I've been looking for a natural deep hair conditioner as the majority of good mainstream ones out there tend to be full of odd sorts of chemicals. Most of the so-called "natural" ones I've encountered so far have been heavy, greasy or just gross and didn't really do anything or were impossible to wash out.
Well, much to my surprise I stumbled upon a group of people who use straight up coconut oil for their hair. It's referred to as "oiling" and basically you just apply some unrefined (aka "virgin") coconut oil on dry hair before washing. You can put it on 15 minutes before shampooing, overnight or anything in between - whatever you prefer. Obviously leaving it on longer will allow it to work more, just know that it will leave your hair rather oily and you'll want to protect your pillow with a towel if you sleep overnight with it in.
So, what's the big deal with coconut oil? Well, I tried it (since I have a ton of the unscented kind for making soap) and it washed out really easy, left my hair very soft and, most amazingly, my hair is super shiny, but not at all oily. The other weird thing is that the curls in my hair are a lot more defined, probably because the cuticle is less frizzy.
How often should you use it? Well, I guess it depends on how dry and damaged your hair is. You can probably get away with using it twice a week although I'm sure once a week or month is probably a goodly amount. Many people also use a very small (and I do mean tiny) amount on their dry hair daily for shine and for controlling fly-aways.
How does coconut oil differ from something like jojoba oil? Purportedly, coconut oil is able to penetrate the hair shaft better than jojoba or sunflower oils. According to one study:
Among three oils [coconut, mineral and sunflower], coconut oil was the only oil found to reduce the protein loss remarkably for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product. Both sunflower and mineral oils do not help at all in reducing the protein loss from hair. This difference in results could arise from the composition of each of these oils. Coconut oil, being a triglyceride of lauric acid (principal fatty acid), has a high affinity for hair proteins and, because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft.
For more information you can check it out here.
The other thing you can use coconut oil for is moisturizing your skin. It magically disappears into your skin and doesn't leave you feeling oily or greasy.
This morning I whipped together a little body moisturizer using coconut oil, cocoa butter and vanilla essential oil. Since both coconut oil and cocoa butter are solid at room temperature (but melt at body temperature), I microwaved the two briefly and then added in the essential oil. Cocoa butter tends to be a little waxy, so if you try mixing up this concoction on your own, go easy on the cocoa butter.