Imagine for a minute that you had to condition your hair without chemicals. What would you reach for? If you have naturally curly hair like I do, your first instinct is to panic. This actually happened to me when I was camping in Africa and got my bottle of conditioner stolen by a baboon. I was at a complete loss for what to do and days away from anywhere selling anything like cosmetics. Thankfully a wiser woman took pity on me and showed me how to massage coconut oil into my hair to ease tangling. This was so effective that I haven’t used anything else in the last ten years.
Simply take regular coconut oil like you get at the grocer, which is usually solid unless it’s really hot outside, and rub in your palms to liquefy and then massage deeply into your hair, particularly the ends. You can do this with your hair wet or dry, and you don’t need much at all, not more than what fits on the tip of your fingernail, though this probably depends on the length and thickness of your hair. Once you get the amount right, it doesn’t leave your hair greasy at all, and then you don’t have to use any mousse or frizz-ease type stuff to tame your curls. As an added bonus, the oil seems to coat the ends enough to let tangles slide out when you brush your hair, so it helps with split ends too. I’ve had numerous hairdressers ask me what conditioner I use, and most don’t believe me when I tell them that I use plain coconut oil.
Another reason that this way of conditioning is useful is because it is so adaptable. For instance, curly-headed people have all had days when it seems like their hair has a mind of its own. When this happens to me, I just slap some more coconut oil in and it helps tremendously. Also, I can rub it directly on my scalp if my scalp has dried out for some reason. I can also use the coconut oil in a pinch on other dry parts like feet and elbows. Finally, a jar of coconut oil generally lasts me about two years, so I go wild and buy the organic, fair trade stuff.
Life being what it is, my daughter of course has thick, straight hair, and I have found that coconut oil isn’t very good for straight hair. There is something about the curls that keeps it from looking greasy. Still, it works for me and a number of other curly-headed people I know, so I’ve decided to pass it on. I won’t lie and say that it solves all of the irritations involved with natural curls, but it does help most of them.