Coconut oil is becoming increasingly popular in both food and beauty applications, due to increased research into its benefits over more commonly used oils (such as olive and sunflower.) The sweet smelling substance contains a huge amount of vitamins and minerals - including Choline, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Iron, Stearic and Lauric Acid - which help to nourish the body both inside and out. Coconut Oil can be bought in most large supermarkets and health food shops, with coconut brand Vita Coco now launching their own version to capitalise on the success of their coconut water drinks. If you're making a purchase make sure you look for the words 'virgin', 'organic' or 'cold pressed' to ensure you're getting the best quality; non-virgin oil is refined through a process that removes most of its beneficial components, so it's not going to offer the nourishing properties you're after. While providing a sweet and nutty flavour to food, coconut oil also has a whole host of benefits for the body; for ideas on how to get the most from your virgin oil I've outlined a few key uses that may have you a little addicted to little tubs of sweet smelling white stuff.
For the Skin:
Coconut Oil is solid at room temperature, but melts when in contact
with the skin. It therefore works as a great dryness-banishing body
moisturiser that's quickly absorbed and won't leave skin feeling
slippery. The Lauric, Capric and Caprylic Acids increase skin hydration
by adding to already present natural lipids, rather than just forming a
barrier film like many moisturising lotions. It can also be used in a
larger quantity on the legs as a shaving oil that, when washed off,
leaves skin soft and glowing. If you find your fake tan is clinging to
your elbows and knees (or if they're just feeling a little rough), make
an olive and coconut mix to soften the areas and create a barrier - just
heat a few tablespoons of Coconut Oil in the microwave, add in a third
of the amount of olive oil and leave to cool before transferring to a
bottle. The olive oil prevents the Coconut Oil from soaking quickly into
the skin, while ensuring the mix stays liquid at room temperature so
it's easy to splash onto a cotton pad when needed.
For the Lips: A great alternative to your usual balm or petroleum
jelly, the oil provides a glossy shine while helping to repair chapped
lips. Because it's solid, until it hits your skin it can be easily
carried around in a little pot without causing a mess. Try crushing and
mixing in an unused powder eyeshadow shade, or melting and mixing in the
last of your favourite lipstick, for a sheer colourful splash to the
For the Eyes: Coconut Oil is able to
dissolve even waterproof mascara when massaged over the eyes and removed
with a cotton pad. Not only is it a substitute to make up remover or
cleansing oil, it also has the reported benefit of strengthening and
lengthening the lashes when used regularly.
For the Hair: Used
as a deep mask over the whole head, or just for 15 minutes on ends to
help dryness, Coconut Oil can help to leave hair looking soft, shiny and
healthy. A little goes a long way, and the oil is able to penetrate
into hair fibres to reduce protein loss, strengthen the cuticle and help
prevent breakage - especially when used as a pre-wash conditioning
treatment. To use as an overnight mask, work the oil evenly from root to
tip then wrapping hair in cling film and/or a towel to protect your
pillow while you sleep. It's easily washed out and won't leave your hair
feeling greasy either.
Coconut oil has so many advantages
and is definitely a must-have for the face and body.Why not pick up a pot yourself and see how it can slip into your routine with ease!
Vita Coco Coconut Oil is available online, priced from £7.48.