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Coconut Oil: When to Use and When Not To

Coconut oil is a household name in India. You would find it in almost all Indian household, irrespective of your geography. These days, a lot is being said about the benefits of coconut oil (specially organic, Virgin and Extra Virgin varieties) for hair and skin. There are tonnes of sources online which show ways of using coconut oil which may harm your hair rather than do any good.

So, before you go and start pouring coconut oil on your head, read this. Make sure you are using coconut oil correctly to make it the most effective.

Why Use Coconut Oil for Hair?

Did you know that Coconut oil is the richest natural source of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA). MCFA are special type of fatty acids which have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, that are very beneficial for the body. The MCFA which coconut oil is especially high in, is Lauric Acid.

Lauric acid is naturally occurring in breastmilk as well and is known to be supportive of hormone health and cellular health. This property is also one of the reason why coconut oil can help prevent protein loss in hair (for some people, explained later). The structure of coconut oil allows it to penetrate hair in ways other oils can’t, which is why some people notice amazing results quickly when using coconut oil on hair.

When is it harmful to use Coconut Oil?

There is no doubt about the fact that certain oils are beneficial for the hair, and many of us strip our hairs of vital oils by over shampooing, making the body secrete more oil in order to compensate for the loss. Due to over-shampooing and poor diet, many of us are also missing vital nutrients that are required to build healthy hair. But is applying oil the solution?

Turns out, not necessarily!!

Certain oils are universally beneficial for hair, like Castor oil, which is an age old beauty secret for growing hair, but the same can’t be said for coconut oil.

Coconut oil has had mixed results for people. Ranging from quick, effective results to no result at all.

So what is the reason for the discrepancy and how can a person know if coconut oil is going to be beneficial or cause hair loss?

Coconut oil is not beneficial for all hair type

Not surprisingly, different oils work differently for different hair types. You need to cautiously chose your hair oil. Because it helps hair retain its natural protein, coconut oil works for people who lack protein in their hair follicles. Some studies have confirmed coconut oils benefits for certain hair types, but again, its not for everyone.

Typically, those with fine to medium shiny hair see best results from coconut oil. They are the ones who see visibly stronger, shinier hair with more volume.Those with coarse or dry hair may not lack protein in the first place and application of coconut oil may lead to their becoming more brittle and eventually falling. People with such hair may benefits from other oils like Argan oil.

Also, it goes without saying, anyone with any kind of allergies towards Coconut or its bye-products, should not use coconut oil, irrespective of the type of hair.

The Amount Matters A Lot

Just like any other oil, the amount of coconut oil you use matters a lot. As a saying goes, “Everything is excess is bad, even the best of things”. So if a little bit is enough, it doesn’t mean a lot is a lot better!

The best way to use coconut oil is to take a small amount and rub it between your palms and then work it into your hair. This should help tame frizz and make hair shiny without the negative effects.

What You Add To Coconut Oil Matters Too

Coconut oil is more often that not included in recipes for nourishing hair oils, hair masks and hair products, which may not be harmful. This is because, when using in combination, not only is less coconut oil coming in contact with you hair, but the combination of fatty acids has a completely different effect on the hair.

For example, coconut oil does not make hair dry and brittle when mixed with monosaturated fatty acids of olive oil or with Argan oil (great for hair). Further, the simple sugars in honey, when mixed with coconut oil, not only nourish your hair, but make it naturally smooth and frizz free.

Depends on What Other Products You Using

The shampoo that you use along with the coconut oil matters. If you are using a very harsh shampoo which may make your hair brittle, then stop using either coconut oil, or the shampoo. Most of the shampoos available in the market are very harsh and may leave your hair brittle and prone to breakage in the long run. Further, if you are using homemade shampoos, which may not contain the harmful surfactants and chemical detergents, then also, coconut oil may not be the best choice as these won’t remove the oil from the hair effectively, leaving your hair looking oily throughout. Its best to find a Natural shampoo with least amount of surfactants and detergents, which complements the coconut oil.

How To Safely Use Coconut Oil

If you are using coconut oil for the first time, it is best to keep these pointers in mind before experimenting:

a. Avoid the Scalp: It is best to avoid putting hair on the scalp. Keep the coconut oil for the hairs only. Because, even though coconut oil seems to be beneficial for those who struggle with dandruff that has a fungal component, others may see negative effects from using coconut oil directly on the scalp. Coconut oil may clog pores and cause irritation for some scalp types (just as it does on certain skin types).

b. Start with Small Quantities: Again, more is not better! Experiment with quantities, specially when you think you don’t know how your hair would respond to the oil.

c. Add other Ingredients: Like mentioned before, you can add other ingredients to coconut oil to make it more effective. For example, you can add honey and yogurt to coconut oil to make it more beneficial.

Do you use Coconut oil for hair? Let us know your experience with coconut oil in the comments below!!

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