If you’re trying to be a greener consumer, then coconut oil will make a great addition to your shopping basket. Whether you’re buying it at the supermarket, Boots, or Holland & Barrett, coconut oil serves a multitude of purposes in both the kitchen and the bathroom.
If you’re looking for an alternative to toxic lotions or destructive palm oil, you’ll be pleased to learn that, in terms of a carbon footprint, the environmental impact of coconut oil is comparatively low. If you’re aspiring to live a #zerowaste lifestyle, coconut oil’s versatile nature makes it the perfect multi-purpose staple to wipe out all those plastic bottles in your bathroom cabinet and your kitchen cupboard. Whether it’s for teeth whitening, cooking, cleaning and polishing, there’s a good reason coconut oil is touted as the minimalist’s miracle product.
1. Teeth whitening and oral care.
With the rise of Ayurveda-inspired health techniques, it’s no surprise that coconut oil pulling has become a trendy practice used by both three thousand year old Ayurvedic healers, and millennial wellness Instagram bloggers.
Coconut oil oral therapy involves swilling a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil around in your mouth for about twenty minutes and then spitting it out (into the bin, not the sink) to rid your mouth of all the bacteria and plaque that attaches to the natural fats in the oil. Coconut oil is unique in that it contains lauric acid – a fatty acid famed for its bacteria-busting benefits and anti-microbial advantages. Thanks to the components within coconut oil, oil pulling with coconut oil has the potential to protect your knashers from gum disease, plaque build-up, and – everyone’s favourite turn off – bad breath.
Don’t have time to incorporate a twenty-minutes of oil swilling into your morning routine, consider making your own natural whitening toothpaste by combining coconut oil, with baking soda and some peppermint oil for a natural, sustainable alternative for that sad plastic tube sat on your sink or harsh whitening strips.
2. At home spa treatment.
When it comes to skincare, coconut oil is the ultimate one-stop shop cure-all. Whilst many mainstream cosmetic brands have jumped on the bandwagon to bring out fancy coconut ‘body soufflés’ and foot creams, if you look at the ingredients list, you might be lucky to find that coconut makes it into the first five ingredients after a bunch of abrasive alcohols, harmful hydroxides and other artificial components.
When it comes to natural skincare, nothing beats pure and simple unrefined coconut oil. If you choose 100% coconut oil over coconut oil-blend body creams, you’re choosing a product that is suitable for all skin types: dry, oily and sensitive included. Slather it on after shaving, when you’re sunburnt, or use it as an irritant-free makeup remover. Talk about all-in-one!
3. Healthy hair.
I’ve had my hair balayage-d now for over two years, and every single time I’ve gone to the hairdressers for a top-up colour job, the stylist has always been astounded at how healthy and soft the ends of my hair is, considering it’s been bleached half a dozen times, and I regularly tone it at home too.
“My secret?” I say, channelling my best haircare ad girl impression: coconut oil. I’ve used it religiously since I first got my hair bleached, applying it generously to the ends of my hair when it is still damp post-wash. I’ll then run the remaining residue through the lengths, before spritzing my whole head with heat protectant spray and blow drying my hair on a medium heat.
The reason why I prefer natural coconut oil over mainstream hair serums is that, nine times out of ten, popular hair products aren’t cruelty-free (many leave-in conditioners contain lanolin, a wax sourced from the glands of woolly sheep) and often have adverse effects in terms of preserving my colour. Because coconut oil contains just one ingredient – uh, coconut oil – it doesn’t react with the chemicals in my hair from the bleach, and thus preserves the colour and adds shine.
4. The Mediterranean diet? I prefer something more Pacific.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong advocate for a healthy glug of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper on top of my salad leaves, but when it comes to making my favourite curries, stews and vegetable dishes, coconut oil is my go-to.
In terms of nutrition, don’t be scared off by coconut oil’s saturated fat content: there’s a lot of ✨health✨ in there. For one, research has demonstrated that coconut oil aids the body’s absorption of vital minerals – specifically calcium and magnesium – and fat-soluble vitamins.
When it comes to taste, coconut oil has an adaptable subtle flavour that makes it ideal for bringing out the natural sweetness in baking recipes, for mellowing spices in your favourite curries or as a dairy-free and vegan alternative to butter.
5. A cleaning wonder-product
Maybe I’m weird, but I really enjoy cleaning. Not only is the end result of a nice, clean, tidy space super satisfying, but I find the act of cleaning very therapeutic.
That said, there’s nothing like the pungent, chemical smell of bleach to disrupt my pursuit of cleaning-induced zen, so when I found out my favourite beauty-come-culinary staple also possesses some pretty impressive cleaning abilities. As touched on in the first section, the lauric acid content means coconut oil has powerful anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. This makes it a reliable and non-toxic alternative to chemical household cleaning products: it can also remove crayon stains, loosen chewing gum from carpet fibres, and even prevent your cast iron wok from rusting. Who needs 10 000 plastic spray bottles under the sink?