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How to Make Coconut Oil Work for Low-Porosity Hair

Have you been wondering about how to use coconut oil on low porosity hair?  I’ve got you covered!

coconut oil on low porosity hair tip

There’s this popular belief that if you have you only need to use “low-porosity hair oils.” Newsflash: There’s a way to make any oil work for your hair! It’s in how you use them.

So, if you’ve ever experienced the challenges of using coconut oil in your low-porosity hair, you’re not alone. Also, if you have high porosity hair, you may experience the same challenges. Read on to see what I mean.

As someone with fine low porosity hair who has been on this natural hair journey for over 20 years, I’ve tested out coconut oil in every way imaginable. I’ve also used heavier oils like castor oil in my fine hair.  And, guess what? It comes with its challenges too but let’s focus on coconut oil.

At this point, I can confidently give you the inside scoop as to why coconut oil has not worked for you. Plus, if you still want to use this wonderful natural resource in your natural hair regimen, I’ll show you the best way to do so.

Clues You’re Using Coconut Oil Wrong

Typically, after using coconut oil, I will see ladies say things like:

“My hair is protein sensitive (myth by the way. Read this: The Shocking Truth About Using Protein in Your Hair) which is why it doesn’t agree with coconut oil”

“My hair doesn’t like coconut oil. It just sits on the surface of the hair.”

“It didn’t absorb well and just sat on top of my hair.”

“After sealing with it, my hair felt like it had product buildup”

If you use coconut oil like most enthusiasts in the natural hair community, then you have more than likely experienced dryness and hard hair after using it.

These statements are a clue that coconut oil is not being used in the best way in natural hair that also has low porosity.

Why Use Coconut Oil in Your Hair?

Before we get into the best way to use coconut oil in low-porosity hair, let me share with you the benefits of coconut oil for your hair:

  • Protects hair when it’s being shampooed
  • Promotes moisture retention and moisture absorption from within the hair strands
  • Protects hair from moisture loss
  • Improves your hair’s ability to retain protein
  • Benefits the scalp by preventing scalp conditions and infections due to its anti-microbial properties
  • Makes detangling hair easier
  • Helps prevent split ends

What Is Coconut Oil?

trader Joe coconut oil

Coconut oil has been around forever but do you know how it’s made and where it derives from?

For starters, the oil comes from the meaty part of mature coconuts by way of removing the fleshy part, drying it out, and pressing it to extract the oil. 

Fun fact: it’s actually a fruit and not a nut.

Coconut trees are typically grown in tropical areas like Southeast Asia, parts of South America, and the Pacific islands.

Coconut oil is such a wonderful natural resource that has been around forever. It’s used for just about everything including:

  • hair care
  • skincare
  • toothpaste
  • soap/body wash
  • cooking 

It’s packed with fatty acids, particularly lauric acid, which is the most abundant. The other fatty acids that make up the coconut oil profile and are responsible for conditioning the hair are:

  • Myristic Acid
  • Caprylic Acid (antifungal and antibacterial)
  • Capric Acid (antifungal, antibacterial, and antimicrobial)
  • Palmitic Acid
  • Oleic acid
  • Stearic Acid
  • Linoleic Acid

Coconut oil can provide various health benefits for skin and hair. When used in hair, its effectiveness will vary depending on individual hair types and needs.

Types of Coconut Oil

There are two main types of coconut oil: Refined and Unrefined. Among those, you can find them in organic or non-organic forms.

Refined coconut oil has had some of its properties stripped due to additional processing to remove impurities.

Unrefined oil (also called virgin or extra virgin coconut oil), retains most of its natural aroma and flavor since it’s made from fresh coconut.

For use in your hair, either is sufficient. Of course, refined oil is a bit more cost-effective.

Now, let’s transform your hair care routine with my tried-and-true tip on using coconut oil in natural hair from my personal experience.

How to Best Use Coconut Oil in Low-Porosity Hair

Because those with low hair porosity have a very tight cuticle layer, it’s next to impossible for coconut oil with its large molecules (or any oil really) to penetrate the hair shaft with a basic application.

That is unless you lift the cuticle layer of the hair open by way of steaming or using warm to hot water.

However, don’t worry about lifting the hair cuticle layer of your hair for coconut oil to be effective.

The best way to use coconut oil in low-porosity hair (especially curly hair) is as a pre-poo oil treatment. Coconut oil is an excellent choice for pre-washing all hair. It doesn’t matter if you have high porosity hair, medium porosity hair (also called normal porosity hair), or low porosity hair. Coconut oil is a popular ingredient in hair products for a reason.

Unfortunately, while this oil can promote healthy hair growth, its addition to every single hair product is overkill.

When you layer coconut oil over your dry hair, it creates a protective barrier that prevents what’s called hygral fatigue.

Unlike adding moisture to your hair, whenever you wash it, a little protein can be lost.

The coconut oil will make your hair resilient to the stripping effects of shampoo.

Best Pre-Poo Product Containing Coconut OilThe Mane Choice Heavenly Halo Herbal Hair Tonic & Soy Milk Deep Hydration Pre Poo

How to Use Coconut Oil as a Pre-Poo Treatment: Step-by-Step

Here is the simplest pre-poo routine you can do using coconut oil:

Step 1: Clip your hair up in sections

Based on the density of your hair, you may need 4-8 sections. You want to be able to adequately and thoroughly apply the coconut oil throughout your hair.

Step 2: Warm the oil

Because low porosity hair does favor “warm” products applied to it to encourage penetration of the product, you want to warm the coconut oil.

This can be done by running an applicator bottle filled with coconut oil under warm water. Just be sure not to get water into the bottle.

Another, most effective way to warm the oil is to use a warmer.

Amazing Oil warmer: JOJOCosmo Oil Warmer and Dispenser

Optionally, you can use the oil at room temperature. You may need to emulsify it in your hands though.

Step 3: Distribute throughout hair

Working with one section at a time, apply the warmed coconut oil throughout your hair from roots to tips (or vice versa…just ensure total coverage).

Don’t rub into the scalp. Just cover your hair.

Step 4: Allow to sit

Cover your hair with a plastic cap. Then, leave the oil in your hair for at least half an hour and up to 60 minutes.

Step 5: Cleanse & Deep Condition

Remove the plastic cap and cleanse your hair as usual with shampoo.

After rinsing, finish off with your deep conditioner which will further hydrate your hair.

Optional Pre-Poo Boost

To further boost the pre-poo treatment, you can use some aloe vera on your scalp. It’s an ideal choice for boosting moisture down to the hair follicles. It’s not needed for coconut oil to be an effective pre-poo but it’s a bonus.

Why Using Coconut Oil as a Pre-Poo Works

Using coconut oil as a pre-poo works best in low porosity hair because you are not leaving it in your hair.

It’s when you try to use coconut oil to seal or “moisturize” your hair that you are left with strands that feel crispy and parched.

For one, oils are not moisturizers. They are hydrophobic, meaning they repel moisture. Well, that’s counterproductive if you are looking to moisturize your hair.

Hair Care Products to Avoid

Because the best choice for low porosity hair is to use it as a pre-poo, you’ll want to avoid these products if you see coconut oil on the label:

  • leave-in conditioner
  • a hair mask that you don’t wash out
  • heat protectant (not a good idea, unless you want stiff strands that lack movement!)
  • stylers (including hair gels)


Is it better to put coconut oil in wet or dry hair?

Coconut oil should be applied to dried hair as a pre-poo. If you wet the hair, you reduce the efficacy of the coconut oil to protect your hair from damage when washing it.

What helps moisturize low-porosity hair?

Regardless of your hair’s porosity, there’s only one true source of moisture. Water.

Moisturizing the hair occurs when you wet it with water or a product with a high water content.  Yet, for the hair to retain moisture for longer than a few seconds, the moisture should be sealed with an oil.

You can use a heavy oil or butter like Shea Butter if your hair strands won’t be weighed down. If you have fine hair, it’s better to use lightweight oils. However, in the case of Shea butter (or Mango or Cocoa butter), you can whip them to make them easier to distribute throughout your hair. Check out this article: How to Use Shea Butter in Fine Hair.

Why does my hair feel dry after using coconut oil?

Your hair feels dry after using coconut oil because you are 100 percent using it incorrectly. If you want to seal in moisture or do scalp massages, use lightweight oils like jojoba oil or grapeseed oil.

Use coconut oil as a pre-shampoo treatment. You’ll be washing it out. So, it won’t leave your hair feeling dry.

How often should I oil my low-porosity hair?

Oiling with natural oils is great for any hair type. The type of oils you use matters though. Oils are not just for sealing but for lubricating. When you have low porosity hair, the best oils to use for sealing are sweet almond oil, argan oil, olive oil, and avocado oil.

These work well for sealing hair that’s wet and moisturized.

These same oils can be used for scalp massages and oiling the hair so that tangling is reduced. Just don’t use coconut oil for anything other than a pre-poo or as a pre-wash treatment.

Conclusion/Final Thoughts: How to use coconut oil on low porosity hair

Yes, when using coconut oil, you need to be mindful of your hair’s porosity. However, coconut oil will be your ally when you use it as a pre-poo. Put it in, let it do its job of protecting your strand, and wash it out.

It’s so simple and effective that it’s been overlooked.

When used as a pre-poo, you’ll discover that coconut oil will give you the best results for fortifying your hair so that you can retain more length.

Download a free length retention handbook when you join the Fine Hair and Faith Newsletter:

Read this next: The Coconut Oil Debate: Oils vs Moisturizer

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