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Refined Vs. Unrefined Coconut Oil: Which is Better for Hair?

Refined Vs. Unrefined Coconut Oil: Which is Better for Hair?

Coconut oil is a miracle ingredient that can cure all our hair and skin woes, but to get the most of it, you must incorporate the oil in your hair care routine.

However, there are different types of coconut oil from refined to unrefined, virgin to organic, and such. Which is the right formula for your hair?

According to experts, the unrefined or virgin coconut oil is better, since it has the highest amount of nutrients your hair needs. However, it has a strong coconut scent and can be a bit greasy on hair.

You can still use refined coconut oil since it is more lightweight and doesn’t have a strong aroma—but it contains fewer nutrients too.

Refined or Unrefined — What Does It Mean?

Unrefined coconut oil is basically raw and processed as little as possible.

It is usually white when solid and clear when liquid. The label “cold-pressed” or “extra-virgin” says the coconut oil is unrefined and its nutrients are retained. These types are produced through mechanical refining, making them great options for your hair care regimen.

On the other hand, refined coconut oil undergoes heavier processing with the use of heat, chemicals, bleach, and even additives.

An “expeller-pressed” coconut oil means it is refined using heat, stripping the nutritional benefits your hair needs. It can also be chemically processed with preservatives to increase shelf life.

Why Unrefined Coconut Oil is Best for Your Hair?

If you’re looking for the maximum benefits for your hair, unrefined coconut oil is your best choice. It contains the highest amount of vitamins and fatty acids. You may also think of unrefined organic coconut oil that is grown without the use of toxic chemicals. Or pesticides.

However, an unrefined oil has a strong scent of coconut and can be a bit greasy on hair. Some opt for refined coconut oil since it is lighter in texture and has no distinct coconut scent. Unfortunately, it is already filtered, which means the nutrients your hair needs were stripped too.

At the end of the day, it comes down to your preferences. If you love the nutritional benefits and scent of coconut, opt for unrefined oil. If you prefer unscented and more lightweight, you can choose a refined oil—though it contains lesser nutrients that will be beneficial for your hair.

Also Read: How to Use Coconut Oil Before Coloring Your Hair?

Benefits of Coconut Oil to Your Hair

It helps grow your hair longer

Coconut oil contains essential vitamins and fatty acids, which stimulates hair growth. If your hair is healthy, it will grow stronger and longer. It can penetrate deep in your follicles too and prevents breakage from roots to ends.

It nourishes your scalp and prevents dandruff

Do you know coconut oil contains antimicrobial properties too? Resort to coconut oil if you’re dealing with dandruff caused by yeast or fungus on your scalp. You can use it as a conditioner or a hair mask once or twice a week. However, if you’ve got fine hair, use coconut oil in moderation to avoid buildup on your scalp.

It protects your hair from damage

Coconut oil coats your hair, so it is more protected from pollutants like sun, wind, and smoke. Surprisingly, it has a sun protection factor of 8, which can protect your hair from UV rays too. Coconut oil can be a great alternative to your typical heat protectant, but if you don’t like its strong aroma, you can opt for a refined option.

It makes your dull hair shine

If you’re tight on budget, coconut oil can replace your expensive hair treatments at the salon. Do you know coconut oil can boost your hair, making it shiny and healthy? It can be your ultimate fix to dry, frizzy hair too. It penetrates your strands and helps lock in moisture, giving you a voluminous shiny hair.

How to Use Coconut Oil for Hair?

Apply the oil on your hair before and after washing

Hair is more vulnerable to damage when wet. It swells when it absorbs water and the hair’s surface sticks up. If you’ll apply coconut oil to your hair before it is washed, you’ll reduce the amount of water absorbed. As well as the friction when brushing it after the shower. 

If you’re using a clarifying shampoo, it’s best to use coconut oil before shampooing to prevent stripping natural oils from your hair. If you’re going swimming, the oil can protect your hair from chlorine and saltwater too.

Think of coconut oil as a pre-coloring treatment

If you’re going to bleach and color your hair, apply a little coconut oil on your strand first. Chemical processes are harsh for your strands, and the oil can help to prevent more damage. If you’re getting major highlights at a salon, apply an ample amount of coconut oil an hour before your appointment.

Use it as a scalp treatment

If you’re dealing with an itchy scalp, you can use coconut oil since it has antimicrobial properties too. You can massage a small amount of coconut oil into your scalp. If you love its scent, you can even leave the oil overnight and wash off your hair in the morning.

Think of coconut oil as a styling aid

If you’re planning to do some braids or curls, coconut oil can make your strands more manageable. Just apply an ample amount prior to combing and styling. However, do not apply coconut oil if you’re going to use heat styling tools on your hair, as it will only fry your strands.

Use coconut oil as a natural hair mask

If you’ve got a dry, brittle hair, use coconut oil as a hair mask once or twice a week. Just wrap your hair in a clean sheet or shower cap, which can trap the moisture naturally. The next morning, you’ll notice a satin-smooth hair as if you’ve gone in an expensive hair oil treatment at the salon.

Rub it on your split ends and frizzy hair

Coconut oil will help to smooth if you have split ends. And lessen the frayed ends until your next salon appointment. If you’ve got those frizzy strands due to the hot weather, the oil can control the frizz too.

Moderation is the key, as you wouldn’t want to feel greasy and hot all day long. Just apply the oil on the ends and frizzy strands—not on your scalp. Since coconut oil is hydrating, you can also apply it to the driest parts of your hair.

Is it Safe to Use Coconut Oil on All Hair Types?

All types of hair can benefit from coconut oil, whether it is unrefined or refined. However, not all hair types can tolerate the same amounts of coconut oil. If you have a medium to thick hair, your strands can benefit from the protein retention properties of coconut oil, adding more volume to your hair.

However, if your hair is dry and brittle, avoid using coconut oil on a regular basis. Your strands won’t likely tolerate the protein buildup which can cause stiff and less elastic hair. Still, you can use coconut oil in moderate amounts—no more than a teaspoon—whenever your hair lacks moisture and shine.

Also Read: How to Keep Coconut Oil Liquified?

Related Questions

Is coconut oil better at protecting your hair than other oils?

Yes. Though sunflower oil and argan oil also nourish your hair, coconut oil is the best for reducing protein loss. Its lauric acid makes it more easily absorbed into the hair shaft compared to other oils that only coat your hair. Coconut can be your ultimate fix if you have damaged hair that needs treatment.

Does coconut oil have negative effects on your hair?

Anything that is “too much” can be harmful, so always use coconut oil in moderation. Generally, it is considered safe and beneficial for your hair. But using it excessively can cause oil buildup on your scalp and follicles. 

If you’ve got fine hair, start with small amounts of coconut oil, and use it once or twice a week—but not every day. If you’re going to use unrefined coconut oil in its solid-state, do not apply directly on your scalp. Melt the oil first by rubbing your hands together before applying it to your strands.