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Is Coconut Oil Actually Making Your Hair More Dry and Brittle?

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08 . 23 . 17
Allison McNamara
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Allison McNamara

Editorial Director at Mane Addicts
Allison McNamara is a writer, producer, host and editor based in Los Angeles. Allison has been reporting on beauty and fashion for over a decade, and has previously worked for Refinery29, POPSUGAR, and Who What Wear. Keep up-to-date with Allison and her bright red hair on Instagram @allisonmcnamara.
Allison McNamara
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Bad coconut oil for hair

It’s hard to go into a beauty cabinet these days and not find coconut oil. It’s been praised by beauty brands, editors and bloggers alike as a trusty makeup remover, moisturizer, hair mask, shaving cream, teeth whitener and all over beauty savior. But… is it? This might be an unpopular opinion, but I despise coconut oil and I blame it for drying out my pretty red strands. Now let me explain…

I’ll admit, I jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon a few years ago. I instantly loved how easily it took off my makeup and how silky my legs felt after using it as a shaving cream. But one thing never quite worked for me…coconut oil as a hair mask. I tried it time and time again and after every time, my hair always felt a little bit drier.

Why does my hair feel even more brittle? I would repeatedly think to myself after running my fingers through my Sahara-dry, post-coconut oil mask ends. I’d always make other excuses for my dry hair–it must be the water, the weather, the new shampoo? Never once did I think it might be the very thing I was using to “hydrate” my hair that was sucking the life (and color might I add) out of my precious strands.

I took my concerns to google and found this almost instantly–coconut oil is not for every hair type.

I repeat COCONUT OIL IS NOT FOR EVERY HAIR TYPE. 

Whattttttt?! My thoughts exactly. So I investigated–what exactly does this mean? It all boils down to the porosity of your hair. Coconut oil can penetrate inside the hair shaft due to its small molecular size, and also because it contains lauric acid which has a high affinity for hair proteins. This can be great for fine to medium hair that lacks natural hair proteins because protein is what gives the hair its strength and structure and results in healthier, shinier hair.

But if your hair is dry, stiff, brittle, or coarse, then it’s best to stay away from coconut oil. Which sounds counterintuitive–wouldn’t you want to use coconut oil to help dry stands? I have coarse, straight, thick hair that tends to be on the dryer side (especially in the summer) and definitely fall in this category. Coconut oil can cause protein build up for these hair types, blocking your hair from much needed moisture which makes your hair even drier, stiffer and less elastic. And less elasticity means more breakage when combing or styling. Therefore, using coconut oil as a hair mask can actually make your hair drier, brittle and more damaged than it was before! Mind. Blown.

Even though I had a feeling something was up with my beloved coconut oil, I was still shocked to find this out. Which brought me to another thought–how are more people not talking about this? Coconut oil literally dried the cr*p out of my hair and it took me over a year to figure it out.

Now before I let you go, I want to make one thing clear–coconut oil is loaded with tons of rich fatty acids and has many beneficial properties for your health. Since hair doesn’t have the ability to digest or metabolize coconut oil like the digestive system does, coconut oil can offer the most benefits when consumed. Healthy hair starts on the inside, and incorporating coconut oil into your diet may lead to stronger, healthier and shiner hair. So for people like me that can’t reap this fruit’s fatty acid benefits externally, try adding more coconut oil to your diet for stronger, healthier hair.

And if you’re someone like me whose hair doesn’t jive well with coconut oil, don’t fret–there are plenty of other oil options out there for you like castor oil, marula, and argan! If you’ve had a not-so-pleasant experience using coconut oil, share your story below!

HERE are six game changing hair oils that aren’t coconut!

 

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