How Coconut Oil Ruined My Hair: The Dangers of Coconut Oil

A cheerful young black girl with healthy hair styled her natural curls with virgin coconut oil and essential hair oils.

Coconut oil is all the rage right now. People are using it for everything from cooking to skincare to hair care.

Though the oil is considered a multi-purpose miracle, it doesn’t work for everyone.

In fact, some emphatically claim that coconut oil alone ruined their hair. Can coconut oil ruin your hair? This article will discuss several ways coconut oil can damage your hair and teach you how to avoid such a disaster.

How Coconut Oil Ruined My Hair

Coconut oil has a mostly positive reputation as a hair oil, but it’s definitely not perfect and won’t work well for everyone. Knowing how coconut oil use can result in a disaster can help you avoid a hair care failure.

A cute African American female with hair shaft damage after coconut oil damaged her low porosity hair strands.

Here are a few ways that coconut oil can ruin your hair.

Clog Scalp Pores

Coconut oil has a comedogenic rating of four out of five, meaning it is likely to clog your pores. When applied to your scalp, not only can it clog the pores, but it can cause folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicles). Without prompt and effective treatment, folliculitis can lead to hair loss.

Scalp Irritation and Hair Dryness

Because it is a heavy sealing oil, coconut repels water and can be difficult to wash out. This means that your usual shampoo may not be able to properly cleanse your hair and scalp, leading to build-up.

Over time, this build-up can weigh your hair down, making your scalp and hair greasy and stringy. This not only leads to scalp irritation but can create a barrier on your strands that makes it impossible for moisture to enter. This, of course, leads to dry hair.

A positive young black female with hair cuticle damage after using coconut oil hair treatments on her 3C curls.

Protein Build-Up

Coconut oil can also make your hair brittle by causing protein build-up. This makes your hair more susceptible to breakage from routine handling, leading to split ends and further damage.

How to Use Coconut Oil for the Best Results

Now that you understand how coconut oil can ruin the hair, it’s time to get into how to get the benefits of coconut oil without damaging your hair.

  • Deep cleanse. If you use coconut oil on your hair on an ongoing basis, make sure to give your strands a deep cleanse every so often. This will remove any build-up that has accumulated on your scalp and strands from the coconut oil.
  • Don’t overuse it. A little bit of coconut oil goes a long way. When you use too much, it can lead to the issues we discussed earlier. Start with a small amount and increase as needed.
  • Guard against protein overload. If you use coconut oil regularly, give your hair a break from protein treatments and watch how much protein is in your routine hair products. Coconut oil reduces the amount of protein loss from your hair, so too much coconut oil use can lead to an imbalance and make your hair overly brittle. This is especially true if you use coconut oil in addition to protein treatments or protein-containing hair products.
Adorable African American female with curly natural hair has been using essential oils to promote hair growth.

Who Shouldn’t Use Coconut Oil on Their Hair?

Some people should avoid using coconut oil on their hair altogether. If you have an oily scalp, avoid using coconut oil as it will only add to the problem.

If you have fine hair, using coconut oil can make your hair greasy, heavy, and stiff. Finally, using coconut oil can make the flakes worse if you have dandruff.

How Do You Fix Coconut Oil-Damaged Hair?

Fixing coconut oil-damaged hair is possible, and here’s how to do it. If you use coconut oil and notice your hair becoming dry, brittle, or greasy, cut back on how often you use it.

For scalp irritation and flakiness (which may precede hair loss), give your hair a deep cleanse and use a clarifying shampoo to remove any build-up.

You may also want to try a different oil altogether.

Argan oil, macadamia nut oil, and jojoba oil are all excellent alternatives to coconut oil.

Light-skinned black female with type 3 hair strands that were styled coconut oil alternatives like castor oil.

Most Use Coconut Oil Without a Problem

Despite the risks, most people can use coconut oil on their hair without problems. When used sparingly and with care, coconut oil can do wonders for your hair.

It can add shine, softness, and moisture to even the driest strands. Just remember to use it in moderation, clarify, and give your hair a break every now and then. Your hair will thank you for it!

Coconut Isn’t All Bad: The Benefits

Though coconut oil doesn’t work for everyone, there’s no denying that the oil boasts some fantastic benefits for most who use it. Here they are:

  1. Protection from outside elements. Coconut oil can help to protect your hair from the sun, wind, and saltwater by forming a barrier on top of your strands. This comes in handy when you’re spending extended periods outdoors.
  2. Reduced protein loss. As we mentioned before, coconut oil can help to reduce the amount of protein loss from your hair. This is great for people who chemically process or heat style their hair, as both of these can reduce the hair’s protein levels to the point of damage. 
  3. Moisture retention. Coconut oil can help your hair retain moisture, keeping it hydrated and preventing split ends. It does this by sealing any existing moisture deep inside the strands. This only works if your strands are already hydrated, so use a good conditioner or moisturizer beforehand.
  4. Detangling. Because of its lubricating properties, coconut oil can help detangle even the most matted hair. Apply it to wet or dry hair before detangling with a wide-toothed comb for the best results.
  5. Enhanced shine. Coconut oil can give your hair a healthy shine by smoothing down your hair cuticles. The difference is immediate and long-lasting.
Adorable young lady with a mix of 3B and 3C hair types on her naturally curly hair that was styled with grapeseed oil.

Other Reasons Why Your Hair Could Be Damaged

A lot of times, we blame a particular product for our hair issues when it could be caused by something else entirely. There are several other factors that could be to blame for your declining hair health.

  • Diet. A poor diet can lead to hair that’s dry, brittle, and lacking in shine. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and protein can help improve your hair’s condition.
  • Stress. Believe it or not, stress can have a pretty significant impact on your hair. When you’re stressed, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode and diverts all its resources to more critical functions, like keeping your heart beating. This can lead to hair loss and a whole host of other problems.
  • Hormonal imbalances. Hormonal imbalances can cause a whole host of problems, including hair loss. Talk to your doctor if you think your hormones might be out of balance.
  • Age. Unfortunately, as we age, our hair starts to thin and become less manageable. This is just a natural part of the aging process, and there’s not much we can do about it.
  • Climate. If you live in a particularly dry or humid climate, that could be wreaking havoc on your hair. Try to use products specifically designed for your hair type and climate.

Related Articles

Coconut oil is an excellent natural remedy for several different ailments, but it’s not a one size fits all solution for hair. If you have never used coconut oil and are considering trying it, you can do so.

Just use the tips we’ve covered to ensure you use coconut oil safely and effectively. And if you find that coconut oil isn’t for you, don’t worry!

There are plenty of other products out there that can help you achieve the healthy, beautiful hair you deserve. We hope that this article has been helpful and that you learned something new!

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