Coconut oil is enjoying its time in the limelight at the moment, being touted as the versatile wonder oil that can pretty much cure anything and everything. But can that really be the case? Can something so simple really be that amazing?
Across Southeast Asia, the Philippines and India, the coconut tree is celebrated as the ‘tree of life’ and the coconut oil found in the fruits of this tree is considered to have many proven health benefits. Like all other plant based oils, coconut oil doesn’t contain cholesterol, instead it is made up of three medium-chain triglycerides (MCFA’s).
The three fatty acids in coconut oil are:
- Lauric acid
- Capric acid
- Caprylic acid
These acids are amongst some of the rarest substances found in nature and along with vitamin E, Vitamin K and iron, explains why coconut oil is so beneficial to us. Celebrities such as, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sadie Frost, Angelina Jolie, Blake Lively and Gisele Bündchen all rave about the power of coconut oil, so let’s take a closer look at how they use coconut oil and explore the ways in which coconut oil can prove most beneficial to our health and beauty regimes.
1. Healthy hair
It should really come as no surprise that something as hairy as a coconut would be great for our own locks. New York hair stylist, Nunzio Saviano, explains “The molecules in coconut oil are small enough so it penetrates the hair shaft. It locks the moisture in. That’s what keeps the hair nice and healthy looking. When your hair is dehydrated, that’s when you get flyaways and it gets really frizzy.” So, whether your hair is prone to frizz, curly, straight, fine, thick you name it, there is something that coconut oil can do for you. Actress, Blake Lively, rubs it onto the ends of her hair to help smooth and prevent split ends. People with straight hair can use it as a leave in intensive conditioning treatment, which will add shine and leave locks looking lustrous and well cared for as well as having the power to hold your style in place. Or for those people with hair that only has to look at rain and it frizzes up in a electrified mess, apply a small amount of coconut oil to towel dried hair and it will help lock in moisture as well as coating the hair follicles to form a protective layer. Think of the expression ‘like water off of a duck’s back’. Just remember, less is more. Don’t apply too much of the oil, or you will go out looking as though you have dipped your head in a deep fat fryer. By rubbing some of the oil into the palms of your hands and running it through the strands of your hair, it acts as a great detangler before combing out any knots. Coconut oil can also help prevent and treat dandruff and is also hugely beneficial if you suffer from patches of hair loss as it helps to encourage new hair growth.
2. Heals wounds quicker
Coconut oil has been proven to contain many antibacterial and anti-fungal properties and has been used for thousands of years to help treat rashes, burns and open wounds. By rubbing the oil over the affected area it helps keep it infection free and therefore speeds up the healing process.
3. Natural mouthwash
Known as ‘oil pulling’, the process of swilling coconut oil around your mouth has been around for thousands of years and stems from Ayurvedic medicinal practices. Both Gwyneth Paltrow and Sadie Frost are said to be fans of this natural mouthwash and if done correctly is said to be beneficial not only to the health of your mouth, but also incredibly powerful cleaning and healing benefits to your entire body. In using the same amount of oil as you would a mouthwash, swill for 15 minutes and it will remove bacteria from the mouth and improve or prevent conditions such as gum disease. Gum disease can lead to receding gums, tooth loss, abscesses as well as conditions such as gingivitus and periodontitis, but more alarmingly gum disease can increase the risk of lung infections and cardiovascular diseases. It is estimated that more than half of all adults in the UK experience gum disease at least once in their lifetimes, so teaching children good dental care is essential for their health in later life and if coconut oil can help reduce this then we say ‘get swilling’!
4. Cleans your brushes
Don’t spend loads of money on cleaning products for make up brushes, instead use coconut oil. Make up brushes carry a ridiculous amount of harmful bacteria, and if not cleaned regularly will cause spot break outs or other nasty rashes on your face. Rub oil into your brushes and leave them for 1-2 hours before washing out and leaving to completely dry. The coconut oil acts as a natural disinfectant and will also help keep the fibres of the brush well maintained. It will also work in the same way on your hairbrush and has the added benefit that any oil left on the bristles will condition your hair when you next use it.
5. Miracle moisturiser
Coconut oil is incredibly moisturising, yet is gentle and safe enough to be used both on the body and on the face. It is suitable for all skin types even, surprisingly, oily skin. By applying a very thin layer to oily skin it can indeed help control the oil that your face naturally produces. If you think of the moisturising products you see in the shops, many of them contain coconut oil as a main ingredient. However, this is normally combined with numerous additives and chemicals, which in some cases will do more harm to your skin than good. So, why not cut these added ingredients out, save some money and just use the coconut oil? With its antioxidant properties, coconut oil is great for reducing wrinkles and preventing the appearance of ageing. It is great at rehydrating the skin and is the reason why supermodel Gisele Bündchen uses it on her skin after being in the sun.
Deodorants and antiperspirants that you buy from the shops are laden with chemicals and many contain aluminium, which has been linked to some cases of Alzheimer’s and breast cancer. If you prefer a more natural means of keeping yourself smelling fresh and clean, then look no further than coconut oil. Coconut oil prevents bacteria from growing on our bodies and it is this bacteria that makes us smell. It can be combined with baking soda and cornstarch to give it a thicker consistency, then kept in an airtight jar or empty deodorant container and will last longer than the time it would take you to use it. A safe, natural way to keep yourself clean, with the added benefit of moisturising your more delicate areas.
7. Cuticle Oil
Applying just a small amount of coconut oil to your nail beds will not only help reduce the risk of developing fungal infections, but it also helps soften the cuticles, allowing you to push them back and therefore promoting quicker, more natural nail growth. You can choose to look after your nails yourself in this way, or if you prefer the luxury of going to a manicurist, apply the oil regardless, as it will help disinfect and keep your nails germ free when the frequently used salon equipment is used on you.
8. Hair removal
So, we discovered that coconut oil is great for the health of your hair, but surprisingly it is also great at getting rid of the stuff too! If you suffer from razor burn, in grown hairs or other skin irritations when you shave, then consider using coconut oil as your shaving cream. The oil will help soften the skin, which allows the hair to grow more easily through the hair follicle, thus preventing it from becoming ingrown. The razor will also glide easily across the surface of your skin and because it is a natural and gentle ingredient it can be used on even the most sensitive of skin surfaces.
9. Make up remover
As with any oils, coconut oil as great at removing make up, but it also has the added benefit of being gentle on the skin and moisturising at the same time. Apply a small amount of coconut to some cotton wool and wipe away your make up. It is even effective on tough waterproof mascara and if you also rub over your lips it will act as a nourishing lip balm in the process.
10. Eat it
So far we have mentioned many of the external, beauty based benefits of using coconut oil, but it is also a sensational health product that can be used for many good reasons in our diets. Actress, Angelina Jolie, is said to include it in her diet and looking at the many reasons listed below, it is clear to see why:
- it helps boost immunity
- can be used as a fat burning supplement
- acts as a hormone balancer by suppressing inflammation and supporting healthy metabolism
- supports the digestive system by promoting the growth of healthy probiotics and aids the efficient absorption of essential nutrients
- stabilizes blood sugar levels and can therefore prevent diabetes
- balances cholesterol levels which in turn supports heart health.
Isn’t it amazing how just one simple, natural oil can do so much for the health and appearance of our bodies and just goes to prove that keeping things natural is always the best solution.