Coconut Oil Benefits For Skin and Hair.
We’ve all heard crazy hype about ‘X!! The latest, greatest thing in self-care!’ But what if the rumors were true? With coconut oil, it just might actually be real.
We all know coconut as that delectable, tropical treat added to ice cream, chocolate or rum (or is that last one just us?). But what if the benefits of using coconut oil in your everyday life & beauty routine was as fantastic as that Jamaican mojito is delicious?
History of Coconut Oil Use
Even though the name ‘coconut’ dates only to the 1600’s & is thanks to Portuguese explorers, uses of coconut are as old as the tale of Sinbad & the Arabian Nights. Seriously. One of the earliest recorded uses of coconut oil dates clear back to 1500BC in India. Or Egypt. Or… well, it depends on who you ask.
Since it was discovered, people have been finding ever-increasing ways to use this tropical nut in cooking, skin & haircare, dental hygiene, mental & physical relaxation, even sunscreen!
Coconut Oil Extraction & Processing
There are a variety of ways to get at coconut oil, but all roads do NOT lead to Rome or, in this case, healthy oil. In case you weren’t 100% sure, yes coconut oil is derived from the white part (the ‘kernel’) of the coconut. Coconut oil can be either refined or unrefined, and as with its other ‘nutty cousin’ cocoa butter (if you haven’t read that blog post yet, go check that one out too) the unrefined is the way to go.
Simply put, the less refined a product is, the better it is for you (think ‘handful of berries v. fruit tart’ or ‘butter v margarine’) because it still has more of its natural nutritional yumminess intact.
Along those lines, coconut oil can be extracted via various methods which can include heat, compression or even spinning the coconut kernel to extract the oil. Refined coconut oil begins its life resting in the coconut kernel that has been dried and is now known as ‘copra’.
Due to the methods commonly used for drying, this type of coconut oil must go through multiple processes that can involve heat or chemicals and can end up as a hydrogenated oil which, if you’ve been paying attention at all in the past, you know is a big-fat no-no for your health!
It IS cheaper but you miss out on all the nutritional value that’s left behind after the refining process. Be warned, some manufacturers try to mask their processes & use words like ‘expeller pressed’ or ‘pure’ even when in reality they’ve used a bunch of chemicals to get their end-product.
Unrefined or ‘virgin’ coconut oil (which, confusingly, can also be called ‘extra virgin’ .. no, there’s no known difference .. ‘raw’ or ‘cold pressed’) are your best bets. If you’re researching a brand and it seems like the manufacturer is using smoke & mirrors to describe how ‘pure’ their product is, skip it & move on.
So, how great is coconut oil for skin and hair? Let me count the ways...
Coconut oil for hair
Fancy a night wearing your favorite sexy shower cap? If you want to encourage your hair to be more like that of the Polynesian beauties we’ve all seen .. long, flowing, shiny & sensuous then you might!
Rub a small amount (seriously. small.) into your tresses & scalp, then cover it all with the awesomeness that is every-shower-cap-ever-made before retiring for the night followed by a good wash the next morning with a deep-cleansing shampoo.
We recommend you first try this on a night when you aren't going to be rushing out the door the next morning. In other words, it might take a try or two to get the right amount for your hair so experiment when you have time to spare.
Coconut oil keeps those natural curls bouncy
If you have naturally curly or naturally dry hair, coconut oil in SMALL (thinking pea-sized is probably living large) amounts on your dry hair (it soaks in better when the hair is dry as opposed to wet) can help tame the mane & keep your hair's curls bouncy & soft.
Go away, dandruff
Coconut oil helps the hair & scalp retain its natural proteins, so not only is it good for luscious hair, it may help keep dry scalp & dandruff at bay as well.
Coconut oil benefits for your skin
Coconut oil is full of medium-chain triglycerides, or fatty acids (MCTs), which basically means it’s perfect for helping your skin retain its youthfulness!
Coconut oil in the shower
It makes a great pre-shave lubricant & may well make it so you don’t need to use lotion after your shower. It’s great for the cuticles & fingernails. It’s a killer makeup remover .. even waterproof mascara. It makes your lips all soft & dewey. Add brown sugar to it and voila, natural exfoliator!
Coconut oil as a natural sunscreen
Some say it can also help act as a sunscreen. Apparently the lovely tropical, coconut-y scent of that old bottle of Tropic Sun you grew up with had (at least in theory) more purpose than making you smell like paradise.
Unrefined coconut oil is believed to have an SPF factor of about 4, so not one to use to spend the entire day outside, but it’ll get you started.
Soothe irritating skin conditions
Coconut oil has also shown some benefits for some people with eczema & psoriasis in helping relieve the itchy painfulness of those exceedingly frustrating skin conditions.
Heal up itchy wounds or burns
Due to its natural antimicrobial, antibacterial & anti-fungal properties, coconut oil can help create a natural barrier to germs thereby helping wounds, burns, etc heal more quickly & with less chance of infection.
It's great for your feet
Next time your tootsies are aching, bust out the jar of coconut oil & solicit a good foot-rub from your significant other, or kids. Not only does it glide over the skin smoothly but it’ll attack those dry, cracked heels of yours & soak into them like water disappearing on the sand.
You may have seen references to ‘fractionated coconut oil’. It’s great for massage since, unlike it’s totally unrefined sibling, it stays liquid at indoor temps due to one of its lipids having been removed. But only use it for massage, as the fractionating process makes it non-beneficial for skincare or cooking purposes.
All that said, like cocoa butter, coconut oil IS a high comedogenic oil, meaning if you’re prone to break-outs, it can cause them, so maybe don’t use it as your all-over-the-face moisturizer every day.
Coconut oil for dental health
There’s no ‘D.M.D.’ or ‘M.D.’ or really any letters at all behind our name & we’re not claiming to be experts, but some studies seem to show that coconut oil can help whiten your teeth, diminish halitosis, extract toxins from your body (when used as an oil-pull), can help prevent the build-up of plaque or the development of gingivitis & can even be mixed 1-to-1 with baking soda for a fantastic homemade whitening toothpaste.
The makeup of coconut oil also enables our bodies to better absorb both calcium & magnesium, therefore making our choppers stronger as well.
Obviously, like with all good things, coconut oil needs to be used in moderation as a dietary supplement. That said, it seems to us that you can’t go wrong in adding it to your diet, beauty & health routines so happy coconut hunting!
We love coconut oil so much here at Nectar that we always incorporate it into our exfoliating sugar body scrubs. So, if you're looking for a great way to attack dry, rough skin, check out our fan favorite body scrubs for the smooth, soft skin you deserve!