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Monoi oil is like supercharged coconut oil for smooth, nourished hair

Hair oils may cost a dime a dozen, but that doesn't stop us from loving them and their potential to promote healthy, luscious locks. If you're a fan of coconut oil and the effects it has on your locks, monoi oil might just catch your eye.

"An age-old remedy from Tahiti, monoi oil is made by soaking Tahitian gardenia petals in coconut oil," certified dermatologist Azadeh Shirazi, MD, tells us. "It's considered a fragrance oil because it's scented and used to moisturize, nourish and add shine to hair. [A] majority of the benefits come from coconut oil."

Coconut oil has major benefits for hair and skin, including the moisturizing effects of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, deep hydration that can help repair damaged hair, and strength and nutrition that can improve overall scalp health, to name just a few.

To better understand monoi oil and its benefitsShirazi and celebrity hairstylist Nicholas Taylor share everything you need to know. First, let's break down the benefits of monoi oil and how to use it to nourish hair.

Meet the expert

  • Azadeh ChiraziMD, is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology.
  • Nicolas Taylor is a celebrity hairstylist, brand ambassador and regional stylist for Oribe, and a Redken authority.

Monoi oil

Ingredient Type: Moisturizer

Key Benefits: Reduces frizz, restores scalp moisture, maintains healthy hair

Who should use it: Monoi oil is generally safe for all hair types, but those with damaged hair may find it more beneficial. Monoi oil is also fragrant.

How often can you use it : Shirazi suggests using it sparingly on damp hair once or twice a week.

Works well with : Applying hyaluronic acid before monoi oil can attract and retain moisture, improving hydration.

Do not use with : He it's best to avoid other products or scented oils to avoid potential irritation.

Benefits of monoi oil

The benefits of monoi oil are very similar to those of coconut oil, as it's a modified version of the latter. "People love monoi oil because it can be used for intense moisturizing from head to toe, and it provides a pollution barrier for your hair and skin," says Taylor.

  • Restores humidity: Studies show that coconut oil penetrates the hair shaft, resulting in better protection against damage caused by hyphal fatigue. Coconut oil plays the same role in monoi oil, and Shirazi says that "using monoi oil can help restore moisture and nutrients and help strengthen the hair shaft".
  • Reduces frizz: The moisturizing properties of monoi oil translate into less frizz and more shine, share both experts. A little goes a long way, but can give hair a healthy shine.
  • Promotes overall hair health: As Taylor notes above, monoi oil provides an anti-pollution barrier for hair that can help promote hair health. It strengthens and nourishes hair, promoting a happy, moisturized scalp and strands.

Hair type considerations

Dry, malnourished hair will generally benefit most from a hair oil, including monoi oil. "I mainly use monoi oil in two ways," notes Taylor. "One as an oil treatment when I'm trying to restore moisture, and the other as a scalp treatment for my clients who suffer from dry, itchy scalps, especially in winter. You can also use monoi oil on its own, in the same way you would use coconut oil."

While monoi oil is generally safe for most hair types, it's important to note that some hair types will want to avoid using it. "Those with sensitive skin, as it is a fragrance oil and many people with sensitive skin can develop reactions to fragrance," explains Shirazi. "As an oil, it can aggravate skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff or folliculitis, rashes on the scalp. Although its effects are thought to be similar to those of coconut oil, further research is needed to confirm its influence on skin and hair health. As with any other skin or hair care product, consult a physician or dermatologist before use. If you begin to experience adverse effects, discontinue use immediately."

How to use monoi oil for hair

Before determining exactly how to use monoi oil for hair, experts note that it's important to understand how often it should be applied. "Monoi oil is generally safe, but it is fragrant," says Shirazi. "Continuous or regular use can potentially lead to allergic reactions over time in certain skin types. I suggest using it sparingly on damp hair once or twice a week. Allergic reactions can be delayed and manifest as flaking, dry skin, itching and red skin. " 

Once you've tested and confirmed that monoi oil works for you, understanding application is the key to shiny, nourished hair. "It's best to avoid application at the roots of the hair," shares Shirazi. "Hair oils are best applied to the ends of the hair shaft, as our scalp naturally produces oil. Oils on the scalp can aggravate skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis and folliculitis. I recommend applying it to damp hair. It is best used after cleansing and shampooing. Night-time application is often preferable to allow for nocturnal hydration.

For specific treatments, Taylor has two unavoidable uses with her customers. Her first suggestion is a hot oil treatment. "Place your tube or container of oil in hot water for three to four minutes," Taylor explains. "Brush [the] oil from roots to ends and leave on for at least 15 minutes. Shampoo, condition and style. Do this twice a month or whenever you need intense hydration."

His second use is as a scalp treatment. "For scalp treatments, I apply monoi oil to the scalp, lightly mist the scalp for five minutes and wash with cold water," he says. Both experts recommend one product in particular, Carol's Daughter Sacred Strengthening Serum with Monoi Oil (30 $).


  • The benefits of monoi oil come from coconut oil. Although coconut oil doesn't technically lead to direct hair growth, the benefits of coconut oil and monoi can lead to stronger, healthier hair, and therefore ultimately help promote growth.

  • Yes, experts share that the skin can also benefit from monoi oil, as it is a moisturizer.

  • Aside from the perfume irritation issues mentioned above, like any other oil, too much can make your hair look oily and greasy. A little goes a long way!

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Gabriela is the creator of the blog, a platform dedicated to natural cosmetics and skin care. Her blog is an invaluable source of information and advice on how to achieve perfect, glowing skin. Gabriela passionately shares her in-depth knowledge of natural products, emerging trends and practical tips for an effective skincare routine.

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