I know this has been a sort of controversial topic and I hope this post will help clear things up. But, don’t just take my word on it, I encourage you to look it up for yourself using reputable sources and not what everyone else is claiming.
Unless you have a real contact allergy with nut oils, in which case this doesn’t apply to you. For low porosity hair, you may be surprised to know that what’s actually happening is that your could be suffering from product build up, so when you apply 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.
Over time and with repeated use, what ends up happening is that most of the coconut oil cools and hardens on the surface of your hair and creates a gummy sticky feel. Before giving up on coconut oil, try a tiny amount. After applying it to your hair, wear a shower cap for 30-60 minutes, or to speed things up get in the shower, this way the steam helps your cuticles to relax a little so the coconut oil can penetrate and work.
According to the US Dept. of Agriculture National Nutrient Database, coconut oil has absolutely NO protein. Also according to the Natural Haven, oils are pressed out of the seeds in the case of coconut oil, heating up the flesh and straining it out. The oil is very easily separated from the flesh once heated using a sieve.
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. Hardening of the 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.
Is there any truth to the statement that coconut oil acts as a protein and therefore should be used sparingly? Yes and no. First of all, protein is made up of long chains of amino acids required by our body for growth, development and maintenance of cells and repair of all cells.
Hair is a type of protein made up of mostly of keratin. The thing about protein is that it can be used to repair damage that is caused from chemical treatments, sun exposure, excessive heat, etc. To define coconut oil, we have to start with how it was processed.
Coconut oil is created by separating the oil from a mixture of the milk and water using a fermentation process. The key difference between coconut oil and coconut milk is essentially that all the carbohydrates and protein are always left in the milk and virtually non-existent in the oil. Coconut milk contains protein because it is derived from the shell of the coconut and made from suspending the flesh in water and may contain bits of the flesh.
We know what protein does for the hair in terms of repair, but what can coconut oil do for the hair? The most common similarity coconut oil has with protein is its penetrating capabilities and the nutrients found in the oil serves as a great conditioner.
However in addition to conditioning the hair, coconut oil also acts like a typical oil, either helping the hair to retain moisture or temporarily blocking moisture from the hair. With that said, coconut oil behaves like a protein only to the extent that it can penetrate the hair shaft, but it does not do any of the building worked otherwise reserved for protein so it is unlikely to hurt those who are protein sensitive.
Sources: The Natural Haven Bloom. US Dept. of Agriculture National Nutrient Database