How Long To Leave Coconut Oil In Hair (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Up to 24 hours

Coconut oil is a multitasking oil with several health benefits. It is used as a pre-wash treatment, conditioner, or hair mask to moisturize and repair damaged hair, even with dandruff. Coconut oil is extremely nourishing and also helps aid hair loss prevention.

Coconut oil provides the optimal conditions for hair growth by reducing inflammation around hair follicles. One of the main components of coconut oil is Lauric acid that helps strengthen the hair cuticle and fight inflammation at the same time. Lauric acid also helps coconut oil to penetrate the hair and scalp to activate the oil’s several health benefits.

How Long To Leave Coconut Oil In Hair

How Long To Leave Coconut Oil In Hair?

Experts recommend 30 minutes as an average time to leave coconut oil in hair after which one can wash it away with deep cleansing shampoos. For advanced effect, one can apply coconut oil and leave it overnight for up to 12 to 24 hours straight. Dry hair may require additional time for coconut oil to penetrate and start working.

Coconut oil benefits all types of hair, whether it is dry, damaged, or greasy. The amount of oil applied also determines the time needed for the hair to absorb the oil. It is recommended to apply oil measuring only up to a teaspoon.

Coconut oil can sometimes change the texture of coarse hair when applied very frequently. One should limit applying coconut oil on hair to 3 times a week at most. For the enhanced effect of coconut oil, it is suggested to apply coconut oil at night and wash it the next morning after 8 to 10 hours on average for a moderate effect.

Extreme use of coconut oil may also clog pores and further cause scalp irritation leading to alleviated dryness. Medical representatives suggest using shampoo at least 2 times in single oiling round to avoid the associated consequences of using coconut oil. It is also recommended to apply coconut oil on hair tips to cure hair splits and avoid scalp dryness.

In summary:

Mild30 minutes
Moderate8 – 10 hours
Advanced12 – 24 hours

Why Does It Take So Long To Leave Coconut Oil In Hair?

Coconut oil is a multipurpose oil that is used by humans in many forms. It is edible and also useful in the growth of nail cuticles, manufacturing soaps, and the production of various fuels. Coconut oil’s chemical and physical structure is the reason behind it’s multipurpose abilities.

Coconut oil is composed of low molecular weight fat molecules that constitute 99% of its composition. The fat molecules can be further distinguished as Lauric acid, Myristic acid, Palmitic acid, and Caprylic acid. Lauric acid accounts for around 50% of the total saturated fat content in coconut oil.

Lauric acid is the main constituent of coconut oil that causes hair penetration and also exhibits other activities such as tackling scalp inflammation or strengthening hair cuticles. The oil’s low molecular weight helps penetrate through the hair shaft faster compared to other types of oil. Hair porosity also determines the time needed for coconut oil to soak in one’s hair.

Various experiments around the world suggest only 15% of hair weight is the amount of coconut oil absorbed in an hour. As one increases the soaking time and leaves oil on hair for 6 or more hours, the oil absorption rate increases. As coconut oil molecules look similar to the natural hair lipid structure, their absorption rate is much faster compared to other oils.

The chemical composition of coconut oil helps repair protein damage and help hair growth. An extended absorption period with a shower cap or a hair mask can help one cure damaged hair at a faster pace. Coconut oil is also great on skin and thus, one can always use it to fight dry screen during winters.


Coconut oil is multitasking, cheap, and a beneficial resource to humankind. It provides several health benefits such as regaining hair protein loss, nourishing hair moisture, curing inflammation, etc. One can leave it on hair for anything between 30 minutes to 24 hours.

A soaking period of 30 minutes is enough for some of the lauric acid molecules to soak hair, thereby leaving a mild effect. When left overnight, the oil molecules get an adequate amount of time to exhibit their beneficial nature. One may leave the oil for about 24 hours to restore damaged hair and promote hair growth.



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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