Coconut Oil vs Mineral Oil

In simple words, mineral oil is a byproduct of petroleum. You will see it listed as an ingredient in most mass-produced cosmetic and personal care items. It has been used in these products for many years by manufacturers because it is cheap. Cheap does not mean bad at all; and expensive does not mean good either. So let us try to simplify this now. What is better for your hair – mineral oil or unrefined vegetable oils like coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil, castor oil etc?

Well, mineral oil is an excellent lubricant. It has a very good spreadable consistency unlike castor oil; it is lightweight and non-greasy. Hence it is great as a de-tangler. It is the main ingredient in most hair serums. Like I just mentioned, it spreads easily. So, you will need just a small amount for all your hair. Once you spread it over the surface of your hair, it coats each strand lightly thereby masking irregularities and jagged edges in the cuticle structure{outermost layer}. This temporarily gives an appearance and feel of smoother, shinier hair. Of course, because the cuticles are less jagged, they are less prone to chafing, static and friction during combing and winters. Hence, it will indirectly prevent breakage too. Mineral oil acts like a moisture barrier – so individual hair strands retain moisture within them when the climate is dry. But, it works the other way too. If the weather condition is humid, it helps with frizz control by preventing penetration of that humidity into the hair strands. You see, mineral oil is great if the application is intended to improve the appearance of your hair, or even as a temporary solution for temporary shine, temporary smoothness, temporary easy combing, temporary appearance of healthy strands/volume, to temporarily battle harsh weather conditions.

But, if you’re using mineral oil to improve the health and quality of your hair, that won’t really work. It is great to improve the appearance of hair. But for health of hair and nourishment of each strand and even your scalp, I suggest you look at some natural unrefined vegetable oils. Why? Let’s consider my favourite – coconut oil. Coconut oil has the capacity to penetrate through the hair follicles and moisturize and hydrate your hair from within. That being said, I maintain what I say in almost every haircare article – hair is nothing but dead cells, which is why they cannot be repaired like live tissues such as skin and bones etc. All you can do is moisturize, prevent further damage and probably create external barriers and layers on the outer part of individual hair strands. That’s the best way I can put it. I hope you get my point. Depending on the type of hair you have, much of the coconut oil will be absorbed by you hair and is retained within the hair strands making it more dense. More dense means more volume for each hair strand. But that also means that it weighs down your hair making it appear limp in total. But, then if each strand increases in weight and volume, it is less prone to frizz and flyaways. Also, straight hair will appear straighter because of this density. Because, each strand is heavier and moisturized, it also appears smoother and is softer to the touch, bouncier and more elastic so less prone to breakage from combing, styling, bands etc. So, how to get the best out of hair oils without the negatives that come along? My suggestion – always oil your hair before washing, especially if you use commercial shampoos containing drying ingredients such as SLS, parabens, alcohol, fragrance etc. Massage it into your scalp and keep it on your hair for a few hours before you wash it off. This requires some planning, but it is so worth it. You see your scalp consists of live tissues that absorb the nutrition from within and helps with growing healthier hair (to come). The massage helps with circulation which is great for the health of your hair (yet to come/grow out). Less moisture is lost during a wash because of the oil that has been absorbed by each strand. And the excess oil gets washed away with your shampoo, so you don’t have to worry about very limp hair that weighs you down.

This is why I love using coconut oil before a wash. Absolutely no hair treatment or spa in the world can compare to this cheap, easy advice handed down from the wisdom of our grandmothers. I don’t really use serums and styling products. I have a few but they usually just expire. If you must use mineral oil, it is if you didn’t oil your hair before a wash or if you are going swimming and don’t want your hair to absorb the harmful chlorine and chemicals. You see this is the only time mineral oil is better than a vegetable oil because an unrefined oil will help hair absorb the moisture and chlorine into the hair shaft, but mineral oil will act as a barrier. So think wisely before you buy/use a hair oil. Read the list of ingredients and make a good decision. I am not a trichologist or a dermatologist. I have no qualification in this field. This is my personal observation based on my experiences, some of which I paid a very heavy price to learn πŸ™‚

Happy Hair Days to you



    1. You’re absolutely right there Bougainvillea πŸ™‚ I prefer to use unrefined, traditional-wood pressed, coconut oil which is unbleached and free from fragrance. But, in all fairness, even the cheaper variants of coconut oils that I have used so often have given me the same results. I don’t know how they affect the hair structure, but results were kinda similar πŸ™‚


  1. I use coconut oil in the exact same way! It helped me so much with dry scalp issue. And about mineral oils – I’ve found that many products with mineral oils actually make hair look better thanks to silicones (like the very popular Moroccanoil oil), but the problem with them is that they make the hair look nice and silky for a while, and then over time the hair becomes dull and starts breaking. Besides, mineral oils can be comedogenic, which is definitely a risk factor. Loved your post πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Alexandra, thank you so much for sharing your experience. It’s lovely to learn from each other. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. Take care πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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