Coconut oil is a hair favorite for Kenyans due to many reasons. It’s homegrown, readily available, and affordable. Over the years, the oil has gained immense popularity in the beauty industry, especially in natural hair care.
Its properties and numerous benefits have made it a go-to solution for many Kenyans. However, recent studies have shed light on some potential drawbacks of using pure coconut oil for your hair. We’ll explore why pure coconut oil might not be as beneficial for your hair as previously thought.
Lack of Moisture Balance:
While coconut oil is known for its ability to moisturize hair, it may not be suitable for all hair types. Pure coconut oil is rich in fatty acids that can penetrate the hair shaft, but if your hair is already prone to dryness or lacks moisture balance, using coconut oil alone may exacerbate the issue. The oil’s heavy consistency can create a barrier on the hair, preventing moisture from entering or leaving, leading to dryness and potential breakage.
Protein is essential for hair strength and structure, but too much of it can be detrimental. Pure coconut oil contains a significant amount of protein, which can be beneficial for some individuals with protein-deficient hair. However, using coconut oil excessively or on already protein-rich hair can result in an overload. This can cause hair to become stiff, brittle, and prone to breakage, leading to an unhealthy hair appearance. Pay attention especially if you have chemically processed (relaxed) hair.
Clogging of Hair Follicles:
Coconut oil has a tendency to solidify at room temperature, making it challenging to remove completely from the hair and scalp. Applying pure coconut oil regularly without proper cleansing can lead to the accumulation of oil and potential clogging of hair follicles. This can hinder proper hair growth and contribute to issues such as dandruff and an itchy scalp.
Clarify your hair once every two months, or as you see fit if you use hair oils consistently.
Ineffective in High Humidity:
Pure coconut oil might not be the best choice for your hair if you live in a humid climate or are frequently exposed to high humidity. Coconut oil has a low evaporation rate, meaning it stays on the hair for an extended period. In humid conditions, this can attract and retain excess moisture, making the hair feel greasy and heavy. Additionally, the oil’s occlusive properties may prevent the hair from absorbing the necessary moisture from the environment, leaving it dry and prone to frizz. Eventually, this can lead to excessive hair breakage, making pure coconut oil ineffective for growing long hair.
Individual Hair Porosity
Hair porosity refers to its ability to absorb and retain moisture. Different individuals have varying hair porosity levels. While coconut oil can be beneficial for low-porosity hair, it may not be as effective for high-porosity hair. High porosity hair already has gaps and holes in the cuticle, allowing moisture to escape easily. With its low molecular weight, pure coconut oil can penetrate the hair shaft but may not provide enough moisture to fill those gaps adequately.
And now, the Benefits!
It’s undebatable that pure coconut oil especially extra virgin coconut oil, has many properties that can be beneficial for hair. Here are some key benefits of using the oil.
Moisturizing: Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids, such as lauric acid, that can penetrate the hair shaft and help retain moisture. This can be especially beneficial for dry or damaged hair, as it helps to restore moisture and improve the overall hydration of the hair. This property makes coconut oil an excellent pre-shampoo treatment.
Protein retention: Coconut oil has a low molecular weight, which allows it to penetrate the hair shaft and bind to the proteins within the hair. This can help strengthen the hair strands, reduce protein loss, and improve the overall integrity of the hair.
Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial: Coconut oil contains compounds like lauric acid and capric acid, which have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. These properties can help soothe the scalp, reduce irritation, and potentially address issues like dandruff or fungal infections that can affect the health of the hair.
UV protection: Coconut oil has a natural ability to act as a barrier and provide some degree of protection against the damaging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. This can help minimize UV-induced hair damage, such as color fading or protein degradation.
Enhancing hair texture: Some individuals find that coconut oil can improve the texture of their hair, making it smoother, softer, and more manageable. It can also add shine to the hair, giving it a healthy and lustrous appearance.
While coconut oil has many benefits in hair care, especially as a pre-shampoo (pre-poo) treatment, it might not be a miracle solution for everyone. Its heavy consistency, the potential for protein overload, clogging of hair follicles, and lack of effectiveness in high humidity and high porosity hair can outweigh the benefits for SOME individuals.
It’s important to understand your hair’s unique needs and consider other hair oils that better suit your specific hair type and concerns.
Remember, achieving healthy and lustrous hair requires a holistic approach, including proper cleansing, regular moisturization and protein balancing routine, a balanced diet, and suitable hair care products tailored to your needs.
Read more about the different characteristics of African hair.
More on pre-shampoo treatment: If your hair is dry and unruly, you might benefit from using an oil treatment before shampooing. Start by applying some oil to dry, unwashed hair. Work the oil into your hair from ends to roots. Allow the oil to penetrate hair for at least 20 minutes before shampooing, rinsing, and conditioning as normal. It also works great for growing longer and fuller hair when done consistently.
All about pre-shampoo treatment using HAIR MANIFESTO to improve hair moisture for dry and relaxed hair, repair hair damage, and stimulate new growth.