Coconut oil is extracted by pressing the fat from coconut flesh, and is starting to become known as a wonder-product with many health and hygiene uses. Nutritionists are recommending that we use it to replace butter and highly processed vegetable oils in our cooking to aid heart heath and weight loss. Coconut oil tastes and smells great, and is relatively inexpensive when you buy it in larger amounts.
There are many great ways to incorporate coconut oil into your health and beauty routine, too. Coconut oil is anti-bacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory, as well as being incredibly moisturing, and it can replace a whole range of expensive beauty products saving you money in the long run. Plus, it is totally natural and chemical-free. Read on for twelve great uses for coconut oil at home.
1) Nail conditioner. First, dab coconut oil on your cuticles to soften them, and then push them back. Live Love Fruit advises that you only need to use a tiny bit of oil - a lot goes a long way! Next, massage the oil into your nail beds. It will protect the layers of keratin in your nails, keeping them strong and healthy.
2) DIY deodorant. There is a lot of talk about the harmful ingredients contained in conventional deodorants, and the long-term effects they're having on our health. A natural alternative is always better, so try using coconut oil - according to Healthy Natural Cures it is a natural anti-fungal and anti-bacterial so it kills the yeast, fungi and bacteria that cause bad body odour. Simply rub a little oil into your armpits every day.
3) Makeup remover. Soak a little oil into a cotton pad and rub away your makeup before washing your face. It even gets rid of stubborn waterproof eye makeup and it's great for your skin.
4) Hair treatment. Coconut is rich in fatty acids and according to Live Love Fruit it is incredibly nourishing on the scalp and hair follicles. Massage the oil into your hair, and for best results try leaving it for a few hours or even overnight. Rinse with a natural shampoo for glossy, conditioned hair. You can use it anywhere on your body - eyelashes and eyebrows too - and it's useful as a protectant if you're applying heat to your hair often.
5) Anti-dandruff. Coconut oil is especially good for when your scalp is dry. Massage it into your scalp to reduce the flaking and itching caused by dandruff.
6) For a healthy mouth. WebMD explains that the much-hyped practice of "oil pulling" is actually based on proven science. Recent studies have shown that it helps to protect against gingivitis, plaque, and microorganisms that cause bad breath. "Most microorganisms inhabiting the mouth consist of a single cell... Cells are covered with a lipid, or fatty, membrane, which is the cell's skin. When these cells come into contact with oil, a fat, they naturally adhere to each other." See WebMD for helpful oil-pulling tips.
7) Natural exfoliant. Coconut contains lauric acid, which lifts dirt from the skin. Massage the oil into your skin and then use a rough washcloth or hand mitt to scrub away the dead skin cells. The coconut oil will also remove dirt and hydrate the skin, leaving it feeling clean, soft and moisturised. Prevention recommends combining coconut oil with a little sugar or salt for an instant, deliciously fragranced body scrub.
8) Home massage oil. Coconut oil is used by many people as a healthy, natural massage oil. It is a great way to treat stretch marks, and thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties it can relieve achy muscles, too. It's safe to use on intimate areas, it feels great, and it smells delicious.
9) Face balm. Coconut oil can replace many of your face products. Livestrong explains that it absorbs faster than other products and is high in the anti-oxidant Vitamin E, which is known to be essential for healthy skin. After using it to remove your make-up, you can rub it into your face overnight to tighten pores and moisturise your skin. Dab it on more heavily around your eyes to combat fine lines.
10) Smoother shaving. Use it anywhere on your body where shaving can cause irritation and dryness: your legs, face, armpits, and even intimate areas. Coconut oil nourishes the hair follicle, and heals and moisturises the skin. Prevention recommends using it in place of a shaving cream or soap, as it will help the razor to glide along the skin better and keep you moisturised as you go.
11) Chapstick. Chapstick has a thousand uses, but should you ever find yourself running short you can use coconut oil instead. It will protect and moisturise your lips, and it also has a natural SPF which protects your lips from the sun.
12) Replace your hand soap. As a natural anti-bacterial, coconut oil is a great way to clean your hands, according to Healthy Natural Cures. Use the same way as hand soap (massage into your hands for thirty seconds), and then wipe away using a damp washcloth. This has the extra benefit of moisturing hands, so it's especially great to protect your hands from drying out if you have to wash them often.
As coconut oil becomes more popular for its many health benefits, the number of products available are increasing. Many oils are highly processed. They can be bleached and deodorised, and some processes actually remove the lauric acid which is so good for our skin. To avoid this, look out for virgin coconut oil, which is made from fresh coconut flesh (as opposed to dried copra). Note that all coconut oil is refined to some degree, so 'refined' isn't a bad thing by default - just look out for virgin coconut oil and you'll reap the benefits.