By Hadassah Agbaps - February 18, 2015

Hi people,  what's been on?

So, I decided to test out the coconut and lemon straightening legend!  There has been a lot of buzz in hair circles about how it's a natural alternative to relaxers and how some naturals loosened their curl pattern with this treatment.

As a scientist,  I had my doubts (pretty strong doubts) because the hair fibre is very resilient. It is made up of keratin  which is composed of long chain amino acids. The arrangement of the bonds within it act like a very strong glue that holds the hair fibre together.
The strongest of the bonds is called a disulfide bond. The other bonds present in the hair are hydrogen bonds, Van der Waals forces and salt bonds.
These bonds are usually the target of temporary straightening treatments because they break easily and reform easily. These are the bonds affected when you rollerset your hair, when you stretch your hair by threading, when you blow dry or flat iron your hair. You can see that these straightening methods are temporary.  Your hair reverts once the bonds are reformed.

The key to permanent hair straightening is breaking the disulfide bonds.
To break these bonds to permanently, you need very high temperatures  (about 250 degree Celsius...water boils at 100 degrees) or very high alkalinity (pH 9 and above....relaxers generally have pH of 9.5 -13 ). The bonds within the hair fibre cannot be broken down by acids because they are oxidizing agents.  In simple terms, they make the bonds stronger instead of weaker. (Source)

Let's start with our coconut treatment which involves mixing coconut milk with lemon juice.
Coconut milk has a pH of 6.1 to 7. Slightly acidic right?
Lemon juice has a pH of 2.6 - 2.6 right?

( Trivia: Your sebum is about pH of 5, ACV pH 3.1, Water pH 6.5 to 7). Source

So remember that acidic solutions cannot break the disulfide bonds , so from the scientific point of view, how is this treatment supposed to straighten your hair????

Still, not every phenomena can be explained by science, right? So I decided to go ahead and test it out (with the slight comfort that my hair will not be bone straight!)

I googled up possible recipes for the treatment and finally settled for this recipe courtesy of Sunsilk.

In a glass jar (I used plastic plate) mix one cup of coconut milk with the juice of one lemon (I used 3 tbs of lemon juice in a bottle. Place the jar in the refrigerator for a few hours until there's a creamy layer on top (curdle??). Massage your hair and scalp with this cream and leave it on for 20 mins. Cover your hair with a showercap and wrap a warm moist towel around the cap.
Leave it on for another 30mins and shampoo and condition your hair.
Comb your hair when it's wet and allow to dry.

Here's my results.

I started with freshly washed hair using a clarifying shampoo. I didn't want any of my hair orishirishi to interfere with my results. Then I dried my hair with an ultra absorbent microfibre towel before I applied the coconut cream to my hair and scalp. I waited 20 mins then covered my hair with cling film. I had to wrap the edges with a scarf due to drippies but I started having leakies so I held my head over the sink for 30mins.

Then I rinsed off with water and conditioned. Finger combed through my conditioned hair, rinsed again and allowed my hair to dry.

My conclusion?

From my results, I did not have any visible loosening of curl pattern so it is not a straightening treatment. I still had the same level of shrinkage.  the plus side, I noticed less frizziness (probably due to slight acidity of mixture), clumping of my coils (probably due to the fingercombing) and shine (again probably due to acidity of mixture and smoothening of cuticles).

I can see how one may mistaken the moisturising properties of this mixture with straightening properties especially if you're coming from the point of dry, frizzy hair which of course will look and feel like a mess.
The moisturising property of this mixture will then hydrate your situation and the slight acidity will smoothen raised cuticles giving the illusion that your hair is straighter due to improved manageability, less tangling and shine.

So as a good moisture deep conditioning treatment, I'd recommend this mixture but if you are banking on straighter hair, I'd say, save your coconut milk for a delicious meal of coconut rice and save your lemons for pink lemonade!
Go to for recipes.

Have you tried the coconut milk and lime straightening treatment? Did it work for you?

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