Why does ingesting MCT oil make my hair smell like it hours after?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 26, 2012 at 12:59 AM

I know this is a really strange question but I use about a tablespoon of MCT oil each morning in my coffee (decaf iced with butter and stevia) and lately have been noticing that about an hour or two after drinking it my hair smells very strongly of MCT oil.

Does anyone else have this strange phenomenon happen to them? Does anyone know why it is happening? I've honestly never had anything similar take place and I can promise you that it's not a matter of getting it on my hands and then transferring it to my hair. Also, I've been using MCT oil for a long time now and I've only started smelling it in my hair for the past month or so.

I should clarify that my hair is very long and is usually in a ponytail so the fact that the portion below the ponytail holder is smelly is super strange because it has a long way to travel! Also, I don't smell it anywhere else on my person, just in my hair.



on July 31, 2012
at 01:24 PM

You can look forward to having a nice shiny coat!



on July 27, 2012
at 12:46 AM

No, it definitely has it's own scent, at least the brand I buy (Now). My hair never smelled like this before or I wouldn't have noticed a difference. After posting this I did more googling and found that MCT has small molecules which are easily absorbed by the hair shaft which it penetrates. I just never would have thought that would come from internal ingestion alone but apparently it does.



on July 26, 2012
at 05:00 AM

I always thought MCT oil just smelled like MCTs, which is kind of an "almost" odorless smell. Are you sure it's not just the way your hair naturally smells? Have you tried replacing your MCTO with coconut oil and seeing if the same thing happens?


on July 26, 2012
at 03:01 AM

MCT oil has a scent? News to me. I can definitely say I don't have this problem...

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3 Answers


on July 30, 2012
at 08:37 PM

MCT oil is not a natural oil. It is reconstructed by an industrial process. As a result, it has different properties that could produce your observed effects. First, it is extremely thin in viscosity compared to natural fats and could easily "wick" down a hair strand from the folicle. Second, the body might not partition it identically to natural fats, and more might be excreted in hair folicles than average, and less might be stored in fat cells than average. Third, the low viscosity might make it better at dissolving molecules with scent, or in releasing scented molecules that might otherwise remain embedded within the hair matrix. And lastly, maybe your olfactory sensitivity goes up a notch when you use MCT.

Switching to coconut oil might give you a comparison. Using other people's noses might give you a point of comparison. Do they think that the smell of MCT oil and your hair are the same or similar? Is there a time course for the smell to increase after you shampoo your hair? Is the smell stronger at the hair roots than at the hair ends? If you work out or sun bathe, is the smell stronger?

Some hair-care products cause chemicals to soak into the hair matrix, which might later come out differentially. As an illustration, consider a plastic salsa bottle. When freshly rinsed, you can smell the chili-pepper scent. But as the bottle ages, and is washed repeatedly, the scent dissipates. One bicycle rider used a salsa bottle to replace his stolen water bottle. It did not take long for the slight smell of chili peppers to dissipate, but months later, when he switched from filtered water to alkaline-reduced (electrolyzed) water, the taste of the chili-pepper increased a hundredfold (stronger than ever). Alkaline-reduced water has smaller cluster size and makes a better solvent to facilitate the pepper-scent chemicals from diffusing out of the plastic. Mct oil is a better solvent than regular fats. Perhaps you had your hair dyed, straightened, bleached or strengthened some time ago and if you think about the smell then, it will remind you in some way to the scent now.

Good luck figuring it out. ---Steve



on July 31, 2012
at 10:31 AM

You can get the same effect from lots of things you ingest or vice versa. There's an old experiment where you cut a clove of garlic in half and rub it on your palm, then a few minutes later, you can smell garlic on your breath.

Other folks reported smelling the fats of the animal they ate on their skin later on, etc.

Skin is permeable, almost anything you put on it will make its way into your blood. Think nicotene patches, topical steroid creams, dramamine patches, etc... So things like lotions, deodorants, and cosmetics can be dangerous because of this.

It's not surprising that the odors can make their way to your hair.


on July 26, 2012
at 05:39 PM

Hair has a lot of surface area so it's very effective at trapping odors.

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