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Any search for homemade hair masks on the Pinterest-verse will undoubtedly lead you to some recipe with coconut oil. Well, I’m here to tell you that while coconut oil is an amazing food product, it’s just not meant for your hair and it can even do damage to those well-earned locks! Science breaks it all down as to why. So, let’s shed some light on these palm tree nuts.

Here are the most common “coconut” comments (say that ten times fast) and reasons why people are using food grade coconut oil and my responses to them:

  1. I use coconut oil because I was told it would improve my hair!
    • The molecule of food grade coconut oil is actually too large to absorb into the hair cuticle. So why does this pose a problem? The problem is, it actually can do damage. It ends up sitting on top of the surface of your hair, creating build up or even worse, it collects at the weak points of your hair and ends up breaking it. (not so innocent!) About two years ago, I had a poor gal come in whose beautiful white, blonde hair had broken off in areas down to 3 inches because of this.
  2. Well, professional hair companies are using/advertising it.
    • Yes, this is true, but not quite what you think. They may advertise that they are simply using coconut oil as an ingredient, but those professional companies are actually using fractionated coconut oil, specifically contrived for this use, so it can absorb into the hair and treat it! (But technicalities, right?)
  3. But it’s a great moisturizer for my hair!
    • Have you ever heard the phrase “they mix like oil and water”? It’s pretty well known that oil and water don’t blend. When it comes to coconut oil and your hair, the proteins in the oil can cause build-up which actually blocks much needed moisture from getting into your hair follicles. This ends up making your hair more dry and brittle- the opposite of your intentions! Look to products with water-attracting molecules for the best results to keep your locks moisturized.
  4. It’s all natural and organic- so it’s got to be good for me- or at least can’t hurt!
    • There are many different grades of coconut oil and how it can be manufactured (ie. Cold pressed, hot pressed, organic, naturally derived)- so that is always a loaded statement as to what exactly that means and why that makes it beneficial. Just because a product is natural, however, doesn’t mean it’s good for your hair (see bullet #1). In the last decade there are many professional salon products out there that offer organic/natural products that are specifically manufactured to better you as well as the environment, win- win!


So to sum it up, I would highly recommend leaving the food grade ingredients in the kitchen and look for a professional salon product that coconut oil as a main ingredient- processed specifically for you and your hair!

Bonus Tip: Coconut oil is referred to in the beauty industry as a comedogenic for the skin. What does this mean to you? Simply put, it will clog your pores with continued use. (No bueno for your scalp and especially no bueno for your face)

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Hello, I'm Janet Cho

A brand strategist with an editorial approach and a lot of cats, based in Los Angeles, California.

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