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 out­side, my… 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 I am styling,… 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. since… 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.