Chances are if you know me you’ll know that I am a huge, huge fan of coconuts - and particularly, extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil. The myriad of uses and applications from such a quietly unassuming product are such that I will carry a vial with me everywhere I travel - it is a daily staple for me and my number one essential life hack. I’ve managed to replace/substitute it for more than eight different products in my makeup/skincare regime (and counting!) alongside its more traditional use as a consumable.
Not to be confused with coconut water (the clear/cloudy, sweet tasting liquid found inside young green coconuts) or coconut milk/cream (liquids made from the grated white “meat” of coconuts,) cold pressed coconut oil is extracted from coconut meat using an expeller press - a machine which uses friction and continuous pressure in a temperature controlled environment to separate the oil from other liquids/redisue.
So what’s in coconut oil that makes it so good? It’s the high percentage of medium chain fatty acids that are the real powerhouses here - and coconut oil contains about 60% MCT. These are beneficial as a dietary supplement because they are more easily digested and metabolised than long carbon chain triglycerides, and Caprylic and Lauric Acids (C10 and C12) are antiviral, antifungal and boost immunity. MCTs, and Capric Acid (C8) in particular are also great for promoting cognitive function.
But as you will see, coconut oil has a much wider range of uses than just as a dietary supplement... the following list is just a taster of how I incorporate this true “superfood” as a daily staple in many areas of my life.
1. Oil pulling
Coconut oil pulling is an Aryuvedic technique done first thing in the morning upon waking (before eating/drinking) whereby you place approximately 1tsp of extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil in your mouth and swish it around for 10-20 minutes (or longer!) until the oil emulsifies. You then spit the oil out into the toilet or a bin (NOT the sink - it will clog the pipes) and then brush your teeth.
The purported benefits of oil pulling stem mainly from the claim that it draws toxins out of your bloodstream (via the vein under your tongue). When oil pulling with coconut oil, added benefits are claimed from the anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of the caprylic acid content: that it will prevent cavities and help gum health. Other claims are that it helps you lose weight, whitens your teeth, clears your skin and eyes and prevents colds.
When I first started oil pulling I found out two things:
I didn’t have issues with gum/tooth health in the beginning so cannot comment on that - although it would make logical sense given the anti-bacterial properties of caprylic acid - and I have one friend who swears that it wipes out her cold/cough/sore throat symptoms at the very onset.
So I stuck with it. I find that this is where I tend to notice the difference between brands of coconut oil the most: and it is incredibly important to use extra virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil for this - not just for the taste but also for effectiveness. Note: I have tried using sesame and safflower/sunflower oils in place of coconut oil for this and find personally that they do not work in the same way in aiding digestion or tooth whitening.
Bonus tip: Use coconut oil in place of toothpaste/mouthwash for an easy, economical and chemical free way to clean your teeth and freshen your breath. You can also open up a capsule of activated charcoal and mix it with a tablespoon of coconut oil and a drop of peppermint oil for some added texture. This is great option for kids as there are no worries if they accidentally swallow some.
2. Makeup remover
Surprise! Coconut oil is an incredible makeup remover - dissolving away all traces of even the most stubborn waterproof makeup.
Bonus tip: Try using coconut oil in place of lip balm, as a base under matte lipstick, or mix it with some activated charcoal for a DIY mascara.
3. Body wash
Along with makeup remover, use it in the shower as a hydrating face and body wash. Its acid content gently dissolves away the dead cells to leave your skin feeling soft, smooth and fresh, without the abrasive chemicals found in other products.
Bonus tip: Try mixing your leftover coffee grounds with some coconut oil for a DIY coffee scrub - an eco-friendly and affordable way to stimulate your skin and help restore a youthful glow to your skin. The caffeine and catecholamines from the coffee beans and essential oils treat your skin cells to an extra boost which can help reduce the appearance of cellulite and wrinkles. Plus it smells amazing.
Use all over your body (including on your face) to protect and moisturise your skin. Coconut oil is fast absorbing, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic - it will leave your skin soft, supple and hydrated. I was surprised when I first began using it topically on my skin - because my skin is extremely sensitive I am used to most moisturisers feeling greasy, heavy or clammy on my skin. If they don’t, they usually come with a huge price tag and/or scent (whether it is added perfume or dermatological). Coconut oil lets your skin breathe while protecting it - and surprisingly there is very little coconut scent that lingers afterwards. The medium chain fatty acids also help dissolve away dead skin cells which give the added bonus of gentle exfoliation without manual scrubbing (which can stress and damage the skin).
This is an especially good option for people who have oily skin.
Bonus tip: It also doubles up as an excellent massage oil with the added bonus that you won’t have to rinse off afterwards.
5. Healing/disinfecting cuts and calming inflammation
One of the welcome side effects of beginning to use coconut oil on my body as a moisturiser was noticing that it would help calm irritation and inflammation - whether from dehydration, shaving/epilating, or even mild sunburn. It also works surprisingly well to manage keratosis pilaris. I also use coconut oil on cuts to speed up healing and prevent infection.
Bonus tip: Use in place of shaving foam.
6. Cooking oil (high temp)
Coconut oil is safe to use in cooking and baking at high temperatures because as it is made up of medium chain saturated fatty acids, the molecular structure is stable when heated.
Coconut oil is great as a daily sunscreen, but as always take care. It has a low SPF so always take care to use extra precautions if you will be exposed to higher intensity rays. Note that it works better to protect from UV rays if you are also ingesting 1-2Tbsp of coconut oil per day.
Bonus tip: Coconut oil can also double up as a deodorant - but this works best in combination with a Bulletproof diet.
C’mon people. You knew this one was coming. If you haven’t had any raw food desserts yet, then where have you been living for the past three years?? (Obviously not Western Australia.) Coconut oil is a pantry staple for raw cheesecakes and raw chocolates. Some other tips:
- Use as a marinade for barramundi (with chilli, lime and ginger)
Aside from Bulletproof Coffee (where in a pinch coconut oil can be used as an OK substitute for Brain Octane or MCT oil) adding half a teaspoon of straight coconut oil to an espresso or long black lends a delicious tropical flavour, with no blending necessary. Enjoy hot or cold (shaken over ice).
One of the more long-standing traditional uses for coconut oil is to use it as a haircare product, either on wet hair in place of your normal conditioner or on dry hair to tame flyaways - but be careful as a little goes a long way. Rub 1-2 drops onto the tips of your fingers and run them through your dry hair, starting from the bottom up, to seal in split ends and help your hair look shiny and healthy. You can also use a few drops as a scalp treatment for dry scalp/dandruff. For those with very fine hair, coconut oil may be too heavy a product to use - try Moroccan or Argan oil.
Bonus tip: Use coconut oil on your hair and skin before hitting the beach - it will protect from irritation and stop your hair getting tangled easily.
What’s YOUR favourite way to use coconut oil?