Over the past couple of years, coconut oil has transformed from a saturated fat laden demon to a must-have ingredient in every health-conscious foodie’s pantry.
But long before the recent coconut oil obsession, it was used for health and beauty in tropical regions around the world.
If you’ve ever used coconut oil, you’ve probably noticed one unique property: it melts on contact with the skin. So while it can be solid in the jar (at least here in the cool temps of London!), it melts almost instantly as you apply it on the skin, making it perfect as a face or body moisturizer, massage oil, lip balm or in my classic deodorant recipe!
Coconut oil is also anti-inflammatory, slow to oxidize (meaning it will last for several years without going rancid), and has a deliciously tropical scent (if you like that sort of thing – and I do!) Here’s how to use coconut oil in your natural health + beauty routine.
How is coconut oil produced?
Answering this question turned out to be much more involved than I’d expected. Apparently there are two main kinds of coconut oil: virgin coconut oil, and RBD (Refined, Bleached, Deodorized) coconut oil. As the name implies, the RBD coconut oil has been highly processed and has no more coconut scent. In my opinion, it’s better to stick with the more natural, less processed virgin coconut oil for health and beauty use (except in beauty applications where you really can’t tolerate the coconut scent, or perhaps in something like deodorant.)
Virgin coconut oil (which is not a regulated term, by the way – so each company can call their product what they want) (source) is traditionally produced by simply pressing semi-dried coconut meat (and sometimes milk) to expel the fat. This is similar to how olive oil and other ‘expeller pressed’ oils are produced. This method is the way that families would have obtained coconut oil for centuries, before we started trying to improve the process to enable mass-production of coconut oil. (source)
Fractionated coconut oil has been processed to remain it a liquid state.
Partially hydrogenated coconut oil is one to absolutely avoid (as with all partially hydrogenated oils) as it contains trans-fats. (See this article about trans-fats hidden in common foods.)
How to use coconut oil for natural beauty?
Because coconut oil is solid at room temperature and melts easily, it can be used by itself as a beauty product.
Here are some ways you can use coconut oil for natural beauty:
- Lip Balm
- Body moisturizer
- Facial cleansing balm
- Face moisturizer
- Nipple balm
- Deep conditioning treatment for hair
- Intimate lubricant (but never with condoms!!! The oil will break them.)
- Hair gloss (just melt a TINY bit between your palms and sweep over ends of hair to reduce frizz)
A little tin of coconut oil would be well placed in your travel kit because it’s so versatile!
It’s also a popular ingredient in many DIY beauty recipes, like these…
Favorite DIY beauty recipes with coconut oil
What’s your favorite way to use coconut oil? Share your stories and tips in the comments below!