hairy situations

9 Ways to Use Coconut Oil for Super Soft Hair

Photo: Piotr Marcinski / EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm

Like a gawky guy who grew into a full-blown hunk, coconut oil is now the hot, sexy oil no one can shut up about. 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 ways to use coconut oil in your hair routine.

1. Use It As a Protective “Pre-Poo”

Here’s a trick that’s particularly helpful for folks with dry or curly hair: Avoiding the scalp, coat dry 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. Make Your Conditioner Better Than It’s Ever Been

Coconut oil will make any conditioner even more conditioning. 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 longer and more effectively. Wait at least 15 minutes or up to an hour before rinsing — the longer you wait, the softer your hair will be.

3. Just 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’ Supercream 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. Make Detangling Slightly Less Annoying

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. And Make Your Hair More Photogenic

Instead of sticking a bunch of shiny things in 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, put the bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes so the oil can revert back to a liquid.

6. Wear It As a Swim Cap

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. Or a Humidity Cap

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. Photoshop Your 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. And Evict Lice, Naturally

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 Don’t Use It for 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 dehydrates your scalp, and can make a case of dandruff more pronounced. The solution? Try a medicated shampoo.

Anyway, if you don’t want to double-dip in the jar of coconut oil sitting in your kitchen, here are five coconut oil-infused hair products your hair will love just as much.

Kopari Coconut Melt

A tub of 100 percent organic, unrefined coconut oil to keep in your bathroom for hair-conditioning and all your other beauty needs.

Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Balm-to-Oil Pre Shampoo Masque

Your protective pre-poo awaits.

DevaCurl Supercream Coconut Curl Styler

A cult favorite, this creamy coconut leave-in is worshipped by curly girls far and wide.

IGK Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel

A lighter-weight coconut-oil styler for finer hair. Ideal if you want crunch-free beach waves or just need to counteract unbearably humid days.

SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Hold & Shine Moisture Mist

High shine that’s already bottled and ready to spritz.

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9 Ways to Use Coconut Oil for Super Soft Hair