This is the first in an occasional series on the best essential oils for locs.
Coconut oil is considered by some to be the healthiest oil on earth. For locs, it is one of the best oils for moisturizing and increasing optimal hair health.
First, it’s an edible oil extracted from the meat of mature coconuts. Unlike other essential oils, coconut oil is heat-stable, oxidizes slowly, is resistant to rancidity (a major issue, as most essential oils are sold in small, dark-colored, airtight bottles to preserve their short shelf-life), and can last up to two years. Because of its longer shelf life, you can purchase it by the jar or even the larger bottle.
In short, coconut oil moisturizes due to its high fatty acid content. Some oils seem to just sit on the skin and locs. However, coconut oil penetrates deep within to soften. Half of the fatty acids in coconuts are lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid that also converts to monolaurin when ingested. Monolaurin is an antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride that attacks and destroys lipid covered viruses that invade the body. Coconut oil is also said to lower blood cholesterol levels, increase brain function, and may even help you lose weight (3 tablespoons a day) as it helps regulate your metabolism when taken interally. (Fun fact: pets can also benefit from coconut oil. Place it in hands and offer it to your dog by hand. It helps with bonding, and it helps to smooth the dog’s coat and skin as well!)
There are several types of coconut oils that are available on the market. There’s virgin coconut oil, which is extracted from the meat of fresh coconuts. This oil retains many of the health benefits. There’s refined coconut oil which is made from copra, or dried coconut kernels. It is mostly known as RBD coconut oil, which stands for refined, bleached, and deodorized. This oil is mostly used for cooking and tends to lose some of its health benefits because it is so highly processed. Finally, there’s organic coconut oil, which comes from coconuts directly from palm trees and grown with natural fertilizers and without insecticides. Organic coconut oil can also be found in the virgin form. Many of these oils go by the term, “extra virgin coconut oil”.
On locs, you can use it a variety of ways. As a pre-shampoo moisturizer, apply to your locs and scalp and sit under a hot towel for an hour. As an hot-oil treatment, massage into locs and scalp for 5 minutes, cover locs with a plastic cap, sit under a dryer for 15-20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. For weekly maintenance between shampoos, use it 3 times per week to fight dryness. It also is great for slowing hair thinning. One recipe found online for this: boil a small amount of hibiscus flowers in coconut oil, filter into an airtight container and apply as needed. It can also be added to shampoos and conditioners for added softness. Coconut oil is a common ingredient in shampoos, as it helps the surfactants to lather easily.
Coconut oil may be solid at cooler room temperatures, but melts easily in the hands. There’s no buildup, so you can freely apply it to locs even in a semi-solid state.
On the scalp, which many neglect as part of the moisturizing process, coconut oil can be massaged in for hair growth and to control dandruff.
You can purchase coconut oil at health food stores and larger grocery stores like Whole Foods.
Personally, I have dry, color-treated locs. I coat them with coconut oil and wrap my hair up at night with a scarf overnight. By morning, my locs are softer. I also use it as my “leave-in conditioner” by smoothing onto my locs and scalp after I shampoo and let it air dry.
Bonus for you: To enjoy the benefits of coconuts internally, try this coconut smoothie courtesy of SmoothieWeb.
1 cup Coconut Milk
1-2 tbsps your favorite protein powder
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp stevia powder (or other sweetener)
8-10 ice cubes
Place all ingredients but ice in a blender and process at high speed until well combined. Add ice after the coconut oil is blended so that it won’t clump. You may use more or less ice, depending on how cold you like a smoothie. Serves 2
Watch for more in future posts as we talk about how oils are the basis for great-looking and healthy locs. (Also, there’s a rundown of the best oils for locs in Loc’d Life Magazine, volume 2 in our Locs 101 section, available for purchase online at http://www.locdlife.com)
Special Announcement: We’re having a launch party in Chicago, entitled “Locs on the Rocks: The Launch Party,” Sunday, July 29 at 3 p.m. at Uncle Joe’s Tropical Diner, 4655 S. King Drive. Tickets are $10 and are available through EventBrite at www.locdlife.eventbrite.com Follow the event on Facebook through our Loc’d Life Magazine page and on Twitter at @Locdlife.
Bonus: Get the printed version of Loc’d Life Magazine, Volume 2, mailed direct from hp magcloud. Preview ALL the pages and a line-up of stories, including…
- Ledisi, Our Locstar and how to achieve her signature updo
- Role Models: Loc’d models who are rocking the industry
- Loc’d Life Man, featuring Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald and men’s styles by Chicago’s Christian Fields Style Bar
- Chescalocs’ Franchesca Ramsey
- Putting Style on Top: Fashions of Sabreen Sabur’s Royal Closet
- Chicago’s Spoken Word artist Awthentik
- Loc Q&A
- The Harriet Experiment’s year-long journey to natural hair
- Exercise and nutrition for you and your locs
- We Want Locs: an open appeal to imagemakers for more locs in ads, TV and elsewhere
- Plus a roundup of shampoos and the top oils for locs
You don’t want to miss out on 40 pages all on locs. Get your copy today at www.locdlife.com! (Volume 1 is available, too!)