Who knew that the humble coconut oil could have so many benefits?
I was researching coconut oil’s benefits on dry, chemically processed hair, such as mine. I’d used it before and I wanted to know if my mother’s claims of how it makes hair healthier are true. They are! Coconut oil, due to its composition, is the only oil that can actually penetrate the hair shaft and prevent protein loss. However, that’s not all there is to it.
Reading on, I found that some actually use it to moisturize their face and bodies. Many sang praises–coconut oil helped them keep their acne and even their eczema under control, and it kept their skin moisturized. Just as many dissuaded others from using coconut oil though, claiming, from personal experience, how it made them break out terribly. As one with oily skin and a history of acne I do not care to go back to, these stories scared me.
However, several points got me sold on checking out coconut oil.
- It’s inexpensive. To be honest, I really wanted coconut oil to work for me because I would save a lot. I wouldn’t have to buy hair treatment, facial moisturizer, acne treatment, lotion, and eye cream anymore because they would all be in one P150-something (about $3.50) bottle. This is not to mention that packing for traveling would also be a lot easier!
- It’s all natural. Unlike the hundreds of moisturizers sold in the market, it contains only one ingredient. No preservatives and whatnot, just the goodness of nature.
- It’s really just like any product out there. What works for others may not work for you, but the reverse is no less true. As with any other product you put on your face, there is always a chance you will break out, or that it won’t work.
So yeah, there’s really no reason not to try it, right?
I bought a 250 mL bottle at the supermarket and proceeded to apply it all over my body. I’ve been using it for a couple of months now, and because a little goes a long way, there’s still a lot of oil left in the bottle. Here’s what I have found so far:
For the hair
Application: Ah, my original purpose for trying coconut oil. Once a week, I massage half a tablespoon of oil on my scalp and another half down the length of my hair, which reaches the middle of my back. I then put it up in a bun, do what I have to do for the day, wash it twice with SLES-free shampoo about five hours later, and then apply a silicone-free conditioner*. The conditioner I use also contains coconut oil. It’s just an extra step because I feel my hair needs all the moisture it can get as it has undergone straightening for at least five times already. Most of the time, and especially after hot ironing, I rub a tiny–yes, tiny, less than half a drop, because more makes hair greasy!–amount on the ends and the frizzies on the top of my head.
Results: My hair still isn’t as bouncy, shiny, and beautiful as I want it to be. It can get a little stiff, but I think this is due to bad rebonding more than anything. However, my hair is shinier, less frizzy, and stronger than it used to be. This is the result of a combination of coconut oil and hair products that use all-natural ingredients.
For the face, eyes, neck, and décolletage
Application: As with other moisturizers, I cleanse and tone before applying oil. I use about a drop for my face and eyes and another drop for the neck and décolletage. I gently massage the oil around my eyes and even rub some on my eyelashes and their roots. If I find that I’ve applied too much, I just blot my face and neck with tissue. If I have to apply makeup, I forgo oil and use sunscreen instead. With either product, I allow five to ten minutes for absorption before applying anything else.
Results: Hurray, because my face didn’t develop horrible cystic acne all over like others warned! As a matter of fact, I rarely break out anymore. I also rarely break out with my previous acne treatment, PanOxyl 2.5%, but there is one significant difference–when I do break out, the pimples are tiny unlike before. But I would like to note that recently, a lot of micropimples sprouted on my forehead. It’s annoying, but nothing alarming. I hope this is not due to coconut oil.
Coconut oil literature claims that it can prevent premature aging, but I can’t attest to that yet. However, some research states it has been shown to be able to repair connective tissue, so there may be truth to that anti-aging claim. However, keep in mind that aging, like cancer, is a result of different factors. It is still important to use a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 on exposed skin to prevent UV rays from damaging skin and causing premature wrinkles and age spots.
As for the moisturizing part, well, my face never feels dry because I have oily skin. But coconut oil doesn’t make me oilier. Remember that systems strive for equilibrium. The skin only produces too much oil when you use an overly drying product because it compensates for what has been lost. I use facial foams, which are known to be drying, but I apply oil afterwards, so my skin doesn’t feel the need to spew out sebum.
Here’s something I did not expect: my eyelashes grew longer. My lashes are too short to be noticeable, but one day, lo and behold, I actually noticed them. Applying mascara proved to me that my lashes have definitely grown. They were just, boom, longer.
For the body
Application: I use it just as I would a regular lotion (i.e., apply all over the body), except I use less.
Results: Coconut oil definitely saved my skin from dryness. Lotions, which are water-based, only temporarily relieve dryness. With coconut oil, however, my skin is constantly soft and smooth. Furthermore, it is the only product to have improved my keratosis pilaris and softened my calluses. It doesn’t improve my eczema, though; I still need steroid ointments for that.
A bonus of using coconut oil as a substitute for lotion is that your skin always looks dewy and healthy.
As a deodorant
Application: After a shower, I massage half a teaspoon of oil into each of my pits. I reapply after 12 hours.
Results: It’s May, summer season in the Philippines. Temperatures can go beyond 38°C, and you’d hear nothing but complaints about how hot it is here. Even sitting in front of an electric fan makes me sweat, and I’m not a sweaty person. However, my underarms are as dry as can be. Not a drop of sweat. No smell, either, because of coconut oil’s antibacterial properties–body odor is a product of the interaction of sweat and bacteria. I’m amazed myself. Besides this, they’re softer and smoother than before.
For a day of walking under the sun or sporty activities, though, I’d still rely on good old Dove deodorant/antiperspirant because coconut oil is merely a deodorant–it won’t prevent that dreaded baskil (basang kili-kili = sweaty armpits).
Application: I massage enough coconut oil on my legs to give them slip (but not to make them slippery), and I proceed to shave.
Results: Shaving with oil gave me model legs; you know, shiny, sexy-looking shins that Victoria’s Secret angels flaunt. This is probably because I used more oil than usual. However, shaving in the shower gives smoother results, so I discontinued the oil method.
These are all the uses I have for coconut oil. I easily get bored with the same products and usually switch once a month, but surprisingly, I still want to keep using coconut oil. I certainly hope my disposition does not change, because I never want to slather artificial gunk on my skin again.
I’m sorry I could not cite my references here because I read so many articles on the internet that all the information got mixed up, and now I cannot say which idea I got from which site. Should you want to do your own research, you could just Google “benefits of coconut oil” like I did.
*Do your research about the importance of using sulfate-free shampoos and silicone-free conditioners!