Does Coconut Oil Really Help with Hair Growth?
Coconut oil is an excellent beauty care product, and the benefits it can provide for your hair are vast. You might already be familiar with using coconut oil in your skin care regimen, and (of course) as a superfood and healthy fat, but did you know that it can also help your hair grow long?
First and foremost, let’s take a quick look at what your hair structure is made up of, as this can provide a better understanding of how it grows and what role coconut oil can play in this process.
Hair Structure (1)
The cortex of your hair is the part that gives it color, and is the thickest part of the hair shaft. It is made up of proteins and fibrous material.
The medulla is the central part of the hair shaft and is softer than the cortex. People with thin hair have less medulla and those with thick hair have more.
The cuticle of your hair shaft is the protective outer layer that is tougher than the other two layers. This is the part that has to withstand abuse from environmental elements or hair care practices, and can be damaged. When the cuticle is damaged, the other, more delicate layers of hair become damaged, as well.
Studies show that when the cuticle is damaged from styling, coloring and over-washing, you end up losing some of (or a lot of) the fibrous cuticle of your hair, which can leave it frizzy, fine and broken (2). And this is where coconut oil comes into play.
How Can Coconut Oil Help My Hair Grow?
Coconut oil is thought to be the best oil for protecting your hair from damage and reducing the protein loss that occurs. One study actually compared coconut to other oils used in hair care (and specifically for protecting the hair from damage and protein loss, which is key for healthy hair growth), and coconut oil came out way on top (3).
This study also concluded that coconut oil is equally as effective in protecting from damage when it is used either before or after a wash. This same level of protection was also found with hair that was damaged due to overexposure to sun and harsh chemical treatments.
The reason that coconut oil can protect your hair and help it grow healthy and strong is mainly due to its lauric acid content, the primary medium chain fatty acid found in coconut oil. Mineral oils that are also used on hair such as sunflower oil contain other types of fatty acids that are not as easily absorbed into the hair shaft as lauric acid, which makes them able to coat the hair but not penetrate it. Just be sure to properly wash coconut out of your hair as to not leave it greasy.
Coconut Oil Moisturizes and Protects
The other ways in which coconut oil can effectively work to make your hair grow is by moisturizing and protecting, which prevent breakage and dryness, two major factors in not being able to have long and healthy hair. Because coconut oil is more easily absorbed into the hair shaft that other oils, it can better moisturize than most hair products and treatments, leading to less breakage. Especially if you live in a harsh climate (extreme heat or cold), coconut oil is excellent at protecting your hair from the elements, similarly to if you subject your hair to frequent bleaches, perms or colorings.
Protection from Lice
While not nearly as common, some people end up having to cut their hair (or their children’s hair) due to lice. Coconut oil has been proven to work as a powerful anti-lice agent when combined with anise, and has even been shown to be 40% more effective than the leading chemical treatments (4)
How Can I Use Coconut Oil to Make My Hair Grow?
There are several ways you can use coconut oil to grow long, healthy and shiny hair. Check out our article on Clever Ways to Include Coconut Oil in Your Hair Routine for more details, but a few examples to mention are using coconut oil as a hair mask, as a conditioner, as a scalp treatment and as a detangler. The amount you will need depends on how much hair you have, and might take some experimentation so you don’t end up with your hair feeling greasy.
In conclusion, yes, coconut oil really can make your hair grow longer. Not only that, but you will likely experience healthier hair that has more shine, less breakage and less dandruff.