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Coconut Oil: What's all the hype about?

Updated on January 11, 2016

Where it All Started

Coconut oil has been around for years as a primary ingredient for cooking, frying, and baking. It's most commonly used in the south for frying, as it is a healthier alternative to other fatty oils. More recently, though, people have become aware that you can use coconut oil for more than just cooking. It has become a natural alternative to many items, such as lotion or body butter. Coconut oil does have hundreds of uses, but one of the most vital is on your skin.

Why it's Good for Your Skin

When our skin dries out, two terrible things happen. When we are younger, our skin typically tries to rehydrate itself by overproducing oil, resulting in extremely oily skin that can lead to acne and clogged pores. As we age, when our skin is dried out we develop wrinkles. Yikes! Keeping your skin moisturized is extremely important for its health, and there is no product more moisturizing than oil.

I know what some of you are thinking: "My skin is already oily! Why would I put more oil on it?" The reason why your skin is so oily is because it's dehydrated and is trying to replenish itself. Once you start putting coconut oil on your skin regularly (1 to 2 times daily), your skin says, "Ahhh, much better!" and backs off on the production of oils. Don't believe me? Try it yourself! I promise you will love the results.

Maybe you don't deal with oily skin, but you are worried about wrinkles. Coconut oil won't reverse any effects of aging, but it can help to prevent them. Coconut oil also won't increase collagen or elastin in the skin, but keeping it healthy and moist does help to prevent wrinkles. I frequently put coconut oil underneath my eyes and on my neck, two places where I've noticed the development of wrinkles.

I have several friends who thought that using coconut oil on their skin was gross at first because it makes you all oily and greasy. While this is true, I just want to clarify that when you use coconut oil on your skin it doesn't leave you feeling greasy all day long. It actually dries up just as quickly as any regular lotion. I usually put it on right before I go to bed, and no, there are no oil stains on my sheets when I get up in the morning! Using coconut oil is getting down to the main ingredients found in most lotions and body butters while avoiding the chemicals found in most manufactured products and the high costs of such products.

What Kind to Buy

It's possible to find cheap coconut oil in the cooking/baking section of the store, but there are a few reasons why the more expensive brands might be worth it. Here is a list of qualifications you should look for when purchasing coconut oil:

  • Virgin or Unrefined: Refined coconut oil means it has been processed, which often includes the stripping of nutrients and the addition of chemicals. Plus, it takes away the delicious coconut taste and smell! For a healthier alternative for both skin and ingestion, look for unrefined or virgin coconut oil.
  • Expeller-pressed vs. Cold-pressed: Expeller-pressed means heat was used to extract the oil, whereas cold-pressed means the oil was kept below certain temperatures while being processed. Although coconut oil isn't as sensitive as other oils, for maximum nutrition values cold-pressed is typically preferred.
  • Organic and Fair Trade: This is a personal choice, but for the benefit of others and our planet, I recommend purchasing organic and Fair Trade Certified coconut oil.
  • Glass jars: Although the chances of a plastic jar interfering with your health are slim, I see it as a safer choice to buy products that we ingest or put on our skin in glass jars.

How it Can Be Used

There are so many ways you can use coconut oil to your benefit. The best part is that it's an all-inclusive product that can replace many commonly bought household products, in both a natural and cost-effective way! Here are some of the ways that I use it on a daily basis:

  1. As a lotion, moisturizer, and wrinkle-preventer.
  2. To reduce the appearance of cellulite - rub it on those cheeks every night!
  3. As a natural makeup remover - it works better than any storebought remover!
  4. As a face wash - I buy a face wash from a local vendor at our Farmer's Market, but the main ingredient is coconut oil combined with a few other things. Look up your own DIY recipe!
  5. As a body scrub - All you need is coconut oil and sugar to scrub off that dry skin!
  6. As a foot repair - I put it on my feet every night before bead and then put on some cozy socks to trap the oil.
  7. As a natural lubricant - need I say more?
  8. As a deep hair conditioner - I put it on the tips of wet hair.
  9. As a carrier oil for essential oils - One of my favorite combos is coconut oil and peppermint, you can put it on your forehead to relieve headaches.
  10. In some of my favorite baking recipes - Seriously, delicious coconut brownies!
  11. As a natural shaving cream.

For more extensive lists on the multitude of ways you can use coconut oil, see the links below! Thanks for reading y'all!

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