Hello! We whipped up this story for Prevention, and we thought we’d share it with you, too!
What do you use coconut oil for??
1. To soothe dry hands
This won’t work for dry digits when you’re on the go, but at home, coconut oil can work wonders on your dishwashing-parched hands. “I keep a jar of organic extra virgin coconut oil by the kitchen sink and put a little on after washing my hands to keep them soft and moist,” says Dr. Low Dog. And if you cook with coconut oil—you can sub it for butter in baking recipes because it’s solid at room temperature—scoop out a little extra for your hands, too. “Whenever I cook with coconut oil, I make sure to moisturize my hands with it too,” says Katrine van Wyk, a holistic health and nutrition coach based in New York.
2. As a cheekbone highlighter
Nothing perks up a tired face like a little highlighter, but you don’t need store-bought products to achieve the same effect. Simply sweep a small amount of coconut oil on top of makeup and leave it alone. It looks like your skin but glowier, which is why many natural makeup brands use it as a base ingredient in their formulas. If you’re looking for a more portable option, try the cult favorite Living Luminizer by RMS Beauty, which has a coconut-oil base and light reflecting pigment.
3. To shave your legs
Conventional shaving cream is an expensive cocktail of chemicals that you don’t need to get a nice clean shave on your legs or underarms. Coconut oil, on the other hand, is inexpensive, naturally antimicrobial, and smells divine. Plus, its skin-soothing properties will leave your legs looking hydrated (but never greasy).
4. As a deep-conditioner
There’s a reason many conditioners contain coconut oil: It’s better able to penetrate hair (and prevent protein loss) than mineral and sunflower oil, according to research. “I use it in my hair and on my skin for deep conditioning,” says Tasneen Bhatia, MD, an integrative doctor and owner of the Atlanta Center for Holistic and Integrative Medicine. Apply a quarter-size dollop to your hair, comb it, and then pile it into a loose bun. You’ll want to place a soft towel over your pillow or sleep in a shower cap. In the morning, shampoo as usual with a gentle cleanser.
5. To remove eye makeup
Yes, coconut oil even works on waterproof mascara! Put a little on a cotton ball and gently sweep it over your eyes, paying attention to your under-eyes as well. The oil does a great job breaking down waxy, inky eye makeup, and leaves the delicate area hydrated, too. Once you’re done, wash your face as usual.
6. As a body moisturizer
A recent animal study found that when applied topically, virgin coconut oil can speed up wound healing, and a human study found it to be effective in increasing hydration and reducing water loss in seriously dry skin. Sounds like a recipe for a really good lotion to us! It’s a health-expert favorite, too. Says Wyk: “It smells delicious, is very affordable, and leaves my skin feeling nourished and smooth.”
7. To clean and hydrate your face
Because coconut oil is naturally antibacterial, antifungal, moisturizing and, according to research, great for atopic dermatitis, many women swear by its use as a nighttime moisturizer for their face, too. Try the double-cleansing method: Simply rub the oil in circular motions all over your face and neck, giving yourself a gentle massage as you go. When you’re done, wash off the residue with your favorite cleanser. (If you’re adult-acne prone, avoid this technique unless you know your skin tolerates coconut oil.)
Meet Efe and her awesome and detailed morning routine! You had me at DIY flaxseed gel, Efe—a formula we wrote about in the book that I’ve always been meaning to try. Can you post your recipe in the comments? Also, any tips for hyperpigmentation? To the rest of you, we still have some awesome routines in our coffers, but we want moremoremore! If you’ve been meaning to send yours, get on it. xx
Hometown: New Jersey
Current weather: Sunny, bright and humid for the past couple of days.
Hair: My hair is jet-black, kinky coily/Afro-textured and 12 inches long.
Skin: My skin is dark brown with golden undertones. It is normal-to-dry and I rarely get any pimples (when I do they tend to lead to hyperpigmentation). I always get compliments on my radiant skin—some most decidedly awkward and some not.
Favorite star: Shingai Shoniwa
In the shower…
Every morning I hop into the shower, brush my teeth with Nature’s Gate Creme de Mint Natural Toothpaste and follow up with a bit of lip exfoliation. I cleanse my body with Dudu-Osun African black soap and an African net bath sponge. (My Grandmother brought for me from Nigeria. A similar bath sponge may possibly be purchased at an African grocery store). The Dudu-Osun soap smells awesome [citrus-y and fresh] and cleanses without stripping moisture away. The African net bath sponge exfoliates my skin gently and effectively (no body scrubs or loofahs for me!). I finish up my shower by thoroughly exfoliating the soles and heels of my feet with a pumice stone.
Outside the shower…
I massage unrefined shea butter or Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Lotion into my damp skin. I love shea butter—the earthy smell, the feel of it, the way it makes my skin oh so soft, smooth and supple… *swoons.* I apply Crystal Essence Mineral Deodorant Roll-On in the Lavender and White Tea scent. Once a week, I shave my legs using Kiss My Face Fragrance-Free Moisture Shave and a Gillette Venus Sensitive Skin Disposable Women’s Razor. I can’t be bothered to do it more often…seriously. The shaving cream is quite nice–super creamy, extra moisturizing and little goes a long way. In the morning, I cleanse my face with Dudu-Osun soap, tone with my DIY Green Tea Toner (and a cotton pad) and moisturize with Aubrey Organics Rosa Mosqueta Rose Hip Moisturizing Cream. These products work perfectly for my skin. The Dudu-Osun soap is gentle and effective, my DIY Green Tea Toner works well (I even have some family members using it!) and the Aubrey Organics Moisturizing Cream makes my skin especially soft and smooth. At night, I repeat my morning routine and apply Now Foods Tea Tree Oil on any pimples with a cotton swab. Once a week I do a DIY Greek Yogurt Mask. It tightens, soothes and softens and my skin quite nicely. I don’t exfoliate as of right now but I’m looking into a soft yet effective facial brush for that purpose. I wash my hair every 5-7 days. On wash-and-style day I detangle/condition, cleanse, moisturize, set my hair in 16 braids, seal (apply oil to the ends of my braids and my hairline), air-dry for a day under a cute hat and style (braid-out, bun or updo). I wash-and-style my hair in the afternoon or at night and do everything except for outside of the shower. Here are a list of the hair care products I use— Shea Moisture Purification Masque, DIY Aloe Vera Gel/Castor Oil Hair Mask or Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (detangle/condition); Shea Moisture Moisture Retention Shampoo (cleanse); Alba Botanica Leave-In Conditioner + Shea Moisture Curl & Style Milk or Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque (moisturize); DIY Flax Seed Gel (for buns); Lily of the Dessert Aloe Vera Gel (detangle/condition) and Heritage Castor Oil (seal, detangle/condition). I love hair care and styling—it’s my favorite part of my “beauty” routine.
I wear very little make-up. First, I apply Burt’s Bees Lip Balm or EOS Sweet Mint Lip Balm to my lips. Then I fill in my eyebrows with Ecco Bella Soft Eyeliner Pencil in Velvet and apply Physician Formula Organic Wear Jumbo Lash Mascara in Ultra Black Organics. When I’m feeling extra glam, I do a cat eye eyeliner look using Suncoat Cosmetics Natural Liquid Eyeliner in Chic Black. I also sometimes use Alba Botanica Coconut Cream Clear Lip Gloss over my lip balm. I don’t wear perfume currently but I would like to. I’m looking into natural perfumes—I may try the vanilla extract tip that I read somewhere on this blog. As for nails, I always use a 3-free nail polish and an acetone-free nail polish remover for my weekly manicures. I am doing research into natural nail polishes. It’s a work in progress…much like everything in life.
For many years I used arnica gel for muscle soreness, and it worked fine but I wasn’t completely satisfied. The one I used was pretty clean, I think, but I thought essential oils might be a better (and cleaner) solution. Plus, the gel is so cold going on and that first moment of application made me cringe. I’ve been working on this EO recipe for a while, and now have a blend I’m pleased with in both performance and scent. It’s a multi-tasker too, which I certainly value.
Vetiver, 20 drops – immediate relief, chronic conditions
Sandalwood, 20 drops – immediate relief
Lavender, 10 drops – strains/spasms
Litsea, 5 drops – immediate relief
Grapefruit, 15 drops – continued recovery
Fennel, 10 drops – chronic conditions
Peppermint, 10 drops – immediate relief, chronic conditions
Clary Sage, 5 drops – strains/spasms
Helichrysum, 5 drops – continued recovery
Drop the EOs in a 2oz amber glass dropper bottle, then fill it up with grapeseed oil.
Tip the bottle back and forth or roll it to blend. Easy, and it really works!
It rubs into the skin easily, but you could dampen the skin with water or spray with a hydrosol for even easier application.
I have chronic shoulder/neck issues that are definitely improved with use of this mix. I’ve also used it successfully on low backaches, and various strains and soreness from activity.
I’m very happy with this combination of oils and will keep making it, possibly working with proportion a bit for each new batch. You could use fewer oils to simplify the recipe, just pay attention to the purpose of each oil you are adding. Sandalwood and Helichrysum are on the more expensive side, so if that’s an issue you could leave those out and add more of the other oils that serve a similar purpose. The overall smell of my blend is pretty earthy, as the vetiver and sandalwood would suggest. But the lighter notes are definitely there, with peppermint standing out a bit. I like the smell (my son tells me I smell good after using it), and if you mix it and decide it’s too strong, you can always dilute it more. Watch out for the litsea if you decide to add extra— it can get very Lemon Pledge-y if you add too much (but it is big on performance so if you enjoy that scent go for it). The carrier oil could be anything you like. I chose grapeseed because it has a pretty neutral scent and my skin likes it. Arnica oil might be a good choice too, but the one I have has an olive oil base, and my skin doesn’t seem to care for olive oil.
This particular blend is also good for detox, as well as for supporting sleep, and I’ve been using it on my hands and feet before bed. I’m sleeping soundly and I feel like it’s supporting my cleanse efforts. I am thinking to add this blend to some bath salts, but I haven’t tried that yet. Most of my EOs came from Mountain Rose Herbs, as did my bottle. The Hope Gillerman Essential Oils Deck was very helpful in creating the recipe, and I highly recommend the deck for anyone beginning to work with EOs.
Will you try this recipe? Do you have a go-to for muscle aches?
Regular readers should know that we’re total suckers for the sweet stuff.
I put it raw organic honey in my salad dressings, on my face, on cuts to speed healing, and I take a spoonful of it every time my throat hurts. It’s also great on spots (we have a great reader recipe here) and Alexandra likes to use it to wash her face. (Check out her DIY Honey Face Wash recipe if you haven’t already. It’s so simple and so good! Even better, pure propolis: Nothing kills a cold like propolis. I swear.
So we’re at, what, 6 already? But lo! Our friends at Well+Good have 4 more—and theirs are backed by experts. So read on, little ones. And then tell us…
What do you use honey for?
From W+G: Honey is one of those feel-better foods with a wellness back-story that spans the centuries. It always calls up mention of Cleopatra, who bathed in milk and honey, which sounds lovely. But what can honey actually do for your health?
Plenty, say New York wellness experts, who are buzzing about honey’s healing benefits—specifically the raw, unpasteurized, and darker varieties of honey, as well as medicinal Manuka, which hails from New Zealand.
So how do health practitioners like Gabrielle Francis, Frank Lipman, and Alisa Vitti recommend using the kitchen-cupboard staple?
Read on to learn about how honey does a sweet job as a skin-care treatment, immune-system booster, digestive aid and more…
Meet young Hannah! She’s got great taste in products and stars, along with some savvy DIY tricks. Where she falls short: dirty makeup. We kinda get it though—anyone else in this boat?—it’s an easy category to ignore, especially if you don’t use a ton of it. And yet…
Current weather: Warm, humid south-east American summer! Lots of afternoon thunderstorms and 90 degree days.
Hair: Long (not quite boob length), chocolate brown, and somewhat wavy. It grows thick but the hair itself is not coarse or fine, but somewhere in the middle, and prone to split ends, which are dry while my scalp is oily and dandruffy.
Skin: Pretty oily! When I was a teen it was really oily, but these days it’s just a bit greasy feeling in the mornings. I get a zit or two when I’m on my period, and the occasional dry spot.
Favorite star or icon from the past: Elizabeth Taylor, because I have her eyebrows.
In the shower…
I shower once every two or three days, because when I was a kid and my parents were telling me to shower daily, I’m pretty sure it only worsened my oily skin and hair. Before I shower, I brush my hair gently with a paddle brush, mainly to minimize the number of hairs that are inevitably going to fall out and clog my shower drain. Once a week or so in the shower I wash my bod with Everyday Shea Lavender Body Wash, and the rest of the times I just get my feet and armpits. For my hair, I use Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Pure Castile Soap, which helps my dandruff, and I use Everyday Shea Vanilla & Mint Conditioner on my ends (sometimes I switch it up and condition before I wash, which I find I quite like the way it makes my hair feel.) I also sometimes just use pure tea tree oil, a very little of it, on problem patches of my scalp. I like how it tingles! I have a DIY body scrub make of sugar, olive oil, and a little jojoba oil and peppermint oil that I use on my legs after too much chlorinated pool or in the winter when my skin gets drier.
Outside the shower…
After I shower, I use virgin organic coconut oil all over my entire body. I use to have charming back and butt breakouts, and I find that coconut oil has pretty much stopped those entirely. I also pat my face down with grapeseed oil, the best moisturizer for my oily skin. I let my hair air dry, and sometimes I spray it down with a little Acure Organics Leave-In Conditioner, which works as a detangler as well. Then I brush gently once it’s dry. In between showers when I’m feeling dry, I use Everyday Shea Moisturizing Body Lotion, and I rub raw shea butter on my feet because they are usually dry and cracked all of the time. On days when I don’t shower, I use a little witch hazel on my face in the morning to swipe away any excess oil gently.
For my hair, I usually leave it alone. But sometimes I put a little Andalou Naturals Healthy Shine Sunflower & Citrus Styling Gel in it while it’s still wet and scrunch it to bring out my waves. If I put it up in a ponytail or a bun for work, I spritz it with Andalou Naturals Full Volume Lavender & Biotin Style Spray to keep my baby hairs from flying about wildly. And, if my hair is dry but I want my beachy waves, I just spray it with a homemade sea salt/ water spray with a little lavender oil in it. (That’s the same list of ingredients as John Masters Organics’ sea salt styling spray, but I made it at home for free!) My makeup isn’t very clean yet, I use mostly Covergirl concealer, eyeliner and shadow and Ulta Minerals face powder and blush. I did buy Honeybee Gardens Truly Natural Mascara, and I like it a lot and use it usually in two coats. But, I still use a dirty waterproof one once in a while when I have to. (Thank goodness Josie Maran has a waterproof clean one now! I’ll have to grab it soon.) I don’t use perfume, I just use a little essential oil of whatever I’m feeling like that day (almost always cinnamon, but sometimes sandalwood, vanilla, and on hot days peppermint, which also cools my skin pleasantly.)
Great routine! Now who’s going to rec a clean concealer to this girl?