Coconut oil became a huge buzz-worthy product in recent years, and for good reason. Fans of the natural, chemical-free oil swear it can do anything from removing makeup to whitening teeth and even hydrating split ends. In general, skin care oils help your skin retain moisture, so it seems like an obvious choice to pick one that’s both affordable and multifunctioning. That said, there are some dos and don’ts of using coconut oil. At the end of the day, while it’s beneficial for many, coconut oil is not a one-fits-all product.
Let’s explore the many uses of coconut oil and how it’s used as a beauty product from head to toe.
As a makeup remover
Oil cleansing is a great step to have in your nightly skincare regimen. Coconut oil, much like any other pricey cleansing oil on the market, can act as a very effective cleansing oil that removes dirt build-up and makeup. This can be especially effective for those who suffer from dry skin and don’t want to strip too much of the natural oils from their face.
Coconut oil is, however, highly comedogenic. This means it can clog pores and cause breakouts. Hey, it’s an unfair world, and even the most expensive top-of-the-line products can have the opposite effect we’re looking for no matter how much we want them to work like magic.
If you do want to try coconut oil as a makeup remover, be sure to follow up with what is known in the beauty industry as double-cleansing. Double cleansing is a two-step process of washing your face, originally made popular by Korean skincare routines. You start with an oil-based cleanser and follow it with a gentler, water-based cleanser. The goal here is to be sure to wash away all of the oil residues from your face along with any remaining makeup and dirt the oil worked hard to dissolve. For that extra oomph, you can follow the second step of cleansing with a gentle toner that can help remove any additional product that can potentially cause a breakout.
As a moisturizer
Due to its fatty acid content, coconut oil is often praised for being a really bomb moisturizer, and of course, it smells great and can be easily and affordably purchased in bulk which all a plus. But dipping yourself in oil alone isn’t the best way to go about locking in moisture.
Much like how you should always apply facial oils after your facial moisturizer to lock in all the humectants from the products applied before, coconut oil is best applied following whatever your usual moisturizing lotion is.
As mentioned above, coconut oil can potentially cause breakouts. Unfortunately, the only way to find out if coconut oil will be your holy grail of oils or your worst nightmare is to try it yourself. Everyone is different. When it comes to using coconut oil on your face, you might want to take baby steps here.
But coconut oil has also somehow been shown to help with acne. It’s safe to say coconut oil is a pretty confusing little product. While it is highly comedogenic, coconut oil also contains lauric acid, which is thought to be antimicrobial. This means is may lower levels of acne-causing bacteria on the skin and reduce inflammation. Some people may find it way too heavy, and some people may never use anything else again. If the juice doesn’t seem worth the squeeze— as in, if this option seems like way too much of risk for you, you can always stick to other moisturizing oils you know won’t cause breakouts on your face.
But for other areas of your body, such as your legs, arms, heels, etc., massaging some coconut oil onto your skin after your favorite body lotion has been applied might be a great trick to helping your skin retain its moisture. If your chest or back is prone to acne, skip those areas.
As a natural deodorant
Since coconut oil contains antibacterial properties, it makes sense that many natural deodorants contain it. But by itself, it may not be the best pick to keep your pits smelling great all day long. I can, however, be used as a powerful ingredient in a DIY deodorant that’s worthy of trying out.
Start by collecting the following ingredients:
- Shea butter - 2 tablespoons
- Coconut oil - 3 tablespoons
- Baking soda - 3 tablespoons
- Arrowroot powder (or organic cornstarch, since not too many people just have arrowroot powder lying around or even know what it is or how to find it) - 2 tablespoons
- Essential oils (optional, if you want a bit of fragrance)
Follow this recipe:
- Place the shea butter and coconut oil in a quart size mason jar.
- Place the mason jar in a small saucepan of water and heat over low heat until the shea butter and coconut oil have just melted.
- Remove from heat and add the baking soda and arrowroot if using.
- Mix well.
- Add the essential oils if you want, and pour into a glass container for storage or in an empty deodorant stick for easy application.
It may take some time to solidify, so you can throw it in the fridge for a bit until it hardens. But after that, just store in a cool, dry place.
As a hair mask
For naturally curly, textured hair, coconut oil can be an effective treatment. It’s ultra-moisturizing and soothing to the scalp and may also be useful in preventing hair damage due to protein loss during grooming processes and ultraviolet (UV) exposure.
The best time to apply coconut oil to your hair is at night, and it works best on dry hair. Apply in manageable sections to be sure every strand of hair is coated. You can also add more to areas that need the most help, such as the ends that tend to be the most damaged. Warm the oil first so it’s easier to apply.
Give the coconut oil a solid 20 to 30 minutes to work its magic, or if your hair is in dire need for moisture, you can leave it on overnight using a shower cap to protect your bedding. Afterward, rinse thoroughly, unless you’re going for the greasy hair look. It may take a few wash-rinse cycles to completely come out of your hair. If you feel your hair looks too greasy after using coconut oil as a mask, you can try using less of it the next time or using a bit more elbow grease when shampooing it out of your hair.
Additionally, coconut oil can be worked in small amounts into the hair after showering as a detangler or daily moisturizer for extremely dry hair.
As a dental health boost
Gwenyth Paltrow made oil-pulling all the rage when she began blogging about it several years ago, but the method has been around long before Goop was ever a thing. Coconut oil can be quite powerful in fighting bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans, a bacteria that causes dental plaque, as well as tooth decay, and gum disease.
Swishing coconut oil in your mouth for ten minutes reduces these bacteria as effectively as rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash. It can also significantly reduce inflammation and plaque that can lead to gingivitis.
As a cuticle and nail moisturizer
Coconut oil has been shown to have several benefits for your nails. It can help treat brittle, cracked nails, heal damaged cuticles, and treat toenail fungus. It’s is great for treating brittle and cracked nails as well as damaged cuticles because of its moisturizing and antibacterial properties.
Apply a small amount of coconut oil directly onto clean, dry nail cuticles, and massage the area for at least 30 seconds to give the oil time to penetrate the skin. Leave on for as long as possible before washing hands, and apply frequently to see the most benefits. You can do this on both your hands and your feet!
While it’s on your hands, if you’re acne-prone, try your best not to touch your face! Which, to be honest, you shouldn’t be doing regularly anyway since the oils and dirt on your fingers can push bacteria and dead skin cells further into your beautiful skin.
So, there you have it! Coconut oil can be used from head to toe to help you keep your hair, skin, and nails (and even mouth!) in the tip-top shape. Just remember to be mindful of the type of skin you have, so you don’t wind up with more troubles than you started out with. Like we mentioned, coconut oil is not a one-fits-all product. It is, however, a pretty great beauty tool when used correctly.
What has been your experience with using coconut oil? If you have a phenomenal, must-be-shared-with-the-world use for coconut oil, we’d absolutely love to hear it. Drop us a comment, and let us know your favorite way to let coconut oil work its magic.