Learn How to Use Coconut Oil Before Bleaching Hair: Step-by-Step Guide

Light-skinned black girl with curly bleached hair wearing a big smile while touching her face

Bleaching your hair at home helps you get the color that you want without paying the high prices at a hair salon. However, bleach is harsh and, if it’s used improperly, can cause lasting damage to your hair.

Luckily, there are ways to mitigate damage to your hair, even when you’re using bleach to dye your hair at home. One of those ways is by using a coconut oil treatment on your hair. 

Many people know that coconut oil is beneficial for your hair, but did you know that you can improve your hair’s health by adding coconut oil to your hair before starting the bleaching process?

Read on to learn more about why coconut oil helps your hair before a bleach treatment and how to apply it for the best results.

Key Takeaways

  • Coconut Oil as a Pre-Bleach Treatment: Applying coconut oil to your hair before bleaching can limit protein loss caused by the bleach. Coconut oil’s lauric acid and natural oils penetrate the hair cuticle, protecting and nourishing hair.
  • Optimal Application Method: Use cold-pressed natural coconut oil for the best results. Apply a small amount of coconut oil evenly to dry hair, ensuring complete coverage, and leave it overnight under a plastic shower cap for deep penetration.
  • Benefits for Different Hair Types: Coconut oil is effective for various hair types, including fine hair and natural hair. It helps maintain hair health and color vibrancy, reducing the risk of dead ends and damage.
  • Post-Bleach Hair Care: Incorporate coconut oil hair masks into your hair routine after bleaching your hair. It helps replenish lost nutrients and maintain strong hair. For thorough cleansing, use a clarifying shampoo.
  • Professional Advice Recommended: For achieving the desired effect without over-saturating your hair with oil, consult professional colorists. They can provide tailored advice on using coconut-based products and essential oils in conjunction with bleaching agents.

Can You Use Coconut Oil Before Bleaching Hair?

You can use coconut oil before bleaching your hair to take advantage of its hydrating and nourishing benefits. Coconut oil’s properties make it particularly beneficial before you bleach your hair by limiting protein loss, mitigating hair loss, enhancing color treatments, and protecting your skin from bleach (e.g., dry skin and chemical burns).

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Limit Protein Loss in Bleached Hair

The reason bleach or hydrogen peroxide damages your hair is that it strips your hair of essential proteins and acids. Without these proteins, your hair becomes dry, brittle, and prone to breakage.

However, coconut oil protects the hair’s proteins. When you apply coconut oil to your hair before bleaching, it binds to the hair proteins and reduces the percentage of protein loss, even when you use harsh treatments such as bleach.

Coconut oil is one of the most effective hair oils at preventing protein loss. Researchers tested it against mineral oil and sunflower oil and found that coconut oil significantly reduced protein loss.

Coconut oil’s composition and low molecular weight help it penetrate the hair shaft better than many other hair oils. By limiting protein loss during bleaching, coconut oil helps your hair stay softer and healthier.

Neem and mustard oil were also shown to be effective in one study. Some women in our audience have mentioned using argan oil and olive oil in similar ways, but we don’t have any scientific data that confirms their effectiveness.

Close-up photo of a Latin female with light brown hair that's been lightened with bleach powder

Mitigate Hair Loss During the Bleaching Process

One of the more serious problems people experience after a bleaching session is hair breakage and brittle, dry hair strands. Sometimes, bleach even manages to damage the hair follicles and causes hair to fall out.

Coconut oil decreases hair loss by binding to the hair follicles and mitigates further damage to the proteins. To get this benefit, be sure to apply coconut oil so that it absorbs into your hair shaft.

Extending coconut oil treatments to your scalp can also improve scalp health and mitigate dandruff. Read this article to learn more about the benefits of using coconut oil.

Apply Coconut Oil for a Longer Lasting Hair Color

If you’re going to go through the trouble of bleaching your hair, you probably want your new color to last as long as possible. Apply coconut oil before bleaching your hair and after the bleaching process to help it last longer.

The reason coconut oil improves the color of your hair is that it improves your hair’s health. When your hair is dry and protein deficient, it does not bind to dye as well as it should. 

When hair is healthy, thanks to the hydrating properties of coconut oil, it absorbs dye better, and the color lasts longer. This also means you can go longer between touch-ups, which will improve the overall health of your hair.

Smiling lady with natural hair standing outside wearing a backpack on a sunny day

Natural Coconut Oil Protects Your Skin From Dye

No matter how careful you are during the hair dyeing process, it seems as if some dye always gets on your skin. Not only does this look silly, but harsh bleaches and dye can damage your skin.

Coconut oil prevents bleach or dye from sticking to your skin by acting as a protective barrier. Before dyeing your hair, rub a little coconut oil along your hairline, ears, and neck.

Can Coconut Oil Bleach Your Hair?

Coconut cannot bleach your hair. This is an urban myth. Coconut oil doesn’t have the ability to change your hair’s color, no matter how long you leave it on.

The way coconut oil contributes to lightening your hair is by making the bleaching process easier. It makes your hair healthier, and healthy hair absorbs more bleach. On its own, the oil will not change your hair color. 

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Which Coconut Oil Should You Use for Hair Bleaching?

For best results, you should use beauty-grade coconut oil. This type of coconut oil is made specifically for cosmetic and hair use and is usually unrefined, meaning that the beneficial natural fats remain in the hair product.

It’s important to understand that not all coconut oils are created equal. Since coconut oil is experiencing such a boom, many companies are looking to profit by selling inferior products.

We recommend that you avoid using inferior products if you want to nourish your hair strands, encourage softness, and properly mitigate potential damage. Be sure to check the ingredients list because some companies use additives.

If you cannot find beauty-grade oil, use natural organic coconut oil. Just make sure that it is unrefined coconut oil because some companies refine the oil to remove impurities and sometimes certain fatty acids.

While this is beneficial for cooking, often the “impurities” that get removed are the fats that are the best for your hair and skin.

Top-notch coconut oil looks solid when it comes in a jar. It doesn’t look like a liquid, like other oils.

Don’t fret—this means that you got the right stuff. You can apply coconut oil to your hair when it is in solid form if you treat it like a paste or cream. 

If you’d prefer to apply coconut oil in liquid form, that’s also easy. Coconut oil liquefies as soon as it’s warmed up. You can heat it for a few seconds in the microwave or just warm it up piece by piece in your hands. 

African American female wearing light and dark brown ombre hair follicles looking into the distance

How To Use Coconut Oil Before Bleaching Hair

If you apply coconut oil before bleaching your hair, you’ll reduce damage and improve the effects of the bleach. Make coconut oil as effective as possible by following the steps below when applying it.

When to Apply Coconut Oil

The first thing you need to consider when preparing your hair for a bleaching session is when to apply coconut oil to your hair. You need to give the oil enough time to absorb into your hair. However, if you wait too long, then its effects are not as potent.

Some people apply coconut oil the same day that they bleach their hair. Others do it the day before. If you plan to get your hair bleached in a salon, ask your stylist what they suggest beforehand.

A professional stylist should be able to give you step-by-step details on how to prepare for the hair treatment. So, it’s a good idea to ask in advance.

Many stylists prefer that customers apply coconut oil a day or two in advance so that the oil does not interfere with the bleaching process. We recommend using a professional the first time you dye your hair, especially if you’re going from dark hair to blonde hair.

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Application Before Bleaching Hair

When you are applying your coconut oil, you need to make sure that it thoroughly covers all of your hair.

First, divide your hair into different sections using hair clips. Consider your hair length and thickness before deciding how many sections you need.

If your hair is thin or if you have short hair, you may only need three or four sections, but divide it into more sections if you have longer or thicker hair.

Once your hair is divided, thoroughly coat all of the sections with coconut oil. Many people use a brush similar to the ones that come in hair dye packets to make sure that the oil gets on every strand. 

Once the oil is applied to your hair, you still need to make sure that you have complete coverage.

Scrunch up your hair and rub it together to get coconut oil on your scalp, which will also protect the hair follicles. At this point, some people like to use a comb to comb out excess coconut oil, but it isn’t necessary.


Once you apply your coconut oil, you cannot bleach your hair immediately. Instead, you need to wait for your hair to absorb the oil.

Some people recommend waiting for an hour or two. This is enough to give your hair some protection from bleach damage. However, for coconut oil to absorb completely, it usually needs about 12 hours.

For the best results, many hairstylists recommend leaving coconut oil on your hair overnight. This allows your hair to absorb all the benefits.

When going to sleep with coconut oil on your hair, be sure to put on a shower cap (or plastic bag). This allows the oil to sink deeper into your hair and protects your pillows from oily hair.

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Bleaching Your Hair

Once the coconut oil is absorbed, you are ready to bleach your hair. There are two schools of thought when it comes to bleaching your hair after coconut oil: (1) those that rinse off the oil and (2) those that do not.

Rinse-Off the Oil

Some people recommend rinsing out coconut oil before applying bleach.

If you choose to go down this route, rinse your hair for longer than you usually would so that you get all of the oil out. You can even use a shampoo, which washes away more of the oil.

The benefit of this method is that your bleaching process will go more smoothly. Sometimes, if you have excess coconut oil on your hair, it can actually stop the bleach from working as it should.

However, you will lose some of the protection that coconut oil provides once you rinse it out of your hair.

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No Rinse Method

Others do not rinse coconut oil out of their hair before bleaching. This allows the hair to retain as much protection as possible during bleaching.

Even if your hair still has coconut oil on it, you will be able to bleach it. However, the process will be a little more difficult. You may need to use more bleach than you usually would or leave it in a little longer.

You should also be aware that leaving coconut oil in your hair will make it more slippery during the bleaching process. This may seem like a no-brainer, but be ready for a little extra mess when you’re applying bleach.

Once you’re ready to rinse both the bleach and coconut oil out of your hair, be sure to spend a little extra time to make sure you get the oil out. Use a gentle shampoo or even a deep conditioner for a co-washing session. 


Coconut oil can be a valuable part of your hair care routine even after you finish bleaching it.

Incorporate it into your regular hair care routine for a few weeks after your bleach to hydrate your hair and replenish any proteins that were damaged.

Some people use coconut oil in place of a conditioner in the shower. Coconut oil contains natural ingredients as opposed to harsh chemicals, so it is gentler on fragile hair than conditioner.

Others use coconut oil as a hydrating hair mask. Rub coconut oil into your hair, leave it on overnight, and cover it with a shower cap.

Then, wash it out the next day using a conditioner for a treatment that will replenish your hair. Also, avoid heat styling tools (blow dryer, flat iron, curling iron, etc.) to avoid additional hair damage and maintain your beautiful hair.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you put coconut oil in your hair before bleaching?

We don’t recommend using oil prior to bleaching your hair unless it’s specifically recommended by your stylist. Treating your hair with coconut oil prior to bleaching your hair is used to avoid damaged hair and keep your scalp and hair healthy during the bleaching process. Since everyone’s hair is different, your specific needs could be different from someone’s needs, and using generic advice isn’t advised.

How long should you leave coconut oil in your hair before bleaching?

It would be best if you waited for your hair to absorb the oil (usually about an hour or two). Then you can bleach your hair. For best results, many hairstylists recommend leaving coconut oil on overnight. We recommend consulting a professional hairstylist to provide guidance based on your specific hair strands and regimen.

What Is Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil is made from the fruit of coconuts. For centuries, it has been used in cooking and food preparation in Asian countries. Recently, it’s begun taking the Western world by storm as well. 
Besides its nutritional uses, coconut oil also has cosmetic benefits. The fatty oil locks in moisture in your skin and hair. For centuries, women in India and Southeast Asia have regularly applied coconut oil to their hair and dry patches of skin for a healthy, gorgeous look.
The benefits of coconut oil are so potent that it even holds up against harsh modern-day treatments that threaten to strip your hair strands of its nutrients, such as bleaching.

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Coconut Oil and Hair Bleach

One of the lesser-known uses of coconut oil is to mitigate hair damage before bleaching your strands. Applying coconut oil before a bleach treatment protects hair proteins, nourishes the hair, and can even improve hair growth.

Coconut oil can work wonders for your hair before or after a bleaching procedure. Just make sure that you are using it correctly. Use only the highest quality coconut oil, apply it thoroughly to your hair, and give it enough time to soak in.

Bleaching your hair does not have to mean ruining it. Coconut oil is a great way to keep your hair and scalp healthy while getting the color you want. Plus, it works for any hair type.

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