Coconut oil is the new wonder ingredient that everyone is touting! Why has coconut gained so much publicity! Being a pharmacist & cosmetic formulator I get to the bottom of this, of course!
For the skin and hair
Coconut oils has many benefits but if you have acnegeic skin I do advise away from it: it contains palmitic acid which forms an occlusive layer on the skin and can be very comedogenic, leading to more breakouts! Aargh! Even though it contains ferulic and lauric acid (converted to monolaurin) which has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties, I believe the comedogenicity of the coconut oil can worsen acne and there really are better options for acne. For those who don’t suffer acne, for the skin on the face and body the ferulic acid and catechins offer great antioxidant properties as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-itch properties. The other polyphenols including caffeic acid help with weather and sun damaged skin and offer softening and moisturising properties. When it comes to your skin, coconut oil is very hydrating and keeps skin’s connective tissues strong, which prevents sagging and wrinkles. The Youthphoria Restorative lip balm contains precious coconut oil, try it today!
Coconut oil is a lovely BASIC skin moisturiser; however it may still not be enough and does not suit all skin types. People with problematic skin (eczema, hyper-pigmentation, acne, aged) or those who are looking for more active and advanced skin solutions to treat their skin will find a cosmeceutical product used in combination with coconut oil more useful. This way you will see faster results!
Coconut oil has been extensively studied on hair and has been shown to penetrate hair strands. Interestingly, the virgin coconut oil contains at least 7x times more polyphenols which acts as a potent anti-oxidant. So on the skin and hair, I recommend the virgin unrefined type to reap maximum benefits.
Ways to use coconut oil:
- Use it as a face (not acenic) or body moisturiser. Many women use it to improve and to prevent the appearance of stretch marks.
- Use it as a massage oil or bath oil, we add 4-5 tablespoons to a hot tub and your skin is wonderfully soft and moist after.
- Rub it into dry hair and wrap with a towel for a couple of hours before washing with shampoo.
- Use a little on your hair to remove frizz.
- Helps to heal skin after a sunburn. Make sure to apply coconut oil after the initial heat burning sensation is gone.
- Believe it or not but rubbing some coconut oil on skin will also protect it from the sun, it has SPF4.
- Can be used as a naturally antibacterial skin cream, an after shave lotion, and to improve appearance of cellulite.
Weightloss & Metabolism
Another reason coconut oil has so many benefits is because unlike most other fats and oils, it is comprised of medium-chain fatty acids, (MCFA’s), which are smaller fat molecules which our body metabolises in the liver and immediately converts to energy, rather than storing it as fat. MCFA are special because they do not have a negative effect on cholesterol and they are known to reduce the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis.The MCFA’s in coconut oil actually boosts your metabolism and increases thyroid activity which helps your body use fat for energy helping with weight loss and increasing energy levels.
Blood Sugar/ Insulin Balance
Coconut oil is suitable for diabetics and helps with preventing insulin spikes in the blood stream because once the MCFA’s are metabolised by the liver for energy it gives your body the instant energy like simple carbohydrates do except it doesn’t spike insulin levels.
Cooking with Coconut oil
Coconut oil is made up of around 86% saturated fat, 6% monounsaturated fat, and 2% polyunsaturated fat. The saturated fat content makes coconut oil very heat-stable, giving it a higher smoking temperature and enables a long shelf life. The best oils to use are the ones with higher smoking point and stability. If you're preparing food that requires high temperatures you should try coconut oil. Unlike olive oil, this will oxidise at high temperatures, creating free radicals in the body.We now know that hydrogenated oils, vegetable oil and fats like margarine aren’t good for us and that saturated from coconut oil does not contribute to cholesterol!!
Coconut oil can be used as a substitute for butter/margarine and the oil you would normally use for deep frying or in your wok or fry-pan. You can use it to bake with and wherever you would normaly use oil in your cooking.
Organic coconut oil that is cold-pressed unrefined, un-deodorised and unbleached is the best choice. It should be stored in a dark glass container to prevent premature spoiling. Stored above 24°C, the oil will melt to become a liquid; kept below this and it will harden to a butter consistency. Always look for a white colour which means it is better quality and free from contamination. The subtle coconut flavour may mean that it is unrefined but if the coconut flavour is very strong it will have been exposed to more heat in which case it may lose some of its nutrient potential. However if it smells roasted it has been exposed to excessive heat. If its odourless and neutral tasting, its likely to be refined, bleached and deodorised.
The refined version of coconut oil is more suited to deep-frying as it can withstand higher temperatures and doesn’t leave all your foods tasting like coconuts. It does have less antioxidants however you still get the MCFA benefits that coconut oil possesses.