Why Coconut Oil May Not Work For Every Hair Type - hair buddha
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Why Coconut Oil May Not Work For Every Hair Type


Coconut oil is fab. But why the obsession. It’s touted as ‘the’ natural beauty aid for every hair or skin type. Coconut oil or for that matter any ‘one’ oil is not going to work for everyone.

Why Coconut oil May Not Work For Every Hair Type

Coconut oil can penetrate inside the hair shaft due to its low molecular size, and also because it contains lauric acid which has a high affinity for hair proteins. This study shows that coconut oil can help reduce the protein loss from hair when used pre-wash or in a post-wash grooming product. This is great, as protein is what gives the hair its strength and structure. But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

Coconut oil works pretty well for those with soft, fine or medium thick (in diameter) hair. Its protein retention abilities will add body and volume to such hair types. And also minimize damage and breakage while combing and styling.

But if your hair is dry, stiff, brittle, or coarse (could be wavy or curly), then it’s better to give it a pass. With repeated use coconut oil may cause protein build up, making your hair further stiff, hard and less elastic. And less elasticity means more breakage when combing or styling. Also, your hair will be tangled and dull looking.

What Is The Solution For Dry, Stiff And Brittle Hair?

If you hair feels dry, stiff, rough, crunchy, tangly, or brittle, you need to add in moisture. Treat your hair with natural moisturisers such as aloe vera, flaxseed gel, honey, or glycerine (plant derived). Also, you can combine one of the moisturisers with conditioning oils such as olive, almond, sesame, avocado or jojoba oil to make a lovely moisturising hair mask.

Even better, make a hair spritz. Combine 1 tsp of aloe vera gel or glycerine with 95ml of distil water or rose water (or any floral water you like). And spray as often as required. Note: Since we are not adding any preservatives keep the hair spritz refrigerated and use within 2 to 3 weeks.

Replenish the moisture in your hair and it will be softer, more flexible and shiner. Also, you do not have to forgo coconut oil altogether, but don’t use on its own. Combine it with other oils or moisturising ingredients and you will have happier and softer hair.

Have you experienced dryness with coconut oil? How do you moisturise your hair?


  • Livnam

    Norwegian lady here, and it’s more common than not to have thin, fine hair that turns frizzy no matter what. I’ve tried using coconut oil as a leave-in conditioner, and it actually makes it MORE frizzy. I’ll try some organic almond oil when I can afford it.

  • Alexis Viengmyxay

    Hi I’m Half-Black , Half-Asian so my hair is pretty difficult to satisfy for some reason LOL. Coconut oil and Olive Oil are the two oils that everyone swears by has been causing my hair to become dry and brittle every-time I use it. I just started using Castor Oil and it hasn’t been drying out my hair I guess, but I’m not sure if its because I put in a lot of other products (so it could actually be those products and not the castor oil). This brings me to a few questions then:

    How exactly do you know if an Oil is doing its job/good for your hair?

    Have I just not been using these oils correctly ? (because it weird how Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, and Castor Oil don’t work- and I’ve tried other at home remedies like honey and smashed bananas and mayo)

    What other oils could I try that might work for my hair type?? The one oil that actually worked wonders for my hair was Moroccan (but it is mighty expensive!) Does anyone know of any similar oils??

    I truly need help 🙁

    • Hi Alexis, Have you tried almond oil? Mix it with castor oil and use.
      You can also try coconut milk, honey and olive oil mask.

  • Mike Kimmel

    Hi I am a black man and I have very thin, dry ,course, and brittle hair I have been using coconut oil for almost a year and it doesn’t seem to help me at all but everyone I know swears by it do you have any suggestions on a oil that I could use daily that could help me by the way ive been useing extra virgin olive oil for the past 3 months and it doesnt seam to help much either thanks

    • Hi Mike, you can try sesame, almond, avocado, or macadamia nut oil. These are all great for dry, coarse hair.

    • anthony alston

      make sure you are using quality shampoo and conditioners. My hair really changed after I started using coconut shampoo and conditioner. Tea tree conditioner is really good also if you leave it in for a few minutes. when you dry, towel dry and apply some argan oil or olive oil to get the moisture in

  • Helene D.

    Thank you for this article, just wished i would have read it sooner. I had to cut off 8 inches of damaged hair badly breaking because of coconut oil. Like one of your commenters at first it did wonders i was usingit once a month before dying my hair. and all of a sudden my hair was breaking in small pieces. It broke so bad that i had to get it cut to even it out. I’ve since had to invest in repairing hair mask and good salon quality shampoo and conditioner. But i will definatly try all the oils your recomended.

  • Ashley Billings

    My daughter is biracial and I was using a mixture of coconut oil, olive oil, and jojoba oil. It worked wonders in the beginning and now seems to make it greasy yet frizzy all at once! Do you think it’s bc of the protein build up? I ordered almond oil-should u combine it with the jojoba oil? Or would Shea Butter do better? Her hair seems super soft when I use my creme but once it’s been a few hours it looks worse than before applying it :/

    • It could be protein build up. Use coconut oil less than 20% and that may help.

      Try olive and almond oil combo,

      Other hair softening oils are argan, grapeseed, and avocado.

      Let us know how it goes.

  • Lise Sand Mellem

    So… does this sound right for thin caucasian hair ?:

    mixing a spoon of coconut oil, olive oil, Castor oil, avocado oil, a few drops of cinnamon etherical oil and a spoon of honey…

    and sleeping with this over night? And using it on dry hair ends ?

    So far i’ve only used coconut oil… but wanted a better result and thus found this article ❤👍

  • Nehha Dar

    I use a dime sized amount of coconut oil on the ends of my hair, under my eyes and on my eyelashes every night before bed. Its done wonders for my hair (it never falls out anymore and my hair and lashes have grown) but am I using it too much? My hair is soft and medium thick BTW.

    • Wow that’s awesome Neha. You are using the right amount and the best indicator is whether your hair likes it or not and in your case your hair loves coconut oil. Thanks for sharing your experience, it will help so many others.

  • zuraiii

    how about thinning,dry ,coarse and brittle asian hair? my hair breaks easily and combing hair can be a real horrible experience with tons of hair failing at once! I was almost going to go for coconut oil but if its bot suitable for my hair ,what should i do?

  • Zoë Q

    Thank goodness!! I thought it was just me! My hair is fine Caucasian hair but started to go brittle and crunchy which lead to tangles, breakage and tears from me (with fine hair you can’t afford to loose it!)
    Getting married soon and couldn’t understand why this miracle product wasn’t working for me, as I’d been slathering it on in desperation not to be a bald bride!
    Aloe and olive oil overnight a couple of times a week is helping lots! Phew!

    • Yes coconut oil doesn’t work for everyone. I will suggest you to try the marshmallow and horsetail hair rinse: http://www.hairbuddha.net/all-natural-detangling-hair-spray/
      Congratulations and enjoy your wedding and preparations! I am sure your hair will look beautiful on that day.

    • J Spencer

      I can’t use Olive Oil on my skin for anything that isn’t specifically located in a single, smaller area of skin at once, & then even if it’s been infused with one of more herbs or is a mix of multiple single herb infused EVOOs/VOOs & semi-solidified to made almost fully solid with beeswax when the herb(s) infused oil is turned into a homemade herbal remedy in salve form given to me by my mother or that I’ve even helped prepare before figuring this one out doesn’t make a difference except for some of the infused herbs occasionally reducing or working automatically to correct the damage that prolonged use of Olive Oil on my skin in the same area, & especially if it’s a larger one, causes & making my only real use for it besides cooking (as there’s a decent amount of it around my household that’s older than any of my other oils but has not yet gone bad due to good storage conditions & we also use it for keeping the cast iron skillet nice & conditioned, so it still has it’s uses both in the kitchen & for very small scale usage for myself although the Boy/my permanent roommate can use a lot more for a lot longer with less issues, but we have somewhat different skin types in terms of moisturization retainment & how quickly each of our skin’s absorb different oils & natural sebum production & more despite being fairly similar until we start testing when I can get him to cooperate with me if I’m making something to help him so that it will soak into his skin the fastest so that he doesn’t become more antsy about having to sit still than he already naturally is…), as large amounts of Olive Oil used in general, but especially over even just a few days with visibly bad skin reactions forming at even just a week, as a moisturizer or herbal salve base carrier oil or really anything other than being what I have on hand to clean highly lipophilic & usually very sticky natural materials such as resin’s or highly resinous fresh plant materials like cut rosemary when it’s hot out that the oil pulls away from my skin so that I can wipe the excess or mess off easily actually starts to impair & then damage the topmost layers of my skin (as I’ve never allowed it to go further than that as it took me a while to figure out the cause) to the point that redness, irritation, & rashes can linger for weeks or even scab over — which really sucks when I’m trying to use an otherwise effective pain salve to help with the pain issues caused by chronic disease/illness caused by genetics or factors unknown, so to even be able to keep using that I have to add 50% regular Shea Butter or roughly 30-35% of the naturally softer & creamier & more moisturizing but still very light Shea Nilotica Butter from a Shea subspecies that’s well worth the extra expense even on my very limited budget — so I refuse to use Olive Oil in my butt length hair for any reason as I already have enough issues with the baby fine texture prone to tangling at a whim on top of any breakage damage that can be easily caused by the length or multiple other issues if not kept up & out of the way in a very simple & generally pretty loose bun in addition to having naturally oily skin on my face, neck, & scalp as well as my hands a bit as well. So I wasn’t exactly surprised to try Coconut Oil only to quickly start running into issues simply using it as a moisturizer with the exception of a overnight skin oil I was testing for a friend that I still haven’t been able to get what she scented it with out of her so that I can use the same natural scent combo using the other oils I finally started really exploring once I ran out of what she had made for me to test, & even then with it being primarily Coconut Oil based, if not fully so, I had to blot up any excess oil whether applying just before bed or not, & I’ve tried using Coconut Oil as a deep hair moisturizer after an oil stripping wash if I’ve been trying something new that I need to really just get all of the gunk out of my hair from & especially on my scalp & even when rinsing as much of the excess Coconut Oil out of my hair as possible after using a minimum amount to start with my hair is still left limp & heavy & visibly greasy looking as soon as it’s dry, & even applied lightly to skin it never fully soaks in & so only creates an oily mess to have to be be blotting the excess from off of myself no matter how small of an amount I’ve used, so it’s been regulated to pretty much strictly food or used as requested by other family members in the things I make, especially when it works very well for my sister who’s skin type varies drastically from my own.

      So it’s not just the people commenting here in this thread who have issues using the 2 widely most often suggested “best oils for skin & hair” of the moment that I get very frustrated with at times when every single recipe seems to call for a lot or solely one that I can’t use like that & meaning I’m going to have to tweak or possibly majorly change the majority of skincare/haurcare oil based recipes & suggestions I come across before I can even get around to finishing my supplies needed list. *sigh*

      At least here on Hair Buddha the use & substituting of multiple oils as well as their properties is mentioned in more than just their own post, so that is very helpful for me as despite having a good idea of what both my skin & hair want to just eat up from what I’ve had access to so far, when dealing with herbal recipes & especially when the carrier oil used plays a specific role it’s nice to see options so that I’m not totally just having to take the main ideas & just experiment until I find what works best when I actually have the energy to do so as I so rarely do right now! So kudos for that!

  • Clarissa

    Coconut oil made my hair break off. It was drying and did nothing to condition my hair at all. I was able to use it on dry skin and for teeth brushing though.

  • Dixita jain

    My hair results after using this coconut oil treatment is neither bad nor good… How frequently shall coconut oil be applied on hair.?

  • Kristina Bressler

    I got the coconut oil from Trader Joe. Is this fine or should I look for another?

    • Sorry we don’t have trader joe in London. But any coconut oil that says extra virgin, cold pressed is good.
      Here are some good ones.

  • rose

    Thank you so much! I have really tried with coconut oil, couldn’t find the magic! Brilliant post. Will definitely try you technique

    • Hello Rose, glad you found this useful 🙂
      Let us know what works for you.

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  • Sandra

    OMG! Thank you so much for this article Minaz. You’ve just describe my hair ” But if your hair is dry, stiff, brittle, or coarse (could be wavy or curly), then it’s better to give it a pass. With repeated use coconut oil may cause protein build up, making your hair further stiff, hard and less elastic. And less elasticity means more breakage when combing or styling. Also, your hair will be tangled and dull looking” This is my hair and what excessive use of coconut has cost my hair. I have been taking good care of my hair and using only natural products. Actually I make my own shampoos and conditioners, however I used lots and lots of coconut oil, include coconut milk which I often make myself. My hair has been breaking a lot, every time I comb it, I get so many pieces about 1/4 to 1/2 inch breakage. I keep wondering why this is happening. Today you’ve just solve my problem thank you so much for this article. The question I have is that, do I have to completely eliminate coconut oil and milk out of my hair regime? Plus did you know about fermented coconut oil? if so, does it have less protein or worst?
    Thank you so much

  • deepa

    thanks for the tips… l can’t wait trying it.

    • Minaz Aslam

      You are welcome, Deepa. Let us know how it works for you.

  • bindu

    Yup,Maanav u r rite I think .I too have dry ,fizzy n dull n semi curly hair.Since last 2 mts m using coconut oil mixed wd almond ,olive, castoroil n now I am able see d difference in my hair.They are much more softer n smoother dn before. Simply LOVE my hair nowadays .

    • Minaz Aslam

      Bindu, thanks for sharing!!

  • Chaithra shetty

    Its d perfect article for me as i used to use cocnut oil almost everytime i washed my hair. My hair is thick coarse n wavy. And i think its the reason why my hair has become stiff. I am now trying out almond castor n olive oil mix lets hope it restores the moisture back in my hair.

    • Minaz Aslam

      Chaithra, glad you found it useful. Is the oil blend helping?

  • maanav

    i do not think coconut oil can be bad for people. yes the coconut oil today which we get in the market they are all false mix with bad stuff. i made my own coconut oil at home and its pure nothing mix.i think the coconut what is in market they are made of grease. as it does not have any perfume. a pure coconut oil is full with perfume. its also soft when you get the oil in contact with your hand palm. very soft on body…its also easy to make it. being in London i can do it easily. i have lost lots of my hair with stress then shampoos fake oils n the market. but its been 3 month i am using coconut oil home made one mis with amla. and its making my thin hair get a bit stronger thicker and i saw some of them getting longer. so i think it works perfectly alright. thank you

    • Minaz Aslam

      Maanav, thanks for sharing!
      How do you make coconut oil at home, I am curious to know.

      • Shah

        Just Google it. You’ll find loads of stuff. Doing great job Minaz. Keep it up

        • Minaz Aslam

          Thanks you Shahji.

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