How To Use Coconut Milk To Condition Your Hair

For many of us, doing our hair is the most time-consuming part of getting ready in the morning. Some people take only a few seconds to brush their hair and go, while others can spend an hour or more getting every strand just right. A survey by Advanced Dermatology discovered that adults spend an average of $722 on their appearance every year, with hair products making up the bulk of that money. In other words, hair is big business.

Hair conditioner is a commonly purchased hair product. In fact, Statista reports that more than 179 million Americans used hair conditioner in 2020 based on the U.S. Census data and Simmons National Consumer Survey (NHCS). You likely know from experience that conditioner softens the hair and makes it easier to comb or brush after being washed. Many people won't be without it.

If you walk past any standard hair product aisle, you'll see dozens of bottled conditioners with promises of how they can transform your locks. While many conditioners can do wonders for your hair, did you know that coconut milk can be used to condition your hair, too?

How is coconut milk made?

Perhaps you grew up intrigued after seeing Julia Roberts slather mayonnaise in her hair in "Dying Young," but mayo isn't the only food that can be used on hair. Coconut milk can do a great job, too. Made by mixing water with shredded fresh coconut flesh, coconut milk can be used in place of dairy milk on cereal, in coffee, and so on. Perhaps you have a carton in your fridge or a can in your cupboard right now.

Coconut milk can be made with a thick or thin consistency, depending on how much it's processed, as Healthline explains. Just as with many other fruits, coconut milk offers a wide range of health benefits for the body, including aiding in weight loss, lowering cholesterol levels, and fighting bacteria and viruses. However, it offers even more benefits for hair. To get the most bang for your mane's buck, you'll want to concentrate on the coconut's flesh.

Benefits of coconut milk for hair

According to Herbal Essences, coconut milk provides rich moisturization to hair just like bottled conditioner does, making it a great treatment option to restore dry hair and scalp. It can also be used to treat dandruff and irritation as well as to fortify weak hair that's prone to breakage.

Because it's high in the antioxidant vitamins C, E, and B, as well as in protein, coconut milk can help keep your hair strong and healthy. It's also high in lauric acid, which can aid in strengthening the hair's cuticle due to its ability to easily penetrate strands.

Concerned about hair loss? Indian Express claims that all the nutrients (protein, calcium, fats, etc.) in coconut milk can improve blood circulation to the scalp, which may promote hair growth. Given that blood flow to the scalp is a leading factor in healthy hair growth, it makes sense that coconut milk can be so useful! 

How to apply coconut milk to hair

Now that you know all the benefits that coconut milk offers for hair, here's how to apply it to your mane. First, you'll need to make a hair mask. While you could use canned coconut milk in a pinch, you're better off combining 1 cup of grated fresh coconut pulp with 2 cups of hot water over medium heat. If you find you haven't made enough, you can keep this 1:2 ratio when preparing another batch. 

India Today recommends allowing the mixture to simmer for at least five minutes. After your mask is ready, add a few drops of argan, almond, or jojoba oil if you'd like to add some extra moisture. Be sure to strain out any extra bits that didn't dissolve before application.

Transfer the mixture to a jar or bowl into which you can fit a wide-tooth comb. Before applying the mask to your hair, shampoo your scalp to ensure that it's clean, and make sure it's still wet when the application begins. Dip the comb into the mixture and comb it into your hair, ensuring that it's evenly distributed. Leave it on for about 20 minutes before thoroughly rinsing it.

Add lemon juice for oily hair

If you have oily hair but still want to reap the benefits of coconut milk conditioning, India Today suggests adding lemon juice to the coconut milk hair mask to reduce the chances of greasy residue. Follow the same steps in the previous section to make the mask. Then add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice for every 4 tablespoons of coconut milk and mix them both together in a large bowl or wide-mouth jar. Refrigerate the mixture for about four hours before applying it to your hair using a wide-tooth comb. 

After the mask is applied to every section of your hair, use a shower cap to cover your head and let the mask sit for about 45 minutes before rinsing it off. Use shampoo if necessary. Healthline claims that in addition to absorbing excess oils on the scalp, lemon juice can add shine to your hair.

Possible risks associated with using coconut milk on hair

Although coconut milk provides a number of benefits to the body and hair, it also comes with some potential side effects. Some people have an allergy to coconut milk, which can lead to a rash or hives if the milk makes contact with the skin, including the scalp. 

Very Well Health lists a few other symptoms of a coconut allergy, but only if ingested. These include diarrhea, wheezing, gastrointestinal issues, and breathing problems. Angioedema (swelling) of the face, tongue, or lips can also occur.

So, before applying the mask to your hair, be sure to apply it on a small part of your skin and wait a few minutes to make sure you don't have a reaction. If you ever suspect that you're having an allergic reaction to coconut milk, stop using the product immediately and contact your doctor to discuss treatment.