Can Coconut Oil Help With Hair Growth?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / Honayst

This natural oil is traditionally used as a food, for cooking, and as a hair and beauty treatment.

There’s plenty of medical research on the health benefits of coconut oil for your body, skin, and hair. Some people use coconut oil on their hair and scalp because they believe that it helps hair grow faster. We’ll explore if this is actually effective.

Coconut oil and hair

There’s not yet research on whether coconut oil can make your hair grow faster. However, coconut oil can help improve hair and scalp health. This might make hair look like it’s growing faster.

Fights fungal infections

Healthy hair begins at the root. Keeping your scalp healthy may help your hair grow better. One recent lab study found that coconut oil helped to get rid of some types of fungal infections. Coconut oil may help heal or prevent dandruff and other fungi on the scalp. More research is needed to know if coconut oil has the same health benefits on the skin and scalp.

Calms irritation

Coconut oil is a natural saturated fat. The high fat content in it may help calm scalp irritation, flaking, and itching. The fat in coconut oil can also help seal in hair moisture.

Treats split ends

A review in 2015 noted that coconut oil absorbs into hair strands better than mineral oil and other kinds of oils. This might help prevent hair breaking and split ends. For this reason, you may need fewer trims when you use coconut oil on your hair regularly. This might make it seem like your hair is growing longer, faster.

Another review on the uses of coconut oil in India found that the oil may help reduce protein loss in hair. This prevents dry, brittle, or breaking hair. The researchers note that in India, coconut oil is used both as a hair mask before showering and as a leave-in conditioner after showering.

Protects from heat damage

Using a small amount of coconut oil on wet hair before drying or using heat styling may protect hair from water and heat damage.

Hygral fatigue happens when the hair swells up from too much water. Too much swelling can damage the hair or make it break. This can make hair drier and weaker over time.

Other purported benefits

Up to 30 percent of your daily calories should come from healthy fats. You can add coconut oil to your diet and use it in your cooking. Eating coconut oil might give you healthier, faster growing hair. You might notice a difference especially if you aren’t getting enough natural fats and other nutrients in your diet. Using coconut oil as a hair and scalp mask may also help kill hair lice and lice eggs.

Drawbacks

Like other oils, coconut oil can make your hair and skin feel greasy. It can clog pores in the skin and scalp. This can lead to acne or other skin irritation.

Avoid using too much coconut oil on your hair and scalp. If you’re using it as a deep conditioning hair mask, make sure you wash the coconut oil out thoroughly. Use only a small amount on your hair as a leave-in treatment.

How to use it

Coconut oil can be used on its own or combined with other ingredients to make a hair and scalp treatment mask. To do:

  1. Place a small amount of coconut oil in a bowl.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
  3. Check to see if the coconut oil is soft but not completely liquid.
  4. Check the temperature of the coconut oil. It should be warm but not hot.
  5. Use your fingers to gently massage the coconut oil into your scalp. Apply it on your hair from root to tips.
  6. Put your hair in a bun and cover with a towel.
  7. Leave in for 30 minutes to a few hours.
  8. Carefully wash out the coconut oil with your regular shampoo.

You can also add other healthy, natural ingredients to your coconut oil hair mask, including:

  • aloe vera gel
  • a whole egg, or egg white
  • avocado
  • argan oil
  • olive oil

Other ways to help hair grow

Hair loss and hair thinning may be caused by low levels of some vitamins and minerals. One study found that 38 percent of women with hair loss had low levels of the vitamin biotin. This nutrient is also called vitamin B-7.

Other nutrients and minerals that may play a role in hair growth include:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin D
  • iron

The bottom line

Coconut oil may have several benefits for your hair and scalp. Using it as a hair mask and leave-in treatment may help moisturize and seal hair. This can help prevent a dry, flaky scalp and dandruff, as well as split ends and hair breakage.

For these reasons, coconut oil might make your hair look shinier, stronger, and longer. However, there’s not yet evidence that coconut oil can make your hair grow faster or longer.