Coconut oil is known for its moisturizing and restorative properties for hair and has even been touted as a pre-treatment for hair before coloring. But how effective is this method? What are the benefits and are there any setbacks?
Written by Nicola Sloan
Coconut oil is highly effective as a deep conditioning strengthening treatment before hair coloring. When coconut oil is used as a pre-treatment before dyeing hair, it helps to smooth the cuticle, protects the hair from harmful chemicals in the dye, and enhances color absorption.
Benefits Of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a very versatile treatment for hair. It can be used for many hair treatments including:
- A hair mask
- Pre or post wash treatment
- Leave-in Conditioner
- Smoothing split ends and frizz
Coconut oil’s main component is lauric acid. This is a medium-chain fatty acid that is able to absorb deep into the hair shaft.
It is highly moisturizing and soothes and nourishes the hair and scalp. It also has antimicrobial properties which may help to prevent dandruff.
Coconut oil also makes a great protein treatment for the hair. It strengthens the hair cuticle and protects it from damage.
This makes coconut oil a great treatment for high porosity hair and hair that has sustained damage through styling, dyeing, or bleaching.
Coconut oil will smooth your damaged hair shafts, strengthening them and helping to prevent frizz.
Why Use Coconut Oil Before Coloring Hair?
Coconut oil protects your hair from the damage it will sustain during the coloring process.
Hair dye unfortunately contains many chemicals that damage your hair, such as copper, iron, ammonia, and peroxides.
Coconut oil will protect your hair from these chemicals and reduce the amount of damage it sustains.
Hair dye raises the cuticle of the hair in order to get the new color molecules in. This can leave hair dry, frizzy, and damaged.
Using coconut oil before coloring your hair will serve as a protein treatment, strengthening the cuticle. This helps to prevent further damage during the dyeing process.
This is also why coconut oil works great as a conditioner or heat protector when straightening hair.
Coconut oil is the ideal pretreatment to prevent protein loss in your hair during any chemical or heat styling treatment. After all, why wait to fix the damage when you can prevent it from happening in the first place?
You’ll find that using the coconut oil method for hair color will slow down your color fading. This is because, as previously mentioned, dyeing your hair opens the cuticles, which causes faster color fade. If your cuticles are in better health, your color will fade more slowly.
How Does Coconut Oil React With Hair Color?
Coconut oil does not inhibit hair dye from doing its job. This is because it contains no acidic or stripping ingredients.
In fact, there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that it can enhance the color absorption of the dye.
This is probably because the healthier your hair is, the better and more evenly color will take to the hair. Since coconut oil improves the condition of your hair, the color will take to it better.
Experts often suggest that you skip washing your hair for a few days before dyeing it. This way, natural oil can build up on your scalp and in your hair to prevent irritation and damage.
Using coconut oil as a pretreatment follows the same principle. It is especially good if you’re planning to bleach your hair or use a high lift color, which is more damaging for the hair. Hair dye contains many chemicals that could lead to breakage and in some cases, hair loss.
It’s also a good option if your hair is already a little dry or damaged, as it will moisturize your hair and scalp and help mitigate any further damage caused by the dye.
How To Use Coconut Oil Before Coloring Your Hair
Coconut oil takes a while to absorb into the strands of the hair, so apply coconut oil to your hair a few hours before coloring it if you can. Even better, leave the coconut on overnight before you color your hair in the morning.
Here’s our step-by-step guide to using coconut oil for the hair coloring process:
1 Wash Your Hair
First wash your hair with a mild shampoo to remove dirt or product build up. There’s no need to use conditioner at this stage as the coconut oil will moisturize your hair instead.
2 Apply Coconut Oil
The night before you dye your hair (or a few hours before), work coconut oil through the lengths and ends of your hair and rub it into the scalp too to help protect the scalp.
Start with one to two teaspoons of oil, but you’ll probably need more, depending on your hair length, thickness and porosity levels.
Depending on the room temperature, coconut oil is usually a solid consistency but it will warm up quickly in your hands, making it easy to apply through your hair.
3 Leave to absorb
Once your hair is completely saturated with coconut oil, cover your hair with a shower cap, saran wrap or a plastic bag before going to bed to keep the coconut oil off your pillow.
It might be a good idea to cover your pillow with a towel too if you’re worried about oil escaping.
4 Get set up
The next morning, get everything ready for dyeing your hair. Wear an old t-shirt or put a towel around your shoulders and section up your hair.
The coconut oil will make your hair easier to section and help keep it in place.
5 Dye Your Hair
Dye your hair, following the instructions on the pack of your chosen color.
When you have finished the dyeing process, rinse out your hair with warm water and shampoo. You may have to shampoo a couple of times to get all the coconut oil out of your hair.
Then dry and style as usual. Your hair should be in much better condition than it normally would be after dyeing, and will retain a natural, sleek look after using the coconut oil.
Best Coconut Oils For Hair
Coconut oil can be bought from beauty and health food shops and online. Here’s our selection of the best coconut oils to buy off Amazon:
Vita Coco Organic Virgin Coconut Oil 250ml
Vita don’t just make coconut water; they make great coconut oil too.
This organic, cold-pressed and unrefined virgin coconut oil is naturally made and comes in a BPA-free plastic jar for convenience. The 250ml size is great for those who are new to the wonders of coconut oil.
Since less is usually more when it comes to coconut oil, it should last a while, but if you use it regularly for hair treatments you might be surprised how fast you can get through a jar.
This is a great all-rounder coconut oil that is also suitable for cooking and spreading if you want to reap the dietary benefits as well.
SHEA MOISTURE 100% Extra Virgin Coconut Oil 444 ml
The Shea Moisture range is hugely popular and their coconut oil is no exception. This high quality, unrefined coconut oil has rave reviews on Amazon and the larger size makes it suitable for coconut oil aficionados. A great all-rounder for your hair and skin.
Naissance Refined Coconut Oil (no. 227) 1kg
This 100% pure, food grade refined coconut oil comes in a larger tub at a very reasonable price. So if you’re a regular user of coconut oil why not grab yourself a bargain?
Since this oil is refined, it is odorless. This makes it ideal if you’re not a fan of the coconut smell or if you also want to use your coconut oil for cooking or as a base ingredient in homemade beauty products. Refined oils also tend to have longer shelf lives.
Can Coconut Oil Damage Hair?
No, coconut oil does not damage hair. It can be problematic for low porosity hair however.
It can cause build-up and result in protein overload over time, causing low porosity hair to become dryer and stiffer.
To avoid the scalp becoming congested and to enhance absorption into the hair, it’s best to start with the smallest amount of coconut oil you think you’ll need and work upwards from that.
When To Not Use Coconut Oil In Hair
Although it may seem light, coconut oil is actually one of the heaviest oils you can use on your hair, and it takes some time to absorb.
For this reason, if you have low porosity hair, it’s probably not a good idea to use coconut oil when coloring your hair.
The reason for this is that low porosity hair has a flat cuticle. If viewed under a microscope, the cuticle of low porosity hair is made of ‘scales’ that are almost flat and tightly packed, like shingles on a roof.
For hair dye to do its job, it needs to raise the cuticle of the hair in order to get the color molecules in.
Low porosity hair has a harder time taking color than any other type of hair, so you really don’t need to strengthen the hair cuticle any more with coconut oil.
This just makes it harder still for the dye to do its job.
In addition, coconut oil tends to cause buildup and make low porosity hair stiffer and more prone to breakage.
To keep your hair in the best condition after coloring it, you can continue to use coconut oil as a weekly hair mask, or a pre-wash treatment to help prevent the color fading.
You can also use coconut oil as a conditioner and add it to the ends of your dry hair to smooth them.
Coconut oil makes a great all-rounder hair product for high and medium porosity hair, whether your hair is colored or not.
Alternatives To Using Coconut Oil
If you have low porosity hair, very fine hair or you just don’t like coconut oil, there are alternatives when it comes to protecting your hair from damage during the coloring process.
Perhaps the best thing you can do before dying your hair is to make sure it’s already in fantastic condition. Use a couple of moisturizing, deep treatment hair masks in the week leading up to coloring your hair.
You may also find it helpful to skip washing your hair for a couple of days before dyeing it, as the buildup of natural oils will help protect your hair and scalp.
Post-coloring, when it comes to choosing oils to use for low porosity hair, aim for lighter ones such as grapeseed, jojoba, apricot and argan oil. These will penetrate the strong cuticle of low porosity hair more easily.
Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on LovedByCurls.com is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.