24 October 2012

Natural Me: Coconut Oil

The Seattle Times

*update: I ordered some extra virgin organic coconut oil with a $10 off coupon (with purchase of $30 or more) and I want to share the coupon with you! Check out this post or this link to get your coupon! 
I’ve had problem skin since before high school and I’ve actually been recognized in public by my course, wiry, frizzy, curly in some parts but mostly wavy hair.  True story. Maybe it was because I’ve always been cheap, or I was too young to buy a ton of expensive products, but I used to love making homemade masks and hair treatments.  Either because I didn’t see instant results, or I got my first job and could buy gimmicky drugstore brands, I veered away from those natural concoctions.  But the urges are back.  Wait, no, that didn’t sound right.  What I meant was that I want to go back to experimenting with homemade beauty recipes.

 Whether found online, in books, or something I make up on the spot, over the next little while I’ll attempts some homemade recipes for hair care, skin care, remedies for different illnesses.  I feel like committing to these science experiments, is a great way for me, personally to find out what works, but also share the ups and downs with you.  Maybe we’ll learn something, maybe we’ll find something that works, maybe not, but it will be fun.  In addition, I’m interested in trying out natural cleaners, so why not lump all these homemade trials and errors together.  I have to say, I’m looking forward to finding something that REALLY REALLY works for my stuffy nose, my crazy hair, my hormonal skin, my pet ridden house. First off:

Coconut Oil

Now I know that everybody and their mother on the internet uses coconut oil.  So I really just want to add my 2 cents into the pile.  (But then take my 2 cents back, I’m on a tight budget.  See what I did there.)  Several months ago a friend told me about how she’d been using coconut oil as a moisturizing treatment in her hair and for her skin.  Once I tried it for myself, I was sold.  There is lots of info out there about the internal benefits regarding good and bad fats, weight loss and diabetes of coconut oil, but I’d like to focus on the topical.

For the last 8 months or so, I’ve used organic coconut oil as my everyday body and face moisturizer and as an occasional hair mask.  I love it and after several months of using it after every shower,

My verdict:- my hair is crazy soft, BUT it doesn’t really look healthier, just feels healthier afterwards.
- my skin is significantly clearer (I’d estimate 85%)
- a significant reduction in acne scars
- a significant reduction in ingrown hairs on my legs from shaving and DIY sugaring
I’ve also tried using it as a styling product on my hair to separate curls, but it must be used sparingly or it can give a greasy look.  I take a little on my fingertips and just coat the ends of my hair.

Pros:- anti-fungal – this is probably why my skin is clearer and ingrown hairs are reduced
- protects hair from protein loss & is a more effective moisturizer for hair than sunflower & mineral oil
- hides fine lines and is a light weight skin moisturizer

Cons: (The best part about these cons, they aren’t really cons and the benefits certainly out weigh them!)
- it’s solid at room temperature so imagine getting out of the shower on a chilly winter morning using your finger nails to scrape the oil out of jar as you freeze your ass off.  I’ve got a fix for that below.
- it’s liquid in warm temperatures, summer weather is great because as soon as you get out of the shower the oil is ready to go, BUT if you carry some in your purse for lip gloss or hand cream it will liquefy in your bag when not mixed with something else.  I’m still too much of an amateur to be making my own lotions, stay tuned.

A little trick for easy after shower access to coconut oil in cold weather is to whip it.  Whip it good.  With your hand mixer of course.  I put about a 1/2 cup of room temperature oil into a bowl and whip for a few minutes on medium speed.  The oil turns into a light, fluffy consistency which stays pretty pliable in the cold weather.  It will still turn to liquid in the warmer temperatures, however.  Remember, whipping it doesn’t change the oil, just adds air to make it fluffy.  I only do 1/2 cup batches at a time because I have a paranoia about germs when I’m putting my hands in and out of the same jar several times over a few months. 

The best advice I’ve discovered is to buy the organic, virgin coconut oil since it is the least processed and therefore the health benefits are maintained.  Virgin oil is extracted from fresh coconuts, where as refined oil is extracted from dried coconuts.  Many of the beneficial elements of the oil are removed during the high temperature processing of those dried coconuts.  That being said, not everyone can afford to pay big bucks for the good stuff.  When funds are tight I go for the organic, but refined coconut oil normally used for cooking as my topical coconut oil.  It is reasonably priced and I can find it in my local grocery store.  When the cash is flowing, I splurge for the good stuff from the health food store.  It really is different; it smells better, feels nicer, and is more beneficial, but refined coconut oil for your hair and skin is better than none if that’s what your budget allows.

Are YOU crazy about coconut oil? Have YOU seen positive results?  Do YOU have other uses for it? Tell me!

*click on the above purple links to see the sources of the information and read more about it!

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