Recently, a friend told me that I could tame my 12 year-old son’s unruly locks by rubbing a little coconut oil into his hair. Considering the price of many hair creams, I figured it would be worth a try. I researched coconut oil online and discovered that it is being hailed as the new miracle cure for just about everything. There are articles suggesting that it can reverse Alzheimer’s, and cure HIV, athlete’s foot, cellulite, yeast infections and bad breath in dogs (not that any of these claims are substantiated). A fire crew even used it to release a trapped dog’s head from a metal gate.
I put coconut oil to the test – and what I found surprised me.
- Hair balm. So I rubbed a very small amount of coconut oil in my hands, then ran them through my son’s “morning hair.” The result? Greasy hair! Ugh! I only used a small bit, but it looked pretty bad. Couldn’t wait to wash it out!
- Conditioner. After my son’s greasy hair incident, there was no way I was putting this stuff in my hair, either as a before-shampoo deep conditioner or to tame my hair after blow-drying. I have done enough hot oil treatments and deep conditioning treatments over the years to know that my thin hair will only wind up flat and greasy. But if you’ve got dry, thick hair, it might be worth a try. I would caution that a little coconut oil goes a long way!
- DIY toothpaste. I followed the instructions I found on various posts and mixed coconut oil with baking soda to form toothpaste. What did I end up with? Greasy toothpaste! It wasn’t unpleasant, but I think I’d rather just brush with plain baking soda next time or try a whitening toothpaste using hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.
- Foot cream. So I lathered the coconut oil on my feet and then put socks on top. It seemed to soak in fairly fast. Overall, not nearly as effective as petroleum jelly or Eucerin Original Healing Soothing Repair Cream, but it’ll do in a pinch.
- Eye makeup remover. Works just fine if you like oily eye makeup remover. Personally, I prefer the non-oily makeup remover, so I’ll stick with that.
- Facial moisturizer. I rubbed it on my face before bed, afraid that I would wake up to acne-spotted skin. In the morning, however, my skin was still very moist and smooth, with no breakouts. During the winter when the air is especially dry, often I wake up with dry spots on my face, despite intense facial moisturizers (that weren’t cheap). Next time, I’m reaching for the coconut oil!
- Facial mask. Per several internet posts, I mixed coconut oil with honey and slathered it on my face, letting it sit for fifteen minutes. Smelled kind of yummy. But during that fifteen minutes, I found that the oil kept dripping down my neck, which was most unappealing. After I washed off the mask, my skin did feel very moisturized, though.
- Cuticle cream. Works like gangbusters! I don’t know why my cuticles get so dry, but this is a terrific solution. I’m not too thrilled about my hands being all greasy, however, so if that’s the kind of thing that annoys you, consider applying it with a cotton swab.
- Alternative to margarine or butter on toast. This sounded really unappetizing to me, but I figured I’d try it once. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked it quite a bit. And when I took a look at all the suspicious-sounding, unpronounceable ingredients in my diet margarine, I think I’d feel a whole lot better about spreading a little coconut oil on my toast instead. It’s a much healthier alternative!
- Alternative to butter or shortening when baking. I already use coconut oil for baking since my son cannot tolerate dairy or soy. I especially like to use it in chocolate cake because it gives it a nice, subtle coconutty taste, kind of like a Mounds bar.
- Cleaning retainers or mouth guards. Because of the antibacterial nature of coconut oil, it has been recommended for cleaning dental accessories such as retainers or mouth guards. Why, though, I don’t know. I can’t see that it got either particularly clean. Perhaps the cleaning was not visible to the naked eye.
- Oil pulling. This ancient practice which is supposed to promote oral health is all the rage now. But after reading a blog post all about one writer’s experience with oil pulling, the practice seems nothing short of gagworthy to me. But you may find it worth giving a try, if only to see what all the talk is about.