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Coconut oil has become well known for its many health-promoting benefits, including better brain function, improved cholesterol levels, and more. It’s also often used on the skin as a moisturizer and makeup remover.

Due to its unique chemical structure, coconut oil may also benefit your hair. And one of the best ways to nourish your hair with coconut oil is by using a hair mask.

Here’s a look at the benefits of using a coconut oil hair mask. If you’re interested in some simple DIY coconut oil hair mask recipes, we’ve got those for you, too.

Between chemical treatments, heat styling, and environmental exposure, your hair can become fragile and damaged over time. Fortunately, there are ways to help protect your hair, and research has shown that coconut oil may have certain properties that can help keep your hair healthy.

In the same way that a facial mask can improve the overall health and appearance of your skin, a coconut oil hair mask can help boost the condition of your hair.

So, what are the benefits of a coconut oil hair mask? Research shows that it may help:

  • Reduce protein loss. Hair is protein, and consists of three layers. Coloring, blow-drying, styling, and other treatments can cause you to lose some of the protein that makes up your hair’s cortex, the thickest layer of your hair. One 2017 review of studies confirmed that coconut oil reduced protein loss when used as a pre- and post-wash grooming product.
  • Penetrate the hair shaft. Coconut oil has a low molecular weight. This makes it easier for the oil to be absorbed into the hair shaft, compared to other types of oils.
  • Replenish moisture. Because coconut oil does a better job at penetrating the hair shaft, it may also help protect your hair from dryness.

Most hair types can benefit from more moisture and less protein loss. However, a coconut oil hair mask might be especially beneficial if your hair tends to be:

Keeping curls hydrated can be difficult because natural oils don’t travel down the hair shaft easily.

You can make a simple coconut oil hair mask using just 2 tablespoons (tbsp.) of melted coconut oil. For best results, try to use organic, unrefined coconut oil.

Protect your clothes from the oil by placing a towel around your neck. You can also apply the mask in the shower.

Instructions:

  1. To start, use a spray bottle to wet your hair.
  2. Then, apply the warm (not hot) coconut oil evenly over your damp hair. You can part your hair to apply the coconut oil in manageable sections. This can help ensure that every hair is coated. Use hair clips to keep saturated strands away from your face and eyes.
  3. Apply more coconut oil to the driest sections of your hair, typically the ends, and less on the healthier parts of your hair, typically near the scalp.
  4. Once you’ve coated all your hair, place a shower cap over your head.
  5. Let the mask sit for 1 to 2 hours. Some people like to leave the mask on their hair overnight for deeper conditioning.
  6. Rinse out with lukewarm water, and shampoo and condition as normal.

In addition to the basic recipe, you can also use the following variations:

Coconut oil and honey hair mask

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. organic raw honey
  • 1 tbsp. organic coconut oil

Instructions:

  1. Add the coconut oil and honey to a saucepan. Heat the mixture on low heat until smooth. Stir to combine the oil and honey.
  2. Let the coconut oil and honey mixture cool down until it’s lukewarm. Using a spray bottle, wet your hair, and then generously apply the mixture by following the directions above for the standard recipe.
  3. Allow the mask to sit for 40 minutes, then rinse out with lukewarm water. Follow up by shampooing and conditioning as normal.

Coconut oil and egg hair mask

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. organic coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 egg (whisked)

Instructions:

  1. Combine the melted coconut oil and whisked egg in a bowl. Mix until blended.
  2. Use a spray bottle to wet your hair, and then apply the coconut oil and egg mixture evenly over your damp hair. Follow the directions for the standard recipe above.
  3. Let the mask sit for 15 to 20 minutes, and then rinse out with lukewarm water. Shampoo and condition as normal.

Coconut oil may benefit your hair in other ways, too.

  • Eczema relief. One 2013 study found that coconut oil was effective when used on children with eczema. The oil likely penetrated the top layer of skin and acted as a barrier to prevent inflammation. If you have eczema on your scalp, coconut oil may help relieve some of the symptoms.
  • Possible dandruff relief. The oil’s antimicrobial, antifungal, and moisturizing properties may help reduce dandruff symptoms.
  • Reduced hair breakage. Because coconut oil can penetrate the hair shaft and has the ability to add moisture, it may reduce the likelihood of friction-induced hair breakage.
  • Lice protection. In a 2010 study, researchers concluded that a combination of coconut oil and anise spray can work as an alternative treatment for head lice. When 100 participants with active head lice used this combination, the spray and coconut oil mixture proved more effective than using permethrin lotion. Coconut oil has been used historically for lice protection, but often has essential oils or other active ingredients added to it.

Due to its ability to moisturize and nourish hair and prevent protein loss, coconut oil is a great go-to ingredient if you want a natural remedy for dry, brittle, damaged hair.

One of the best ways to pamper your hair with coconut oil is by making and applying a hair mask. You can make one easily using basic ingredients that you likely already have in your kitchen.

Even if your hair is undamaged, a coconut oil hair mask is likely to boost the condition and overall health of your hair and scalp.