Coconut oil has been established as THE oil to use to reduce chipping of the cuticle, breakage and damage. Like most things when it comes to natural hair, application is key. Applying coconut oil to your hair after it’s been washed is less effective at reducing the water retention index (WRI) compared to applying the oil to the hair before washing.
If the oil is applied AFTER the hair has been wash then the oil film ends up being on the surface of the hair. It sits there with no penetration into the hair fiber. If it’s used BEFORE washing the oil molecules penetrate to the cuticle and possibly into the cortex where the keratin structure is located. In order for there to be a reduction in the water retention index the oil would have to be absorbed into the hair.
The steps and sequence of applying coconut oil to the hair are crucial. This can’t be stressed enough.
How to pre-poo:
Coconut oil is typically solid at room temperature so you’ll need to heat it to liquefy it. You can do this by heating it in pot on the stove (preferred) or warming it up in the microwave (less preferred). You can use virgin coconut oil or RBD coconut oil.
What’s the difference?
RBD stands for “refined, bleached, and deodorized.” RBD oil is usually made from copra (dried coconut kernel) and is more processed. All of the phytonutrients have been removed so it is tasteless and odorless.
Virgin coconut oil is less processed and it’s made from fresh coconut without high heat or chemicals. It has a lot more nutrients and phytochemicals. It’s also more expensive than RBD coconut oil.
You can use either oil; processing or not processing doesn’t change the fatty acid composition of the oil.