Eventually, I hope my herbalist practice will include a line of beauty products which will be natural and not full of preservatives and additives. I really do worry that the things I use on my skin, the biggest organ of the body and the best indicator of health there is around, might be causing health issues because of their ingredients.
From my research into recipes, I know that Coconut oil is an ingredient of choice. It is also a much hyped super ingredient for all kinds of things from frying oil for food to a hair tamer for curly hair. I like things that multi task! Here is an article with lots of ideas for uses of coconut oil. http://www.treehugger.com/green-home/12-uses-coconut-oil-your-body-and-around-house.html. There is also a rather cool post on http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/10/25/coconut-oil-benefits_n_4164278.html with more information about WHY coconut oil is apparently so good for you.
There are a few cautionary notes to issue first. As it is an oil, it is high in calories. So, if you are on a calorie controlled diet, then you need to be careful about how much of it you eat. Also, it is high in saturated fat, so if you are watching your intake of that, then talk to your health professional of choice before you start imbibing with gusto. The hydrogenated version of the oil is probably the worst kind to take, so look for “virgin coconut oil” if you are going to buy some.
In addition, there is currently no fair trade or sustainable source of coconut oil. As someone interested in environmental issues, I need to weigh up the benefits of using it, along with the potential environment impacts of harvesting, extracting, processing and shipping the product from the South Pacific. I am currently undecided.
So, what can it be used for?
It is great as a moisturizer. You don’t even need to do anything to it. Just slap it right on your face. It might feel a bit oily at first, but the skin will absorb it quickly and it is great for chapped and sore skin. If the straight oil is too oily for you, you might conisder making a whipped lotion using 1 cup of coconut oil and 1 cup of shea butter. If you whip that mixture with a hand mixer until it is light and fluffy, then you will get just as much benefit with less of the oily texture.
Still on skin uses, it can also be used as a natural shaving cream. I am considering making the whipped lotion, maybe with a few drops of sandalwood essential oil and making a male beauty product. I wonder if my dear husband would use that? Hmmm. Sandalwood is a lovely scent, a manly scent, without being too floral and heady.
I was surprised to read that coconut oil can also be used as a spot and stain remover. If you rub a piece of coconut oil on a piece of upholstery or carpet, it will loosen the stain. If you mix it with baking soda, it becomes a very effective stain remover. You can use this mix to clean your teeth as well. Apparently it whitens your teeth very effectively.
I even read that the coconut oil can be used as a butter replacement or as a sweetener and whitener for tea and coffee. I am afraid those are two steps too far for me, but I am in total awe of this ingredient.
Do you use coconut oil? What are you favourite uses? Where and how do you source it?