When we talk about a beauty product we can’t live without, we often refer to it as “the one thing I’d need with me on a deserted island.” Well as it turns out, if any of us ended up on a deserted island, the one product that could meet all our needs would already be there, housed in humble brown packaging atop each palm tree.
We already know that coconut is something we can eat and drink, from the shaved bits of meat you can sprinkle on top of a fluffy white cake to the now-ubiquitous bottled beverage Rihanna advertises. You can use it in place of other oils or butter when cooking, too. And because it has a nice thick solid form in lower temperatures (below 76 degrees, to be exact), it’s easy to substitute for butter when baking. While the scientific evidence is still out in a lot of ways, it’s believed to have a whole host of beneficial nutritious and immunity-boosting properties.
But the extra special thing about this edible, drinkable, cook-able nut (it’s actually a fruit, but who’s counting) is that it’s also good for a number of topical beauty uses…meaning you can literally use it inside and out. As I search for healthy, mild, organic products for my babies, the edible factor of this oil makes it an attractive choice for all kinds of health and beauty uses.
*One note about texture – a mysterious thing about this oil is that it’s both a liquid and a solid, transforming seamlessly from one to the other depending on temperature. A jar of solid white coconut oil on your countertop might transform to a clear liquid if you place it in a warm cabinet closer to the stove, which can be surprising. You can use it in either form – if it’s liquid, simply slather it on, if it’s solid, rub it between your palms for a moment and it will liquefy easily. Coconut oil goes on smooth and sinks deliciously into your skin right away, leaving it soft without any greasy residue. If there’s any scent, it’s lightly nutty – but nothing too strong or lingering.
1. Everywhere moisturizer. When I say everywhere, I mean everywhere…from under your eyes, to your heels, and everywhere in between. It’s a great healing lip balm (especially because it’s edible), a cuticle cream, a treatment for that delicate skin around your eyes, and slathered all over every other part of you. I’m particularly enjoying rubbing it all over my ever-more-rotund pregnant belly these days. Because it often comes in huge jars, and a little goes a long way, it’s a purchase that can last you a long time. It’s a good idea to put some in small portable containers like these and stash them in your purse to moisturize on the go.
2. Make-up remover. Again, because it’s natural and even edible, it’s a safe, gentle choice for using on sensitive areas, like around your eyes. Scoop a small amount of coconut oil onto a cotton pad or tissue and wipe to remove mascara and make-up, then rinse with warm water.
3. Diaper cream. Coconut oil is believed to have antifungal and antibacterial properties, which makes it perfect for curing diaper rash (often caused by yeast infections). Plus it’s mild and gentle enough to trust in an area as beloved as your baby’s bottom.
4. Hair mask. Like other popular beauty oils, such as argan and moroccan, coconut oil is great for your hair. Unless you have very thick, coarse hair that can stand up to a heavy pomade type of product, it’s too heavy to brush into hair and leave there, as it will leave your hair pretty greasy looking. It’s best used as a rinse-out mask – simply apply some in the shower, put hair in a bun for a few minutes, and rinse out. Or leave it in overnight and wash your hair in the morning (since it’s a great facial moisturizer, you don’t have to worry about it getting on your face while you sleep). Or rub a very small (pea-sized or smaller) amount between your hands and apply it just to the ends of damp hair, as a leave-in conditioner.
5. A balm to sooth psoriasis and other skin irritations. Potential antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties of coconut oil basically make it a miracle cure-all for a variety of skin irritations. Okay, maybe there’s no such thing as a miracle cure-all…and the FDA hasn’t clinically supported many of the things that people claim it can do. But there are a whole slew of personal testimonials declaring that coconut oil cures or sooths a number of issues, from psoriasis to toenail fungus to razor burn. If nothing else, it is an all-natural, calming lotion that’s worth a try!
*Purchasing and storing - Because of its increasing popularity, coconut oil is easy to find these days, even in the aisles of your everyday grocery store (or on Amazon). Might as well reach for organic or unrefined options – this way you know you’re getting it in its most natural state, GMO-free, and without any bleaches, pesticides, or over-processing. Coconut oil doesn’t need to be refrigerated. You can keep a jar in your kitchen cabinet for cooking uses and one in your bathroom or bedroom dresser for topical use. Above 76 degrees, it’ll stay liquid.
Do you have any other uses for coconut oil that you recommend? Miranda Kerr says she mixes it with sea salt for a natural body scrub, which I'd love to try sometime!
(all photos, jamie grill photography)