Updated: Jul 9, 2020
Sipping water out of a coconut on the beach: the perfect representation of a tropical vacation. Well coconuts are way more than just a decorative drink holder, they actually have a lot of health benefits.
The water, milk, oil, and meat of the coconut can all be used. Coconut is much more than just its delicious flavor profile. It offers health benefits such as regulating blood sugar, benefitting heart health, and providing disease fighting antioxidants, what more could you ask for?
How about helping with my hair loss?
Well, not quite. Although coconut oil does have proven benefits for your skin, and there are claims that it can help hair loss, many of these hair claims are not as good as they’re made out to be. In this article I want to highlight some of the potential upsides of adding coconut oil to your hair loss regimen, while also clearing up some of the misconceptions, so that you can have a clear idea of how it may be able to help you and then you can make an informed decision about whether or not you want to use it for hair loss.
Potential benefits of coconut oil for hair loss
Google search “coconut oil for hair” and you will get millions of results, this is because there are proven benefits to improve your hair health. Google search “coconut oil for hair loss” and you will get a bunch of articles that are either poorly written or don’t give any evidence to their claims.
This article is going to be based solely on scientific evidence, or the lack there of.
Protect vellus hair
Starting with the first benefit, one claim that is commonly made is that coconut oil can protect against damage. This is true… to an extent. One study showed that coconut oil may be able to protect against heat and sun damage because it prevents protein in the hair being lost. Another study showed that coconut oil can help protect against wet combing damage due to its hydrophobic properties. This essentially means that it can reduce the amount of water that penetrates into the hair and lifts the cuticle, therefore keeping the hair in place better when it is put under the stress/tension of combing. But what does this mean for hair loss?
Well, when you are trying to overcome hair loss you are essentially nurturing your vellus hair back to life (the thin, unpigmented hairs that are where your hair used to be). Through blocking DHT, improving circulation, and other various treatments, those vellus hairs can eventually be transformed back into healthy terminal hair. The problem is that they are very fragile and need to be protected while they are being revitalized. As we talk about on our website, sunlight and excessive combing can be very detrimental to vellus hairs. Since coconut offers benefits for protection against damage caused by sunlight and combing it may be able to help ease the transition of vellus hair into terminal hair.
Though it’s still best to avoid direct sunlight exposure and combing hair when possible, but we get it: life happens.
Another claim that you hear frequently is that coconut oil can help dandruff. Although it’s not entirely true there is some merit to this claim.
Coconut oil has been shown in studies to be both antibacterial and antifungal. This has implications for dandruff control because dandruff is caused by a fungus called Malassezia. Although there has not been any studies done on coconut oil alone on dandruff, the inference can be made.
Dandruff can lead to clogged pores and itchiness/inflammation. Since coconut oil may be able to help clear some of the fungus that leads to dandruff, it may also be indirectly improving hair loss as well. More research is still needed, ideally one testing coconut oil alone.
Misconceptions about coconut oil for hair loss
Everything I talked about above… those are the only benefits with any scientific evidence, and even that evidence is not inherently strong. Anything else you hear is pure speculation and really shouldn’t be talked about at all, but sometimes it is unfortunately.
The first is that coconut oil can stop pattern hair loss caused by DHT. This is just plain not true, but people like to twist information from studies, especially some of the studies I mentioned above. The only study that has ever been done was conducted in animal test tubes and has no implications for humans. Some articles even claim that it can be a natural alternative to drugs like finasteride, which is also false. If you are looking to go the natural route, there are many otherwell-researched options available.
Boosts hair growth
Another common claim that has no scientific evidence to back it up. A lot of articles make this claim without linking to any studies and say things like “more research is needed”. Well I would care to say that any research is needed. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet, especially when there is no links to studies that back the claims.
Thought coconut oil has been shown to improve current hair health, and has some possible implications for hair loss, there is a lot of misinformation floating around the web.
The antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of coconut oil may be able to indirectly improve dandruff, and studies have shown it to be a good damage protectant against sunlight and combing, but is it your best choice? Probably not.
The extreme lack of research surrounding coconut oil and hair loss leads me to suggest you use other treatments. There are a wide range of scientifically proven, and even FDA approved hair loss treatments that will be able to give you much better results, and if you want to go the natural route there are many other, better options as well.
All in all coconut oil should not be used as the main treatment if your primary goal is to reduce and reverse hair loss. If anything, it should be used as a small addition to your hair loss regimen that may be able to offer benefits.