(Courtesy of Fox News Magazine/Reuters)
What’s the secret behind Blake Lively’s enviable tresses? The former “Gossip Girl” star is spilling her secret. And it’s one you probably have in your kitchen.
When asked how she maintains her long blonde locks, the 26-year-old credits a simple secret passed down from her mother.
“She puts coconut oil on the ends of her hair,” explains the actress and Mrs. Ryan Reynolds. “When you shampoo your hair, you’re trying to get the oil out of your roots, but you really want the rest of your hair to maintain its moisture. When you put coconut oil on the ends, the shampoo gets oil out of the roots, but also protects the ends.”
Using the fatty product to promote a healthy, shiny mane isn’t a new concept. Stylists have long used this natural oil, which is extracted from mature coconuts, to make hair feel naturally softer and smoother. Now, many are praising Lively for promoting this inexpensive, hair-healthy treatment.
“Coconut oil has been one of my favorite. best-kept secrets ever since I was introduced to it following my arrival in tropical South Florida 20 years ago,” explains Los Angeles-based celebrity stylist Lionel Renard. “Many locals use it to protect their hair.
“In fact, coconut oil has many properties that are beneficial to damaged and undamaged hair alike,” he says. “First, it reduces protein loss versus other oils used in hair. When applied before washing it penetrates it deeper in the hair shaft, preventing frizzies, particularly in humid weather.”
Stylist Corey Chambers of Nelson J Salon in Beverly Hills loves using coconut oil to promote hair growth, which is glowing news for many frustrated over trying to achieve longer locks with little results.
“The rich nutrients in coconut oil stimulate the hair follicles and contributes to the general health of the scalp, which in turn creates an ideal environment for growth,” says Chambers.
Aside from applying onto ends for smoother results, a la Lively, there are other ways to make the most out of coconut oil for a red carpet-ready mane. Discover the many simple and easy ways you can incorporate this ingredient for shiny, beautiful hair:
Beat the Heat
Everyone knows using excessive heating products, like curling irons and blow dryers, can ultimately lead to breakage and hair damage, but you can prevent these hair catastrophes from occurring by incorporating an affordable ingredient in your regimen. “I like to use coconut oil to protect the hair from heat before using a flat iron,” explains Renard. “Rub a small amount of virgin coconut oil in your palms before heating each strand with the iron.”
Try an At-Home Treatment
Chambers loves using coconut oil on her clients before she insists this nutrient-rich ingredient heals damaged strands, reduces dandruff, and even stimulates growth. And if we had to judge by looking at Lively, it’s safe to say there must be some truth to this at-home treatment. “Start by putting 3-5 tablespoons of coconut oil (amount depends on length of hair) into a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds,” explains Chambers. “Give it a good stir and heat for another 30 seconds. Allow to cool before applying the oil around the top of your head and scalp. Keep massaging the oil into the hair and comb to distribute evenly. Put your hair up and wrap it so that it’s completely covered. Wait 2 hours or overnight. Then wash hair 2-3 times, followed by air or blow drying.” Chambers advises to use unrefined coconut oil to avoid additives and to wait up to 3 months for long-term results.
Avoid Unwanted Grease
Suffering from slick strands? If so, be weary of how much coconut oil you use on your hair, as it can cause more harm than good. “I wouldn’t overuse coconut oil or your hair can appear greasy,” warns Frank Barbosa, a hairdresser for IT&LY Hairfashion who supervises hair departments on film sets. “I would only use on your ends and not directly on the scalp.” As an alternative, Barbosa suggests using other natural ingredients, like almond or olive, which may not weigh your hair down as much as thicker coconut oil. If you have naturally fine, thin strands, coconut oil may not be the best leave-in treatment for you as it can create an unwanted greasy appearance. Instead, apply a minimal amount onto clean, dry hair, wrap it up, and leave for up to an hour before thoroughly washing with a clarifying shampoo.
"If using organic coconut oil as part of your weekly hair care routine, a clarifying shampoo is recommended,” advises Tim Johnson, stylist at Roy Teeluck Salon in New York City. “Use once or twice a month to avoid any build-up.”
Apply Like a Conditioner
Coconut oil can be used as a natural alternative to hair conditioner, but it must be applied in a different way for maximum results. “Coconut oil should be applied before washing hair,” says Renard. “It repels water, therefore keeping the hair from swelling during the shampooing, avoiding further damage or even breakage.” Renard also says coconut oil can be applied after shampooing once the hair is dried by applying a small amount to your palms and distributing it evenly from mid-length to ends.
Try It as a Pomade
Stylists like using waxy pomade on hair to control flyaways, smooth out a braid for a more polished look, or even add texture to a too-slick blowout. Barbosa says coconut oil works in a similar way, especially if used in its solid form. “I would use the solid coconut oil, emulsify it in your hands, and run it through dry hair sparingly,” he says.
Get Relief From Dryness
Coconut oil is highly recommended by stylists for those dealing with a dry, itchy scalp, especially during the chilly winter months. “Apply it directly to the scalp only and massage for 15 minutes before rinsing,” says Johnson. This treatment, used to combat dryness, can be applied once or twice a week.
This article originally appeared on Fox News Magazine