In our busy world, it’s easy just to go with the flow and buy whatever healthcare product is most readily available to us. We’re all human, and we’re all persuaded, by some degree, by flashy marketing and luxury brands endorsed by celebrities.
But the truth about some of these products might not be as rosy as the ad agencies make out. For example, let me ask you a question: When buying a new shampoo, do you choose it for…
- The packaging
- The smell
- The texture and foaminess
- The celebrity endorsement
- The ingredients on the back of the bottle are good for your hair in the long term
Unless you answered number 5 only, then you probably aren’t doing your hair any favors.
But this isn’t just about shampoos. For every single product you can buy off the shelf, there is almost certainly a 100% natural alternative, that doesn’t contain nasty chemicals, that doesn’t cost a premium because of the fancy marketing, and is actually much better for your hair.
Enter coconut oil.
In this article, I’m going to show you some of the amazing benefits of using coconut oil instead of chemical–based products. But before that, let me explain what some of the typical ingredients found in shampoos and hair care products are.
5 Hazardous Ingredients and Why They Are Harmful
Some commercial hair products present in the market today contain harmful ingredients that can also be carcinogenic. Below is a list of hazardous ingredients that may be a detriment to your health in the long term.
1. Isopropyl Alcohol
This is a highly flammable solvent, commonly called rubbing alcohol. It’s found in body scrubs, after-shave lotions, fragrances, hair color rinses and other cosmetics. Some manufacturers even advocate its application on hair in its pure form. 
Use of isopropyl alcohol may dry your hair and scalp out and cause breakage of hair follicles. Also, inhalation of isopropyl alcohol is associated with headaches, dizziness, nausea and even mental depression in the long term. 
2. Mineral Oil
It is derived from crude oil and is mostly used as a lubricant or cutting fluid. It’s commercially found in baby oil and other hair oils. Large amounts of mineral oil can coat the scalp, hindering it from absorbing moisture. 
The coating also makes the release of toxins and other wastes difficult. The chemical can slow down new cell development and, specifically, the hair growth cycle.
3. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Increasing evidence seems to suggest this chemical is bad for your hair. Sodium lauryl sulfate is usually added to commercial shampoos as a foaming agent and helps get rid of oil buildup in your hair. 
Its use has been linked to allergies and irritation to the hair, eyes and the skin. A concentration of just 0.5% of the chemical in shampoo has been proven to be enough to cause irritation to the hair. 
4. Propylene Glycol (PG)
This is the active ingredient in antifreeze and is usually used as a wetting agent. The chemical can break down proteins and cells, which are the building blocks of the skin. Despite this destructive ability, the chemical is an ingredient in hair deodorants, hair products, and lotions. 
5. Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)
These two chemicals are known to interfere with the proper working of hormones in the body and can form cancerous cells. Dr. Samuel Epstein from the University of Illinois is on record saying that repeated use of DEA and TEA can actually increase the risk of kidney cancer. 
Why Coconut Oil Works So Well in Reversing Hair Issues
- It contains lauric acid, which slows the growth of harmful fungi and bacteria on your hair that can cause hair conditions such as folliculitis and Piedra. 
- Coconut oil is a good hair moisturizer and is known actually to work just like sebum. This way, the oil keeps the scalp and hair moist, thereby preventing scalp cracks that can be particularly irritating, leading to scratching and hair loss
- The oil can penetrate the hair shaft, protecting it from direct heat from the sun and other environmental impurities. 
- Rubbing coconut oil into your scalp helps to improve blood flow around the hair region, thus ensuring that follicles are continually nourished with nutrients necessary for hair growth.
How to Use Coconut Oil as a Remedy
Some of the best things about coconut oil are that it’s relatively less expensive compared to other commercial hair solutions, non-toxic, and its performance is not compromised. For best results:
- Always apply the oil in a liquid form: If the oil is in a solid or semi-solid state, put the oil in a jar and dip it into hot water until all of it has melted.
- Use your fingertips to vigorously rub the oil into your hair, covering all the areas of the scalp (especially infected regions, if any). Alternatively, you may use a soft cotton cloth to apply the oil.
- Gently massage the oil into your scalp continuously for at least three minutes
- Ideally, you should leave the oil on your hair for at least 30 minutes. It will ensure the oil has ample time to penetrate the scalp and work on the hair follicles. If the hair issue involved is severe, you might want to keep it on overnight. A shower cap can be very useful in such circumstances (After the treatment, it is important to rinse the hair with plenty of warm water as you don’t want the oil to coat the pores and hair shafts, thereby interfering with hair circulation and the shedding of old cells. The application should be done at least twice a week. However, it’s important to start with small amounts of coconut oil and then increase the amount gradually as you learn how your hair responds to the oil.)
- Blending coconut oil with honey is a very good idea! Adding honey to coconut oil is a sure way to increase the effectiveness of the oil. Honey serves as a humectant, thus helps keep the scalp moist, paving the way for better penetration of coconut oil.
- Timing is important: Coconut oil is a natural sunscreen and can be very effective when applied in the morning, especially when you know that your hair will be exposed to the sun for long periods during the day.
Eating Coconut Oil
Although coconut oil can penetrate the scalp, the hair cannot quite metabolize or digest the oil as the digestive system does. For maximum benefit, you might want to consider consuming the oil internally. The lauric acid and other antioxidants are very efficient when working from the inside of the body.
Check out this delicious, paleo Chicken Alfredo recipe that uses coconut oil!
The Amount Used Matters!
Application of large amounts of oil may not necessarily translate to healthy hair. Too much oil can actually end up blocking the hair shafts, hence cutting the supply of oxygen into the hair. For this reason, it is important to start with small amounts. In addition, the length of your hair should also dictate the amount of coconut oil that you apply. Ideally, you should stop the moment the entire scalp has been covered with the oil.
Coconut oil is worth giving a try for your hair issues. Besides being readily available in most stores, its application is straightforward, direct and is likely to cost less compared to other commercial hair products that may also contain hazardous elements.
 Isopropanol. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/isopropanol#section=Safety-and-Hazards
 Mineral Oil – Side Effects, Dosage, Interactions | Everyday Health. (2015, April 13). Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/mineral-oil
 Sodium Laureth Sulfate. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/chemicals-in-your-cosmetics—sodium-laureth-sulfate/
 Toxic Substances Portal – Propylene Glycol. (2015, January 21). Retrieved from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=1120&tid=240
 Ethanolamine Compounds (MEA, DEA, TEA And Others). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/ethanolamine-compounds/
 Khoramnia, A., Ebrahimpour, A., Ghanbari, R., Ajdari, Z., & Lai, O. (2013). Improvement of Medium Chain Fatty Acid Content and Antimicrobial Activity of Coconut Oil via Solid-State Fermentation Using a Malaysian Geotrichum candidum. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3732585/
 Gode, V., Bhalla, N., Shirhatti, V., Mhaskar, S., & Kamath, Y. (2012, January/February). Quantitative measurement of the penetration of coconut oil into human hair using radiolabeled coconut oil. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22487449
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