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You may have heard people talking about coconut shampoo and wondering if it's good for your hair. The short answer is that coconut shampoo will be suitable for some hair types, but not everyone should use it. We use coconut-derived cleansers rather than coconut oil in our shampoo bars to make them a better fit for all, so let's explore a bit of that decision-making process!
Coconut oil has several properties that make it useful in the care of hair. For one thing, because of its basic makeup (it's an acid), it tends to lower the pH balance of all cleansers with which it is combined. This will result in keeping the scalp slightly acidic, making for healthy-looking locks by discouraging microorganisms like Pityrosporum ovale from growing on the scalp. This can help prevent the production of fatty acids that cause dryness and flaking.
Coconut oil also has conditioning compounds within its structure; these are hydrophobic, meaning they repel water, allowing the oil to penetrate strands more deeply. This makes it great for treating dry or brittle hair.
Coconut oil is largely made up of saturated fats, which means that it's stable at high temps and resists oxidation - these are properties that lead coconut oil to be used as shortening in baked goods. When it comes to shampoos that contain coconut oil, this quality allows the shampoo to remain thick and clean-feeling without being too drying on hair follicles themselves.
Coconut oil, used in lip balm, is also rich enough in various vitamins (especially vitamin E) and minerals (like iron) that some people believe it imparts health benefits to hair when used as a shampoo ingredient. You may see it suggested that coconut oil can strengthen hair by restructuring strands (something like protein treatments) or even reversing damage done to the hair's lipid protective outer layers.
Coconut shampoo can be quite effective for some people, but not everyone should use it. Coconut oil will strip away sebum - your skin's natural oils - which means it may dry out your scalp. As with all shampoos, you need to make sure to rinse well; leaving too much behind on your hair follicles may lead them to produce excess sebum in an attempt to compensate. Coconut shampoo is also potentially more likely than other types of shampoo to cause allergic reactions and irritation - always do a patch test before applying any new product on a large portion of your body!
Coconut oil is known to clog pores, leading to acne. While this isn't necessarily the case when coconut oil is used in hair products, it suggests that it's not best for people with oily skin or scalp conditions like seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis.
Two other notes worth mentioning are that the fatty acids were shown to cause dryness, and flaking can be counteracted by including fatty alcohols in shampoo - if you're interested in using a coconut oil shampoo, look for one that contains these ingredients.
Finally, as mentioned above, leaving too much of certain shampoos behind on your strands may lead them to overcompensate with sebum production - watch out for shampoos that leave your hair feeling heavy or looking oily!
Though in theory, coconut shampoo should work well, in practice, it depends on the type of hair you have and what you expect from a shampoo. If you've got dry, frizzy strands and want to add volume without leaving behind residue, coconut oil may be an appropriate choice for you. On the other hand, if you're looking for something clarifying (and don't mind stripping away natural oils), then there are better options available.