Rodan + Fields / Blog / Hair Concerns

Coconut Oil for Hair: Your Ultimate Guide


Coconut oil, kernel and open shells pictured on a rustic table. Photo by Tijana Drndarski.

Coconut oil hair products aren’t just popular because they leave your hair smelling amazing. Of course, that’s a plus. Putting coconut oil in hair can also help to improve hair’s health and condition. Here’s everything you’ve wanted to ask about using coconut oil on your hair!

What does coconut oil do for your hair?

Coconut oil nourishes and moisturizes hair better than almost any other organic ingredient out there. When researchers did a study on the effects of mineral oils for preventing hair damage a few years back, they discovered these results:

  • When compared against mineral oil and sunflower oil, only coconut oil reduced protein loss for both damaged and undamaged hair
  • Coconut hair oil dramatically reduced protein loss when used as both a pre-wash and post-wash product
  • Coconut oil significantly reduced damage from brushing

What’s in coconut oil that makes it so nourishing for hair? The answer isn’t that coconut oil is full of proteins that feed hair. It’s actually that coconut oil is a triglyceride (fatty acid) that is attracted to hair proteins. Due to its lightness and straightness, coconut oil can easily penetrate the hair shaft to deliver moisture and nourishment. Other popular oils used in non-coconut hair products either don’t have an affinity for hair proteins or are too bulky to easily penetrate the hair shaft to produce the same benefits of coconut oil on hair.

Is it better to put coconut oil on wet or dry hair?

Both! If you’re going for deep nourishment, applying coconut oil on the scalp is a great way to create a natural hair mask. Here’s the easiest way to do a natural coconut oil hair mask on either dry or damp hair:

  • Warm 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a pan
  • Once it is cool to the touch, apply the mask to your hair by gently massaging it into the scalp
  • Allow the oil to sit for 20 to 30 minutes
  • Rinse your hair with a high-quality shampoo

If you just want to smooth some flyaway hairs or apply a final shine to dry hair, rub a pea-sized amount of coconut oil into your ends. You can also apply a few spritzes of coconut oil spray for hair to do the trick if you want an even lighter application of oil.

Is it safe to leave coconut oil in your hair overnight?

Just like there’s no real rule about putting coconut oil on wet hair versus dry hair, there’s no rule about how long to leave coconut oil in your hair. If you’d like to leave coconut oil in your hair overnight for a DIY hair mask, wrap a towel around slightly damp hair after applying the oil. Wait until morning to rinse!

Can you use coconut oil for curly hair?

Absolutely! Due to coconut oil’s ability to deeply penetrate the hair shaft instead of sitting “on top” of hair like so many products out there, the oil is perfect for fighting frizz and heaviness with curls. Many people find that coconut hair oil and similar products help to make curly hair stronger and shinier than ever before.

Can I use coconut oil on colored or chemically treated hair?

Many people are curious to know if using coconut oil can change your hair color if you have color-treated hair. In reality, coconut oil is especially beneficial for color-treated hair because it provides nourishment without stripping color. Coconut oil won’t cause your hair color to fade prematurely. However, it will help to lock in moisture in damaged or color-treated hair that is vulnerable to breakage.

Is there any downside to using coconut oil in hair?

Due to its natural properties, coconut oil is considered extremely safe and gentle for all hair types. However, coconut hair products should be approached with caution if you have a coconut allergy. Accidental consumption or inhalation when using products containing coconut could lead to an allergic reaction for someone with a coconut allergy. Additionally, allergic contact dermatitis is possible for some people with coconut allergies.

Some people find that pure coconut oil can feel slightly heavy or greasy on hair. That’s where using balanced products that combine coconut oil with other nourishing, cleaning, and conditioning agents can make all the difference.

What are the best coconut oil hair products?

If your coconut curiosity is ramping up, it may be time to bring some rich, creamy coconut-infused moisture to your hair routine. Luckily, R+F has targeted products containing coconut oil to help you shake out dryness, frizz, dullness, and breakage. Unlike what you’ll experience with DIY coconut hair products, there are no goopy, drippy messes.

MOISTURE+ Cleansing Oil Shampoo

Offering color protection for 32 washes, our MOISTURE+ Cleansing Oil Shampoo is designed to nourish and protect curls with luxurious coconut oil. It’s also a top pick for scalp health. You’ll love the amazing scent!

DETANGLE+ Leave-In Treatment

Perfect for all hair types, DETANGLE+ Leave-In Treatment is a leave-in conditioner that repairs hair and strengthens the scalp’s skin barrier while protecting against color fade, heat damage, and environmental stressors.

MOISTURE+ Conditioning Mask

Featuring RF TriEnergy Complex┬«, silk peptides that enhance shine, and coconut oil that tames frizz while ramping up luster, MOISTURE+ Conditioning Mask is an intense deep-conditioning mask that leaves locks instantly softer! Brittle strands are brought back to life with this intensive, nourishing treatment that’s ideal for all hair types.

Coconut oil offers a natural way to nourish and protect hair. Its ability to help soothe dryness and lock in your skin’s natural moisture barrier also makes it incredible for scalp health. R+F is your coconut connection when you want to tame frizz and dryness with natural plant-based nourishment!