Worthy Products: Coconut Oil

coconut oil 2I have a minor infatuation with natural hair care products (as if you haven’t noticed that already). And oils, by far, top my list of useful, multi-purpose hair care items. One of the most flexible and accessible oils on the market is coconut oil. Some use it for cooking purposes and internal health. I use it for consistent hair and body moisture maintenance. Truthfully, it is an ingredient in every single body butter and hair oil I produce for my family. Because of its natural capabilities, coconut oil boasts many benefits for women of color in particular.

Here are a few reasons why I love it so much.

  1. Coconut oil is a great strengthener for hair (and skin) – the proteins in coconut oil bond with the structure of hair fibers. This is especially helpful for porous hair (hair with a higher risk of losing moisturizer and exposing the follicle). Usually chemically treated hair suffers from high porosity. Coconut oil fills in the gaps in the hair, allowing it to retain and absorb moisture more easily.
  2. Coconut oil is an excellent sealant – like many oils, coconut oil adds shine to the surface of the hair. But, it’s molecules are able to actually bond to the hair’s fibers and prevent excess water from entering the hair shaft. This is a wonderful component in sealing the hair after washing to ensure the hair stays moisturized.
  3. Coconut oil is a great pre-poo (pre-shampoo) or hot oil treatment tool – because coconut oil can bond with the hair’s fibers, small amounts are able to enter the hair’s shaft during the washing process. And, I find that it softens and detangles my hair well. I have pretty coarse/thick 4b/4c hair, which means my hair has very tight coils and thinker strands. When dry, my hair can very easily wrap around itself and cause single strand knots, also known as SSK’s. Coconut oil helps me to get my hair smooth and manageable prior to the washing process which diminishes my knots and cuts down my wash time.

I use extra virgin, unrefined coconut oil so I can be sure I am getting the fully concentrated goodness of this natural creation. Any other version could potentially include chemicals and bleaching agents which could negatively impact the skin and hair. Be sure to read the label because many products claim to be coconut oil when in actuality they contain lanolin and/or petroleum as filler. These products will NOT yield the same results as pure coconut oil.

Since I mix coconut oil in just about everything I use for my hair and body, I have quite a few recipes which include it. I find it quite useful in my shea body butter. But, the one recipe where coconut oil is the star is my pre-poo/hot oil treatment. Check it out below.

Coconut Oil Pre-poo

(This yields 1 cup or 8 ounces of mixed treatment)

½ cup or 4 ounces of Coconut Oil

1/8 cup or 1 ounce of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

1/8 cup or 1 ounce of Castor oil

1/4 cup or 2 ounces of your favorite cheapy condish (I use Suave Naturals)

I typically wet my dry hair to dampen it, put it into 6-8 twists, apply the treatment to each twist after allowing it to warm in a cup of hot water, and then use my heated cap to treat my hair for at least an hour before washing. Add as much as you need to fully saturate your hair. And, don’t be afraid to massage some into your scalp as the castor oil in this recipe is a great scalp stimulant. Then, I follow my normal wash routine and regimen.

I would highly recommend this treatment to anyone looking to revitalize hair that has been in weaves, in braids, relaxed, or in other high stress hair styles. Because it naturally strengthens the hair and skin, it reduces the need for many other products which promise the same results only to under-deliver. As someone who religiously wore braids and weaves for extended periods of time, I can honestly say that adding coconut oil to my weekly regimen has vastly improved the look and feel of my hair. I will continue to use it as a main stay in my home.

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