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Coconut Oil & Lemon for Gray Hair: Does It Really Work?

Last year, when my neighbor Janet told me that she uses coconut oil and lemon to reverse gray hair, I smugly laughed it off. You see, even though I’m from New York City, I’ve lived in Panama for over two decades.

People here use home remedies for almost every kind of condition; some work, and some seem more like superstition than science. Lemon and coconut oil for gray hair? Yeah, right.

But a few weeks ago, I noticed that gray hairs were appearing in my dark brown hair too fast for me to pluck them out one by one.

I remembered Janet’s suggestion of using lemon juice and coconut oil to get rid of gray hair. In my desperation, it suddenly seemed like a winning combination.

Coconut Oil and Lemon for Gray Hair

coconut oil and lemon for gray hair

So, I asked her about it again, this time with a bit of humility: “Is it true? Can coconut oil and lemon reverse gray hair for real?”  “Absolutamente, si!” she said, grinning ear to ear.

Even after all these years of living in Central America, I’m still skeptical. I wasn’t 100% convinced this method would work, so I checked the Internet for more information about combining lemon juice and coconut oil to reverse gray hair. There were a few mentions, most of them explaining the following:

Some Interesting Points

  • Coconut oil is chock-full of healthy fatty acids and antibacterial components, and therefore it’s a wonderful hair conditioner.
  • A fresh lemon contains 5%-8% citric acid, accelerating hair lightening when used under UV rays (the sun).
  • Fresh lemon juice also contains vitamins B and C as well as phosphorous and phytonutrients, which nourish the hair and prevent gray.

I couldn’t find any definitive conclusions on whether coconut oil and lemons reverse gray hair. If I wanted to see if it really worked, I’d have to test it out for myself.

How To Use Coconut Oil and Lemon to Reverse Gray Hair

using coconut oil and lemon

Janet’s instructions for thick, waist-length hair like mine:

  • Wash hair and squeeze out the excess water, leaving the hair damp. Do not condition.
  • In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice with 1/2 cup of organic coconut oil.
  • Apply to your wet hair and scalp. Make sure that all hair strands are thoroughly coated with the mixture.
  • Cover your hair with saran wrap or a shower cap and leave in for at least one hour. Use a towel on your shoulders to catch any drips.
  • Rewash hair with a mild shampoo to remove excess oil. Condition.
  • Repeat every three days until you see results. Once your grays have lightened and disappeared, continue this treatment once every two weeks or whenever you see new gray hair growth.

Did Coconut Oil and Lemon Get Rid of Gray Hair?

coconut oil and lemon to reduce gray hair

Um, nope. Not mine anyway. I tried the lemon and coconut oil for the gray hair method every three days for three weeks, and I didn’t see any significant changes. Who knows, maybe if I had stuck with it longer, it might have eventually worked, but I found it too time-consuming. (Hmm, maybe that’s what Juan Carlos meant when he said his wife uses the method “all the time.”)

I did notice that some strands of my dark brown hair took on a light brown/coppery tone (from the lemon juice?) that may have distracted a bit from the silvery strands, but then again, I might have been imagining it.

To finish on a positive note: I will probably continue to use the lemon-and-coconut oil-for-gray-hair method, but not to remove gray hair. Instead, I’ll use it as a nourishing and strengthening hair mask, mainly because I can get the ingredients very cheap where I live. I noticed that my hair looked shinier and had less dandruff, which was also a plus.

Since my failed experiment, I’ve been using semi-permanent color to cover my gray hair. When it starts to fade, I plan to touch it up with a rinse-out color like Roux Fanci-Full Chocolate Kiss until the next semi-permanent dye application.

Can coconut oil and lemon juice promote hair growth?

Coconut oil helps strengthen the hair and scalp. It helps prevent corrosive chemicals like sulfate shampoos and hair dyes from entering the hair shaft and hair follicles. When used as a pre-shampoo treatment, coconut oil seeps into the hair shaft to avoid excess water entering the shaft when your hair is high porosity because of chemical or heat damage. So in this way it helps to prevent damage and retain hair length. 

Lemon juice contains vitamin C, which aids collagen production. Collagen is important in hair formation and strengthening hair follicles, so the hair doesn’t shed easily. Lemon juice also cleans the hair follicles, which can contribute to further growth.


Natural ingredients: Coconut oil and lemon are both natural ingredients, making this a chemical-free solution to experiment with.
Hair conditioning: Coconut oil is rich in healthy fatty acids and antibacterial components, providing excellent conditioning for your hair.
Hair lightening: Lemon juice, containing 5-8% citric acid, can accelerate hair lightening when used under UV rays (the sun).
Nourishment: Lemon juice contains vitamins B and C, phosphorous, and phytonutrients, which nourish the hair and may help prevent gray hair.
Hair growth promotion: Coconut oil strengthens the hair and scalp, while lemon juice aids collagen production, which is important for hair formation and strengthening hair follicles.
Dandruff reduction: Using coconut oil and lemon juice as a hair mask can help reduce dandruff.
Improved hair appearance: Some users report shinier hair after using this mixture as a hair mask.


Do lemon juice and coconut oil reverse grey hair?

It doesn’t reverse gray hair, but there is a possibility that it can prevent it. The lauric acid in coconut oil can help the hair protein keep its original color and the antioxidants in lemon juice might be what your scalp needs to avoid oxidation inside the hair follicles that leads to gray hair.

Will coconut oil turn GREY hair black?

No, it isn’t possible to change the color of gray hair except with some coloring agent, natural or otherwise. Coconut oil is not a coloring agent, but a nutrient.

Does lemon juice lighten hair?

Yes. Lemon juice can be used to lighten the hair, which might help your grays blend in more. You can apply it with a spray bottle and sit in the sun for a few hours to help it work. Afterward, you’ll need to the deep condition because lemon juice is drying to the hair. 

Can I leave coconut oil and lemon on your hair overnight?

As lemon juice is so drying, I wouldn’t recommend it to be left on overnight, even with the coconut oil in the mixture buffering some of its dryness. 

Can coconut oil and lemon juice helps get rid of dandruff?

Yes, if you have seborrheic dermatitis or oily dandruff, lemon juice can help balance your scalp’s oil production to lessen dandruff. At the same time, coconut oil is antifungal and can help reduce dandruff as well. Massage the mixture into your scalp, but don’t leave it on for too long. Rinse it thoroughly.

Is lemon and coconut oil good for hair?

Yes, it helps strengthen the hair, promotes hair growth and can help prevent further graying of the hair.

Are there any side effects of applying lemon and coconut oil on hair?

The lemon juice in the mixture can be too drying for some. Also, the hair might be lightened because of the lemon juice.

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Wednesday 21st of September 2022

This article is quite interesting. My beards are fast turning grey. I'm gonna give it a try for a couple of months.

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