The diverse use of coconut oil seems to be a new trend, but actually, it’s been around for thousands of years. People in India, Asia, the Philippines, the Pacific Islands, and other tropical locales have always used coconut oil, for cooking, health and beauty, or around the house. No wonder the coconut tree is often called “the tree of life.”
Coconut oil is made by first extracting the kernel or the white part inside the shell of a mature coconut. The kernel is then milled, cold-pressed, and filtered to create a raw, or virgin, coconut oil.
Coconut oil was popular in the U.S. long before 2017, too. In the 1950s, it was truly the cooking oil of choice, much like vegetable or olive oil is today. However, the imported tropical oil, which is high in saturated fats, faced criticism when new research revealed in the 1980s that saturated fats result in high triglyceride levels and can lead to heart disease. Domestic soybean oil and other vegetable oils became the new norm.
Now, at a time when many people are more conscious of what they’re putting in (or on) their bodies, many are turning back to virgin coconut oil over popular hydrogenated oils. Science has shown that while coconut oil is high in saturated fat, it’s composed of medium-chain fatty acids, which are much easier for the body to digest and convert to energy. It’s likely that coconut oil does not contribute to poor cholesterol or heart problems after all.
The many benefits of coconut oil
Coconut oil boasts a myriad of benefits, from diet to hair, skin, and overall health. As you can see from its history, it is primarily added to food as a way to improve digestion, manage cholesterol, increase energy, and boost nutrients. But, it didn’t take long to realize that this super food is just as good for you on the outside as it is on the inside.
For your hair
Hair oil treatments are widely popular. Adding coconut oil to the mix gives you another option to try out if your hair doesn’t respond to other products, like Argan oil or jojoba oil.
When it comes to your hair, coconut oil makes a great deep conditioner because of its fatty acids. You can use it to mend split ends, stimulate growth, care for your scalp, and prevent hair loss. It can even be used to treat and prevent irritations like dandruff and lice.
Try using it periodically as a leave in treatment on freshly washed hair. Apply melted coconut oil to your hair. Wrap your hair in a towel for at least 30 minutes, but one to two hours is best. Shampoo again to remove all of the oil.
You can even incorporate coconut oil into your daily routine. Virgin coconut oil won’t leave behind residue and it’s perfectly safe for regular use. Detangle your tresses by adding melted oil to your ends and gently massaging up to your roots. Just comb through the tangles, let the coconut oil absorb, and style as usual. Your hair will be nurtured all day long.
For your skin
Is it too soon to call coconut oil the miracle skin care treatment? It moisturizes like no other product on the market, and it also has antifungal and antibacterial properties, protecting you from many skin conditions. Plus, coconut oil is a great cleanser, erasing impurities left by makeup and everyday dirt and grime.
To use coconut oil as a moisturizer, put a dollop in the palm of your hand and gently massage it onto freshly cleaned skin. Allow the oil to absorb for about 10 minutes and then wipe away the excess with a towel.
If you want to use coconut oil to clean your skin, start by applying it with a cotton pad all over your face, except around your eyes. Let it sit for five minutes before washing it off. To remove eye makeup, dip cotton balls in coconut oil, close your eyes, and lightly dap the cotton balls for a few seconds. You’ll be able to wipe off waterproof mascara, eye shadow, and eyeliner more easily.
For your body
The benefits of coconut oil don’t stop at your hair and skin. Many parts of the body can benefit in some way from this tropical oil.
Rub coconut oil on your nail beds to act as cuticle oil and also protect against infection, especially during visits to nail salons. That goes for your toes, too. Coconut oil can prevent cracked heels and make for a relaxing addition to a foot massage.
You can also use it to moisturize cracked or chapped lips in all seasons, but especially the summer. Coconut oil naturally protects your skin from mild sun exposure and relieves sunburn symptoms on those days you spend a little too long outside.
Choosing the right coconut oil
As you can see, coconut oil can be used for nearly anything. But before you purchase a bottle for yourself, make sure you’re buying the right kind of coconut oil. Store shelves are packed with so many varieties, it’s hard to pick if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
First, pick a solid. Some stores sell coconut oil as a liquid, but those are more refined and processed and are lacking some of the important nutrients. Also, read the labels and watch for keywords. You want to buy coconut oil that says unrefined, cold-pressed, or extra virgin. Purchase it as close to its natural state as possible.
Follow these tips and you should start seeing the benefits of coconut oil in no time.