Coconut Oil: Our Skin's Best Friend
When I used to struggle with acne, I was a self-professed beauty product junkie. Because I was so desperate to find a skincare regimen that healed my face, I often spent more money than I could afford on outrageously priced, “high quality” products. In retrospect, what I was really spending my money on was highly irritating chemical concoctions. The only quality features of these products were the branding and packaging! I remember spending $85 on an “all natural” fruit enzyme scrub because I read how great it was for gently exfoliating the skin. Gentle was the key purchasing factor for me, and the scrub was far from it. After about 30 seconds of light scrubbing action, my poor face was burning and beet red, screaming “whyyyyyy?!” Of course, the package assured me that the “slight tingling sensation” meant the product was doing its job. So what did I do? I kept using it (currently shaking head). If my skin could talk, it would’ve said, “How dumb.”
Maybe I couldn’t help it. After all, I was all hopped up on chemicals and desperately seeking my next beauty fix. Not just for my pimples, but for eczema, brittle hair, the ridges in my nails, acne scars. Face scrubs were the gateway drug, and protein-infused nail polish was my rock bottom.
Don’t worry. I eventually checked myself into beauty product rehab, and I’ve learned a lot through my recovery.
Nowadays, I know better. Not because I’m all of a sudden so smart, but because I’ve tried everything. Seriously. Through trial and error, as well as thousands of dollars and a few chemical burns later, I have come to realize that... wait for it. Less. Is. More. There you have it fellow beauty product junkies. The best way to treat your skin, hair, and nails is with simple, naturally-derived elements. No more chemicals. Get rid of ‘em!
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to wash your face under a waterfall garbed in a gauzy earth-toned dress with a sprig of lavender in your hair. (Though, I must confess, that sounds lovely.) There are plenty of all natural beauty treatments that are super simple, inexpensive, and, of course, effective. But there is one very special component of my beauty regimen that I refuse to ever live without. It’s my tested, approved, and can’t-live-without product. Meet my very best beauty friend, Coconut Oil.
To name just a few players in my beauty regimen lineup, coconut oil can be used to remove makeup and cleanse the skin, as a face and body moisturizer, in my Sugar Glow Body Scrub (recipe below), and as a deep moisturizing hair treatment.
It’s best to look for organic, unrefined, cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil. Nutiva is a great brand and can be found at most health food stores and online. It is solid and white at room temperature, yet melts into a clear liquid at 76 degrees Fahrenheit. It does not need to be refrigerated and has a shelf life of a couple years. When purchasing, don’t worry about those little brown specks. They are just natural coconut fibers.
How to Use
For removing makeup/cleansing the skin:
- Take a clean washcloth, and start running it under very warm water.
- Next, take a teaspoon of coconut oil and rub together briskly between your hands, coating your fingers and palms. Gently rub the oil all over your face in a circular motion, including your eyes to remove any eye makeup (contact wearers: make sure you pop those babies out beforehand).
- At this point, your makeup will be a smeary mess, so make sure you lock the door so that your lover, roommate, and/or child doesn’t walk in and judge you.
- Now, take your warm washcloth, tilt your head back, and gently place the cloth over your face to allow the steamy magic to break down that cosmetic-laced oil slick.
- Gently wipe everything off your face. Though your skin truly is clean now, you might have a fear of leaving an oily residue on your face, especially if you deal with breakouts. Personally, I no longer fear oil, even though I have acne-prone skin. I just splash my face with some clean water, tone, and moisturize. Badabing, badaboom. My skin is much happier now that my nighttime regimen has been reduced to minutes.
As a facial moisturizer, the hardest part of this process is getting over the fear of putting oil on your face. Coconut oil will not cause acne. It’s true!
The amazing thing about coconut oil is its high lauric acid content, which is a proven effective acne treatment. It also contains antimicrobial and antibacterial factors that help treat and prevent skin infections. Don’t be fooled by the anti-oil hype when it comes to proper skincare. Beauty product manufacturers want to make big bucks on their chemical cocktails, so we’ve been led to believe that oil is the cause of all our skin disturbances, especially acne.
Try mixing coconut oil (about 1/4 teaspoon) with your night time face cream for an extra boost of moisture. If you have oily skin, you can use it on its own. Beware that, upon application, your face will look and feel quite greasy, but the oil will soak in quickly. By morning, your skin will be soft and dewy.
For a body lotion, coconut oil can be used all by itself in the morning after a shower. Just make sure you don’t get dressed right away. Give it some time to soak in and work its magic. I like to keep a small mason jar full of coconut oil in my bathroom. If you really want to be an overachiever, use a dry brush to slough off all those dead skin cells before your shower - every day. Once you get into the habit, your skin will really start to glow with gratitude.
Sugar Glow Body Scrub
For some extra exfoliating action, try using coconut oil in my simple Sugar Glow Body Scrub. After using this for the first time, I swore I would never purchase a scrub from a store again. And I never have since. The results will make you think you just left the spa, but with more money in your pocket and a nice pat on your smooth back. The scrub costs just a few bucks to make. It can be stored in a mason jar and used a couple times a week.
*Makes about 16 ounces
What you need:
1 cup organic, unrefined, cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil
1 cup sugar, any kind you like, depending on how coarse you prefer your scrub. Turbinado sugar is quite coarse, while brown sugar is finely granulated. I prefer a mix of both for an invigorating tactile experience.
Optional: a few drops of your favorite essential oil(s) to make things a little spicy, sweet, pungent, cooling, calming, energizing, relaxing - whatever!
How to Make:
Mix the ingredients together with a spoon, or your hands, until evenly incorporated. Add more sugar if you prefer a drier consistency. Store in an airtight glass container. Keep it in your shower as a reminder to get your scrub on once a week.
How to Use:
Some may think this is a no-brainer, but there are a few tips to consider to get the most out of your scrub and, most importantly, the most dry patches and flakes off your skin.
- Get into the shower, and let the steam open your pores and allow your skin to expel some of your body’s toxins.
- After about 5 minutes, turn off the shower, but don’t get out. Very lightly pat some of the water off your skin. Don’t completely dry yourself off; just ensure your skin isn’t dripping.
- Take a nice scoop of the scrub (about a palmful), and start lightly buffing your skin in a circular motion. I like to start with the tops of my feet and work my way up to my chest and shoulders. Please don’t apply the scrub to the bottom of your feet! You do not want to be found unconscious and naked in your tub with a busted tooth. If you want to have smooth, soft soles, wait until you’re out of the shower and on the safety of your bathroom rug.
- Once your body has been completely rubbed down and exfoliated, rinse with lukewarm water, pat your skin dry with a towel, and you’re done! You don’t need to moisturize, because the scrub will leave behind a light coating of coconut oil. Your skin will feel incredibly soft and will have a glowy sheen. Go show off those legs, Sexy! If you’re not that flashy, revel in that moment when you slip into those flannel PJs. They will never feel softer than on your freshly polished bod. However you decide to celebrate this moment of superior exfoliation, you’ll feel incredibly pampered and will experience noticeably smoother skin.
As a moisturizing hair treatment, take about a spoonful of coconut oil, more or less depending on the length and texture of your hair. Starting with the ends, massage the oil into your hair, including your scalp. Next, twist your hair into a bun and secure with a tie or pins. I prefer to keep the oil in my hair overnight. I just place a towel over my pillow to keep it off my sheets. If the idea of sleeping with oil-slicked strands makes your cringe, wait 30-60 minutes, then wash it out with a sulphate-free shampoo. On extra cold, dry days, try rubbing a dime-sized dollop of coconut oil onto your ends to keep your flyaways in check. Be the boss of your hair!
See for Yourself
It’s important to remember that the key to outward beauty is internal balance, which can be achieved through a diet rich in health-promoting, alkalinizing foods, such as leafy greens, fresh fruits and vegetables, and limiting acid-forming, highly processed foods. However, it’s also crucial to take care of our skin and hair with a simple, nondestructive regimen. Just like the food we eat for optimal health, the beauty products we use should also be derived from nature.
Now that I am far out of my chemically-induced beauty product haze, I can see clearly that coconut oil is my best skincare discovery. Try it and see for yourself. I am confident you will experience its beauty benefits too.
Wolfe, D. (2009). Superfoods. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.