The more time you spend outdoors, the more care you should put in preventing sunburns and dried hair. Sun damage can increase breakage and bleach the colour out of your carefully-kept locks – and that’s not the only thing you need to watch out for when it comes to maintaining strong, healthy hair.
“Improper hair care, mechanical abrasion, sun damage and chemical treatment changes the physical and morphological characteristics of hair,” one study states(1). Depending on your hair type, you may find that during the sunny days your hair gets frizzy, or limp, or hard to control. Color-treated hair can get bleached out from swimming pool chlorine, and wind, humidity, and salt water can all have a negative impact on your hair as well.
Fortunately there’s a simple trick to protecting your hair and increasing its strength so that exposure to the elements doesn’t damage it beyond repair.
That trick? Coconut oil. This simple, natural substance can penetrate your hair and improve its texture, especially when used in a conditioner. It can protect from sun damage, chlorine damage, salt water damage and wind damage, making it a great comprehensive hair product.
Here’s two simple recipes, one for coconut oil shampoo and one for coconut oil conditioner:
The Recipe: Coconut Oil Shampoo
- 1 cup liquid castile soap
- 1/3 cup canned coconut milk
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
50-60 drops of essential oil of your choice – lavender, peppermint, rosemary, lemongrass, wild orange, and clary sage are all great essential oils for your hair.
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In a saucepan over low heat, melt together the coconut oil and coconut milk. Make sure you melt it slowly – if you burn it it will damage the nutrients. Pour the melted mixture into a bottle and pour the castille soap over it, then cap the bottle and shake vigorously until the soap and coconut mixture are blended. Add the essential oils and then shake it up again.
Use this shampoo the same way you would use any other shampoo – just apply it to your hair while you’re bathing, paying extra attention to your scalp, then rise it out thoroughly.
The Recipe: Coconut Oil Conditioner
- 2/3 cup coconut oil
- 1 tbsp vitamin E oil
- 1 tsp jojoba oil
- 10 drops essential oil of your choice
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until they are well combined and the mixture is creamy and smooth. Use this after shampooing your hair thoroughly, as you would use any other conditioner; apply it to your hair, paying extra attention to the ends of your hair. Let it set for five minutes, then thoroughly rinse it out.
If your hair is particularly dry, you might want to apply coconut oil to the ends of your hair after you’ve washed and dried it for extra moisturizing.
How It Works
A few studies have been done on the efficacy of various oils for use on human hair, but coconut oil seems to be the biggest star.
One 2003 study compared coconut oil to other oils like sunflower oil and mineral oil. “Among three oils, 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,” the study concludes(2), elaborating that: “Coconut oil, being a triglyceride of lauric acid (principal fatty acid), has a high affinity for hair proteins and, because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, is able to penetrate inside of the hair shaft.”
Other oils are too bulky to penetrate the hair shaft, or have no affinity for hair proteins(3).
So don’t fall for other oil treatments for hair – coconut oil is the only one that has been scientifically proven to fortify hair’s strength, reducing breakage and improving the texture, weight, and color of hair.