Coconut oil: the skincare superstar
I haven’t always been a coconut oil advocate. Four years ago a colleague told me she swore by the stuff for top-to-toe skincare. I did the usual smile and nod thing and filed the info under wacky home remedies I would not be trying I just couldn’t imagine smearing something out of the fridge all over my face, hair or body and then waiting for a miracle to happen. But now I know better: natural alternatives are often healthier, more effective and also cheaper so it’s really a win-win.
And coconut oil is one of these alternatives. It’s predominantly made of saturated fatty acids, which is unusual for a plant-based oil. Half of these fatty acids come from lauric acid. That’s what takes coconut oil from just a moisturising maven to antibacterial godsend. It also contains phosphorus and vitamin E. However, these nutrients can be lost if the oil is refined. That’s why you’re better to opt for unrefined, cold pressed, organic coconut oil if you’re going to use it for any of the options I suggest below.
Moisturiser and scrub
Coconut oil is nourishing, helps rejuvenate the skin and keep it looking smooth. It’s almost as though the skin has a memory card you’re filling up with moisture. Even though I have a more oily complexion, I love using this oil on my face. Applying it is like giving my sebaceous glands (the ones that produce oil) the signal that they can take a break and go easy on that oily stuff called sebum. It’s important to point that out because there’s this assumption that any time you use coconut oil you’ll end up with an oil slick on your face.
As for using coconut oil as a body moisturiser, the easiest way to apply it is to pop a tablespoon of the stuff into a hot bath. This lets your skin make the most of its nourishing effects. And as if that wasn’t super weapon enough, you can mix your coconut oil with a bit of sugar, coffee grounds or sea salt to make a scrub. This homemade skincare product is a good way to get rid of dead skin. And since you’re making it yourself, you can alter the quantities to make it more or less abrasive.
If you’ve got allergies or quite simply have sensitive skin to contend with, coconut oil can be a handy alternative to your average make-up remover. It gets rid of waterproof make-up while at the same time moisturising your skin – magic. Here’s how to use it: take a bit of oil and massage it into your skin. Then use a cotton pad or a cloth to clean everything off your face. Finish up by washing your face with lukewarm water. I recommend repeating these stages so you apply the oil and wash it off twice to make sure you’re not left with any excess make-up sitting on your skin.
If you want to know how to make your own deodorant using just coconut oil and bicarbonate of soda, click on the link below.
Using coconut oil as a hair mask helps to inject some life and moisture into dry, dull hair. To get shiny locks, rub two teaspoons of coconut oil into damp or dry hair and leave it to absorb for two hours. Then wash it through – making sure you get it all out. If your hair is particularly brittle, you can leave the mask on overnight. Massaging oil into your scalp also helps to combat dandruff.
This one is a bit controversial but it’s a popular way to use coconut oil right now. It’s called oil pulling. And what it’s supposed to do is detoxify bacteria or flora in the mouth and prevent any inflammation there. I did try it out myself for a while but I found it quite time-consuming. More on that here:
Don’t skip this bit if you’re going to play around with coconut oil! It’s important to keep coconut oil in a cool place out of direct sunlight. Storing it in the fridge is a no-no because you get condensation, which can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Also, you want to avoid scooping any oil out of the jar with just your finger. Doing that will just contaminate it. The best thing to do is use a spoon.