Using Coconut Oil to Treat Hair & Scalp

As long as I can remember, I have wrestled with my hair. It’s naturally dry and curly, and it tangles easily. I remember my grandpa telling me to just “Brush it! Brush it!” when I was little, and I’d respond despairingly, “I can’t!”

I’ve certainly gone through my fair share of store-bought products to try to soften, detangle and defrizz my curls—and, after years of experimenting (not exaggerating), I’ve finally collected a small trove of holy grail products. One of those is coconut oil.

My favorite use by far: scalp treatment. While I’ve combined coconut oil & essential oils before—and you certainly can—I prefer to apply the coconut oil directly to my scalp, straight out of the jar. Here are a few tips:

  1. I prefer to apply the oil to detangled, towel-dried hair. However, you can apply it to dry hair if that’s what works best for you (I recommend trying both).
  2. If the coconut oil is solid, melt it first by scooping about two tablespoons into a heated bowl until the oil warms. Don’t boil.
  3. Use hair clips or damage-free hair ties to divide your hair into even sections before applying. This will help you distribute the coconut oil.
  4. When applying the oil, use your fingertips (not nails) to firmly and slowly massage it into your scalp. Get ready for the most incredible nutty & comforting aroma. Take your time. Enjoy it. “Self care is a divine responsibility.” This not only moisturizes your scalp, but can loosen dead skin cells & stimulate hair growth.
  5. Apply the coconut oil to the length of your hair if it’s feeling dry as well. Be gentle, and really focus on those ends. I use my fingers or a wooden wide-toothed comb to distribute the oil evenly throughout my hair. A little goes a long way.
  6. Wrap your hair with a cotton t-shirt, and leave on for at least 30 minutes. (I’ve left this treatment in overnight and have even grocery shopped with it in my hair, so to each his/her own).
  7. When you’re ready, wash the treatment out with your favorite natural shampoo, and condition as normal. If you usually wash your hair with Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap, you can use that instead. (We recommend reading this blog post about successfully shampooing with our soap.)

Your scalp should feel clean, moisturized and itch-free. I personally repeat once weekly or biweekly, depending on the weather, my eating habits, and how much water I’ve been drinking. I’ve found that the better I take care of my body, the less I need to think about my scalp and the less I need to apply this treatment.

I personally reach for Dr. Bronner’s Organic Virgin Whole Kernel Coconut Oil for this treatment. But, clearly, I work here. So, for bias sake, let me give you three reasons why I buy this product. One, it’s certified organic. Two, it’s certified fair trade. Three, because it’s produced in a single-source, highly controlled supply chain, it smells freakin amazing. Oh, and all the coconut byproducts, such as the husks and shells, are reused by workers at the Sri Lankan factory, Serendipol, after extracting the oil. Zero waste for the win.

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Stacey Oparnica

Stacey Oparnica is Dr. Bronner’s Social Media Specialist, and loves chatting with Dr. Bronner’s customers around the world about everything from fair trade supply chains to various ways of using our famous castile soap. She’s been a vocal advocate of cruelty-free products for more than 15 years, and considers social media a pivotal tool with which to positively impact the world.

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