Coconut oil has very quickly become a favorite must-have in almost every household across the world. Extracted from the “meat” of the coconut, this oil has an innumerable number of benefits when taken internally or used topically on the body; it also has many uses around the house. With the surge in healthy living, coconut oil can now be found in almost every regular and specialty food store including Costco. I admittedly go through multiple containers of the bulk size jar yearly and use it daily for a number of different jobs. What is there not to love about a relatively affordable product that can seriously do it all? It is incredible to think that this fruit that has such a horrible reputation of killing people when they fall from trees, has so many uses that are so good for us. Maybe those hard to open shells have been guarding the secrets to perfect health and beauty all along, and we have just begun to crack the surface into this mystery. Here are just 15 of the hundred plus amazing ways you may or may not have known you can use this super food to improve your beauty and wellness. Please note that nothing in this article is intended to diagnose or treat any medical conditions. It is also recommended to consult your doctor on all health matters – you know the drill.
15. Leather Conditioner
The most unexpected use I have ever come across for coconut oil is to use it to soften and shine leather and remove winter salt stains from our boots; those pesky white patches that all northerners inevitably end up with every…single…year, no matter how carefully they tip toe through the winter madness. During production, leather goods are infused with oils in order to give them their shine, keep them from cracking and to help repel moisture and liquids. Through continued use, our leather purses and boots start losing their luster which naturally changes their original look but also keeps them from lasting as long or being protected. Instead of using chemical-laden products which are inevitably messy, have a strong odor and are just generally bad for our health, there are household items which tackle the cleaning job and don’t stink up our homes. Before conditioning with coconut oil, it is recommended to clean the garment or accessory with vinegar or dish detergent and water and then rubbing in the oil with a soft rag to replenish the oils that were lost during wear and cleaning. This will also add shine. Please remember to test a small area before using this technique all over.
14. Energy Booster
Coconut is not only fascinating in the sheer quantity of uses it has but also what it is made up of. Let’s get a little technical for a second; coconut oil is mostly made up of medium chain fatty acids or MCFAs. Essentially ‘medium’ is referring to the length of the carbon atom chains at the molecular level. The special thing about MCFAs’ is that this type of fat does not make you fat and actually helps with weight loss when consumed in place of other oils. So where does energy boosting come into play with all of this? All of the food we eat provide our body with energy to function; carbohydrates, proteins and sugars are some of the things that keep us going all day long. Fat provides more energy than carbs or proteins and because of the MCFAs, you won’t have to worry about unnecessary weight gain. The body absorbs it instead of being mixed into the bloodstream and then it is converted into energy after being transferred to the liver. Many of us can benefit from a little extra, nutritiously sourced energy; athletes, parents and business professionals should all consider adding coconut oil to their diets to reap the benefits.
13. Makeup remover
Drugstores, pharmacies and specialty beauty stores alike, all have endless choices for removing your daily makeup whether you wear a full face or just a little mascara to enhance your eyes. The problem with all of these options doesn’t stop at just their cost but also many of them have ingredients that harm the health of our skin, irritate or dry it out and some may even cause premature aging or worse. We already know that failing to remove your makeup clogs pores and often leads to skin blemishes. Once again this leads us all to coconut oil as our savior. According to cosmetic chemist Joseph Cincotta “Coconut oil solubilizes or breaks up water-resistant substances used in eyeshadow and mascara, releasing them from the skin and lashes…It’s great for your skin, because it moisturizes and smooths”. This will leave your skin softer and maybe even looking younger after continued use. To get the full removing ability of coconut oil, scoop a bit out if it is cool enough to be in solid form and gently rub that over the area of your face that you are wearing cosmetics. After well blended, gently wipe it all off with a soft face cloth or cosmetic cottons. Repeat until all of your makeup is gone. You can then rinse with a clean wet cloth.
12. High Heat Cooking
I have to be honest that I used to cook with olive oil all the time and didn’t think anything of it until I started hearing that there may be risks associated with heating it. This debate seems to be ongoing so I suggest doing your research and deciding for yourself but John Moores, professor at Liverpool University believes you are better off only using olive oil as salad dressing and other uses that don’t require heating. In addition to learning the potential risk of heating certain oils, I had also read an article stating that rancid olive oil is so common that most people in the US aren’t even aware that they are consuming a rancid product; coconut oil doesn’t have these problems associated with it. First of all, coconut oil has a high smoking point of between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Smoking point refers to the temperature it can reach before it starts smoking which is caused by its natural impurities burning. Oils with a higher smoking point are best when cooking at these high temperatures like you may do when deep frying and pan frying. Furthermore, coconut oil is much more shelf stable than olive oil and repeated changes in room temperature does not change this stability.
When we think about haircare, normally, shampoos or even dry shampoos come to mind, as ways to remove oils and take away that greasy look that makes everyone cringe or look dirty and sloppy. So why would anyone ever even consider adding more oils to the mix? Coconut oil has actually been found to prevent and diminish protein loss in hair, for some people. Also, unlike some other oils, it is better able to penetrate the hair due to its structure. Generally speaking, those of us with fine to medium shiny hair will see improved results by using coconut oil in our hair; it will become stronger, shinier and have more volume. Those with coarse or dry hair are better off trying a different kind of oil like marula and argan because they may not have a hair protein deficiency and coconut oil may have the opposite effects for them. To avoid the greasy look while still reaping the benefits of coconut oil, you should only warm up a small amount in your hands before distributing it evenly through your hair while avoiding your roots. Less is definitely more here and the saying “too much of a good thing” also applies as well.
10. Vegan Butter Substitute
These days, dietary restrictions are huge and almost everyone avoids certain foods due to allergies or personal beliefs they hold about what is best for their bodies. Admittedly, I am no different. I keep my kitchen 99% vegan as well as wheat and processed sugar free, oh, I also buy all organic produce too. Many people find my ways to be excessive but my eating habits are a topic for another day. Whether you are vegan, lactose intolerant or just don’t want to use butter anymore because you are worried about potential hormones that may be present in it, you will be happy to hear that coconut oil is a delicious and nutritious, one-ingredient alternative. As previously mentioned, coconut oil provides you with good fats that give you energy without making you fat. Also, you can substitute it at a 1:1 ratio in almost all cooking and baking; this is something I do regularly. Coconut oil does have a somewhat sweet and distinct taste that does carry over into your cooking and baking, although does not even remotely taste like coconut water in my opinion. If this bothers you, there is the option to purchase and use refined coconut oil instead of unrefined. This will take care of any flavor concerns you may have, although I happen to love the added flavor it gives to my cooking.
9. Face and Body Moisturizer
Another popular use for coconut oil is as a moisturizer for your face and body. It is an all-natural alternative to the previously mentioned chemical-laden products, and is also very moisturizing and has anti-aging and antiviral properties too. It is also shelf stable, as we know, so expiration is not an issue. By now, you probably have a big jar sitting on your counter or in your pantry too. Coconut oil absorbs quickly into skin and while it’s moisturizing properties are what usually draw people to it to restore dry and flaking skin, that isn’t the only benefit it may have for you. Not only does it help slough off dead skin cells but it also helps fight off wrinkles because it contains Vitamin E which is a natural antioxidant and is known to protect skin from damage over time. Feel free to apply straight coconut oil wherever needed on your skin or look up some simple recipes to make your own body butter mix or lotion bar. Your skin may just thank you once you stop using other products. Listen to what your skin tells you when trying new products and adjust accordingly.
8. Oil Pulling and Oral Care
There is a huge trend that has been going around the alternative and natural communities and is now slowly making its way into the mainstream too. It is called oil pulling and if you have never heard of it, the name tells you absolutely nothing. Here is the simplest explanation of what oil pulling actually is: you swish around oil, in this case coconut oil which is one of the recommended ones and the best tasting, in your mouth for up to 20 minutes as you would with mouthwash, then spit it all out into the garbage. It may clog your drain so don’t send it down the pipes! The idea behind oil pulling is that it is able to get through plaque so it can remove toxins without harming your teeth and gums and potentially even improving their health. There aren’t many scientific studies supporting the benefits of oil pulling but there is a consensus that it is generally regarded as safe. What keeps attracting new users to this method seems to be the overwhelming anecdotal evidence that ranges from reduced sensitivity and tooth whitening to reduction in plaque and cavities. Why not try it for yourself and see what happens.
7. Shaving Cream
Years ago, I was acquainted with a natural products store owner who told me that using mainstream shaving cream actually dulls your razor blades much faster than less commercialized options. He said this was because those companies intentionally included ingredients that do this so they can sell more razors and blade refills. I can’t confirm whether this is actually true and I’m sure most people would just call this another one of my crazy conspiracy theories, but I have found that since using alternative ways to shave, my blades last much, much longer than they did before. Fun fact, I buy and use men’s razors because they cost less but work just as well. Since having had the seed of doubt planted in my mind about shaving products, I started venturing into the world of natural options. I discovered shave oils, which initially seemed very strange to me; but worked well. Some were too strongly scented and the essential oils made them sting. That’s when I realized coconut oil works fantastically on its own or mixed with aloe vera gel. You can even cut down on your shaving routine time because the coconut oil moisturizes; therefore, there is no need for an extra lotion or step here.
6. Improve Mental and Physical Health
When we say coconut oil can really do it all, we aren’t kidding. Such a versatile and flavorful ingredient that can be used for all your cooking and eating needs from spreading on toast to baking and even adding to tea or coffee. In addition to all the external benefits coconut oil can have on our body, our brain and physical wellness can get a boost from eating this incredible oil too. Coconut oil is the second highest edible in the fatty acid, Lauric acid, next to breastmilk. The body converts this nutrient into monolaurin which is then used to help fight viruses and diseases. Incredible! Another benefit can be the therapeutic effect it can have on memory loss sufferers such as those with Alzheimer’s disease. In this case the fact that it is metabolized quickly allows it to be converted to ketones which the brain uses as an energy source and can improve brain function. Furthermore, it stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin, can help fight infections, lowers risk of heart disease, curbs appetite, increases metabolism, it supports your immune system (because of the lauric acid), supports healthy thyroid function, increases cell regeneration and much, much more. Consult your doctor if you are considering adding coconut oil to your diet.
Most of us have memories of being slathered in thick white cream every time we wanted to go out in the summer and never enjoying the process. Now, being grown up, most of us as adults either prefer soaking up all the sun we can and avoiding screens all together or just staying away from the sun at all costs; we have become divided. Some may be wondering if there is an in-between option, perhaps a low spf, natural alternative. If this is you, you are in luck! Amazingly enough, coconut oil is a natural sunscreen, free of potentially toxic and synthetic chemicals that may actually be causing skin cancer instead of preventing it. So how exactly does an oil help protect you from burning? One of the reasons it is effective in preventing burning is due to its antioxidant properties which help decrease oxidative damage to the skin. It is also important to mention that coconut not only can help prevent sun burns by applying it to the skin but also by consuming it instead of other unsaturated oils that stay in your skin tissues and promote sensitivity to the sun. Use it in and out to better enjoy the sun without worry of skin damage.
4. Child or Adult Yeast Infections
By far a pleasant topic (NOT!), and unfortunately common, yeast infections are something that many men, women and children have to deal with at some point in their lives. Being that the main symptom associated is itching, saying it is unpleasant is an understatement. Typical treatment involves topical or oral antifungal medications but if you can’t get to a doctor or pharmacy or just would prefer a more natural option, you guessed it, coconut oil may be able help you out once again. Candida yeast is the main culprit with yeast infections. Caprylic Acid, Capric Acid and Lauric Acid are three fatty acids that coconut oil contains and are effective at fighting Candida. Coconut oil is a powerful antifungal but unlike other products that can lose their effectiveness with continued use, resistance is unlikely to build up when coconut oil is used. Adding it to your regular diet can help with an existing infection and continued use may also help prevent recurring cases. It can also be applied topically where there is irritation and can sooth the discomfort. Just like Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, coconut oil exemplifies this perfectly.
Bad body odor is something most of us look to prevent all day every day, 365 days a year. Walking into a business meeting or showing up for a date smelling horribly can quickly turn the event into a disaster; and let’s not even think about summer rides on public transportation. Most of the mainstream antiperspirants on the market contain aluminum-based compounds which stops sweat from flowing to the skin’s surface by temporarily blocking the sweat duct. It has been suggested that this could lead to serious health problems because firstly the body may absorb these ingredients and effect hormones in the body and also the blockage of sweat prevents the body from excreting harmful toxins. Because of the antibacterial properties that coconut oil possesses, it may be able to protect against odor causing bacteria that normally makes people smell badly. Either you can try applying it alone or there are easy home recipes which mix it with baking soda or cornstarch to make it thicker and add to the sweat absorbing abilities of this natural odor remedy. Please keep in mind that coconut oil may stain some types of clothing materials so be sure to wear and proceed with caution and test a little bit out first.
2. Diaper Cream
By now we know the many benefits coconut oil can have for adult skin, but really, it is amazing for the whole family, even as an alternative diaper cream for our most precious littles. Babies are accustomed to the best accommodations available: the womb. For nine months they are in a perfect environment and then they are presented into a new frightening world full of toxic and harsh chemicals. Unfortunately baby products are not exempt from all the harmful ingredients present in adult ones. Diaper creams are no different. A popular ingredient in diaper creams is zinc oxide which is incredibly messy and stains like crazy, I would know. It also provides a barrier around the skin which can be beneficial to keep it away from diaper contents but it prevents precious and delicate skin from breathing. Again with the antimicrobial, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and antifungal properties of coconut oil along with moisturizing benefits, coconut oil is a great option for protecting the diaper area. Just spread it on after cleaning and pop on a new diaper. As an added bonus, coconut oil dissolves in a hot wash cycle and therefore is completely cloth diaper safe for those families that are extra green.
1. Sooth Itch
We have all had an annoying itch at one point or another in our lives. Whether it was a bug bite, poison ivy, chickenpox, eczema or another cause, it can drive us crazy especially because we know that scratching can worsen the itch and may even lead to infection if we break the skin and bad stuff enters the wound. The way that coconut oil works for other issues and conditions is similar to how it helps with a variety of itchy situations. The anti-microbial, and other ‘anti’ benefits work to fight what is causing the discomfort and essentially heal the area faster while working to possibly fight infections that may have presented otherwise. Also the fact that it rejuvenates skin cells helps heal the wounds faster and reduce possible scarring.
If you haven’t been convinced to pick up some coconut oil by now and reap the benefits for yourself, I don’t know what will change your mind. From health to household use, coconut oil will not last long on your shelf, although it won’t spoil there either.