Can coconut oil fix dandruff or damaged hair? The pros and cons of using it on your scalp, and what a doctor thinks

When it comes to coconut oil, most people think of cooking. But it might just be the next hot hair treatment.

Some say it is a silver bullet for dandruff, psoriasis – a condition in which the skin develops an itchy rash – and other scalp conditions.

In recent years, beauty blogs and TikTokkers alike have been touting coconut oil as a treatment for dry skin.

It is not that surprising when you think about it; the popular shea butter, for example, is also made from a nut oil.

The anti-fungal properties of coconut oil make it especially useful for treating mild cases of dandruff. Photo: Shutterstock

Dry, damaged hair

Keratin – the protein that hair is made of – gets damaged by the wear and tear of life.

Add in chemical treatments like bleaches, dyes, perms and straighteners and you can end up with dry, brittle hair. Coconut oil can help with split ends and heat damage.

A 2015 study found that coconut oil is absorbed more easily by hair, making it especially good for moisturising. And American website and provider of health information Healthline reported that the oil can reduce protein loss in hair, which may lead to thicker, healthier looking hair.

A 2015 study found that coconut oil is absorbed more easily by hair, making it especially good for moisturising. Photo: Shutterstock

Soothing the scalp

Coconut oil is not just good for your hair. It can also help with dandruff and other scalp conditions.

“Coconut oil has moisturising, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that make it beneficial to hair,” Joyce Park, a doctor at virtual dermatology practice Skin Refinery, explained.

Its anti-fungal properties make coconut oil especially useful for treating mild cases of dandruff and, while there has not been any research yet, WebMD notes that many psoriasis sufferers have found relief with coconut oil, saying “there are reasons to think it might be another tool for your toolkit”.
Coconut oil is being praised for fixing damaged hair and combating scalp disorders. Photo: Shutterstock

Not for everyone

Coconut oil is not right for everyone. For some hair textures, coconut oil is just too oily – it can clog the scalp if you already have oily skin.

And, of course, if you have a more severe scalp condition, you should still seek out treatment from a medical professional. They are likely to prescribe a medicated shampoo.

“Coconut oil as a shampoo treatment has limitations since it has no active ingredients,” noted WebMD.

If you are planning on using coconut oil, experts recommend getting “virgin” oil from either the cooking aisle or the beauty section.


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