It was recently given a ringing endorsement by one of the most beautiful women in the world. So it comes as no surprise that coconut oil – favourite of Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr (along with Madonna and Demi Moore) – is the latest must-have beauty product. Even cosmetic companies like Clinique (their Pore Refining Solutions Instant Perfector and Correcting Serum have been infused with coconut acid) are promoting its benefits. And for good reason: coconut oil is antibacterial and antifungal, it’s an excellent moisturiser, it can penetrate hair better than other oils and, well, it smells like cookies.
However, you don’t need to consume coconut oil to reap the beauty benefits. Here are 50 topical skincare, bodycare and haircare uses for it in your very own home. All you need is virgin coconut oil (preferably organic) and you are all set to glow!
1. Deep conditioner: When my locks feel more like straw than silk, I massage a few tablespoons of coconut oil into my hair and leave it overnight. Can’t do overnight? Massage in the oil and wrap your head in a warm towel for a couple of hours. Then shampoo and feel your hair turn silky smooth. How? Coconut oil rebalances hair proteins and its small molecular structure penetrates the hair shaft to moisturise and protect against environmental damage.
2. Intense deep conditioning: For an even more intense hair mask, remove the rind from half an avocado and put the fleshy part in a bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of coconut oil and blend with a fork to create a creamy paste. Massage into damp, towel dried hair and use a wide-tooth comb to distribute evenly. Leave 20 minutes, then rinse out and shampoo as usual.
3. Hair strengthening mask: Coconut oil has a rich texture that does not require the addition of harsh chemicals to boost its beauty potential. Simply warm 3 tablespoons of coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat; set aside and let it cool. Beat a raw egg and the lukewarm coconut oil together, then apply the mixture to your hair. Put a plastic bag or plastic wrap around your hair for one hour, then wash hair with shampoo and rinse thoroughly. This is excellent for treating split ends and prevent hair from breaking.
4. Frizzy or lacklustre hair: Take a tiny (smaller than pea-sized) drop of coconut oil and rub it between your palms. If you have curly hair, run your fingers through it and scrunch. If you have straight hair, just smooth over the top of your strands gently.
5. Dandruff: Because of its effective antibacterial and antifungal properties, coconut oil is excellent for banishing scalp problems. It also soaks into the scalp, moisturising dry skin and relieving symptoms of dandruff. Simply massage it into your scalp for 5 minutes. Let it sit for as long as you can and then shampoo thoroughly.
6. Premature greying: Take a bunch of curry leaves and grind them with a little water to make a paste. Add this paste to two cups of coconut oil and heat the mixture till all the moisture evaporates. After it cools, store in a bottle. Massage hair with it 2-3 times a fortnight, leaving it overnight for added potency.
7. Got gum in your hair? Slather with coconut oil, let it soak for a couple of hours and the sticky stuff will slide right out.
Coconut oil for the body
8. Body wash: Take 2 cups liquid castile soap (or any unscented body wash), 1 cup rose water, 4 tablespoons coconut oil and 20-30 drops lavender essential oil. Pour all the ingredients into a bottle and shake until everything is mixed well. Shake before every application and use as a body soap.
10. Body scrub: This is my go-to recipe for leg or back-baring days. To make this scrub, you will need 50g coconut oil, 10ml macadamia oil, 10 drops orange essential oil, 10 drops lemon essential oil and 60g unrefined brown sugar. Put the coconut oil in a bowl and add the macadamia oil; stir until soft and fluffy. Add essential oils and stir. Add brown sugar gradually; stir. Pour into an airtight jar and store in the fridge. To use, massage into damp skin while in the shower, paying special attention to knees and elbows. Rinse off the scrub and you will be left with a light layer of coconut oil, which shall keep skin soft and supple.
11. Honey Lemon Sugar Scrub: Mix together 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of salt in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 tablespoon honey; mix well. Use 1-2 times a week for amazingly smooth skin!
12. Deep moisturiser: Parched, flaky skin? Stir together equal parts coconut oil and olive oil. Add a few drops of rose or frankincense essential oil and you will have a concoction that no store-bought lotion could ever rival!
13. It gets better: Slather the (above) concoction all over your body and drape yourself with warm bath towels. Stay that way until the towels have cooled. What do you have right there? A VERY luxurious full body moisturising mask.
14. Body moisturiser: Rich in fatty acids, coconut oil makes a superb moisturiser. Just pull it straight out of the jar (I decant it into a pretty bottle just for an added feel-good element) and smooth all over your body while skin is still wet after a shower. Poof… you are a soft skinned goddess!
15. Shaving cream: Use coconut oil instead of shaving cream – it will help smooth hair follicles for a closer, smoother shave.
16. After-shave lotion: Coconut oil will help heal your skin after shaving and is especially great for razor burn!
17. Home wax: Use the oil to help prep your skin before and use it to remove wax from the skin afterwards.
18. Cellulite Cream: Mix together 1 cup of coconut oil, 1 cup of jojoba oil, 20 drops of cypress essential oil, 20 drops of juniper essential oil and 10 drops of lavender essential oil. Massage into the affected areas of the body and leave overnight.
19. After-sun body lotion: Take 1 cup cocoa butter, 1/2 cup coconut oil and 4 teaspoons sweet almond oil. Place all ingredients in a double boiler over medium heat until the butter is melted. Pour into a jar and allow to cool. Massage a small amount over body immediately after sun exposure to soothe sun parched skin.
20. Muscle Soother: Take 4 teaspoons Shea butter, 3 tablespoons coconut oil, 2 tablespoons jojoba oil, 6 drops peppermint essential oil, 6 drops eucalyptus essential oil, 4 drops of lavender essential oil and 1 teaspoon beeswax pellets. Melt the Shea butter, coconut oil and jojoba oil, then add the essential oils and pour into an airtight container.
21. Cuts and scrapes: Coconut oil forms a thin antiseptic and antibacterial layer that protects the wound from dust and germs. Plus, it speeds up the healing process by increasing cellular turnover and stimulating collagen. So, slather a bit of coconut oil on a scratch, scrape or small cut and your wound may heal faster and resist infections,. As a bonus, it also helps reduce the chances of scarring.
22. Warts: Take 1/4 cup coconut oil, 10 drops of lemon essential oil, 10 drops of tea tree essential oil and 2 drops of thyme essential oil. Mix the oils together and apply four times daily to the affected area. Do not wash area for at least 30 minutes after application.
23. Moles: When coconut oil is applied after an apple cider vinegar compress for a few weeks, moles have been known to “slide off” or just disappear.
24. Relaxing night balm: Place a cup of coconut oil in warm water until it softens. Mix in one cup of almond oil and 2-3 drops of rose essential oil. Store in an airtight container, using it as a full-body balm for when you are achy all over. Happy nights are ahead!
25. Illuminator: Massage coconut oil into your whole body to add a gorgeous glow to your skin. To enhance the glow, add some sparkling mica to your oil mix.
Coconut oil for hands & feet
26. Foot treatment: Dry, cracked feet? Rub some coconut oil and go over the flaky areas with a pumice stone. For an intense treatment, slather on the oil, put an old pair of socks and leave overnight.
27. Fungal infections: Coconut oil is rich in caprylic acid, which is a potent antifungal agent that’s superb for treating athlete’s foot, Candida and other fungal conditions. Rub the oil into your feet, concentrating on the affected areas (you can add some tea tree oil for extra benefit). Put on socks so you don’t slide around the room. Repeat 2-3 a day until the problem is gone.
29. Tired feet: Pop your feet into a warm footbath laced with three tablespoons of coconut oil and half a cup of mixed spice. The lauric acid in coconut oil will help bring balance to your hard working feet.
30. Dark patches: Mix the juice of one lemon with a teaspoon of coconut oil and rub into dry and dark elbows and knees to help with spots.
31. Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fatty acid esters that absorb quickly and efficiently and help transport nutrients to the cells. Massage it into nails and cuticles to help strengthen them or rub into fingertips to soothe and prevent hangnails.
32. Hand cream: In a double boiler, melt together 10 tablespoons coconut oil, 3 tablespoons cold pressed sweet almond oil and 4 tablespoons grated beeswax. Remove pot from the burner and stir in 5 drops of lemon essential oil. After cooling, massage it into your hands to hydrate and banish dark spots. I put some into an empty lip balm or mini-mints tin and pop it into the purse for easy access.
33. Face mask: I am not all that keen on using coconut oil on your face, with one caveat: if you have dry, flaky skin that has no issues with pimples, this may be your ticket to softness. Take 1 egg, 1/2 cup coconut oil and 1 tablespoon honey. Beat the egg in a small bowl until frothy. Slowly add the coconut oil and honey, beating until your mask is the consistency of mayonnaise. Place in the freezer overnight. To use, cut out a small piece and smooth over your face; pop the rest back in the refrigerator. Leave on for 5 to 10 minutes, then rinse off with warm water. I use this one to counter sunburns and take away the pain.
34. Another face mask: Honey and coconut oil? Sounds messy but combine equal parts of both and slather onto your face for 10 minutes. It works wonders on dry skin, especially in winter!
36. Lip balm: Simply slather plain coconut oil on your lips for the ultimate in hydration. Again, I use a small mini-mints container and fill it with coconut oil to carry around. It’s solid at room temperature and melts with the body heat while applying.
37. Lip gloss: Plain coconut oil makes for a superb lip gloss as well – VERY shiny!
38. Makeup remover: Cleanse away the dirt and pollution by massaging coconut oil into your skin. The makeup – including waterproof mascara – just melts away, while the oil’s anti-bacterial and anti-microbial elements protect and enhance the skin’s natural flora.
39. Eczema: The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of organic virgin coconut oil make it an excellent soother for eczema sufferers. Just apply it lightly on the affected area 3-4 times a day.
40. Colds: Rub a little coconut oil on the inside of your nose to help with runny noses, allergies and sore nostrils.
41. Acne: Mix some coconut oil with nutmeg and leave on your blemish for 10-15 minutes, then wash off.
42. After-sun soother: Forgot the sunscreen? Soothe your skin with a liberal application of aloe vera gel to which a few teaspoons of coconut oil is added. It’s high in antioxidants, prevents destructive free-radical activity (the primary cause of aging), and lessens skin spots caused by over-exposure to sunlight.
43. Cold sores: Coconut oil possesses an unusually high percentage of lauric acid (more than 50%), which is anti-viral (known to help treat cold sores, herpes, boils, acne and warts). Mix 2 tablespoons with 5 drops of oil of oregano and use at the first sight of a cold sore.
44. Eyelashes: Brush on to eyelashes to boost their growth and pigmentation.
45. Age spots: Applying coconut oil directly to the age spot will help it fade by preventing free-radical formation.
46. Highlighter: Simply sweep a small amount of coconut oil on top of makeup. It looks like your skin but glowier, which is why many natural makeup brands use it as a base ingredient in their formulas.
Coconut oil for wellness
47. Hot flashes: Coconut oil cools hot flashes and night sweats when you put a heavy coating on your scalp, hair (towel over pillow) and feet before bed. Wash it out in the morning.
48. PMS blend: Take 1/2 cup coconut oil, 15 drops lavender essential oil, 5 drops chamomile essential oil and 3 drops cypress essential oil. Mix everything together and store in a bottle or jar. Apply to abdomen for relieving menstrual cramps.
49. Insect repellent: Take 1 cup coconut oil, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 20 drops of patchouli, citronella or eucalyptus essential oil. Mix all the ingredients together and store in a jar. Apply liberally all over body.
50. Mood lifter: To make a superbly indulgent mood-lifting massage oil, melt one cup of coconut oil on low heat and add a handful of basil or lavender. Simmer for 30 minutes on very low heat – do not allow to boil; stir frequently. Strain and pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator. Heat it up a little and use it in place of massage oil to instantly bust the blues!