The health claims and benefits of coconut oil are being widely touted as a path to greater health. While coconut oil has a lot of good things going for it, the studies linking it to weight loss, cancer prevention, and heart health are in their infancy and conclusions should still be left to your own judgment. That being said, it does not mean coconut oil should be dismissed as another fad.
In fact, coconut oil has a variety of uses that can benefit you and your body. The only true way to know if something works for you is for you to try it and see.
Know This First: Is it Refined or Unrefined
The first question most people need to have is whether to use refined or unrefined coconut oil. Using an ingredient as close to its natural form as possible is always recommended, but many people are put off by the smell of coconut. If you do not appreciate the smell of coconut, then refined coconut oil is the right choice. Refined coconut oil can be used topically while it is suggested to use unrefined oil for both internal and external use. (NOTE: Refined coconut is exposed to high heat that eliminates the smell, but be aware that refining any oil produces trans fats which have its own set of considerations for your health, hence the reason unrefined oil is recommended for consumption.)
Whether refined or unrefined, there are plenty of ways to introduce coconut oil into your daily routine, and some are more surprising than you may think!
Here are 10 surprising uses for coconut oil:
1. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic mouth-cleansing technique that is said to draw toxins from your body to improve oral and overall health. It requires you to take a tablespoon of coconut oil and swish it around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Then spit out the oil and brush your teeth as normal. It is suggested to be done first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, although there are plenty of people that swear by its benefits from an evening practice as well.
2. Natural Deodorant
Use coconut oil in a simple yet effective natural deodorant recipe. Combine one part coconut oil, one part baking soda, and one part arrowroot powder or cornstarch. You can add a few drops of deodorizing essential oils like peppermint or any citrus oil to your liking.
Note: when changing to a natural deodorant your body may take a few days to adjust so be prepared to reapply as needed. Best used immediately following a shower for quicker absorption and make sure to wait a few minutes before dressing.
3. Makeup Remover
A little coconut oil on a cotton ball and you have an instant, nourishing makeup remover that won’t dry or strip the skin of its natural moisture.
4. Facial Moisturizer
Simply rub coconut oil onto clean, warm and damp skin. After a few minutes, take a tissue and wipe any excess oil from the surface. The skin will only absorb what it needs, and the rest will remain on the surface.
Many people fear using oil on their face. Well, our face produces oil to combat dryness and the stripping of oil when we wash our face. Using oil to moisturize reduces the production of oil in our face because it is properly moisturized.
5. Hair Conditioning Mask
Put your bottle of coconut oil in a sink of warm water and when the oil is melted, pour into your hands and apply to dry hair. Add more to the ends of your hair and less at the scalp. Cover your head with a shower cap and let sit for 15 minutes.
Before getting your hair wet, add shampoo to your hair. This is very important to help remove the oil from the surface of your head without leaving an oily mess. Once you work the shampoo through your hair, rinse and shampoo again.
6. Hair-Smoothing Serum
Rub a very small amount of coconut oil in your palms until almost absorbed and then lightly rub through your hair starting at the ends and working your way up. Be careful not to use too much as you want a nice sheen and not an oil slick. Starting at the tips helps put most of the oil where it is needed most.
7. Body Lotion
Coconut oil is light enough to act as a body lotion. It is best used on slightly warm and damp skin following a shower or bath. It will take a few seconds to absorb completely, so wait a few minutes before getting dressed.
A natural toothpaste recipe is as simple as combining one part baking soda to one part coconut oil. Try adding peppermint essential oil one drop at a time until you get to your desired taste.
9. Insect Repellent
Simply add lemongrass essential oil to some coconut oil for a natural, non-toxic insect repellent. Add 25 drops of the essential oil to 1/4 cup coconut oil and slather on the skin to keep the critters away.
10. Shaving Cream
Coconut oil is moisturizing and light enough to be used as a shaving cream. Just keep a bottle in the shower and the heat of the shower will melt it and then spread a small amount on your legs (or wherever you are shaving). Using coconut oil as a shaving cream will leave enough moisture in your skin that you won’t need additional lotion afterward.