Coconut has long been used cooking and beauty. In lands where the coconut tree grows, the coconut is a staple in the diet and is the most common food eaten. The coconut provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, & oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world for many generations. Nearly one third of the world's population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their economy.
Only recently have we really started to look at all the uses of coconut oil for beauty and use as a low-cost beauty product. When buying coconut oil, I highly recommend choosing Organic Virgin Coconut oil versus a refined (read: more commercially available) coconut oil. But what's the difference?
In the refining process, the coconut kernel is dried then put through a press to extract the oil. This type of coconut oil process may appeal to you if you have an aversion to the smell of coconut, as refined coconut oil generally lacks the aroma or taste. Virgin coconut oil, however, is extracted right from the fresh coconut meat, retaining that wonderful aromatic coconut scent and flavor.
If you complain about your hair being brittle and dull, virgin coconut oil could be very useful, as it's been found to be a very effective remedy to treat dry hair. Coconut oil can be used as a natural moisturizing hair and scalp treatment, which can also help fight dandruff. In fact, many have found coconut oil to be much more efficient than some anti-dandruff products available in the market.
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so you'll need to put a small amount in your hand and allow the body heat to melt it to a liquid. Keep in mind that less is definitely more here, particularly if you have fine, thin hair. You can then proceed in several ways:
- Take the small amount (I'd start with maybe a dime-size amount if you have thin hair, closer to a quarter size if your hair is extremely thick) of melted coconut oil in your hand, and distribute it through you hair, concentrating on your scalp. Allow this to sit on your hair for 15-20 minutes, and then shampoo/condition as normal. (This is what I'd recommend for the baby fine ladies!)
- If your hair needs abit more moisture, change up the method above with "shampoon/rinse/oil for 5 minutes/rinse/condition/rinse". This will allow you to leave abit more of the oil in your hair, without weighing it down.
- A small dab can be used to tame flyaways and smooth split ends. To do this, take a VERY small amount (you can always add more as you go; too much coconut oil = really greasy looking) and lightly run your hands through your hair (flyaways) or over the ends.
- For damaged hair, coconut oil can be used as as a deep conditioning hair mask. Heat the coconut oil for a few seconds, then gently work it though the hair and massage into the scalp. Coat hair with the warmed oil, using a wide-tooth comb to gently distribute the oil through the strands evenly, always starting from the ends and working your way up. Cover the hair with a shower cap, and sleep overnight, allowing the oil to soak into the hair. For those in a hurry, use a hair dryer on the mixture or wrap your hair in a warm towel as the heat helps the oil better penetrate the hair. Shampoo thoroughly and skip the conditioner, and enjoy your silky, radiant locks!
Coconut oil isn't only good for your hair, but also helps to keep your skin silky and supple. It works to improve the condition of dry skin, and evens out skin tone. Apply coconut oil after a bath (again, less is more) while skin is still wet, as this is when your pores are most open and can most readily accept moisture.
If you're looking for something natural and gentle to use on your child's unruly curls, coconut oil is also great, as it locks in moisture and helps to smooth the hair shaft.
Further skin-lovin' uses:
- Rub a small amount into your cuticles as a nail treatment.
- Great for the scaly skin on elbows, knees, and feet.
- Helps prevent premature aging & wrinkling of the skin
- Helps protect against skin cancer & other blemishes
- Helps with fungal infections like athlete's foot
- Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin
- Promotes healthy looking hair & complexion
Finally, if you have curly hair, particularly dry, kinky curly hair, coconut oil could be your new best friend. Anyone with curly hair knows how hard it can be to find a product that works on your hair without drying it out or weighing it down.
What other uses have you found for virgin coconut oil? Please share your experiences and ideas in the comments below.