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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  1. i was already gettin excited until i read the end of ur post. oh well, we really shud just b happy with the curls God gave us abi? :)

    1. Lol! Sorry for the disappointment. For coil loosening though, there's texturisers, relaxers and jerry curlers. Less permanent are curly sets with straws, permrods, rollers, bantu knots, twist and braidouts.

  2. Nice review. I did try it once on my new growth and like you, I didn't experience any straightening effect. My hair was less frozzy but that was it.

  3. Hahaha! I like your recommendations at the end. Pink lemonade sounds wonderful. I had doubts too because it didn't seem logical so I never bothered to try. Thanks for testing it out and confirming for us

  4. I have been thinking about this lemon and coconut straightener for a while. Not for me though, for a kinky haired 3 year old. Thanks for the review. I would have been heart broken if I had wasted my strength doing the treatment :-)

    1. Lol! Me thinks the 3 year old princess will better appreciate lemonade and coconut chip cookies.

  5. Awww... I was also hoping for a positive result here so I could try it out even though my hair isn't tough or difficult to manage. Do you think if you tamper with the ratio of the lemon juice to the coconut milk in the mix, anything would change?

    1. I very much doubt it'll work because according to literature on hair straightening, you need high temperatures and strong alkalis to break the bonds for any straightening to occur. Coconut milk and lemon are acidic in nature so I don't see how increasing the ratio of any can straighten the hair. You can still try though...every theory is open to change.

  6. Replies
    1. Ah Berry, why the sinister laughter?! *straight face*

  7. I just had a brilliant thought....
    Dudu Osun is a pH 10, according to a blogger. So if u wore it like u just did- cling film with heat for a while... maybe it could achieve the straightening effect?
    Just asking. But then that's how most inventions came to be.

  8. U know pple wld pay good money to have your curls babe. I tried them too didnt work..

  9. i created my own concoction and tried this twice on my hair and i liked the results but my natural hair isnt too kinky and it's soft with some perfect mixture of straight and silky strands. i was able to roller set after and 2nd time i used perm rods; my original texture was ruined with too harsh chemical relaxers and i notice that my texture was returning so i was very happy, had planned to reapply once a month to maintain my hair. i don't care to have my hair bone straight because of my type of natural hair. I'm planning to mix another batch to reapply because i accidentally had my hair chopped short, losing all my growth of 3-years in the process. I hate how some hairdressers don't know difference between trim and cut off, very disappointed

  10. The thing you did wrong was use lemon juice from the bottle. It must be fresh squeezed organic lemon juice, UNdiluted. Organic is the most potent cos it is how God made it. drench your hair with it and massage into the scalp and then cover with plastic and a towel for 20 minutes and then rinse. This way it WILL be relaxed and loosen the curls and the scalp will feel good too. Keep doing it as a way to wash the hair every few days and it will keep it relaxed. Inbetween the lemon washings just use natural gentle conditioner like the brand "Carina" and rinse. Or Lemon juice diluted with coconut water is a good conditioner too.

  11. Hi - reading up on this as I am about to give it a try. Thanks for the science behind tbe curls and what it takes to cure it, very interesting read. I'm curious - do you think combing would have helped? With traditional relaxers this is what's usually done. Also, how about repetition over time? Finalky, do the Ketatin treatments that seem to work offer the alkalinity or hair transformation properties you mention in your post? Many thanks!

  12. I tried it, doesn't work! It just makes the hair smoother.

  13. You're supposed to add olive oil and keep it wrapped for 2 hours. It does work!

  14. The treatment is applied at least once a week, and over time the hair become straighter.


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