Coconut oil is the latest and greatest natural product to explode onto the beauty scene in recent years, thanks to some compelling claims and rave reviews about its beauty boosting benefits.
The jury might be out on exactly how good this tropical superfood is for the inside of our bodies (cue the ongoing debate about good and bad fats!), but it’s certainly a pretty useful panacea when it comes to our skin and hair.
The humble coconut is rich in fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and antimicrobial properties, making it a moisturising and bacteria-fighting superstar. Since coconut oil is an entirely natural product, it is also really gentle on the skin and completely safe to use.
What is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is made by mashing the flesh (or meat) of the coconut and extracting the oil. At room temperature, it’s actually solid and looks a bit like lard or wax, but is soft to the touch, making it easy to spoon out and rub into the skin or hair. When the oil gets warm, it will melt into a liquid, but this helps it to absorb nicely into the skin.
Coconut oil is widely available these days, with a pretty reasonable price point. You can buy it in big jars from supermarkets, health food stores and online. There is no difference between the coconut oil that is made for cooking with and the stuff you can slap on your skin, so it doesn’t matter where you buy it from.
Why is coconut oil such a good beauty booster?
Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids, especially lauric acid, which is known to help increase the skins elasticity as well as provide anti-bacterial and hormone balancing benefits.
This means that coconut oil is great at moisturising, helping to reduce the signs of ageing and fighting against the bacteria that can cause acne breakouts and blemishes.
The oil also contains antioxidants, particularly vitamin E, which help to protect the skin or hair from external damage, which is why you’ll often also find coconut derivatives in sun-protection and hair care products.
5 uses for coconut oil
If you fancy ditching your usual creams and conditioners in favour of something more natural, then you can’t go far wrong with coconut oil. Here are 5 ways you could incorporate this simple product into your usual beauty routine:
You can literally apply coconut oil to any area of your skin, meaning one jar can do your face and body quite happily. A little goes a long way, so use sparingly!
Face:Replace your current facial moisturiser with coconut oil for hydrated, healthy looking skin. Simply apply a small amount to your face before bed each night. The oil will sit on top of the skin for a while, but as it warms naturally it will eventually soak in, helping to reduce fine lines, dry patches or breakouts while you sleep.
Eyes: This oil makes a great replacement for your eye cream. Just the smallest amount applied gently around the eyes can help to minimise fine lines and keep the skin looking plump. Be careful not to get any oil in your eyes though.
Lips: For instant healing and relief, try rubbing some coconut oil onto dry, chapped lips. Or apply at night before bed to ensure you wake up with healthy, hydrated lips.
Dry patches:You can also use coconut oil on other parts of your body that are prone to dry skin, such as elbows, knees and heels.
For a special deep conditioning treatment, apply coconut oil to your hair once a week. After you’ve used your regular conditioner, rub the oil through your wet hair and leave to soak in for up to 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly to leave silky smooth hair, then dry and style as usual.
The amount of oil you’ll need to use will depend on the type and condition of your hair, so experiment with quantity until you find the right balance. If you use too much you may find it difficult to rinse out and notice that your hair feels a bit greasy afterwards. However, the extra oil won’t cause any damage and you can simply rinse again.
To tame those everyday frizzies, you can also smooth a tiny bit of coconut oil onto dry hair. (Note, the important word here is ‘tiny’ – don’t overdo it!).
3) Nail and foot care
Rough, dry nail cuticles can be softened nicely with a little coconut oil, making this natural moisturiser a handy part of your manicure and pedicure toolkit. Massage a little oil into the cuticles to make them soft and easy to push back with a manicure stick or cuticle remover. Then apply a little more to add an extra boost of moisture after you’ve applied polish.
To make an all-natural foot scrub, add some sugar or coarse salt to coconut oil. The oil is naturally anti-fungal which makes it particularly good for feet, plus the sugar or salt will help to exfoliate any rough patches. The oil itself will then moisturise any dry skin and soften calluses.
(Note: mix the oil and sugar/salt in a bowl with a spoon before applying, so that you don’t start to melt the oil with your warm hands!)
If you find shaving gels or creams a bit harsh on your skin or a bit too dehydrating, try using coconut oil for your regular shave instead. The oil creates a protective barrier over the skin while you shave, but then also leaves the area feeling nicely moisturised and smooth. You may even find your skin feels so soft that you don’t need to use any other moisturiser afterwards.
The idea of cleansing your face using an oil might seem counterintuitive, especially if you have naturally oily skin, but it actually works! Coconut oil is so gentle that it won’t clog pores and because it has anti-bacterial properties it is great for acne-prone skin.
To create a gentle exfoliating scrub, you can also mix a little baking soda into the coconut oil. Gently rub the mixture onto your face in circles to remove dead skin cells and treat any blemishes or areas of breakout.
Share your experience
Do you regularly use coconut oil as part of your beauty regime? Have you found that it works better than other branded lotions or creams? Perhaps you’ve discovered another useful beauty hack using coconut oil that you can share with us? Pop your comments in the box below to share your thoughts.