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, which accelerates 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.


Going Shopping for Coconut Oil and Lemons

So, I masked up and headed down to our local farmers’ market to purchase the coconut oil and lemons. I decided to take advantage of the visit to ask my #1 fruit vendor, Juan Carlos, if he’d ever heard about coconut oil and lemon for reversing gray hair. He exclaimed, “Si! My wife uses it all the time!” I felt more enthusiastic than ever to go home and try it out.


Steps for Using 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.

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