Coconut oil can help reduce hair damage (protein loss) by up to 39%, helping to stop your hair from falling out (1).
But that’s not all…
In this article I’m going to show you how to use coconut oil to prevent hair fall, firstly by protecting the protein (keratin), secondly by reducing inflammation, and thirdly by cleaning and protecting the scalp.
I’m going to show you the studies that prove how effective coconut oil is.
Lastly, I’m going to show you how you can get started today using this amazing oil on your own hair, with your own homemade coconut oil shampoo (which works much better than any shop-bought shampoo.)
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What is Coconut Oil?
Originating in the Indo-Pacific region, the coconut is a palm fruit with a variety of uses.
The oil which is so commonly used throughout the world is obtained from the “meat” of the coconut, either through dry or wet processing.
Used in the kitchen for its mildly sweet flavor and in the treatment of a wide variety of medical ailments, coconut oil has certainly earned its place among the list of most versatile oils. It’s even one of the active ingredients in Wild Growth Hair Oil which you can read more about here.
But does coconut oil deserve a spot on the list of most beneficial treatment options for hair loss?
I certainly think so!
Coconut Oil’s Amazing Penetrative Abilities and What It Can Do for Hair Loss Sufferers
When it comes to strengthening hair and restoring damage, one of the most important qualities of a hair product is how well it can penetrate the hair shaft.
An illuminating study was published in 2012 which utilized radioactively-labeled coconut oil to best measure how penetrative coconut oil truly is on the hair shaft (2).
A single 10-cm-long strand of hair was soaked in 1.5 ml of coconut oil. Prior to this step, the coconut oil was heated in the presence of tritium gas (a radioactive isotope of hydrogen).
Samples of the hair were taken at the one- and six-hour marks, and each of these measurements were performed on three separate samples from the one strand of hair.
This study, while small, did provide us with some interesting results.
Within the highlighted area of the above chart, you’ll see the penetrative results of the one-hour measurement (1A, 1B, and 1C) and the six-hour measurement (6A, 6B, and 6C).
On the low end, the results show that after one hour, one single strand of hair can absorb almost 15% of its weight in coconut oil.
After six hours, the results of three separate measurements show an increase to 20.4%, 21.91%, and 26.3% of oil absorbed.
What Does This Mean for Hair Loss Sufferers?
For those individuals suffering from hair thinning and loss, these preliminary results are certainly promising.
The obvious penetrative abilities of coconut oil make it a great supplement for those looking to strengthen their hair and prevent further loss, and these penetrative capabilities also lend themselves to another purpose: damage prevention.
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Preventing Damage and Hair Loss with Coconut Oil
With coconut oil’s high levels of penetration, it should come as no surprise that the oil is also highly effective at preventing damage from occurring to the hair.
Learn more about how to repair damaged hair follicles here.
One particular study, performed by Rele and Mohile, highlights coconut oil’s ability to prevent protein loss in hair by reducing the amount of water absorbed during saturation (1).
This study utilized four hair types, three of which were of Indian origin (straight, wavy, and curly), and one of which was untreated and provided by a producer of human hair wigs (DeMeo).
Each hair type underwent eight separate treatments prior to testing, and all eight treatment types were performed with the help of twenty-five tresses of each hair type.
The treatments included (a) undamaged control; (b) undamaged/coconut oil; (c) bleached; (d) coconut oil/bleached; (e) bleached/coconut oil; (f) boiling water; (g) coconut oil/boiling water; and (h) boiling water/coconut oil.
After treatment, the tresses were washed with a 20% solution of sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and evaluated for a number of qualities, including protein loss caused by wet combing.
The results, both for undamaged and bleached or boiled hair were similar, in that every instance of coconut oil used as a prewash lessened the amount of protein loss experienced by the hair.
The researchers postulate that coconut oil’s hydrophobic nature lends itself to the majority of its protective abilities.
All fats and oils, due to their chemical composition, are hydrophobic substances. This means instead of dissolving in water, fats and oils “repel” water molecules (actually, it’s more of a lack of attraction).
In the above study, the coconut oil which is coating the hair as a prewash is not interacting with the water molecules applied during the wash/rinse cycle.
This lowers the water retention levels of the hair shaft, and it makes it less likely for the surface cuticle of the hair to lift away (due to swelling of the hair shaft) and break off during combing.
Coconut Oil: A Natural Way to Fight Scalp Inflammation
Scalp inflammation can certainly be irritating, but did you know that chronic scalp inflammation can also lead to further hair thinning and loss?
Inflammation is the body’s way of protecting itself. This occurs during allergic reactions, when the body’s immune system attacks the perceived threat, and it also occurs immediately following an external injury.
And, while short-term inflammation serves its purpose, chronic inflammation can damage the hair follicles and lead to excessive hair thinning and loss.
If you suffer from chronic hair loss, you may be asking yourself whether inflammation played a role.
While there are forms of alopecia unrelated to inflammation, inflammation can contribute to hair loss for a large number of hair loss sufferers.
Whether from inflammation caused by the buildup of DHT and other harmful chemicals, or an unchecked bacterial or fungal infection, if you believe that inflammation has played a role in your hair loss, then you’ll be glad to learn about coconut oil’s anti-inflammatory properties.
One study, published in 2009, studied the anti-inflammatory effects of lauric acid, a major component of coconut oil (3).
In this particular study, a bacteria known as P. acnes, commonly linked to acne and acne-induced inflammation, was injected into a small area on the left ears of mice (4).
Immediately following the injection of P. acnes, the ears were then injected with either a) lauric acid, or b) a control vehicle.
These are the results after 24 hours:
The image on the left (figure d) shows a reduction in inflammation following the injection of lauric acid, while the image on the right (figure e) shows no change in inflammation levels following the injection of the non-lauric acid vehicle.
What makes lauric acid an effective anti-inflammatory?
Huang et al believe there are two possible contributors to lauric acid’s anti-inflammatory properties (5).
The first contributing factor may be lauric acid’s ability to inhibit NF-κB activation. NF-κB is a responsive protein complex, which means its job is to respond to cellular stimuli, such as stress, free radicals, and antigens.
Sometimes, however, the response of this protein complex can be overenthusiastic, and this can lead to chronic inflammation.
The second possible contributing factor is the inhibition of MAP kinase phosphorylation.
Protein kinases are enzymes which chemically modify the actions of proteins.
This particular kinase directs cellular response to stimuli and plays a major role in inflammation.
There’s no doubt that lauric acid, the fatty acid which makes up almost 50% of coconut oil’s chemical components, can contribute majorly to the reduction of scalp inflammation.
For hair loss sufferers dealing with inflammation-induced alopecia, this study shows that coconut oil may be an effective treatment for inflammation.
With reduced levels of inflammation on the scalp, your hair follicles can begin to repair and unclog naturally which improves hair growth.
This will allow them the chance to produce healthy, long hair strands.
How to Use Coconut Oil as a Hair Loss Treatment
If the above-mentioned benefits of coconut oil for the treatment of hair loss has left you curious, then you’ll love the two simple suggestions below which enable you to add coconut oil to your regular hair care routine with minimal effort.
Add Coconut Oil to Your Hair Wash Products
Coconut oil’s penetrative abilities combined with its damage-preventing effects make it a great addition to your regularly-used hair wash products.
While you can add coconut oil directly to store bought shampoos and conditioners, making your own shampoos can be just as easy (and a lot healthier).
If you’d like to stimulate hair growth while nourishing your scalp, check out this 6-ingredient shampoo recipe.
DIY Shampoo to Stimulate Hair Growth
- Nettle (2-3 bunches)
- Coconut Oil (1 teaspoon)
- Rosemary Essential Oil (10 drops)
- Powdered Tumeric (1 teaspoon)
- Apple cider vinegar (1 cup)
- Baking soda (1 teaspoon)
Bring one pot of water to an almost-boil, remove from heat, and then add in 2-3 bunches of nettle.
Once the nettle tea has cooled to room temperature, strain the nettle water into a container of your choice. Discard nettle.
Add the other ingredients to the nettle tea, and mix thoroughly.
Apply the DIY shampoo to your hair, working it into a lather by massaging onto your scalp. Allow to sit on scalp for 2-5 minutes, and then rinse thoroughly.
Stinging nettle is a triple threat when it comes to fighting hair loss, as it’s been shown to reduce scalp inflammation, neutralize damage caused by free radicals, and block DHT’s production and accumulation on the scalp.
Rosemary oil has been shown to induce the growth of new hair.
Turmeric is a centuries-old spice that’s certainly earned its place as a highly-valued treatment for a number of ailments.
Use As a Hot Oil Treatment
This straight-forward method of application is great for those looking for a quick and easy addition to their hair care routine.
Done on a weekly basis, the below recipe can be used to soothe and hydrate the scalp while simultaneously providing you with the many benefits associated with coconut oil’s antimicrobial abilities (6).
- Coconut Oil (1 cup)
- Hot Water
- Plastic Shower Cap
Begin by adding 1 cup of olive oil to a heat-safe bottle.
Set the bottle of oil aside, and bring a pot of water to boil.
Remove the pot from the heat, and place the container of oil directly into the pot.
Allow the oil to sit in the pot for a few minutes, occasionally picking up the bottle of oil and gently swirling to ensure equal distribution of heat.
Once the oil is comfortably hot (test on the inside of your wrist), remove from pot.
How to Apply:
First, ensure that your towel and shower cap are readily available.
With dry, unwashed hair, apply the coconut oil to your scalp. Be sure to spread evenly, and remember that complete saturation isn’t necessary.
Once your scalp and hair is covered thoroughly, place the shower cap on your head.
Now, dip or rinse your bath towel in hot water. Wring the excess water from the towel, and then wrap around the shower cap, turban-style.
You may keep the oil treatment on your scalp overnight, though 30 minutes is the minimum recommended time.
Once ready, rinse your scalp thoroughly with lukewarm water, and then shampoo as regular.
Now you know how and why you can start using coconut oil for hair loss – but this is just the beginning!
Hair loss comes from a fundamental imbalance in the body, and although coconut might help protect the hair (and slow down hair fall) it won’t stop it altogether.
Most hair loss treatments don’t work because they try to cover up the symptom (dry, thin and brittle hair) thats why I recommend you first fix the underlying problem (imbalance) and then simply use coconut oil to accelerate the new hair growth.