If you’ve been around the natural health & beauty community for any time, you’ve probably noticed that coconut oil is all the rage. From blogs to Pinterest, to magazines and books, it seems like everyone is raving about this natural oil.
Trust us, it’s not a fad.
Though coconut oil has been around since, well, coconuts were discovered, it used to have a bad rap. Because it’s over 90% saturated fat, so-called health gurus labeled it unhealthy. However, the fat content is actually beneficial in coconut oil, as it’s rich in nutrients, helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, and is full of antioxidant properties.
And for beauty, cosmetic-grade coconut oil is soothing and moisturizing for your skin, and even works wonders for your hair.
As you’ll see on this list, its benefits and uses are practically endless. It’s healthy, natural, and safe for your skin, body, and even your shoes (check out #98). Whether you’re new to the coconut oil bandwagon or you’ve been riding shotgun for years, grab a bottle or two (or 10!) and check out all the ways you can use this wonder oil!
Body and Skincare
Coconut oil should be among your staple of beauty products if it isn’t already. For best results, choose a cosmetic grade when applying coconut oil topically.
Fractionated coconut oil—in which the oil’s long-chain triglycerides are removed, leaving the medium-chain triglycerides—works great for DIY cosmetic treatments because of its long shelf life and increased stability. In addition, it won’t clog your pores like virgin coconut oil and it has a strong antioxidant effect, making it the perfect skin defender and anti-aging companion!
Check out these great uses for your skin, body and hair.
- Moisturize Your Skin: Replace your regular lotion with the refreshing and healing powers of coconut oil. It’s safe for anywhere on your body and mixes well with essential oils for an aromatherapy benefit. All you need is a coin-sized amount—once applied, give it a minute to dry. You’ll feel the difference.
- Face Mask: Clear up your complexion with a homemade face mask! Mix 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and 1 tablespoon of raw honey. Apply the mixture to the face (be careful, it warms and softens on your face and may drip) and wait 15-20 minutes. Rinse well with warm water.
- Diminish Wrinkles: We all are looking to get rid of signs of aging. Applying a bit of coconut oil to lines and wrinkles helps rehydrate, soften skin, and improve texture.
- Puffy Eyes: Make puffy eyes go poof! Well, it’s not magic, but applying a small amount of oil around your eyes at bedtime can reduce puffiness in the morning.
- Conditioner: There isn’t a better ingredient out there to moisturize your scalp, repair split ends, and add a healthy glow to your tresses. Here’s how to use it:
Place 2 teaspoons of coconut oil into a small container. Place that container into a larger bowl filled with water warmer than 76 degrees. This will soften the oil. Apply to damp hair and massage it into the roots. Comb oil through the rest of your hair. Wrap your head in a towel for an hour, then use a small amount of shampoo to remove the oil.
- Fight Dandruff: Instead of buying dandruff shampoos and conditioners, use coconut oil. Use it the same way as conditioner, but leave it in overnight and wash it out in the morning for a flake-free day.
- Improve Hair Growth: More than a moisturizer, coconut oil can strengthen hair and reduce breakage when used daily.
- Protect Hair from Sun: Use a bit of coconut oil in your hair in the morning by running your fingers through your hair and scalp, then brush evenly to add a layer of sun protection and frizz control.
- Detangle Hair: Tangled hair can be annoying and painful. Coconut oil can make tangle removal painless! Dampen your hair with water, apply coconut oil, and allow to sit for a few minutes. Then gently comb through tangles.
- Shaving Cream: If you’ve given up on shaving cream because it dries your skin, coconut oil is a perfect alternative. It moisturizes while helping the hairs stand up straight. This application is especially helpful for people prone to dry skin and razor burn. Why not make your own?
- Aftershave: Now that you use it as a shaving cream, go ahead and use it as an aftershave as well. It’s soothing and helps skin heal from razor burn.
- Lip Balm: It works well to moisten dry or cracked lips, especially in dry weather. It can also help protect against sun damage. For best application, use it in its solid state. You can apply it with your fingers the same way you would any other lip balm.
- Exfoliating Body Scrub: It serves as a great base for body and face scrubs. Try this simple recipe:
Melt about a half cup of coconut oil. Stir in 2-4 tablespoons of white or brown sugar and pour into muffin tins or soap mold. Put it in the fridge to let it solidify and cool completely before removing from the mold. Slice off a piece and use it to gently scrub and exfoliate your body after dampening your skin with water. Rinse off and apply moisturizer.
- Exfoliate Your Face. Mix coconut oil with baking soda in a 1-to-1 ratio and use it on your face. This is a great exfoliating agent, and will remove all kinds of dirt and dead skin cells from your face. Your complexion should be visibly brighter when you are finished.
- Exfoliate Your Feet: You took care of your face, now show your feet some love. Mix coarse sea salt with coconut oil in a 2:1 ratio to scrub the soles of your feet.
- Exfoliate Your Lips: Exfoliation has no limit with coconut oil! Now it’s time to take care of the dead skin on your lips. Mix a teaspoon of coconut oil with two teaspoons of brown sugar or raw sugar to soften your lips.
- Makeup Remover: Safely remove makeup without irritating your skin or eyes. Coconut oil breaks down the makeup and wipes off easily. Apply with your fingertips and massage it over makeup in a circular motion. Rinse with water afterward and pat your face dry.
- Cheekbone Highlighter: Give yourself a youthful glow by highlighting your cheekbones with a little coconut oil after you apply makeup.
- Lotion Bar: Moisturize your skin by making a lotion bar.
Combine a cup each of coconut, shea butter and beeswax in a quart size glass mason jar with a lid and place in a small saucepan of water. Boil water until ingredients melt. Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon of Vitamin E oil. Gently stir by hand until essential oils are incorporated. Pour into molds. Allow the lotion bars to cool completely before attempting to pop out of molds.
- Deodorant: Why not make your own deodorant while you’re at it?
Combine ½ cup each of coconut oil, shea butter, and beeswax in a glass mason jar with a lid and place this in a saucepan of water. Boil water until ingredients are melted. Remove from heat and add a teaspoon of Vitamin E oil, 3 tablespoons of baking soda, and ½ cup of arrowroot powder. Stir by hand until all ingredients are combined. Pour into muffin tins or other molds while still liquid. Allow to cool before removing.
- Massage Oil: You can use a massage right now, can’t you? Coconut oil is the perfect companion, combining moisturizing power with antioxidants that are great for your muscles and skin.
- Soften Elbows: If your elbows seem to always be dry or cracked, rubbing a small amount of coconut oil on them twice a day will help soften and smooth the skin.
- Heal Cracked Heels: Give coconut oil a crack at those cracked heels. The natural moisturizer can soften and prevent cracking when used regularly.
- Nail and Cuticle Treatment: You can’t get a manicure every day, but you can treat your cuticles with coconut oil regularly. Rub a small amount of oil into cuticles each night before bed. The oil will soak into your cuticles overnight and stimulate your nails.
- Reduce Stretch Marks: Though they may not completely disappear, rubbing some coconut oil on stretch marks can reduce their appearance over time.
- Mascara Brush Cleaner: Get rid of the buildup on your brush by soaking it in coconut oil for five minutes.
- Enhance Eyelashes: If your eyelashes are looking little limp, swab a small amount of coconut oil on them to give them some life.
- Remove Skin Wax: If you remove hair with wax, that sticky substance is hard to get off your skin. Not anymore! Apply some coconut oil and wipe it away with a warm washcloth.
- Personal Lubricant: For those intimate moments, it’s a safe and natural alternative to commercial lubricants, and often works better. Just DO NOT use with condoms, as it’s not compatible with latex.
- Diminish Varicose Veins: Regularly apply a thin layer of coconut oil to varicose veins and you’ll reduce their appearance.
- Reduce Cellulite: Apply coconut oil to the troubled areas regularly to see a difference in a few months.
- Bath Oil: There’s nothing like a nice, warm bath to relax after a long day. Add a bit of coconut oil to naturally coat and refresh your skin. You can also make these awesome bath melts and drop them in the tub:
Heat 1 cup of coconut oil on low for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add 15 drops of essential oils. Mix well, pour into molds and let cool. Once cooled, pop the melts out of the molds and drop one in your bath and let it dissolve. Store the rest in a container in a cool place.
- Tattoo Moisturizer: You just got a new tatt and you want it to heal so that annoying itch goes away. Put on a little coconut oil to soothe it and keep it moisturized. It will make your ink stand out better too!
Food, Drink and Cooking
Yes, coconut oil is edible, and great for food as well as food prep (just don’t use cosmetic grade oil because it can be harmful to consume). There are two types of coconut oil: refined and unrefined (aka virgin).
Refined coconut oil (extracted from dried coconuts) is tasteless and odorless and it can withstand higher temperatures. But the refining process often uses chemicals to bleach, deodorize, and in some cases, partially hydrogenate the oil, which creates trans-fats. However, some refined coconut oils use a more natural process, using just heat to refine the oil. Check ingredients to make sure you’re getting a safe one.
Unrefined or virgin coconut oil is taken from fresh, not dried, coconut and is extracted quickly without going through a refining process. It retains its flavor and odor.
Here are some uses and recipes for coconut oil in the kitchen.
- Cooking Oil: It’s one of the best oils for cooking because it’s able to withstand higher temperatures than other oils due to its high percentage of saturated fat. Thinking all saturated fat is bad? Throw away that 20th-century research. Some saturated fats are actually healthy. It gives food a great taste and texture.
- Grease Pans: Replace vegetable oil or Crisco with coconut oil for a healthier way to grease your pans.
- Creamer in Coffee or Tea: Whether you’re chugging coffee for a morning boost or sipping tea for afternoon relaxation, add a creamy mixture of coconut oil to revolutionize the experience.
Blend 2 cups of hot coffee, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, and 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a blender until oil and butter are melted and coffee is frothy.
- Sweetener: Trying to get rid of that sweet tooth? Coconut oil is slightly sweet so you can use it to replace sugar as a healthier option.
- Butter Replacement: Love to smother butter on that morning bagel or toast, but you know it’s not healthy? Substitute coconut oil instead for a healthy alternative that still tastes great.
- In Smoothies: If you love smoothies–and really, who doesn’t?—coconut oil is the perfect addition to them. Smoothies are easy to make and (mostly) healthy. Adding coconut oil improves their consistency. Try this recipe:
Combine 2 cups of coconut milk, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 2 tablespoons Gelatin Powder, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder, ½ cup of strawberries and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Blend and enjoy.
- Salad Dressing: Not only does it add great taste to your bowl of greens, it helps your body better absorb all those great nutrients in your salad. Try this recipe:
- Mayonnaise: Mayo isn’t the healthiest condiment, but if you make it with coconut oil, you’ll feel a bit less guilty.
Combine 2/3 cup coconut oil, 2/3 cup olive oil, a teaspoon of mustard, a tablespoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, and four egg yolks.