There has been a lot of praise for the health and beauty benefits of Coconut oil in the media, as well as in the blogosphere. It's soaring popularity has made it a hot buzz item, as well as a hot profit item, but is it really as good as everyone says? I'm going to breakdown the benefits and flaws to this "dream product" specifically focusing on extra virgin, organic, unrefined coconut oil.
A natural moisturizer with no harmful additives, perfumes, or preservatives and it also smells amazing. It has deep penetrating powers to get down into your skin for a soft feel and healthy glow. If you aren't a fan of the artificial coconut scent you are not alone, I hate it. Natural coconut oil has a more subtle, clean smell and when the oil melts into your skin it will leave a gentle fragrance. People even swear by this product as a facial moisturizer, but be wary because it is a 4 on the 0-5 comedogenic scale and it is likely to block your pores. People with acne should be cautious because while some people say it cured their acne, just as many people say it made them break out.
This is a great oil for the now popular Korean face care routine, specifically it's double cleansing. You use an oil based cleanser to get all of your makeup off before using a water based cleanser to balance out your complexion and leave you feeling incredibly clean. You could spend a large amount of money on fancy double cleansers, but a jar of coconut oil is much more economic and functional. Even if you have oily or acne prone skin this can work for you. Coconut oil has natural antibacterial, anti inflammatory, and antifungal properties that make it an even better cleanser for people fighting acne. Just make sure you use a gentle water based cleanser to get all the residue off.
You don't need to waste money on makeup removers when classic kitchen ingredients will serve you better. Coconut, olive, or grape seed oil are gentle enough to wash your makeup off without burning so it's perfect for sensitive skin. The oil breaks down the waxy makeup to remove every possible trace. It really gets everything off, and hydrates your skin in the process. Just use a cotton ball or pad and wipe off all of your makeup, even the toughest waterproof.
Again, it's a waste of money buying shaving cream when coconut oil is a much more cost efficient alternative. There is no need for a chemical filled expensive shaving cream when you could use the more natural hydrating and healthy coconut oil. You accidentally cut yourself shaving? Coconut oil will work as a natural anti-bacterial layer and protect you from harm. (How does this work? Explain process of shaving with oil --- people used to shaving cream might not know)
There are benefits and drawbacks to using Coconut oil as a personal lubricant. Coconut oil is… an oil! It will mess up the latex in condoms and if it rips, oops might not begin to cover it. Water and silicon based lubricants won't degrade latex the same way. It's texture, and the fact that it will last longer than alternatives means that you could be more prone to infections. Still, if you're going condom free or using a latex free alternative then consider coconut oil. Especially for women who suffer from dryness due to age or medical conditions, coconut oil will help lubricate and will also help moisturize.
To make a moisturizing and exfoliating body scrub, just mix coconut oil with sugar. You can use it to scrub off dead skin while simultaneously hydrating your skin. Use it in the shower and you will walk out as soft and supple as a newborn baby. For an added benefit add in a drop or two of your favorite essential oil, or even some coffee for a pick me up and extra exfoliation.
Coconut oil can penetrate the hair follicles better than other ingredients and leave you with long lasting sleek healthy hair. It can repair damage and dryness because of its powerful moisturizing power. It can also be used on dry hair to manage split ends, tame frizz, and provide some shine.
A Misleading Nutritional History
Recently coconut oil has become a sort of 'superfood'. People begin to hear about healthy properties of a certain food and it achieves a cult status. The foods come and go, but the fads keep on coming. The problem with these fads is that, they are usually just sound bites that may sound catchy but are not accurate. This is a real problem and it doesn't show any sign of stopping soon. So, let's break down whether or not coconut oil is actually "good" for you with the help of Harvard Medical School.
Weight Loss is a lot of people's goal. They want to skip out foods they have been programmed to associate with fat, like butter. For some reason there is a mindset that coconut oil is derived from coconuts and therefore much healthier. When in fact, coconut oil has a higher fat percentage than butter. That said, you shouldn't substitute one saturated fat for another and expect different results.
It's claimed that coconut oil can help reduce the chance of heart disease, but the evidence for that is lacking. In the study, "Coconut Oil Consumption and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Humans" they recorded findings which observed the oil's relationship to cholesterol levels. Coconut oil is a saturated fat and it raises individual's total cholesterol levels as well as their HDL and LDL.
Food science is very complex, and ever-changing field of study. Corporations and individuals with their own agendas can even buy the results they want through bias studies with purposeful misinformation and misdirection. Regardless of the reason, there are a lot of people who are learning incorrect or simplified food science based off of this misinformation. Information will come out about certain benefits and then additional information will come out which provides more nuanced information. It's hard to track the benefits of a certain food across different cultural, geographic, or personal lines.
A varied diet is an essential part of overall well being. Broccoli is good for you, but if the only thing you eat is broccoli then you aren't eating that healthy. Balance and moderation are key and foods need to be balanced. So yes, you can eat coconut oil and still be healthy, but eat a lot of it, and it can be bad for you. If you're a vegan and don't want to use animal based fats then coconut oil is a great alternative. Just be sure to take everything with a grain of salt and be wary of nutritional articles with few references or scientific backing.
So, is it a dream product?
Coconut oil has many of benefits for the body and is safe to ingest in moderation. Over the past few years, it has seemingly reached the height of "super food," but it's important to keep it in perspective. While coconut oil may not be the dream product that solves all your problems, it's definitely made a name for itself as one product with a plenitude of benefits.