Coconut oil is a natural and highly beneficial oil for healthy, youthful, disease-free skin and hair. When coconut oil is applied topically or taken internally, it helps to keep the skin soft and smooth and gives hair a beautiful shine, whilst at the same time reducing the effects of aging and preventing infections from entering the skin. Unlike conventional lotions and body care products, coconut oil is a natural product and is therefore free from harsh, potentially toxic chemicals and other additives.
Protects the Skin
The chemical structure of coconut oil consists of medium-chain fatty acids, which are small molecules, making it easily absorbed into the skin and hair.
The skin consists of an outer protective layer that acts as a barrier, stopping harmful organisms from penetrating the skin. This is an oil called sebum, and is very important to skin health. Like coconut oil, it contains medium-chain fatty acids, and helps to lubricate the skin and hair, and prevent fungal and bacterial infections from entering the body.
This protective layer can be washed away by bathing or through broken skin. Applying coconut oil to the skin quickly re-establishes this natural chemical barrier, by increasing the number of antimicrobial fatty acids on the skin and therefore protecting it from infection.
Oils have a visible effect on all tissues of the body, especially connective tissues. These tissues are found in the skin, muscles, bones, nerves and internal organs, and support the framework for all body tissues, holding everything together. These give skin strength and elasticity. As the skin ages however, these tissues are attacked by free radicals, which cause it to sag and wrinkle.
The only way to fight this free radical damage is with antioxidants, therefore it is essential to have plenty of antioxidants in our cells and tissues to protect them. The number of antioxidants in our tissues is largely determined by the nutrients in our diet. However, coconut oil has also been found to be the ideal lotion for protecting it against damage, promoting healing and giving it a healthy, soft, youthful appearance.
Pure coconut oil is an excellent natural skin moisturizer. It prevents free radical formation and the damage it causes. It helps prevent the skin from developing blemishes causes by aging and other factors. It is absorbed into the skin and keeps connective tissue strong and supple so that skin doesn't age prematurely.
This wonderful oil also makes an ideal ointment for the relief of dry, rough and flaky skin. It helps to remove the layer of dead skin cells on the outer surface of the skin, leaving it smoother, evenly textured and moisturized.
Healing and Repair
Coconut oil has been found to help stimulate healing and repair. Some of its reported health benefits for skin include helping with:
- Inflammatory conditions like psoriasis
- Fungal infections like athlete's foot
- Healing cuts, bruises and sprains, and reducing scarring
- Insect bites
How to Use coconut oil
To use coconut oil on the skin, massage in a small amount and reapply it often. The oil is quickly absorbed into the skin and doesn't leave a greasy film like commercial lotions and oils do. Coconut oil will gradually soften the skin with regular use, removing dead layers, and encourage the growth of new, healthier tissue.
For severely dried or cracked skin, apply a liberal amount of coconut oil to the affected area, wrap it loosely in plastic or a towel, and leave it on overnight or at least a few hours. Repeat this process until the condition improves.
Coconut oil can be used on the entire body. Massage it into the skin for best results. It can also be used on the face to improve complexion and smooth out any blemishes.
Coconut oil makes a great hair conditioner. It gives hair a healthy shine, is great for the scalp and helps to control dandruff. It helps to reestablish a healthy skin environment by replacing natural oils that may have been washed away.
Studies have shown that using coconut oil on the hair can help prevent combing damage and improve its overall health and appearance. One study, in particular, found that compared to sunflower and mineral oils, coconut oil was the only one that reduced protein loss for both undamaged and damaged hair when used both pre-wash and post-wash. The authors explained this difference was due to the composition of the oils. coconut oil, being rich in medium-chain triglycerides is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft, protecting it from protein loss as well as giving it body. The other two oils have a different composition and therefore have no positive impact on protein loss. Only coconut oil can protect the hair and prevent hair damage, so it is clearly the best oil to use for hair.
To use, massage warm coconut oil into the hair, leave in on overnight, and wash it out in the morning. For a more intensive treatment, soak the hair thoroughly in the oil for an hour or two, before washing.
Types of coconut oil
There are two types of coconut oil: processed and virgin. The difference between the oils depends on the amount of processing the oil undergoes and the type of coconut used. Processed oil is made from dried coconuts and has usually undergone extensive processing such as refining, bleaching and deodorizing, and is the type typically used in foods and cosmetics.
"Virgin" signifies an oil that has undergone less refining with lower temperatures and without chemicals. It is also made from fresh coconuts, and retains its naturally occurring phytochemicals (plant chemicals). Virgin coconut oil usually has a mild coconut flavor and aroma compared to more refined oils, which have less taste, smell and are colorless.
Regardless of the method of processing, however, both oils contain essentially the same amount of health-promoting medium-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are very resistant to heat and are not harmed by processing, even at high temperatures. Therefore, all types of coconut oils are considered healthy oils.
Pure coconut oil should be a crystal clear liquid in warm conditions, and becomes a hard, white solid in cooler climates. This process does not affect the quality of the oil, and solidified coconut oil quickly becomes liquid when the container is immersed in hot water or warmed in the hands.