Coconut oil is trendy, delicious and a great source of healthy fats. But today I’m going to share my favorite uses for coconut oil that have nothing to do with cooking.
Tip: Always buy unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil, since it goes through the fewest processes and is closest to its natural state. My two favorites are this one from Costco and these portable coconut oil packets from Trader Joes.
Coconut Oil Body Lotion:
This one is a no brainer. Throw out your chemical-laden body lotions and try using coconut oil instead. It’s moisturizing, anti-microbial and it smells yummy. I take the individual packages from Trader Joes with me when I travel. Or you can buy a small re-usable container and fill it up from the larger jar in your pantry.
Coconut oil is a fabulous way to give your hair a healthy boost because it is rich in antioxidants, and has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Because the lauric acid in coconut oil has a low molecular weight, it allows the oil to actually penetrate the hair shaft, nourishing the hair with vitamins, minerals and the medium-chain fatty acids. And while many of our shampoos, conditioners and other hair products tend to be full of harmful chemicals and toxins, coconut oil is 100 percent natural and seriously good for your hair and scalp. Here’s how to do it:
- Apply a tablespoon or two (depending on your hair length) of coconut oil into the palm of your hands and rub together. This warms up the coconut oil which tends to harden in the container when it’s cold outside.
- Rub the oil in hair starting at the ends and working your way up, massaging it well into the scalp.
- Pull your hair to the top of your head into a “coco bun”! You can do this before bed and sleep with either a dish towel over your pillow or a shower cap over the bun to avoid stains. Or you can just leave it in for an hour or two and wash it out before you go to sleep.
- Jump in the shower and thoroughly wet your hair and scalp. Then shampoo your hair two times, scrubbing your scalp super well. You will most likely be able to skip the conditioner.
Dental – Oil Pulling:
Often associated with Auyrveda, the traditional medicine system from India, oil pulling is an ancient practice that involves swishing oil in your mouth to remove bacteria and promote oral hygiene. Here’s how to do it:
- Measure one tablespoon of oil, such as coconut, sesame or olive oil.
- Swish it around in your mouth for 15–20 minutes, being careful not to swallow any.
- Spit the oil into a trash can once you’re done. Do NOT spit it into the sink or toilet, as it may clog your drain.
- Rinse your mouth well using water before eating or drinking anything.
Repeat these steps a few times per week or up to three times daily. You may also want to work your way up, starting with swishing for just 5 minutes and increasing the duration until you’re able to do it for a full 15–20 minutes.
I know this is personal, but coconut oil is a great lubricant for you and your partner. Much better then the sketchy ingredients in commercial lubes (although be aware that oil based products are not compatible with latex condoms).
Wood Furniture Polish:
Use coconut oil to keep your furniture looking shiny and polished. In addition to bringing out the beauty in natural wood, it seems to act as a dust repellent. Just put a small amount on a soft cloth and gently rub it into the wood. Bonus points for avoiding the strong fragrances and chemicals in most commercial furniture polishes.
If you aren’t up to speed on all the health benefits behind omega-3-packed coconut oil, then you might want to brush up on your research (start with this article).
Want to see my favorite coconut oil cooking recipe? Check out Paul’s Perfect Paper Bag Popcorn.
How do you use coconut oil beyond cooking? Tell me in the comments.