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Dry, brittle strands? Step this way. Coconut oil has many uses and benefits for hair, including improved shine and hydration.

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If you often reach for a jar of coconut oil to treat chapped lips and rough patches of skin on your knees, elbows, or heels, then you're already familiar with the ingredient's skincare magic. But if you've considered lathering it on your hair only to hesitate because you don't want to end up with an oily mess, we feel you. Here's everything you need to know about how to use coconut oil for hair, plus the best masks and treatments that will give you lush, hydrated strands (with no mess!).

Coconut oil benefits for hair

Coconut oil contains natural fats that coat hair to improve shine and hydrate the hair shaft, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. He adds that the ingredient is especially great for nourishing dry, brittle hair, and can be applied in its raw form. One exception: He recommends that people with oily hair or dandruff avoid putting coconut oil on their hair, since it might make annoying flakes worse.

Want to grow out your eyebrows? As a natural moisturizer, coconut oil can help keep brows in tip-top condition and stimulate hair follicles, says New York City-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD. If you have sensitive skin, test a little bit on an inconspicuous area first to make sure you don't have an adverse reaction.

How to use coconut oil for hair

But what we really want to know is how exactly do you use coconut oil on tresses without ending up looking like a total grease ball? The secret is that a little goes a long way. Rachel Nazarian, MD, a New York-based dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology (FAAD) recommends mixing coconut oil with a little warm water to melt it, and then applying a small amount (read: no more than the size of a dime) to the scalp and hair. Leave the treatment on for at least three minutes to allow it to absorb, or let it soak on your head for up to 30 minutes before rinsing.

Want extra hydration? Dr. Jaliman suggests applying coconut oil to hair midway to ends, wrapping, and sleeping with it on. Just rinse your hair thoroughly the next morning.

Whether you're looking to introduce a coconut oil hair mask into your routine or are open to giving fresh, raw coconut oil a try, here are five dermatologist-recommended coconut oil treatments guaranteed to give you shiny, soft locks.

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