Coconut oil vs coconut milk: Which one is better for hair?


Coconut oil and coconut milk are equally credited for promoting hair health, but is one better than the other? Let’s find out!

When it comes to hair oils, coconut oil is a clear winner. Many women, especially the ones with dry hair, swear by it. However, coconut oil is not the only natural ingredient that will give you soft and strong hair, even coconut milk can work wonders. You can also add coconut milk to your hair care regime. Coconut milk has a lot of nutrients that can help in nourishing and hydrating your tresses. Both coconut oil and coconut milk contain nutrients like vitamin E that are needed to nourish your hair. But which one is better for healthy hair? We tell you which one wins in this debate on coconut oil vs coconut milk for hair.

What is coconut oil?

Edible oil that is obtained from coconut pulp is called coconut oil. It turns solid in cold temperature, and liquid when heated. The two varieties are refined and virgin. While refined coconut oil uses dried coconut meat, often known as copra, virgin coconut oil uses fresh meat, says beauty veteran Dr Blossom Kochhar, Chairperson of the Blossom Kochhar Group of Companies.

coconut oil
Coconut oil is one of the best hair oils. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

How is coconut oil different from coconut milk?

Coconut milk is made by boiling coconut meat in extremely hot water and filtering it out. On the other hand, coconut oil is made by pressing the meat to extract its fat.

Coconut oil vs coconut milk for hair

Both coconut milk and coconut oil have advantages for hair, including:

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1. Lauric acid

This medium-chain fatty acid penetrates the hair shaft deeply. It provides intense moisture to your hair and prevents dryness.

2. Vitamin E

Vitamin E in coconut acts as an antioxidant. It protects hair from free radical damage, says the expert.

Coconut milk also has protein which your hair needs because hair is mainly composed of keratin, a protein. Coconut milk’s protein content helps to strengthen hair strands and prevent breakage.

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Both coconut oil and coconut milk offer benefits for hair, but they cater to different needs. Coconut oil is better for dry, frizzy or damaged hair. Benefits of coconut milk include:

  • Helps with dandruff
  • Restores shine to dry and damaged hair
  • Controls frizz
  • Protects hair from styling damage

How to apply coconut oil?

Use it sparingly, as it can weigh down fine hair. Apply to mid-lengths and ends before washing or you can use it as a leave-in conditioner.

How frequently can you use it?

Use it once or twice a week for dry hair.

Coconut oil is good for all hair types, especially dry, colour-treated or curly hair, says Dr Kochhar. Its benefits include:

  • Hydrates, nourishes and strengthens hair
  • Promotes hair growth
  • Adds shine
  • Soothes scalp irritation.

How to apply coconut milk?

It can be used more liberally than coconut oil. Use it as a hair mask, conditioner, leave-in mask or rinse.

How frequently should you use it?

It can be used more frequently, even daily for dry hair, as it’s lighter than coconut oil.

How to use coconut oil and coconut milk for hair?

Apply coconut oil to deeply condition your hair by using it prior to shampooing and conditioning, suggests the expert. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes and then rinse your hair as usual.

Woman using coconut milk
Coconut milk can be used as a leave-in conditioner. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Coconut milk can be used in various ways –

1. Hair mask

Massage pure coconut milk into your scalp and hair, leave it on for 30 minutes to an hour, then rinse. This deeply conditions and nourishes your hair.

2. Leave-in conditioner

Dilute coconut milk with water and spray it onto your hair after showering. This tames frizz, adds shine and keeps your hair hydrated.

3. Hair rinse

After shampooing, dilute coconut milk with water and use it as a final rinse. This adds softness and manageability to your hair.

4. DIY hair products

Add coconut milk to your homemade hair masks, shampoos or conditioners for an extra boost of nourishment.

Those with an oily hair and scalp should not use coconut oil or coconut milk for hair, as they can make them more oily.


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