While the debate over whether or not coconut oil is ideal to consume due to its high percentage of saturated fats (those also found in eggs, cheese, and red meat), there is no questioning its place in our beauty arsenal. Coconut oil is one of nature’s best moisturizers–rich in emollients and restorative while fighting free radicals. The top three best ways to use this naturally delicious smelling product:
Remedy for parched and overprocessed hair. A go-to for super soft strands and a healthy head of hair. Coconut oil penetrates hair with its relatively small molecular structure and provides essential proteins that nourish and repair hair. A water-based conditioner will only mask the damage rather than repair. The instant shine is the biggest perk, but this one is sustainable since the coconut oil retains moisture, leaving locks quenched long after treatment.
Soothes a dry or irritated scalp. As the cooler months kick in, so does the dry skin–and it’s not just our legs and arms that suffer. Using the coconut oil as a pre-wash conditioning treatment can banish flakes (and even dandruff) because it contains lauric acid, an antimicrobial agent, and leaves our ‘do smelling like the beach rather than a medicine cabinet.
Fights aging and moisturizes skin. Coconut oil helps fight free radicals because it’s high in antioxidants, which reduce and prevent aging. While most body moisturizers are predominantly water and lack any antioxidants, coconut oil is packed with protective antioxidants, which softens skin, prevents damage and promotes healing. The best part is it absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave a greasy residue.
Bonus: Moms, coconut oil has been used in India for years to ward off lice. Keep that in mind as the little ones head back to school!
Here, a simple at-home coconut oil hair mask to perk up your locks and make you a coconut oil-convert, whether you’re a fan of using this oil in the kitchen or not:
Brush hair first to get any kinks or knots. Apply a generous amount of coconut oil (I buy mine from Whole Foods, their 365 brand is divine!) to dry hair and comb through.
Wrap hair up in a towel and heat with a hair-dryer until warm. Then sit back and relax for an hour. I also like using a plastic shower cap to lock in some heat, and leaving the mask on for 1-2 hours.
If your hair is in need of some long term TLC, go ahead and sleep with the treatment in. Just remember to put down a towel as not to ruin your linens.
Rinse, wash, and follow with your favorite conditioning rinse. Do this once a week, and your hair will thank you.
By Kat Feldhouse, Writer in New York City and lover of all things beauty.