It is one of the world’s most powerful superfoods. In fact, science proves that its unique combination of fatty acids can have a profound impact on our health, with a long list of benefits including dramatically lowering cholesterol, aiding digestion, and even improving brain function.
We’re taking about pure, undiluted coconut oil – and once you have a pot in your stock cupboard, you can cook with it, add it to smoothies, use it for baking, and even add it to hot drinks for a health kick.
Emma Stone, Gwyneth Paltrow and Miranda Kerr have all gone loco for coco.
It’s amazing stuff – and its fan base is growing by the day. Health experts sing its praises and celebrities are coming out in their droves to hail the benefits. Miranda Kerr, Emma Stone, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are amongst fans, adding it to their diets, swearing by the benefits to their health and raving about it in interviews.
But it isn’t just our diets that can benefit from a scoop of pure coconut oil. The affordable and easy-to-source oil (available in pretty much any supermarket or health food shop across the UAE) also helps our skin, hair, nails and even teeth. In fact, some beauty aficionados believe it’s the only product we need on our dressing table.
Convinced yet? You might be after reading our essential list of how to use coconut oil in your beauty routine…
‘If my skin is dry, I’ll sleep covered in organic coconut oil,’ model Poppy Delevingne recently revealed. And she isn’t the only one, with queen-of-all-things-natural Kourtney Kardashian also revealing on her blog: ‘I use coconut oil as body lotion every day! It makes my skin so smooth and soft.’
So why does it work better than a regular moisturiser? Nutritionist Kimberly Snyder explains: ‘Commercial moisturisers contain lots of water, which makes you feel like your skin is being moisturised – but as soon as the water dries up, your skin becomes dry again. Many commercial brands of moisturisers also contain petroleum-based ingredients that can suffocate the skin.
‘In contrast, coconut oil provides deep and real moisture. It helps strengthen underlying tissues and helps remove excessive dead cells on the skin’s surface that make your skin rough and flaky in texture.’
Simply scoop it out of the jar and rub it on to body and face in circular motions until it’s absorbed. As an added bonus, it smells amazing too.
2 Make-up remover
When Hollywood starlet Emma Stone shared the secrets of her beauty routine in a recent interview, she revealed: ‘At night, I take off my make-up with coconut oil.’
She isn’t the only one – but why does it work so well? Oil breaks down waxy, inky eye make-up in a matter of seconds. And if you use coconut oil, it’s not only completely natural, it also leaves the delicate skin around the eyes beautifully hydrated (most shop-bought make-up removers often leave the area feeling sapped of moisture).
For best results, pour a few drops of coconut oil on to a cotton bud and swipe gently over your skin and eyes. No need to wash your face afterwards – if there’s any excess oil, massage into the skin for extra moisturising power.
3 Teeth whitener
Yes, really! The practice of ‘oil pulling’ or ‘oil swishing’ dates back 2,500 years and is based on the traditional medicine of Ayurveda. The theory is that swishing the mouth with oil for 20 minutes every day removes plaque and therefore whitens teeth – and advocates of the ritual report that their teeth are a shade whiter after just a couple of uses.
One such believer is Gwyneth Paltrow, who recently said: ‘I just started oil pulling, which is when you swish coconut oil around [in your mouth] for 20 minutes, and it’s supposed to be great for oral health and making your teeth white. It’s really interesting; it’s an ancient, ancient technique.’
4 Cuticle treatment
If you have rough, stubborn cuticles, look no further than coconut oil to soften them before a manicure. After massaging a small amount into each cuticle, you should be able to push them back easily and neatly with a cuticle stick.
And afterwards? Hands can often feel dry following a salon manicure, so keep a small pot of the oil in your handbag to massage into fingers and cuticles when the polish is dry, as it will keep skin supple and hydrated and cuticles neat.
5 Stretch mark preventer
Expecting a baby? No need to invest in expensive lotions and potions to rub on your bump in the hope of warding off stretch marks, as a tub of organic coconut oil is all you need.
Rub it straight on to your bump every morning and evening – and when you get the chance to sink into a relaxing bath, a dollop or two under the warm running tap will add extra suppleness to your skin as your baby grows.
Actor Channing Tatum is a believer in its powers, as his wife religiously applied it to her bump when expecting their first child. In fact, Channing revealed he often helped her out in a bid to bond with the baby bump himself. And the result? No stretch marks. So there you go.
6 Hair serum
What’s the secret behind Blake Lively’s perfect, glossy mane? Coconut oil, of course! She says: ‘When you shampoo your hair, you’re trying to get the oil out of your roots, but you really want the rest of your hair to maintain its moisture. So I apply some coconut oil on the ends or the tips of the hair as well. This way the shampoo removes the oil from the roots, but leaves the ends nourished.’
It’s not a new revelation, with Latin American and Afro American hairstylists having used the oil for years as a conditioner and serum. Coconut oil not only softens the hair and provides impressive gloss, it also moisturises and soothes the scalp. In fact, some believe it’s a better dandruff deterrent than over-the-counter treatments.
To avoid a greasy look, less is more. If you have a tendency for an oily scalp and roots, apply sparingly to the ends to add shine and tame flyaways. Just a dab will do.
7 Shaving cream
When that expensive can of shaving cream runs out, don’t even think about replacing it – your bottle of coconut oil can do the job beautifully. The oil allows the blade to glide across your skin for the closest possible shave – and it has the added benefit of leaving legs silky smooth and richly hydrated when you climb out of the shower, saving you time having to moisturise afterwards.
That’s not all. Coconut oil also has both antifungal and antibacterial properties – making it ideal for those prone to razor burn, nicks, or sore skin after shaving. Men, listen up too – use it in place of those fancy shaving gels.
8 Cheekbone highlighter
‘Ladies, here’s an amazing trick’ shared Kelly Osbourne recently. ‘Use coconut oil to highlight your cheekbones over your make-up. Less is more. A little of it goes a long way!’
It’s a great tip too, as nothing perks up a tired face like a little highlighter. Simply sweep a small amount of organic coconut oil on top of make-up and leave it alone. It looks like your skin but with a little extra glow, which is why many natural make-up brands use it as a base ingredient in their formulas.
9 Body scrub
If you struggle to find natural body scrubs that leave your skin feeling silky smooth, a home-made coconut oil scrub will transform your shower routine.
Mix a handful of coarse sugar or salt with a dollop of coconut oil and work it in circular motions over your body in the shower or bath. The moisturising effect of the oil will last long after the grains have washed away. Twice a week should be enough – or once, if you have sensitive skin.
10 Brush cleaner
Make-up brushes need to be cleaned regularly to keep them performing well (and ward off harmful bacteria), but it can be hard to effectively wash away a build-up of cosmetics without damaging the brushes.
This is where coconut oil comes in. Simply liquefy two tablespoons in the microwave (30 seconds should do it) and swirl the brushes around in it. Once fully coated in oil, blot the brushes on some kitchen paper until they are clean of make-up. Finally, run the brushes under lukewarm water to remove the oil (add a little baby shampoo if it’s taking a while) and allow to dry naturally. Voila! – perfectly clean brushes, with no damage!
Where to buy?
You will find jars of pure, organic coconut oil in the aisles of most supermarkets, health food shops, and organic markets in the UAE, and they don’t cost much. You can also buy online at the following places, with delivery to your door:
Jax Coco Organic Coconut Oil Dh68 for 400ml (Greenheartuae.com)
Down to Earth Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Dh36 for 500ml (Downtoearthorganic.ae)
Lucy Bee Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil Dh80 for 500ml (Ripeme.com)
Organic Larder Virgin Coconut Oil Dh27 for 30ml (Organicfoodsandcafe.com)