Coconut Oil for Hair Growth- Its a Myth

May 3, 2021
Updated: December 28, 2021
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Coconut oil is a popular cosmetic ingredient in hair care products for preventing hair damage. Interest in natural remedies has seen an increase in the use of coconut oil for promoting hair growth, but the research is not there to support this application.


”coconut oil was the only oil found to reduce the protein loss remarkably for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product”


Prevents Hair Damage

If your hair is thinning because it is breaking or becoming damaged, then coconut oil could be a good solution.  Multiple studies have been published showing that rubbing coconut oil along your hair can reduce damage and the number of breaks from combing and other types of mechanical strain.  Coconut oil seems to be more effective than other common types of oils (such as mineral oil or sunflower oil) in preventing protein loss from hair strands when undergoing mechanical pressure.1

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Protects Hair from Pollution

The triglycerides in coconut oil have a high affinity for the keratin that forms hair.  When you rub coconut oil into your hair, it binds to your hair strands and forms a protective barrier.  It can also penetrate within the hair strands and prevent pollutants such as airborne chemicals from entering.  Pollution has become a contributing factor to hair loss in modern times, so keeping your hair clean from pollutants may indirectly help avoid environmental-related hair loss.2

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Skin Health

Coconut oil is an excellent moisturizer and skin softener.3 You can use it to alleviate dry skin, and researchers have found it has applications in helping a growing number of skin conditions.  If you suffer from atopic dermatitis, topical coconut oil can help alleviate symptoms.4 Healthy skin on your scalp is important for proper hair growth, so topical coconut oil could potentially keep skin problems from disrupting your hair production.

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No Current Evidence for Hair Growth

As it stands, the state of medical research does not support the use of coconut oil to directly support hair growth.  Coconut oil has been used as a base for other herbal essential oils that are for hair loss, but on its own, coconut oil does not perform nearly as well as other remedies for hair growth disorders.5

Hair Growth From Coconut OIl

Scalp Massage Improves Hair Production

A team of researchers from Japan recently discovered that massaging the scalp for a few minutes every day can stimulate hair follicles to increase hair production and can increase hair thickness.  The hair growth benefits that many people experience from rubbing coconut oil into their hair may actually be due to the mechanical stimulation of hair follicles that the massaging provides.6  So, if you want to stimulate the follicles on your scalp to increase their yields, you might try gently massaging your head for four minutes every day.

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[1]   [1] [1] Rele AS, Mohile RB. J Cosmet Sci. 2003 Mar-Apr; 54(2):175-92. “Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair.”


[2] Rajput R. Hair Ther Transplant. 2015 5:1. "Understanding Hair Loss due to Air Pollution and the Approach to Management."

[3] Gediya SK, Mistry RB, Patel UK, Blessy M, Jain HN. J Nat Prod Plant Resour. 2011; 1(1):24-32. “Herbal Plants: Used as cosmetics.”

[4] Evangelista MT, Abad-Casintahan F, Lopez-Villafuerte L. Int J Dermatol. 2014 Jan; 53(1):100-108. "The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial."

[5] Jain PK, Das D, Jain P. Int J Pharm Tech Res. 2016; 9(3):321-327. “Evaluating Hair Growth Activity of Herbal Hair Oil.” disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DEvaluating_Hair_Growth_Activity_of_Herba.pdf

[6] Koyama T, Kobayashi K, Hama T, Murakami K, Ogawa R. Eplasty. 2016 Jan; 16:e8. “Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Inducing Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue.”

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