The Beauty Brains tackles another interesting question! Check it out:

CYW asks:

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 pre-wash 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.

Ladies, how do you incorporate coconut oil into your regimen?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noelliste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...

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110 Comments on "What’s the Best Way to Apply Coconut Oil to Natural Hair?"

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I just started using coconut oil as a pre-poo and it’s been working quite well, I think. I’ve been putting it on dry hair and then adding water and a cheap slippery conditioner (VO5 Silky Experiences) to detangle, but I might try damp hair now that I see what some of you are saying. My hair needs some strength but protein treatments made it so brittle it was fragile. The Silky Experiences conditioner has a little but of protein, and the coconut oil helps protect my hair from shampoo and water, and my ends have been looking pretty good although… Read more »

The best kind of coconut oil to by is from your local super market, it usually say virgin coconut oil on the front of the jar. BUYER BEWARE: THE COCONUT OIL WITH ALL THE EXTRA CHEMICALS FROM THE B.S.S. IS NOT THE SAME QUALITY AND DOESN’T HAVE THAT MUCH EFFECT AS FAR AS YOUR HAIR HEALTH GOES. I can honestly say virgin coconut oil it works for my 4 yr old who has very course hair as well as myself its like it totally changes the feel and volume of hair while it is conditioning it.


I simply use coconut oil as a sealant after moisturizing my hair daily. It still works wonders for me.

Sharon Robinson

No I neve used or needed to use a steamer with the oil. You can very easily create steam in your shower. If you liquify the oil it will go on smooth and stay that way due to your own body heat.


Has anyone tried using coconut oil with a steamer? Just got mine and thinking I might want to try it.


Some of you black women need a relaxer don’t give a damn what your response is

Coley Cole

Your Momma!

Sharon Robinson

I usually liquify the oil prior to applying it. This helps me know how much oil goes on each area. I start at the scalp line and work my way to the back of the head. I make small circle motions with the oil applied to my fingertips. No comb or brush is necessary. I distribute the oil throughout my hair. Does not matter whether wet or dry. Most of us wash it out the next day or do a good rinse. The oil will keep moisture in your hair. Peace.

Rachel R.

After I co wash I apply my coconut oil to my hair while its still wet then apply my custard and twist my hair then let air dry. My hair when I twist out is not dry at all no frizzies.

I had eggs and was curious, so I tried a post-wash deep conditioner with eggs and coconut oil and LET ME TELL YOU!!!!! When my hair dried, there was not a SINGLE strand of frizz on my entire head. It was amazing! I was in love! I don’t want to overdo it with the protein on my hair, so I’m going to save this technique for those special occasions when I want perfect, obedient hair. I also find coconut oil to be amazing for straightening- especially in the wintertime. It has a very high freezing point, so when I go… Read more »

oooo your so amazing 🙂 I should slap myself for not thinking that sooner lol :). Thank you so much. Am going to try that suggestion.. wish me luck *fingers crossed*

I prepoo with amla oil, one hour before washing, great stuff :). Try it, you might like it.


@Inf 🙂

I know there are only a few oils that penetrate the hair. Coconut oila ankd avocado oil. I would like to try coconut oil, but, I’ve had a bad experience using it as a sealant in my hair. It left it dry and I mean brillo pad dry. But, I would like to see if I can use it as a pre-poo overnight and then wash out in am when I co-wash. Has anyone done a pre-poo with coconut oil with good resutls, but can’t use as a sealant due to the drying effect it has on hair?

I just did this tonight and will let you know the results tomorrow when it’s dry….first I rubbed it into my scalp and hair and used a blow dryer to add heat hoping it would penetrate the hair shaft. …then washed it with coconut shampoo from herbal essences….and conditioned with tresemme climate control with keritin, olive and UVblocker. ..I hope I finally did something right!

I really like coconut oil, but I LOVE pure argan oil ( not one mixed with other ingredients*). Pure argan oil is much more expensive than coconut oil, however, so, sometimes I mix them together to ‘cut’ the argan oil. I use the Monoi Tahiti coconut oil – the ORIGINAL (not knock offs). I use these oils in a multipurpose fashion: 1) Prepoo DC treatment with the DC I happen to be using at the time. 2) Detangling/Styling- I spritz my hair with water then rub some oil onto my palms and fingertips and fingercomb all tangles out (detangling). If… Read more »

I really like to use Vatika Oil as a prepoo. Vatika is primarily coconut oil with goodies such as henna, amla, and lemon mixed in. I’m not crazy about the way is smells, but it really conditions my hair.

Sometimes I will use straight up coconut oil to do an oil rinse–it makes my hair shine and does wonders for my skin!


Could you explain the steps in your oil rinse????


Sure! After washing and prior to conditioning, I drench my hair with coconut oil and then lightly rinse it out.


No problem Inf.I prepoo, wash, oil rinse, then condition. I coat my hair heavily with melted coconut oil placed in an applicator bottle, then I lightly rinse the oil out with water. I condition as usual, rinse it out, and then style.

Oil rinses are an extra step in and out of the shower, but they are great if your hair is feeling dryer than usual or just for extra conditioning.


+1 for the Vatika oil because I notice a big difference in my hair when I use that as opposed to just regular coconut oil


Where is the most affordable place to purchase Coconut Oil? and is virgin better to use?


Super Walmart! I think coconut oil is Walmart’s best kept secret. Its right there in the sugar/baking aisle near the olive oil! Same for my local grocery store. Right there by the cooking oils. You just have to really look for it.


About a month ago, I purchased a 78oz container of Nutiva brand Extra Virgin Coconut Oil for $22 from Costco! That’s the cheapest I’ve seen since I started using coconut oil.

Olivia J.

I purchase my Coconut oil off Amazon, and recently got it off eBay. I use Organic Gold Label Coconut oil ( A little pricey 19.95 for 16 oz jar) but I know there’s a brand called Nutiva that’s affordable


I get extra-virgin and organic from Trader Joe’s. I think ti runs about $5.99


you might be able to find it in your local supermarket since it’s becoming so popular.

trader joe’s carries coconut oil too.

try you local health food store or an indian or caribbean market.

unless you’re in the total boonies and without access to the internet, you should be able to easily get some coconut oil.


Boogie—> Thanks darlin’!!NESS—> Really? Maybe like Celie, 2.0 or semhtoin’. Ha!Natasha—> I did back is pulling because of the hair tie that I used. It ended up taking it out because it was pulling a little TOO much. I palm rolledthe first row of locs. I hope the wave turns out good. We’ll seee….Tamyra—> I got mine from Whole Foods. You can scoop some up at any natural food store.Amina—> Thanks lovely!


You can find it at Food Lion’s under Nutiva Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.

Also try Walmart they have it under Louana Coconut Oil as well.

If you have a health food store they will also carry coconut oil, and other others that you can use etx like Almond Or Olive Oil


Thanks Zyaran for that info I will check out your sources as well.

You can purchase 100% coconut oil from Indian stores too, and they tend to be cheaper. You can purchase virgin oil from supermarkets etc and some places sell them for a good price online. Both oils from my knowledge are good for the hair, however virgin oil can weigh hair down more and can cause more build up. It also depends on your hair type, if you have thicker hair i would recommend virgin oil, since thicker hair tends to be more thirsty and craves more moisture. If you have fine hair or medium to fine hair i would recommend… Read more »

Thanks Inf & Lon your information is helpful. I am currently using EVOO but never tried Coconut Oil and I hear so much about it. I will look for it on Amazon. I wasn’t to thrilled about the prices I seen for it at Wholefoods and GNC. Thanks again.

I use pure Shea Butter, Pure Olive oil and Coconut oil. all are found in african or caribbean grocery stores. I spread a handful of shea butter in my hands and rub it into my hair. then I take a nickle size amount of olive oil and coconut oil and moisture my scalp. Dont use a lot of oil, because the shea butter is already oily. Brush hair (which massages the scalp and evens out the products and tie head with silkly scarf. thats it. ! no need to apply head, your body heat with the oils is sufficient. this… Read more »
Sharon Robinson

Sounds groovy! I like Queene Helene’s Conditioner for natural hair. I have been using it for years and it smells great and makes the hair soft and manageable. The directions are own the jar and it is sold at all the retail stores. Rite Aid for sure. Enjoy!


People say wholefoods. I don’t have that as an option, so I order mines from amazon. I pay a little over $7 with no charge for shipping. I use extra virgin, as it’s my understanding that most of the nutrients haven’t been processed out.


Oh. I hate coconut smell 🙁


If you use cooking coconut oil from the grocery store it has no smell. Those loud coconut smells are added perfumes in the brands sold at most beauty supplies.

Lillian Mae

I prefer the unrefined (has the smell, unfiltered and without any additives, richer in proteins, vitamins and anti oxidants.) vs the refined (no smell, cooking oil, proteins are almost absent due to the refining process, treated with Sodium Hydroxide and bleached).

If the smell is the problem you could always mix in an essential oil (or a combination of oils) to change the smell.




I don’t love the smell myself…try adding an essential oil to it like peppermint. Kills the smell.

Since I BC’d last month I haven’t done much prepooing. I think I will revisit this on washday this weekend.


Coconut oil is one of my staple must-haves! i use it to detangle my hair (pre-wash) and I also use it throughout the week with a little water spritz.. works like a charm!



i recently started using coconut oil as per heyfranhey’s suggestion and LOVE it. i use it as a prewash. basically, i just sit in front of the tv and use it to detangle and moisturize sections of my hair (dry). then, i give myself a 2 – 3 minutes head message. my hair is pretty short and thin, so this whole process does not take very long. my biggest hair issue is that my scalp gets irritated so easily. i find that coconut oil not only moisturizes my hair but soothes my scalp. esp when i do the scalp massage.… Read more »

I massage Jamaica Black Caster Oil (Extra Dark) onto my scalp nightly and it has helped tremendously with filling my hair in where it was left sparse from lace-front wigs.


My question is do you wet your hair before you apply the coconut oil for a prewash treatment? I’ve seen it both ways and somewhat confused….help a sista out…


No you do not have to wet your hair first, you just apply it and let it penetrate with a shower cap,then wash out with shampoo.


I wouldn’t wet my hair first. Coconut oil is supposed to protect against damage to the hair fiber by reducing the amount it swells (and loses protein), which happens when it’s wet. Maybe those who wet their hair, then use coconut oil are doing it for detangling purposes.

Not saying you’re wrong, but here’s why I wet (not drench) my hair first: because of the pH of water, it lifts the cuticles of hair so that anything you apply has a chance to actually penetrate the strands and work from the inside, as the writer noted. If you don’t wet your hair and you apply a product to it that doesn’t at least contain water, it’s my understanding that it’s just going to sit on top of the strands. Sometimes that’t the desired effect, like with silicones or anti-humectants. When it’s with something that’s supposed to have some… Read more »

I agree with Alexia, your hair should be slightly damp. I also read this study and they states that the hair should be damp. Water is basically a carrier and helps to carry the oil inside the hair.

Think about a damp sponge can pick up more product than a dry sponge or a soaking wet sponge, right? The same thing happens with your hair. Your hair should always be slightly damp when applying product to reap the full benefits.

It’s true – the water does allow the oil to penetrate the hair shaft. I wear locs, and I realized that when I add coconut or olive oil, it would basically sit on the hair, our my hair would still feel dry the next day. Then I realized that when I wash my hair and oil it while it’s still damp, my hair looks and feels soft and moisturized for more than a week. So I keep a spray bottle with distilled water, tea tree oil, rose water, and olive oil. I spritz every 2-3 days and oil my scalp… Read more »

Hi Buffy, thank you for posting this has been very helpful. I’ve only had my locs in for 7 months and I still not sure how to care for my hair on my own. Would you leave the coconut oil in your hair after let’s say a hot oil treatment and then palm roll it? also do you really need a loc’in agent to re-twist each time?

Sharon Robinson

A loc agent is only needed if you have the texture of hair that needs that. Other wise no, not needed. Yes coconut oil can stay on the hair even after a hot oil treatment. Watch the amount of oil that you are using.