Coconut oil has made its way into the pantries of many people looking to have healthier lifestyles and diets, and though it’s a great cooking oil, it is used in my beauty routine way more often than in my kitchen. Here are some ways you can reap the benefits of this versatile oil.
Coconut oil is able to penetrate the hair shaft very efficiently, moisturizing and nourishing it from the inside out. Homemade hair masks are my favourite way to use coconut oil – I usually apply them once a week, or whenever I feel that my hair needs a moisture boost. Here’s how:
Coat the hair lightly in coconut oil – you really don’t need to use much: half a tablespoon should be enough for long hair. Applying it on the scalp is also recommended, especially for people looking to treat dandruff.
Leave it on for at least an hour or two – though you can leave it on for only ten minutes, it’s best to do this when you’ve got more time on your hands. The longer it stays on, the better.
Wash it off with shampoo, then condition as usual – you might have to shampoo twice to get all the oil out. The mask does not substitute conditioner, as the latter seals the hair cuticles and moisturizes more superficially.
The most practical method I’ve found is to apply the oil before bed, then wash it as soon as I get up.
Flyaway Hair & Frizz Tamer
With dry or damp hair, apply a small amount of oil to the ends to detangle and style hair. This helps combat frizz and split ends, whilst making hair soft, smooth and shiny.
Using an oil before washing your hair can help keep it from getting too dried out, as it adds strength and flexibility to it. Lightly coat the shafts with oil about ten minutes before washing.
Though coconut oil works great for some people, others report adverse effects such as hair loss or brittleness. In general, it seems that coarse and dry hair types do not work well with it – fine to medium hair will generally be able to achieve the strength, volume and shine expected.
Apply all over the body after showering.
Add half a cup of coconut oil to a half cup of sugar (white or brown, though I’d not recommend coarser sugars such as demerara) and combine. Optionally, add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil (oils and benefits listed here) or half a cup of ground coffee, which is packed with antioxidants and is said to help fight cellulite.
A great way to treat dry or smelly feet. Melt two teaspoons of coconut oil in warm water and soak your feet for a few minutes, then pat dry.
An excellent choice for a massage oil, it’s not excessively greasy whilst retaining its glide.
Mix ⅓ cup of coconut oil, ¼ cup of arrowroot powder (or baby powder) and ¼ cup of baking soda for the basic recipe. Amp it up with a teaspoon of grape seed oil to increase shelf life from 2 to 8 months, and/or 5-10 drops of essential oil for added benefits and scent.
Though this recipe works well for most, it should be noted that some women with more sensitive skin develop adverse effects from the baking soda, such as redness and irritation.
This oil’s antimicrobial, emollient and soothing qualities make it ideal for this task – apply it to the legs right before shaving.
Mix one tablespoon coconut oil with one tablespoon fine sea salt and, as an optional step, a couple of drops of essential oil for added benefits (my favourites are Lavender and Tea Tree).
Apply directly over the lips for a quick and natural moisture boost.
Massage a small amount of oil onto your face to remove makeup, then clean it up with a clean cloth or cotton round.
For all the purposes and benefits listed, a cold-pressed, extra virgin, non-hydrogenated coconut oil is recommended for its better quality.