Ever been puzzled by the list of ingredients on the back of a bottle? Or sort-of nodded along when someone listed off “good” ingredients? We got you covered — Ingredient Spotlights explain those buzzwords and talked-about ingredients and why you want to put them on your body.
While it may seem like coconut oil has been a trendy ingredient for only the last few years, its properties have been well known for centuries. It’s been lauded as a magical do-everything salve for your skin and hair. In this Ingredient Spotlight, we dive into coconut oil’s unique chemical structure, some common misconceptions and suggested uses.
Coconut oil is composed of medium-chain triglycerides, which is a different molecular structure from other oils and makes them digested and metabolised differently, says Bruce Fife, a certified nutritionist and director of the Coconut Research Center.
Fife said that it is one of the most effective natural healing salves. With its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it can help prevent free radicals (molecules that take away from your skin and can speed up aging) and speed up healing of cuts and infections. It also helps with rebalancing your pH, Fife says.
“One reason why we recommend putting it all over the body, particularly after shower or bath when you’ve washed your natural oils and kind of neutralized your pH, is because coconut oil will help to quickly re-establish that protective barrier on the skin,” he says.
There are two types of coconut oils — virgin and non-virgin/refined. Virgin coconut oil has not been changed by chemical refining, bleaching or deodorizing. Fife said he prefers using virgin coconut oil, but notes that processed coconut oil still contains the same amount of medium-chain triglycerides and that he uses it as well.
You can find coconut oil in many skincare products as moisturizing agents in lotions and balms. You can also rub it into the strands of your hair to promote hair shaft strengthening and prevent split ends, Fife says. He also uses it as a cooking oil, and will eat it by the spoonful when he’s feeling under the weather.
Meant products that contain coconut oil include the Do-All Wash, the Every Body Bar, the Absolute Balm and the Wonder Polish. These products cleanse and tone your skin, and the coconut oil acts as a moisturizing property, smoothing and softening it along the way.