Coconut oil is one of the few foods that can be classified as a “superfood.” Its unique combination of fatty acids can have profound positive effects on health. Here are just 10 of the health benefits of coconut oil.
Moisturize Your Skin: The very first thing on this list, before even delving into the “edible” benefits of coconut oil, has to be moisturizing. In lieu of your regular lotion, coconut oil delivers a refreshing, healing, burst of moisture that penetrates your skin and works to truly heal it (not just soak in and dry up!) It can feel oily at first, but that’s why it’s important to only use a little-it goes a long way. Give it a minute and it will dry beautifully. Use as you would regular lotion.
Conditioner: When the teeny tiny overlapping plates that make up our outer hair shaft get rumpled and out of whack, coconut oil is there to smooth those tiny little cells right back into place, and hold them there. You can use it on your entire scalp/head for deep conditioning, but you can generally just use it on your ends, where it’s the hardest for the body’s natural oils to reach, and where the most breakage occurs.
Make Homemade Soap: If you’re interested in soap making, coconut oil serves as a wonderful pure base that can simplify ingredients, add hardness to the soap, and help break down grease and oils. It can break them down so effectively, in fact, that too much will have a drying effect (when in soap form.) To prevent this, you need to “superfat” your soap-that is, adding more oil than the lye turns to soap. All you need is coconut oil, water, and lye. Don’t be shy of lye. While it should be handled with care, I find it essential to soap making, and it eliminates a slew of other chemicals that you would need to add to recreate its effects.
Weight Loss:Coconut oil and weight loss-what’s really going on? Well, if you sit around eating coconut oil, you aren’t going to lose weight. However, if used to substitute other fats, it can help you drop the pounds by taking the place of those other calories. Unlike most saturated fats, it’s mainly comprised of medium chain fatty acids, versus long chain fatty acids. This difference in molecular structure means that it doesn’t get packed away as fat as easily and instead is sent straight to the liver to be metabolized, giving you a boost in energy. This energy in turn makes exercising easier, and the exercise in turn helps you lose weight. Another major factor that it plays is as an appetite suppressant. Craving something you shouldn’t be? Have a tablespoon or 2 of coconut oil, and that sensation won’t last long!
Energy Booster: If weight loss isn’t your goal, just run with the fact (no pun intended) that it gives you a great boost in energy-and who doesn’t need some help in that department every now and again? Some people also feel it helps boost their mental alertness.
Fungal Infections: The medium chain fatty acids found abundantly in coconut oil are incredibly effective natural fungicides. In a (coco)nut shell, they naturally insert themselves into the fungal membrane, which is crucial to maintaining the life of the fungus. This destruction of the membrane leads to the destruction of the fungus as a whole and voila! The fungus is eradicated. It is important to be diligent with applications of the coconut oil until your symptoms have cleared.
SPF Lip Balm: Lips are quite exposed to the elements, and it’s not like there are “lip scarves” or “mouth mittens” to protect them from the harsh world. One thing that’s especially over-looked is sun exposure. You should really apply sunscreen to your lips for full protection, but coconut oil also has a mild SPF protection. It can’t rival SPF 80 (indeed it has an SPF of about 4-6) but even that little bit can help. Apply some coconut oil just before heading out into the sun, and reapply every few hours. I like to melt mine down with just ¼ teaspoon or so of beeswax, as I find it easier to apply, and it has more staying power.
Make-Up Remover: Make-up is on your face. Your face is something you would like to protect. So when it comes to removing make-up, don’t turn for harsher store bought products. Go instead to coconut oil, which gently and safely removes all traces of make-up (and leaves your face feeling healthy and refreshed.) Simply scoop some onto your fingertips (it will melt quickly as you use it) and rub it over make-up in a circular motion, rinsing with water afterwards to remove traces of makeup and patting your face dry. It works well with eye make-up, waterproof or not, as well. You can use a mild soap if you wish to remove all traces of the oil.
Nail and Cuticle Treatment: Cuticles get raggedy, nails get broken, chipped, or dull, and it’s not unusual for them to need some TLC every now and then. While there is a plethora of store-bought creams designed specially to miraculously make them look ready for a photo shoot, they are typically over-priced and filled with weird ingredients. This is where coconut oil comes in. Rub a little into your cuticles and over/around your nails to help smooth out flaws and encourage healthy growth.
Bath Oil: Soften your bath water, and your skin, with a bit of coconut oil. Enjoy its lovely aroma and gently swish it around now and then to swirl it through the water. It will naturally coat your skin, leaving it smooth and healthy.
In the last couple of years, there has been quite a bit of talk about the use of activated charcoal in products for hair, skin, even teeth! However, is the use of charcoal another beauty fad, or are there actual health benefits?