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Is coconut oil the best value beauty product on earth?

October 2nd 2015 / Anna Hunter


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Its uses supposedly span from shaving cream to cleanser, but is coconut oil all it’s cracked up to be?

You wouldn’t use butter to take off your makeup or soy sauce to moisturise, but some cooking aids and supermarket staples transition very smoothly indeed to the bathroom. From honey face masks to milk baths (the dairy kind), we’re increasingly wearing the aisles of Wholefoods as well as eating them. One particularly versatile edible resource is the much fawned over coconut oil, which is fast approaching the Instagram darling that is avocado as the wellbeing wonder of the moment. With an impressive beneficial fatty acid profile and supposed metabolism stimulating properties, the wellness crowd love it in everything from stir fries to smoothies, and it’s likely that they use it for some of the following cosmetic purposes too. In fact, given that coconut oil is quite a bit more spendy than your average kitchen condiment, it’s savvy to use it for smoothing legs as well as spreading on toast. If in doubt, buy our expertly curated Recharge and Reset health box to dabble in a smaller jar (for far less moolah) before you commit to a vat of tropical fat.

As a moisturiser

If you’re prone to dryness, eczema or sensitivity, extra virgin, cold pressed coconut oil could help to conserve moisture without irritating or sitting on the skin (it’s extremely silky in texture and sinks in like a dream). The jury’s out on whether it’s a help or a hindrance for those with acne prone skin however; some say its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory effects act as a balm for blemishes, but others report breakouts during use. Perhaps go easy if you’re partial to pimples.

As a cleanser

I feel that this is where coconut oil excels, especially around the eye area. It’s the most nourishing eye makeup remover imaginable, and even takes on waterproof mascara with ease. It loosens makeup effectively and is a great option for drier skins, as it hydrates as it cleanses. If you’re nervous, Odylique Creamy Coconut Cleanser, £18, harnesses the moisture boosting and makeup eliminating capacities of coconut oil, with a tad less grease. You can’t put it in a batch of biscuits though like the standard stuff. It’s your call..

As a lip balm

More of a lip sheen than a deep penetrating treatment, you’ll need to apply regularly or mix it with something more intensive to keep chapping in check. If you’re after an all natural, low key gloss that doesn’t smell of synthetic strawberries, however, coconut has your back.

As a cuticle softener

Ragged nails and cuticles will drink up coconut oil, and given that a little goes a long way, it pips every product out there to the post price wise. It’ll serve you through manis for many moons, and possibly pedis too…

As a foot cream

Coconut oil’s antifungal attributes make it especially appealing for use on the feet, although if you’ve been struck down by a particularly aggressive case of athlete’s foot you’ll likely need something stronger. For general maintenance and to treat cracked heels though, it’s a lovely salve. Just wait until it absorbs before you go walking around the house (slippery).

As a massage oil

Heat it up to a liquid, apply and drift off. If you’re allergic to perfumed unctions or essential oils, or don’t find them adequately moisturising, coconut oil is a more than worthy substitute. If you can’t convince your partner or housemates to give you a rub down, call the excellent team at Milk Beauty who will send a dextrous masseuse straight to your door, complete with coconut oil to hand (London only I’m afraid). BLISS.

As a hair mask

Softening and conditioning, coconut oil makes for a very inoffensive hair mask. You may need to spend a little longer rinsing it out than you would your average conditioner, but the effects are lustrous, especially if you’re hair is frazzled or damaged.

As a hair serum

Coconut oil does work a treat on split ends, but apply only a smidge otherwise you’ll end up more lanky than lush locked. If you’re after something lighter, OGX Weightless Hydration Coconut Water Hydration Oil, £4.90, adds shine and swoosh without a hint of heaviness. If you’re hair is thick or unmanageable on the hand, you’ll relish the real deal.

As an anti-dandruff treatment

According to the natural beauty experts at Neal’s Yard, ‘fatty acids in coconut oil help to prevent fungal and bacterial infections, and as such coconut oil can be massaged into a dry scalp, as the anti-fungal properties help to eliminate dandruff’. Give it a go if you’re sick of pungent, chemical-laden treatments, but be sure to shampoo thoroughly afterwards otherwise grease lightening will strike.

As a body scrub

Blend it with a little salt of brown sugar (we’re nothing if not resourceful) and exfoliate to your heart’s content. You’ll never be tempted by an overpriced skin polish again.

As a body cream

Given that it spreads easily, penetrates the skin quickly and makes limbs catch the light in a very flattering way, coconut oil ticks the body cream box without qualm. Along the same lines, it makes for a lovely soothing aftersun too, as it contains zero unnecessary irritants and as above, is anti-inflammatory. Which is why it may also serve as sweet relief for the following for the following…

As a shaving gel

I was in two minds about this one. It does feel a lot kinder to the skin that foaming, fragranced alternatives, but it also makes the razor a bit more unstable than usual, and you'll have to clean the blade extremely thoroughly post-use, which both pose potential injury issues for a shower klutz such as myself. If you're a resposible adult however, it'll lubricate your legs (and wherever else you're 'tending to') nicely.

For bites, scratches, burns and rashes

You’ll know by now that coconut oil helps to keep bacteria at bay, so a dab of this on a bite, blister or minor injury should support skin healing while minimising itching. It’s not a miracle worker, but it won’t make things worse either, and doesn’t smell like human repellent (unlike necessary but evil deet).

As a mouthwash

Hear the Neal’s Yard team out on this one:

“Swish a small amount of coconut oil around your mouth for 20 minutes- known as ‘oil pulling’. Spit out when finished. There is no need to rinse afterwards. Oil pulling can help to reduce bacteria, control plaque, as well as fight tooth decay and gum infection. Studies have shown that this is as effective as the mouthwash ingredient chlorhexidine, which is used for controlling bad breath”

I wouldn’t swap my toothpaste for it, but given that it’s a practice that dates back thousands of years, it may be worth giving coconut oil a whirl instead of alcohol laden alternatives.

As a highlighter

Skin highlighters and illuminators have shot up in sales by almost 50% in the last six months, but if you’re after a truly au naturel gleam, a touch of coconut oil on cheeks, lids or traced over cheekbones will add catwalk worthy gloss. If you’re after a touch more luminosity, RMS Beauty Living Luminizer, £30, is just as natural, both in appearance and credentials, but a bit of a shock to the wallet compared to more basic oil.

As furniture polish

Technically not a cosmetic use, but if you’re houseproud yet economising, it’ll add a little non-toxic shine to your coffee table. Really getting quite carried away here.

What it’s not good for…

As an SPF

Don’t let anyone tell you that this stuff is mother nature’s sunscreen. There are some irresponsible camps who claim that to be the case, but it offers no viable UV protection and coconut oil’s antioxidant profile in no way prevents burning. In this case coconut oil’s as good for cooking you as it is for say, pancakes. Don’t do it.

As a stretch mark solver

Moisturising stretch marks is no bad thing, but coconut oil won’t prevent them or get rid of them. It’ll improve the condition of the skin and likely its appearance, but in our humble experience those spidery white lines are STUBBORN.

To give coconut oil a go for yourself, click here to buy the box

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