang oil. The mixture was applied to each child’s hair three times a day for five days. The coconut oil combination was successful for 92.3 percent of the lice cases, faring slightly better than the medicated control group, which saw a success rate of 92.2 percent.
But Coconut Oil Will NOT Treat …
Hair loss or dandruff. There are no credible, peer-reviewed studies that prove coconut oil can regrow hair. It’s a little boring, but your best bet is still Rogaine. As for dandruff, coconut oil might actually trigger more flakes! If used on your scalp, coconut oil clogs pores and prevents hair follicles from “breathing.” This in fact, dehydrates your scalp, and can make a case of dandruff more pronounced. The solution? Try a very un-sexy bottle of medicated shampoo. It’s not trendy, but it works.
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