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7 Ways Coconut Oil Works For Your Hair

You can’t shake a palm leaf without hitting a jar of the stuff in every in-the-know gal’s bathroom, and for good reason: The stuff is nothing short of miraculous (and cheap as far as natural products go), and can be used in more ways than I can even begin to list here.

If you are at all interested in self-care (and the very fact that you’re even reading this sentence indicates that you are), you’ve heard of coconut oil. In the last few years, what was once a humble byproduct of a fruit only associate with tropical drinks has, by all measures, exploded in popularity. You can’t shake a palm leaf without hitting a jar of the stuff in every in-the-know gal’s bathroom, and for good reason: The stuff is nothing short of miraculous (and cheap as far as natural products go), and can be used in more ways than I can even begin to list here.

If you have a jar you’ve been dying to crack open but aren’t sure exactly how to use it, your hair is a great place to start. Some people swear by coconut oil as a skincare product and while I believe ‘em, a lot of people (me included) find it too heavy or intense for reactive skin. But your hair? It’ll love the stuff, whether it’s curly or straight, thin or thick, grey or blonde…you get it. Curious yet? Below you’ll find a handful of ways to make coconut oil work for your hair.

Coconut oil can…detangle your hair.

Whether your hair is extremely curly and prone to intense knots, you slept on it funny and now it’s all matted, or you just somehow managed to create a bird’s nest on your head, coconut oil is the savior of all things tangled. Before you go to town trying to brush through a gnarly knot, run some coconut oil over the section. Not only will the oil penetrate and strengthen the hair a bit, it also provides some lubrication and slip so working through the knots aren’t quite so bad.

Coconut oil can…fight frizz.

If flyaways and frizz are the bane of your existence, a little bit of coconut oil can go a long way. Take a very small amount (like, the size of a pea) between your fingers and warm it up. Then gently brush your fingers over and through the strands that are giving you a hard time. The oil will offer a light hold so things stay put. Just be careful not to overdo it, especially if you’re dealing with the fine hair around your face — too much oil will weigh your hair down and leave it looking lanky and oily.

Coconut oil can…help disguise split ends.

Unfortunately, the only real remedy for split ends is a trim. But, for a quick fix, rub a small amount of coconut oil between your fingers to warm it up before running it over your ends (the last one inch of hair). The oil will smooth the hair’s cuticle temporarily and also add some shine to mask the dead ends.

Coconut oil can…deep condition.

If your hair is in serious need of hydration, devote a chunk of your weekend to a coconut oil hair mask. After washing and air-drying your hair, work melted coconut oil through your entire mane, from roots to ends. (You can either melt the coconut oil between your hands and work it through that way or use a double-boiler situation to melt some in a bowl.) Gently massage the oil into your scalp to stimulate blood flow, then work it down your strands with a comb so it’s evenly distributed. Once your whole head is evenly coated in the stuff, clip it up into a loose bun, wrap it in a towel or don a shower cap and just let it sit. Seriously, the longer you leave the mask in, the more time the fatty acids in the coconut oil have to penetrate your hair. Aim for two hours minimum, then jump in the shower and gently shampoo it all out. (You may need to shampoo two or three times to get it all.)

Coconut oil can…protect.

If you’ve got the kind of intensely dry hair that makes it hard to go swimming for fear of totally wrecked strands, let coconut oil help you out as a sort of natural swim cap. Before jumping into salt- or chlorine-laden waters (both of which are uber-drying), cover your hair with coconut oil the same way you would for a deep conditioning mask. Then get your backstroke on. Though it won’t keep your hair totally water-free, it does act like an occlusive barrier, keeping many of the drying aspects of a pool or ocean away from your delicate strands.

Coconut oil can…help hair grow.

Don’t expect an overnight miracle, but if you’re trying to get some length on your locks, the nutrients in coconut oil might help hair grow longer and thicker. Before you shower, massage a teaspoon of coconut oil into your scalp for about 10 minutes. The stimulation and blood flow to the area will wake up follicles and temporarily increase the rate at which your hair grows. Just be really careful to wash it all off your scalp when you shampoo. If left on for too long, coconut oil can block those follicles, not allowing them to breathe, which can eventually lead to hair loss.

Coconut oil can…keep hair hydrated (but not in the way you think).

If you have extra dry or curly hair and avoid shampooing for fear of drying it out even more, consider pre-‘pooing with some coconut oil. About an hour before you shower, coat the hair with the oil and let it sit for a bit. Then shower, shampoo and condition as you normally would. Yes, you end up washing out the coconut oil, but it prevents the shampoo from drying out your strands.

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