Can you use coconut oil for hair growth?
Dr. Aysha Butt is the Medical Director of FROM MARS, and is a GP Partner at Woodcote NHS Medical Practice.
The use of coconut oil is on the rise. Coconut oil is seen by some as a “superfood” that’s apparently rich in healthy fats, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and other wonderful stuff.
That’s before you even start slapping it on your face and scalp. People are saying it can slow the ageing process, kill infections, give you glowing skin, and much more.
And then there’s hair. The power of coconut oil can apparently slow baldness and help re-grow lost hair. That’s a big claim, but is there any truth in it?
What is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is a fatty oil made from the flesh and milk of coconuts.
It’s not found naturally inside coconuts, and it has to go through various stages of processing to turn the flesh and milk into the finished product. These stages of processing vary depending on the type and the quality of the oil, and what it’s used for.
It’s called oil, but at room temperature coconut oil is more usually a solid. It normally looks like a white, wet, waxy substance. If it’s used as an ingredient in another product, you won’t notice it’s there at all.
Coconut oil for hair
You can find coconut oil in shampoos, conditioners, hair masks, leave-in-treatments, even in styling products like gel. It’s claimed that these products can moisturise and smooth your hair, add shine, add strength, repair damage, and nourish your hair.
If you have male pattern baldness, or are otherwise worried about losing your hair, you can even buy coconut oil products that claim to reduce hair loss and re-grow lost hair. But are these claims backed up by evidence, or is this all hot air?
Coconut oil and hair loss prevention
There is evidence that coconut oil can prevent damage to your hair caused by styling. And it appears to be able to kill some types of fungi that can infect your scalp. But this is pretty much where the scientific evidence ends. There’s no research that shows coconut oil prevents hair loss.
The research that found coconut oil can reduce damage to your hair, also showed that it can stop your hair losing protein. And some people and businesses have twisted this to mean coconut oil stops the loss of actual hair, not just the protein from the hair. But this isn’t what the research showed.
Male pattern baldness is mainly caused by a hormone called DHT that shrinks your hair follicles. There’s no known way that coconut oil can reduce DHT levels, or otherwise affect the health of your hair follicles, so it shouldn’t be seen as a treatment for hair loss.
Coconut oil for hair growth – can coconut oil stimulate hair growth?
The claimed benefits of coconut oil don’t just stop at preventing baldness though, some even say it can make your hair grow faster and help you re-grow lost hair.
Again though, there’s no scientific evidence for this. The closest we can find is a study that shows peppermint oil may promote hair growth in mice. Not coconut oil. Not humans.
We’re not saying coconut oil definitely doesn’t help you re-grow lost hair, but it’s unlikely. There’s no evidence, and there’s no known way it could do this. If coconut oil really was an effective treatment for male pattern baldness, there’d likely be lots of research conducted on it, and you’d be able to buy medically approved, prescription hair products based on coconut oil. The fact that this isn’t the case, doesn’t bode well for coconut oil as a baldness treatment.
Is coconut oil bad for your hair and should you use coconut oil on your hair?
Coconut oil doesn’t seem to be bad for your hair, there’s no evidence of that either, while hair products that contain coconut oil are safe to use. And there is the research that shows coconut oil can reduce protein loss caused by styling and kill some fungal infections. So, if you style your hair and you’re prone to scalp infections, coconut oil may help.
But is coconut oil good for your hair in other ways? Maybe. Maybe not. You may find coconut oil improves the look and feel of your hair, you may not. Just don’t expect coconut oil hair products to help with hair loss, no matter what claims are made about them.
What’s a better way to tackle hair loss?
Prescription medications like finasteride (Propecia) are scientifically proven to reduce hair loss and help regrow lost hair.
You can order both finasteride or Propecia FROM MARS. Our doctors are licensed to make prescriptions in the UK, so you can start your journey to tackle MPB as soon as your meds are shipped to your door.