Last Updated on August 27, 2022 by Verna Meachum
One of the most commonly cited benefits of coconut oil is its ability to improve the condition of your hair.
Coconut oil is often used as a hair treatment to help restore shine and moisture to dry and damaged hair.
But does coconut oil contain protein? The answer is a bit complicated.
Let’s take a closer look…
Does Coconut Oil Contain Proteins In It?
Coconut oil is made up of mostly saturated fats. In fact, about 90% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated.
Saturated fats are generally solid at room temperature, while unsaturated fats are usually liquid.
Coconut oil is sometimes used as a healthy cooking oil, since it is less likely to oxidize than other oils, and it has a high smoke point.
Coconut oil does contain a small amount of protein. In 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of coconut oil, there is about 0.1 grams (g) of protein.
While this may not seem like much, it’s important to remember that coconut oil is mostly made up of fats.
Coconut Oil and How It Is Processed
Coconut oil is an edible oil that is extracted from the flesh of mature coconuts. It has has a variety of uses, both cosmetic and culinary. It can be used as a moisturizer, hair conditioner, or makeup remover.
Coconut oil is processed by first removing the coconut flesh from the shell and dried. This can be done using a machine or by sun-drying.
Next, the dried coconut is crushed and pressed to extract the oil. The oil is then refined to remove impurities.
Finally, it is bottled and ready for use!
We know what protein does for the hair in terms of repair, but what can coconut oil do for the hair?
Coconut Oil and Protein Loss
Coconut oil has been shown to be effective in both preventing protein loss from the hair and in increasing moisture levels.
In one study, coconut oil was found to reduce protein loss from the hair by up to 26%.
Coconut oil is also rich in antioxidants, which can help to protect the hair from damage caused by free radicals.
While coconut oil is a great choice for those looking to improve the health of their hair, it is important to remember that coconut oil is a highly concentrated product and should be used sparingly.
If you are looking for a natural way to improve the condition of your hair, coconut oil may be worth considering.
Coconut Oil and Moisture
In addition to its ability to penetrate the cortex, coconut oil is also a great natural moisturizer. By moisturizer, we mean that it can help to the hair retain moisture by reducing water loss.
This is due to its high fatty acid content, which helps to keep the hair hydrated.
Coconut Oil and Low Porosity Hair
This is because the cuticles of low porosity hair lie flat against the shaft, making it difficult for moisture and other products to penetrate.
As a result, low porosity hair can often appear dry, brittle, and lifeless.
Those with low porosity hair have experienced issues when trying to use coconut oil as a hair treatment. The issues are usually two-fold:
- The coconut oil tends to sit on top of the hair rather than penetrating it.
- The coconut oil makes the hair feel stiff, brittle, and straw-like.
Coconut oil is a highly concentrated product and you may be surprised to know that what’s actually happening to the hair is that it could be suffering from product build up.
Thus, when applying an oil that solidifies easily like coconut oil, it takes too long to penetrate because your cuticles are too tight to absorb it fast enough.
The straw like feel some people find with coconut oil is usually related to using too much product because coconut oil is not viscous as other oils.
The hard-like feeling you may experience with your hair is usually related to temperature because coconut oil solidifies at a fairly low temperature, so a cold winter breeze can stiffen hair very fast.
How to Make Coconut Oil Work for Low Porosity Hair
Before giving up on coconut oil, try using a tiny amount. Remember, a little goes a long way with this oil.
After applying it to your dry hair, wrap it in a shower cap for 30-60 minutes, or get into the shower and let the steam assist your cuticles in relaxing so the oil can penetrate and work its magic.
Does Coconut Oil Act Like A Protein?
Hair is a type of protein made up of mostly of keratin. The advantage of protein is that it can be utilized to repair damage caused by chemicals, too much sun exposure, or excessive heat styling.
The most significant resemblance coconut oil has to protein is its penetrating capabilities.
When applied to hair, it can penetrate the cortex, which is the innermost layer of the hair shaft. This is important because the cortex is where the hair’s strength and elasticity come from.
By penetrating the cortex, coconut oil can help to fortify the hair shaft and prevent protein loss.
However, despite the fact that coconut oil behaves similarly to a protein in terms of penetration through the hair shaft, it does not perform any other structural functions that a protein would.
This means that coconut oil cannot be used to repair damage in the same way that a protein can.
Coconut oil is best used as a preventative measure to help keep the hair shaft strong and healthy.
When used in conjunction with other hair care products, such as a protein-rich conditioner or protein treatment, it can help to keep the hair looking its best.
Coconut Oil or Protein Treatment: Which One Do I Need?
The answer to this question depends on the current state of your hair.
If your hair is healthy and you are looking for a way to prevent damage, then coconut oil is a good choice.
If your hair is damaged and you are looking for a way to repair it, then you will need to use a protein treatment.
Protein treatments are designed to penetrate the hair shaft and repair damage from the inside out.
Can oily hair use coconut oil?
Those with oily hair may want to avoid coconut oil altogether, as it can further increase oil production.
For best results, coconut oil should be applied to damp, clean hair and left on for at least 20 minutes before shampooing.
Is coconut oil bad to use for protein sensitive hair?
Coconut oil acts like a protein only when it can penetrate the hair shaft, but it does not perform any of the protein-building work that protein would.
Thus, it is unlikely to be an issue for those with protein-sensitive hair.