Can Coconut Oil Make Hair Grow Like Rapunzel?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

There’s not much to prove that coconut oil can get you long locks, but it does have a host of benefits that make it worth adding to your hair care routine. Here’s everything we know about coconut oil and hair growth.

So, does it actually work?

Unfortunately, there’s not much evidence to suggest that coconut oil makes your hair grow longer. (We can dream though, right?) While coconut oil isn’t directly responsible for hair growth, it does help foster the healthy environment your scalp needs to stimulate growth.

ishonest No.501 - Frizzy Hair

No.501 - Frizzy Hair

Coconut oil is unique in that it’s able to penetrate the shaft of the hair. Because of this, it can strengthen hair, prevent hair loss, and reduce split ends. The end result: hair that appears thicker and more voluminous.

Other reasons to go nuts for coconut oil

The benefits of this oil are real, even if it can’t give you mermaid hair.

  • Deep conditioning. Coconut oil is extra conditioning and makes a perfect deep conditioning treatment a few times per month.
  • Deep cleaning. Coconut oil may help cleanse the buildup of natural oil and hair products at your roots.
  • Dandruff control. The moisturizing, anti-inflammatory qualities of coconut oil may help with stubborn dandruff. It’s also antifungal.
  • Detangling. Got a super-stubborn knot? Massage some coconut oil into the hair to make it easier to brush out the knot without damaging your hair.
  • Shine. Just a tiny bit of coconut oil can add some shine to dull hair without making it look greasy.
  • Heat protection. Pre- treating your hair with coconut oil prior to heat-styling may help protect your hair from heat damage.
  • Lice treatment. Surprisingly, it’s also a pretty great home remedy for lice.

Also, it smells like a tropical vacation. What’s better than that?

How to use it

Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so you’ll need to prep it a little bit to make it easier to work into your hair.

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Scoop a dollop into a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 10-second increments until the oil is softened, but not hot. (We’re trying to condition, not deep fry.)

Alternatively, you can rub some room-temp coconut oil in your hands until it melts. Then, choose your desired benefit and apply accordingly:

  • Deep-conditioning hair mask. Apply coconut oil generously to hair from root- to-tip and let sit for 30 minutes. Try wrapping your hair in a towel after application to lock in moisture and avoid making a mess. Next, shampoo and rinse the oil out. Mask hair up to once a week.
  • Detangling. Gently work a small amount of coconut oil into the knot, being careful not to break the hair or rip through the knot. Then, gently work the knot out with a detangling brush or comb.
  • Heat protection. Apply a small amount of coconut oil on damp hair before blow- drying or a thin amount to dry hair before heat styling. As coconut oil is a natural heat protectant, it can help reduce damage from flat irons and other hot tools.
  • Shine. Take a small dab of coconut oil and brush or comb into hair, being careful to avoid your scalp and roots so it doesn’t look greasy.
  • Lice. Generously apply coconut oil to your hair, then cover your hair with a shower cap overnight to kill the lice and brush them out with a fine-toothed comb.

Other ways to grow those locks

Hair growth starts from the inside. Give your body what it needs and practice a few hair maintenance habits and you’ll be on your way to rapunzel-like locks. Here are some ways to support healthy hair growth:

  • Take your vitamins. Keeping your body stocked on essential nutrients like vitamins A, B, C, D, and E will support all the processes that maintain healthy hair (we’re talking growth, cell regeneration, and sebum production — aka oil, which keeps hair shiny and luscious). You can reach for supplements targeted at hair growth or pop a daily multivitamin. Just remember to consult with your doctor before starting any new supplements.
  • Stop stressing. We know it’s easier said than done, but stress really does have a physical impact. Chronic stress might even stop hair growth in its tracks. Take the time to prioritize self-care and remove any unnecessary stressors from your life. You’ll reap the rewards inside and out.
  • Scalp massage. Daily scalp massage may help stimulate your hair follicles to promote hair growth (ever wonder why they do it at the salon?). It can also help you unwind. Work this into your routine by massaging your scalp for 30 to 60 seconds each time you shampoo. Not into finger work? Invest in a scalp massager!
  • Eat a balanced diet. Remember our supplement talk? The food you eat provides the raw materials your body needs to grow hair. Reach for fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein to keep hair strong and lustrous.

If home remedies aren’t doing the trick, don’t be afraid to call your healthcare provider. There are over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medication options to support hair growth. Your doc can help you come up with a treatment plan that works for you.

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