Argan Oil vs. Coconut Oil for Hair: Which is Best for You?

When it comes to hair care, there are a lot of different products on the market to choose from. But two of the most popular options are argan oil and coconut oil. So, what’s the difference between these two natural oils, and which one is better for your hair? Read on to find out.

What is argan oil and where does it come from?

Argan oil is made from the kernels of the argan tree, which is native to Morocco.  In that country, it has been used for centuries to treat skin conditions and as a culinary oil. The oil is rich in nutrients like vitamin E and fatty acids, which can help to nourish and protect your hair. Argan oil is sometimes called “liquid gold” because of its price and its reputation for being good for your hair.

The benefits of argan oil for hair

What makes organic argan oil stand out for hair care are the rich nutrients that this oil contains. From vitamins to antioxidants and essential fatty acids this oil can provide the following benefits: 

Moisturizes and softens hair

Argan oil is rich in essential fatty acids namely oleic and linoleic acids which together help increase water retention in hair folliculitis. These fatty acids protect and lubricate hair shafts and protect the scalp from dryness. 

Protects the scalp

Argan oil has the ability to protect the scalp as it is rich in Vit E, a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. These both help protect hair from oxidative stress caused by free radicals as well as prevent and treats skin conditions that may affect the scalp like seborrheic dermatitis. It also helps add some shine to hair. 

Prevents hair breakage

Argan oil help moisturize and soften the hair which protects the hair during styling and washing. The fatty acids found in this oil form a protective film around the hair shaft reducing breakage and split ends. In this study, argan oil was proven to be an effective treatment against hair protein loss caused by hair dye. 

What is coconut oil and where does it come from?

Coconut oil has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for hair and skin. Unlike other oils, coconut oil is composed of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which are easily absorbed and used by the body. In fact, MCFAs are so easily absorbed that they are often used in infant formulas.

The benefits of coconut oil for hair

Just like argan oil, coconut is also rich in nutrients like vitamin E and fatty acids, but below are a few things that make it a star in its own right 

Prevents dandruff

An overgrowth of fungi on the scalp is what usually leads to dandruff. Applying coconut oil to your hair can prevent this as it has antibacterial and antifungal properties capable of killing fungi on the scalp. 

Prevents protein loss in hair

In this study, coconut oil was found to be the only oil among mineral oil and sunflower oil to be able to prevent protein loss in hair. This is mainly due to the fact it is mainly constituted of a  medium-chain fatty acid called lauric acid. Lauric acid due to its chemical structure has more affinity with hair protein and can be absorbed deeper into the hair shaft than other fatty acids. 

Prevents hair damage

Hair practices such as washing, drying, or styling may cause a lot of stress on hair shafts causing them to be prone to breakage. However, applying oil like coconut oil to your hair helps seal moisture and prevents further damage to hair.

It should be noted that hair is more prone to damage when wet as the water gets absorbed in hair cuticles and makes them more vulnerable. Applying coconut oil before washing your hair and after can help reduce the friction applied to your hair and reduce the risk of damage

Which oil is better for your hair type?

So, which oil is better for your hair? That really depends on your individual hair type and what you’re looking for in a product. 

Argan oil vs coconut oil for dry hair

Although both oils can help with water retention hair, argan oil is best for dry hair, especially for daily use. Applying too much coconut oil on your hair can cause build-up, which will block hair shafts and lead to dry and brittle hair strands. 

Argan oil vs coconut oil for dry scalp

Argan oil is richer in antioxidants (vit E, polyphenols, sterols), anti-inflammatory, and more moisturizing with less risk of buildup than coconut oil. This makes it better for a dry scalp. 

However, coconut oil’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can help treat dry scalp caused by dandruff. While argan oil can be used on a daily basis, think of doing a coconut oil-based hair mask at least once a week.  

Argan oil vs coconut oil for curly hair

Coconut is best for curly hair as its conditioning abilities can help detangle hair easily. Its facility to get absorbed into the hair shaft helps nourish, and strengthen curls and adds a shine to them.

Its ability to protect from protein loss and at the same time prevent water loss helps keep curls bouncing. However, you need to be mindful of the amount you apply so as not to overcharge your hair. 

Argan oil or coconut oil for frizzy hair?

Frizzy hair is usually caused by a lack of hydration in hair cuticles and is most prone to dry and curly hair. Coconut oil compared to argan oil will be a better option to help tame your frizz. This is because coconut oil can be absorbed faster and deeper in the hair shaft and protect the hair from absorbing too much water (which makes the hair more vulnerable). At the same time, coconut oil helps retain the right amount of water within the shafts to promote growth.

Argan oil or coconut oil for afro hair?

Afro hair is naturally more prone to dehydration, oily scalp, and dry hair fiber. This results in a lot of breakage in afro hair. Coconut oil is best for this hair type as it contains a high amount of lauric and capric acids that bind the hair’s protein and protect the hair from damage. Coconut oil is also better at softening afro hair and helps seal moisture into afro hair better than argan oil.

Argan oil or coconut oil for bleached hair?

Both oils are good to use on bleached hair as both help with restoring protein in hair cuticles that may be damaged by the bleaching process. Argan and coconut oil have both been proven to be able to restore protein loss in hair shafts caused by the use of harsh bleaching products.

Both oils contain antioxidants that help protect the hair from UV rays and oxidative stress to which hair gets exposed. However, it should be noted that there is much more scientific research backing coconut oil than there is for argan oil. 

Argan oil or coconut oil for hair growth?

There is not enough substantial scientific evidence to prove that argan oil increases hair growth. However, it is proven to be effective as a protective treatment against oxidative damage to hair. Processes like hair bleaching and other heat treatments lead to hair protein degradation which in this leads to hair loss. Argan oil, therefore by extension, helps prevent hair loss

Coconut oil just like its counterpart has an indirect impact on hair growth. By preventing protein loss and reducing water loss in hair, it reduces the chances of hair damage.

Coconut oil also helps maintain scalp health which is essential to hair growth. So while it does directly trigger hair growth it contributes to ensuring a proper environment for healthy hair growth. 

How to use argan oil for hair

Argan oil is rich in vitamins A and E, as well as fatty acids and antioxidants. These nutrients help to nourish and protect hair from damage. Here’s how to use argan oil in your hair care routine:

Argan oil as a leave-in conditioner

To use argan oil as a leave-in conditioner, apply a small amount to damp or dry hair and style as usual.

Argan oil as a deep conditioner

To use argan oil as a deep conditioner, apply a generous amount of oil to damp hair and wrap your head in a warm towel for 20 minutes. Rinse with shampoo and conditioner as usual.

Argan oil as a heat protector

Apply a small amount of oil to your hair before and after using any heated tools like a curling iron or straightener to protect it from damage. Also, apply argan oil to your hair after bleaching or perming your hair to reduce the oxidative stress triggered by these harsh products. 

How to use coconut oil for hair

Coconut oil is an excellent occlusive and can help to prevent protein loss in hair. When applied to the hair, coconut oil can help to protect it from damage caused by heat styling or UV exposure. Here is how to use this oil on your hair: 

As a prepoo treatment

Apply a good amount of coconut oil to your hair, and massage it into your scalp and hair, paying particular attention to the ends of your hair.

You can leave the oil in your hair overnight or wash it after a few hours. Doing this before shampooing your hair will help reduce the damage that can occur during washing and protects the hair from harsh chemicals that may be in your shampoo.

As a scalp treatment

Coconut oil can also serve as a scalp treatment for dandruff. Massage two teaspoons of melted coconut oil into your scalp and put on a shower cap for 5- 10 minutes or overnight for an intensive treatment. Then rinse off thoroughly with a mild shampoo. 

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Petra Nakashian (previously Kravos) is a dedicated natural health and beauty blogger, driven by the loss of her parents to cancer, which led her to meticulously research beauty product ingredients. With over 10 years of experience, her in-depth knowledge has made her a trusted expert in the field. Founder of Be Healthy Now and Green Beauty Talk, Petra recently expanded her expertise with Beauty Insights Hub, exploring a wider range of beauty treatments. Committed to transparency and honesty, her work is a vital resource for navigating the complex world of beauty.