While coconut oil, the extract of coconut flesh, seems to be all the rage, there’s a part of the coconut that may perhaps offer a variety of benefits for your hair: coconut milk.

Coconut milk is made from the white flesh inside of ripe coconut shells mixed with water. This is different from coconut water, which is the liquid that’s already inside of coconuts.

Coconut milk is traditionally used as a beverage or added to coffees, soups, and other dishes. Yet its nutritional profile is garnering attention for topical uses.

When it comes to hair health, coconut milk may restore moisture and strength, among other possible benefits. Such benefits are primarily linked to the coconut flesh (a rich source of coconut oil), and not the water used to create coconut milk.

Coconut oil itself has been widely touted as a nutritional fat source that can also supposedly help keep your hair, skin, and nails in good shape. The oil is just one of the ingredients of coconut milk.

When it comes to your hair health, coconut milk is reported to possibly have the following benefits:

High in lauric acid

Lauric acid is one of the main ingredients in coconut. This long-chain/medium-chain fatty acid is known for its ability to penetrate hair easily and help strengthen the cuticle.

High in protein

Your hair is made of keratin, a type of protein that is supported by the types of proteins that you eat. Coconut milk has a high protein profile that can potentially keep your hair strong.

You can gain these benefits from drinking coconut milk, as well as applying it topically.

High in vitamins C, E, B-1, B-3, B-5, and B-6

While proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are the macronutrients your body needs to function properly, you also need the help of micronutrients.

In theory, certain micronutrients found in coconut milk could keep your hair healthy, strong, and moisturized. These include antioxidant vitamins C and E, as well as B vitamins such as B-1, B-3, B-5, and B-6.

Still, more research is needed to determine whether micronutrients can make a significant impact to your hair health.

Slows hair loss

Coconut oil has been noted for making the hair cuticle stronger so that harmful substances and water won’t lead to breakage as easily. In turn, you might find a reduced rate of hair loss related to damage.

Still, more studies on coconut milk are needed to determine whether this substance actually slows down the rate of hair loss.

Restores dry hair and scalp

The natural fatty acid profile of coconut milk has extreme moisturizing effects. These can restore both dry hair and scalp, acting as a powerful conditioner for damaged hair too.

Gets rid of dandruff

Coconut milk is notable for its moisturizing effects to condition your hair and scalp. Furthermore, coconut oil has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help scalp conditions such as dandruff.

To that end, certain drugstore dandruff shampoos have coconut oil added to them, along with more conventional ingredients, such as pyrithione zinc.

You can use coconut milk and related products for your hair health in the following ways:

  • Apply a homemade hair mask.
  • Try over-the-counter shampoos and conditioners made with coconut oil or milk for daily use.
  • Use pure coconut milk as a scalp treatment.
  • Drink coconut milk for its nutrients to help your hair from the inside out.

Keep in mind that while many drugstore products have coconut oil in them, these aren’t considered as strong as pure coconut milk. For maximum benefits, consider using pure coconut milk on your hair and scalp instead.

The amount of time you leave coconut milk in your hair depends on the formula used.

If you’re using shampoo infused with coconut milk, for instance, simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions, rinsing the product out after working up a good lather. A coconut oil conditioner should be left in for a few minutes before rinsing it out in the shower.

A homemade hair mask, on the other hand, can be left on for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing out. Coconut-milk-infused hair styling products are intended to be left on all day or until your next shampoo session.

Coconut milk has few documented side effects. However, it’s always a good idea to conduct a skin allergy test just in case you’re sensitive to the particular form of coconut milk at hand. It’s possible to develop a skin rash, so you’ll want to make sure the test area is in the clear before you apply the milk to your hair and scalp.

Due to its high fat content, coconut milk tends to have an oily texture. This may not be ideal if you already have an oily scalp and hair.

Coconut milk is available in canned form, but you can easily make your own at home. Blend together 1 cup of shredded coconut pulp per 2 cups of hot water. Strain well to remove any remaining particles.

A coconut milk hair mask consists of a combination of homemade coconut milk along with other hair-promoting oils such as argan, almond, or jojoba oils. Follow the steps on how to make coconut milk above, and then add a few drops of oil for extra moisture.

Once you have your coconut milk has mask prepared, apply it to clean, wet hair. Use a wide-toothed comb to make sure the product evenly coats your hair. Leave it on for up to 20 minutes, and then rinse out completely. Follow up with your regular hair conditioner.

Coconut milk continues to be researched for potential health and beauty benefits, including hair health.

While coconut milk isn’t likely to hurt your hair, it may not solve all your hair crises either. If you continue to experience dry, damaged hair, see a dermatologist for help.