Coconut oil is extracted from the meat of the coconut and has a wide variety of uses. In addition to many reputed health benefits, coconut oil is often used as a treatment to condition dry and brittle hair. Studies reported in the Journal of Cosmetic Science show that coconut oil can strengthen hair, protecting it from the damage of daily handling. When purchasing coconut oil, choose cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil that has not been processed.
Coconut oil can help make hair soft and moisturized, which will make it more manageable. Coconut oil is made up of a variety of fatty acids. Coconut oil is unique, as compared to mineral or sunflower oil, in that the chemical structure of its fatty acids allows it to absorb all the way into each hair shaft to replenish moisture that has been lost through damage to the hair. Additionally, the oil forms a barrier around each hair shaft, sealing off hair from the harsh environment and preventing further moisture loss.
Prevents Protein Loss
As hair grows, it becomes increasingly damaged due to everyday handling, washing and exposure to the elements. The protein that makes up hair is lost from the hair shaft, leaving patches of weakened hair that are prone to breakage. The chemical structure of coconut oil is such that it can interact with proteins in your hair. As coconut oil absorbs into your hair, it acts as a glue to prevent protein from being stripped away. According to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science in 2003, using coconut oil as a pre- and post-shampoo treatment significantly decreased protein loss over time.
Helps Control Dandruff
Dandruff is often caused by buildup of dry skin, or infections as a result of yeast on the scalp. Coconut oil can be used to control mild forms of dandruff, because of its ability to moisturize the scalp. Massaging your scalp with coconut oil using circular motions will help scrub away dead skin, and also moisturize underlying skin to prevent future dandruff. Coconut oil also contains lauric acid, which has antimicrobial properties, so it may also help to prevent dandruff as a result of microbial infection.
About this Author
Louise Tremblay recently finished an M.Sc. in molecular and cellular biology in Ontario, Canada, with years of cancer research experience. She has experience writing articles and Web content on science, heath and fitness, diet and personal wellness.