There’s always a super food that’s in fashion and one of those currently is Coconut oil.
There are so many people who have never tried this oil and some are unsure about exactly how to use it. I’ve grown up around this oil and it’s numerous uses, so I want to give you my main ways to use it, as many of my clients ask me about it.
As a young child my grandmother used to lovingly massage coconut oil into my hair and scalp sending me off into a luxuriously relaxing sleep. As an adult I still use coconut oil as a conditioning hair mask at least once a month (though it comes with my loving grandmother’s hands these days). I warm a small amount of oil in a bowl, massage it into my hair and scalp and then leave the oil in for as long as I can, which can be at least 6-8 hours and then shampoo it out. To remove always add neat shampoo to the hair and scalp before adding even a drop of water then once the neat shampoo is massaged in you can slowly add water and foam up. It usually requires at least a 2nd shampoo for me followed by conditioner. My hair always looks healthier and shinier after the coconut oil.
The coconut oil can also be sparingly used on dry hair to tame dry or frizzy bits. Just don’t use hair straighteners on top of the oil as you’ll be pretty much cooking your hair then – and if you’ve died your hair be warned that coconut oil can strip the colour out – I learned that the hard way! Though this could be a good option if you want to remove a dye from your hair.
Coconut oil makes a brilliant body and face moisturiser. It’s great for dry skin and particularly for the pigmentation that affects many darker skins. A little goes a long way so you’ll find that you don’t need quite as much as you think. Many commercial natural products contain coconut oil bases in their richer creams.
It’s perfect for pregnancy too, deeply moisturising and helping keep those stretch marks at bay. Also good for perineal massage. I use coconut oil quite often as part of the pregnancy massages I offer clients.
I use coconut oil in the massages I gave my niece and nephew from birth to now (they’re 5 and 3). It’s a perfect and easy way to moisturise children’s skin and also doubles up as a natural and safe lip balm.
I make many of my own skincare products and use coconut oil in the base for those too.
This study on the SPF values of various oils found that coconut oil has an approximate SPF of 8, however I would not advise using this on it’s own as your SPF whilst sitting in the sun as this SPF 8 is only from one study. If you don’t want to buy one of the commercial mainstream sun creams then there are a number of the natural companies who produce excellent sun screens, and also using sensible common sense practice in the sun is also advised.
There’s been a lot in the press about cooking with coconut oil due to it’s higher smoke point so it’s safer to cook with than say olive oil. This is in part true. The refined coconut oil does have a mid to high smoke point, but the unrefined oil actually has a lower smoke point than olive oil, which makes it undesirable for cooking. Therefore if I’m going to heat my coconut oil for shallow frying etc, I use a refined coconut oil. If I’m using the coconut oil cold in say a salad dressing or in a smoothie then I would use the unrefined oil. To be honest, if I’m frying or cooking I prefer to use ghee which has a far higher smoke point, and I use coconut for cold cooking instead.
Over the last few years a lot of research has been done into saturated fats, and it’s been discovered that not all saturated fats are actually bad for us. This is a bit of a reverse on what we’ve all been told over the years. Coconut oil contains the saturated fat as medium chain triglycerides which are thought to be beneficial to the health.
4) Oil Pulling
This is gargling with oil, and is an Ayurvedic treatment that has been used for centuries.
It involves taking about 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil into your mouth as soon as you wake up (no water or brushing first), and then swilling this oil around your teeth and mouth for 5 – 20 minutes. I start this first and then get on with everything else – bathroom, dressing etc. Then spit out the oil into a container (never down the drain as it will solidify and block the drain) – never swallow it. Then brush your teeth as normal.
For anyone new to this I would advise starting with 5 minutes and building up to 20 minutes. Some people do this for up to half an hour every morning.
In Ayurvedic terms it is believed to ‘pull’ out the toxins and improve oral health – thus aiding teeth and reducing bad breath. There is no research that fully backs this, but many people who do this daily have reported to have reduced dental issue and less dry mouth.