Is coconut oil ruining your hair game?

Is coconut oil ruining your hair game?

By Sophia MurphySophia Headshot

Whether you’re natural or not, you’ve probably heard about the limitless benefits of coconut oil. Touted as the “holy grail” of natural haircare, coconut oil has enjoyed an extensive time in the spotlight. It can be used as a pre-poo and is often a principal ingredient in shampoos, conditioners, and styling products. But there’s a side to coconut oil that many are not aware of and that may be sabotaging your haircare regimen.

But why is coconut oil so popular? Unique in its makeup, coconut oil has a smaller molecular size than any other oil, therefore it is the most effective at penetrating the hair shaft. It protects and strengthens the hair when used as a prepoo. While on dry hair, coconut oil adds shine, acts as a sealant, aids in moisturization and conditioning, and reduces frizz. It also has antifungal and antibacterial properties. With all of these benefits how could coconut oil have a downside?

The flipside of coconut oils unique makeup is that it can be detrimental for some hair types. While, it itself is not a protein, it can act like a protein. It contains lauric acid, a fatty acid, which is highly attractive to proteins in the hair. Meaning, lauric acid binds to the protein in the hair, thereby preventing protein loss from the hair shaft. This of course sounds great because protein keeps our hair strong. However, if your hair is protein sensitive this characteristic can cause extensive damage to your hair. Additionally, those that have low porosity hair may also need to reconsider if coconut oil is right for them. Low porosity hair types are prone to product buildup and is often associated with protein sensitivity. Repeated use of coconut oil may result in protein buildup, which can make your hair:

  • dry
  • stiff
  • brittle
  • less elastic
  • dull
  • tangled

The end result is hair that is susceptible to breakage and damage. If you’ve noticed any of the above after frequent use of coconut oil or products that contain coconut oil, you may want to try to leave it out during your next wash day and see how your hair responds. If your hair fares better without it, you may want to consider altering how you use coconut oil. Some may benefit from using it occasionally or never on its own, while others may need to find other alternatives. Other oils to try in your regimen include, olive oil, avocado oil, babassu oil, etc.

In the world of naturalistas, many have come to realize that coconut oil does not work for their hair, but because of its many benefits it was rare to find products that did not contain the oil. Thankfully, times are changing and there are now more products than ever to choose from that do not contain coconut oil. This is a much needed change and offers women with natural hair variety in their haircare products.   Recently, popular blogger Naptural85 announced to her million plus followers, that she would no longer use coconut oil after years of usage. She may have singlehandedly brought awareness to the discussion about coconut oil to the forefront. Coconut oil can be extremely beneficial for many, but it is not everyone’s holy grail and it’s important to know if it’s hurting or helping your hair.