We all know coconut oil* is a God send for hair and skin, but what a lot of us don’t know is why we are told to use extra virgin coconut oil.
Knowing the facts behind which oils you decide to use for your hair is important, so that you know exactly what it is that you’re putting into your hair and scalp.
There are many different brands of coconut oil on the market today that have one or more of the following on their label: refined/RBD, unrefined, virgin/extra virgin, organic, cold pressed and expeller pressed.
Understanding what these terms mean can help you choose the best possible coconut oil for your natural hair.
The difference between virgin and refined coconut* oil
These are the two most commonly sold versions of coconut oil. Virgin or unrefined coconut oil costs more, which is why some folks resort to refined versions. You’ll notice that the refined coconut oils* have a not-so-great taste and smell.
This is because they undergo extensive processing that include bleaching and deodorization. Virgin, sometimes referred to as extra virgin, has better qualities in aroma and taste. Plus, it still has more of its nutrients intact. This is obviously why we are told that virgin coconut oil is the best choice.
Check for the processing method
Before you grab a jar of virgin coconut* oil, you also have to keep in mind the process that was involved in creating the oil.
The two most commonly sold versions are expeller-pressed and cold-pressed. The two are actually sometimes one and the same, but a lot of people don’t realize this. And that’s because the labeling laws aren’t as strong as they should be.
Coconut oil that is expeller-pressed undergoes a mechanical process that involves high pressure and heat to remove the oil from the seeds.
Coconut oil* that is labeled cold-pressed undergoes the same processing but in a heat-controlled environment that’s below 120 degrees. This is why it’s important to get to know the brands that you purchase your coconut oil from. Cold-pressed is the better option.
If you really want to get into the nitty gritty of how your coconut oil is being processed, you’ll need to find out if it was wet or dry-processed, centrifuge-processed or fermented.
The quality and freshness of the coconuts and copra are also important. There are some manufacturers that use the Direct Micro Expelling (DME) method for extraction, which means that the coconuts are processed where they are grown, rather than being shipped to the processing factory.
In some cases, the coconuts are manually pressed by local families. DME helps to ensure the best quality and freshness for your oil. Plus, it’s eco-friendly!
As a side note, hydrogenated and fractionated coconut oils* should be avoided, since these undergo even more refinement and aren’t healthy.