Does the idea of slathering cooking oil all over your head seem counter-intuitive? While it might seem strange, consider that it's done in many countries around the world, and has been for ages. Coconut oil, which is highly nutritious when eaten, too, is one of the best hair treatments around. Still not convinced? Let's take a step back for a moment and look at your brainwashing about hair washing.
Our current preferences for hair care products favor the fragrant, lathery, fancily packaged. This began in the modern era when eschewing tradition, even when those options were most effective, was preferred in favor of products that relayed our status in a fast-paced glamorous world. We continue to equate quality with excessive price tags when often there's little (if any) difference between salon hair care items and those on the Target sale shelves. The common denominator in virtually all of them, though, is that they strip—rather than replenish—vital oils from the scalp and hair. This creates a problem that cannot be remedied by more products, no matter how fancy.
Mercola.com reports that in a clinical study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science, compared with other oils such as mineral and sunflower, coconut oil was the only one that decreased protein loss in hair, whether the hair was already damaged or not.
Coconut oil is hydrophobic, which means it repels water. When applied to the hair before washing, the oil can penetrate the hair more deeply as the hair swells with moisture. This is thanks to the presence of a rare fatty acid called lauric acid, which is naturally drawn to the hair proteins. Coconut oil application also helps to prevent frizz and promote shine.
In India, coconut oil is used also to keep hair from turning gray by massaging it into the scalp for 10 to 15 minutes per day. Some people even report turning gray hairs back to their normal color with this technique!
So, want to use coconut oil on your hair and scalp? Give these steps a try:
- Use a high quality coconut oil from a glass jar (oils leach plastic and the harmful chemicals such as BPA can enter your body through the scalp). I recommend Dr. Bronner's Fair Trade Coconut Oil.
- Start with a teaspoon size amount of oil. Coconut oil will melt at 76 degrees Fahrenheit. It is easier to use when it's in its solid white state. You can refrigerate it for a bit to get it to this consistency if needed.
- Begin massaging the tips of your hair first, working in towards the scalp.
- Once you get to the scalp, massage oil in as you would a shampoo. Work evenly and thoroughly using more oil as needed.
- Comb through the hair. Leave on for at least ten minutes—or even over night. Repeat as needed. It can be done daily, so you can't really overdo it!
- Shampoo and condition as normal.
Note: If working to reverse gray hair, combine the treatment with a teaspoon of lemon juice.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Image: Phú Thịnh Co