You can’t flick through a health magazine without being bombarded with images of the humble unsung health hero that is coconut oil. Go for the organic, raw virgin coconut oil (mostly found in health shops) such as this one and NOT the cheaper kind you find in haircare sections of supermarkets to enjoy a plethora of natural, effective and cheaper ways to improve your skin, hair and health.
1 – It’s the healthiest oil to cook with. Forget olive oil, which has a low smoke point and when used to cook at high temperatures the beneficial compounds start to degrade and could potentially harm your health coconut oil is safe, healthy and super cheap. It doesn’t add any flavour so don’t worry about that, just keep a small jar in your kitchen cupboard and whip it out when you’re going to lightly fry or oven bake something. Sweet potatoes are particularly nommy when smothered in coconut oil and baked in the oven on a low temperature, they’re crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside and really good for you – see this guide for the health benefits of sweet potatoes.
2 – It makes the best, and cheapest deep conditioner for your hair. I like to put the jar in warm water so it’s got more of a runny consistency then I work it into the ends using my fingers and smother it into the rest of my hair, combing it through with a wide-toothed comb and leaving it to work its magic wrapped up in cling film. I leave it for around 2-3 hours or you could leave it overnight and wash it out in the morning and your hair will be soft, shiny and smell like holidays. You can also use it sparingly as a serum to tame flyaways but steer clear of the roots as it can make your hair look greasy.
*edit – I’ve since been informed coconut oil can strip dye from coloured hair, especially brighter colours that are prone to fading and although I’ve never experienced this it’s something to keep in mind.
3 – You can use it as a natural and effective make up remover. Taking off layers of mascara, eye shadow, eye liner and all the other crap we smear on our faces is hard work using a traditional cream based make up remover or wipe and all those chemicals really can’t be good for our skin, can they? I’ve been using coconut oil on the back of a cotton pad for a while now and it gets rid of EVERYTHING in just a few swipes and it’s particularly good for your eyelashes as it moisturises and conditions them beautifully. You only need a tiny bit and for the rest of my face a warm a bit up in my hands until it forms a runny oil and massage it over my skin, removing it with more cotton pads or you could use a flannel. Cheap, effective and natural.
4 – It’s an amazing skin softener, especially when used on tough, dry skin spots such as feet, knees and elbows. A keen user myself and I have a lot of friends who swear by coconut oil as their go-to moisturiser, especially in the Winter months where skin is more prone to chapping, peeling and dryness as it’s ravaged by the hideous cold winds and moisture stripping central heating. A little goes a long way, so use sparingly when using on large body parts such as legs and arms, warm a little in your hand before spreading evenly in long, sweeping strokes. I especially like using it after a long, hot bath in which I’ve shaved my legs before bed, I wake up in the morning and want to stroke my body like I’m Mariah Carey.
5 – Adding it to smoothies and hot drinks adds a tropical twist and provides amazing health benefits. A lot of health freaks I know swear by drinking green tea with a dollop of coconut oil in it in the morning to build up your resistance to fight against viruses and disease-causing bacteria as well as aiding weight loss and keeping a healthy metabolism. I also like to stick a spoon in a jar and slurp it straight off, it’s a really odd sensation as it transforms from a solid into oil in your mouth but it tastes incredible and there’s nothing like eating it in it’s most natural form to benefit from all the above!
6 – All out of Slide ‘N Ride? Coconut oil makes an awesome lube should you be caught short, I’ve not personally tried this one but it’s more natural than shoving something strawberry scented up there I guess. Be careful when using with condoms though as it can weaken latex but latex-free condoms should be fine.
7 – It can help to heal bug bits, chafing, stretch marks, light scars, eczema and sunburn. As well as being intensely moisturising the vitamin e and anti-inflammatory properties in coconut oil have been known to help with the healing of a number of common skin complaints. As it’s all natural it will not sting or irritate skin further but simply help heal, rejuvenate and restore your skin to optimum condition. Breastfeeding mothers are said to love coconut oil as a natural and effective nipple cream to treat sore, cracked nipples. Simply apply frequently to the affected area and it should clear up in no time.
8 – You can make a natural anti-bacterial and softening face mask using coconut oil and honey. This has been raved about all over the internet for making your face baby soft! Simply mash together a small scoop of coconut oil and a drizzle of honey, lightly spread over your face and kick back for 20 minutes or so whilst it gets to work. I would advise exfoliating beforehand so it really has a chance to get to work without any dirt, sebum or sweat in the way. This would also be really soothing after a day out in the sun to combat any sunburn or irritation, as it’s all natural you can use it as often as you want, maybe even mixing a little tub of coconut oil and honey and keeping it in your bathroom as a pampering treat whilst you soak in the tub.
9 – Crazy cat ladies and dog owners can use it on their pets to keep their coats healthy and shiny. I have a long-haired cat and keeping her fur tamed is an absolute nightmare! She’s very temperamental and only lets me come near her with a brush when she’s in the mood (which is not very often!) but I’ve found stroking her with a tiny bit of coconut oil rubbed into the palms of my hands helps keep her long fur soft and shiny and prevents the Bob Marley-esque dreadlocks she’s prone to on the underside of her tummy. Much more natural than any shop-bought shine spray, I would hate for my cat to ingest a crapload of chemicals I’ve intentionally put on her.
10 – Use it around the home as a natural furniture polish, bath tub scum remover and to lubricate any hinges. I’ve not personally used it for household cleaning (yet) but I can easily see why it work just as well as a wax-based polish for buffing furniture with the added bonus of being completely natural and safe for pets or those who suffer with allergies. You can also use it to lube up any squeaky doors or bike chains as well as using it as a natural stain remover on carpet or upholstery, you can mix it with baking soda for more effective stain removal and this method can also be used as a whitening toothpaste.