CYW says…Is using coconut oil as a pre-poo or a leave in after shampoo/cond going to benefit my hair the most?
The Right Brain responds:
We’ve blogged before about how coconut oil is effective at treating hair damage. That’s because it’s one of the relatively few oils that are able to penetrate deep into the hair. Coconut oil is special because it has the right combination of molecular size and shape (it’s small and has straight line structure that allows it to slip into hair) and the right chemical structure (it’s derived from lauric acid which has an affinity for protein.) So while most conditioning oils (like silicones and mineral oil) just sit on top of that hair, coconut oil is literally able to work from the inside.
What’s the best way to apply coconut oil?
One of the best studies we’ve seen on this subject was conducted in India is in 2002. Researchers found that coconut oil reduces damage both as a pre-wash and post grooming treatment. However, results showed it worked better as a prewash which makes sense since that’s when a lot of mechanical damage occurs during the washing and drying process.
Does this sound too good to be true? Well there is a slight catch, at least based on the methodology used in this particular test. The coconut oil was applied to hair and allowed to soak in for 14 hours (overnight). Despite the usage instructions for many regular conditioners you don’t have to let those sit on your hair for very long. However, if you want good penetration (and who doesn’t?) you have to allow coconut oil to soak into your hair for quite some time. Maybe 14 hours isn’t the magic number but that’s the timeframe that researchers used in this study.
The Beauty Brains bottom line
We wouldn’t want to over emphasize the results of any single study, however, based on the research we’ve seen you should apply coconut oil to your hair at night before going to sleep. In the morning wash it out and you should see significantly less damage.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/el_ramon/2561512339/
Reference: Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage, J. Cosmet. Sci.,54, 175-192 (March/April2003)