Discover the different uses of coconut oil for skin and hair health. Learn how this superfood can help improve your scalp and skin and which type of coconut oil will work best on you.
You probably already know that coconut is a superfood. There really isn’t much that coconuts can’t do. They can feed you, hydrate you, clothe you (coconut bikinis! C’mon!), they’re an awesome alternative to dairy products, they can be incorporated into savory dishes or sweet dishes…
And they’re absolutely amazing for your skin and hair health. Women’s Health Magazine provides a great list of the top 10 Coconut Oil products of 2020, but we’ve compiled a little list detailing why coconut oil is great for your body.
So sit back, relax, and ride the tropical wave that is the wonder-food of coconut!
Types of Coconut Oil for Skin & Hair Health
Before you start slathering your skin with coconut oil, it is a good idea to do a small patch test on the same face or body area for a few days. This will let you know if you have any adverse reactions to the oil. Even though coconut oil works very well for most people, every one of us is different from each other. This is why it is wise to let your own body decide what suits it.
Much like other oils, different skin and hair types are going to react differently. For example, a person with highly oily hair or skin isn’t going to seek out a product that has a high oil content. Or a person who has particularly dry hair or skin isn’t probably should avoid products that don’t properly penetrate the surface. The good news is, if you have a skin condition or simply sensitive skin, coconut oil is a very gentle and low-risk product to try out.
Luckily, there are many options of coconut-derived products that can suit all skin types — and the use of organic coconut indicates that it’s probably an all-natural product. You can’t really go wrong when putting something natural on your body. So for those who want to use coconut oil for skincare and healthy locks, here is a little guide.
1. Coconut Oil for Face Washing
You can wash your face with coconut oil alone or with a combination of oils. Since oil dissolves other oils, the coconut oil will dissolve the natural oils produced by your skin that are packed with dirt and grime and the impurities in your face can easily be washed away. Not only that, it functions as an excellent makeup remover.
Depending on your skin type, you can either use the coconut oil alone or pair it up with essential oil, like tea tree oil (best for oily skin), lavender oil (best for all skin types), or geranium oil (best for dry skin). Add 1 to 3 drops of your preferred essential oil with a teaspoon of coconut oil and mix well, before applying it to your face.
You may need a little drop of your regular face wash to help take away the additional coconut oil. But if you don’t have anywhere to go, leave it on for a while! It will make a great face mask.
Who What Wear explains why they like to use virgin pressed coconut oil for washing their face.
2. Coconut Oil as a Moisturizer
Since coconut oil has antibacterial or antifungal properties, it is a great oil for moisturizing your skin. Studies have shown that people with dry, flaky skin have gotten improved skin with the use of coconut oil.
When you’re applying coconut oil into your skincare routine, try to look for pure coconut oil or organic coconut oil, this will ensure that the product still has all of those beneficial properties that lots of processing can remove.
You can apply coconut oil directly to your face or make a body butter by adding one part coconut oil to one part shea butter, one part cocoa butter, and one part jojoba oil, with 10-20 drops of essential oil. Keep for it yourself, or maybe even wrap it up for a spontaneous gift to a loved one. Nothing like homemade skincare products!
Additionally, I’ve used coconut oil as an alternative for shaving cream as well! But be prepared to give your bathtub a good scrub afterward. And take care to not slip in the shower!
Mind Body Green has a really excellent list of their favorite coconut oil products for moisturizing purposes!
3. Coconut Oil for Acne
Studies show that coconut oil is 15 times more effective in fighting off acne-causing bacteria than benzoyl peroxide, a popular antibiotic medication for acne. Because of its antibacterial properties and antimicrobial properties, lauric acid-rich coconut oil reduces swelling and inflammation. It’s always best to try and use a natural product as opposed to products that have tons of chemicals.
Applying coconut oil directly to acne can hasten wound healing and promote antioxidant enzymes. Even if it might not erase your acne completely, it will stop the problem from getting worse. Not to mention, coconut oil tends to leave the skin feeling nice and smooth.
If you don’t believe me, Healthline provides a really detailed explanation as to why coconut oil can be great for acne-prone skin.
4. Coconut Oil for Stretch Marks
Since coconut oil improves collagen cross-linking and improving lipid barrier function, for some people it may also be a good treatment for stretch marks caused by pregnancy or growth spurts. Although there has been no extensive research on the effect of coconut oil on stretch marks, the beneficial properties of the oil indicate it may reduce scarring.
To try if this works, apply coconut oil routinely to the stretch marks. You can also make a stretch mark salve by taking one part coconut oil, one part shea butter, half part apricot kernel oil, and just a pinch of ginger root, letting them simmer together, and then straining the herbal blend on a cheesecloth.
You can rub the balm on your abdomen to moisturize your skin and improve its elasticity. Additionally, if you have some vitamin E sitting around, don’t be afraid to add that to your concoction! Vitamin E is proven to help reduce the appearance of scarring and stretch marks, not to mention is quickens the healing of minor wounds.
5. Coconut Oil for Hair
Coconut oil is highly regarded as a nourishing conditioner for hair in many Asian countries. Studies show that coconut oil has been seen to reduce protein loss in both healthy and damaged hair. Because of its chemistry, coconut oil is able to penetrate deep into the hair, reducing split ends. It may also reduce dandruff and dry scalp conditions because of its antiseptic properties and leave your hair shiny and thick.
If you want to use coconut oil for your hair, you can apply it alone or make a hair mask by pairing the oil with a few drops of lavender, cedarwood, rosemary, peppermint, or sandalwood essential oils. If you have extra argan oil or mineral oil sitting around, toss that in too! You can follow it with an apple cider vinegar rinse.
I like to leave the coconut oil concoction overnight by wrapping my hair in a towel and going to sleep. It’s best to do this when you don’t have anywhere to go early the next morning, as it may take a couple of rounds of washing to properly remove all of the oil.
Consistency & Storage
Coconut oil turns into a liquid when the temperature reaches higher than 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Below that, it becomes a solid with a soft, creamy, lumpy texture. If you want to change the state of your oil, you can heat it or cool it.
Processed coconut oil does not need to be stored in your refrigerator but does not place under harsh, direct sunlight. Coconut oil bought from the market also has a very long shelf life and remain stable for two years or even more.
If you’ve purchased a virgin or crude coconut oil product, the shelf life will be far shorter, and it hasn’t been heavily processed. It should be treated as though it is fresh produce, and should be used within a couple of weeks. If your oil has changed color or is developing an unpleasant smell, that’s an indication that it’s losing its freshness.
Refined cooking oils have been processed with heat and develop high smoke points (mentioned above). These oils can be used in cooking. Coconut oils that have not been treated for cooking will turn dark yellow in high temperatures. That’s the sign that it has gone rancid and you should dispose of it.
(If you’ve spilled a bunch of coconut oil in an unfortunate place, here’s a little article to help you get it out!)
Food-Grade vs. Cosmetic Grade: What Kind of Coconut Oil is The Best?
If you are looking to use coconut oil in cooking, refined coconut oil has a smoke point of a baffling 450 degrees Fahrenheit! (For reference the burning point of olive oil is 350 degrees Fahrenheit) Although refined oils do not have all the nutrients of unrefined, raw coconut oil, it is still the best for cooking.
For your skin and hair care routine, unrefined oils are the best, since they retain most of their nutrients and fatty acid content and are great for your skin and hair.
Also, before buying coconut oil at a supermarket, examine the jar from below. If you notice a yellowish or brownish tinge, it may mean it was overheated and is turning rancid. This is a sign of poor quality coconut oil.
You can use organic, cold-pressed, and virgin coconut oil if you are using them in low-heat or no-heat cooking. You can also use virgin oil and expeller-pressed oil for cooking in high heat, and they come in many brands.
The main things that you should try to avoid are chemically-processed, fractionated coconut oil, hydrogenated, and RBD coconut oils, which have very little to no health benefits.
Can coconut oil grow your hair?
Applying coconut oil to hair can promote hair growth by keeping the hair healthy and strong. It has antiseptic properties and is able to penetrate deep into the root where much of the damage occurs. It’s also very moisturizing to the scalp — the healthy scalp, healthy hair.
Why can coconut oil be bad for your skin?
If you are a person who has skin with a lot of natural oil, using an oily product may only heighten the issue. Coconut oil does not breathe well and tends to encourage clogged pores, so if the skin is already very oily, it’s only going to cause more blockage.
How does coconut oil whiten teeth?
According to Healthline, coconut oil can benefit your mouth health because it contains a high amount of lauric acid. Lauric acid attacks harmful bacterias in your mouth that cause bad breath, gum and enamel decay, and plaque.
It’s a good idea to take a spoonful of virgin coconut oil, let it melt in your mouth, and swish it around for about 5 minutes.