There is nothing quite like the smell of a high quality organic coconut oil. Opening a jar smells like a day at the beach, and transports the imagination to exotic locales and tropical temperatures. Beachy, healthful aroma aside, coconut oil used to get a bad rap for cooking with due to its solid nature. Because it is considered a “saturated fat” – aka it is solid at room temperature, it was instantly put in the unhealthy category for keeping the waistline slim and the arteries clear.
However, in recent years, more data has surfaced that it’s actually quite healthy to cook with in moderation (key being moderation, it is still a saturated fat and can “stick” in the arteries more readily) and may in fact be much healthier than cooking with other liquid seed-derived oils. But we’re not here to talk about the health benefits of cooking with the oil, we are actually here to talk about the benefits of coconut oil when applied topically to the hair and skin. We’re going to talk specifically about unadulterated, solid (not liquid) coconut oil and its many skin and hair care benefits.
Beneficial constituent of coconut oil #1 – Lauric Acid
This fatty acid is one of the top reasons coconut oil is so beneficial when applied to hair and skin topically. It is one of the main components of solid coconut oil, and is one of the main reasons we use it in almost all of our main products – Nourish & Hydrate Face Cream, Deep Hydration Conditioner, Natural Shine Enhancing Shampoo, all of our natural lip balms, Body and Hand Lotion, Natural Deodorant Balm, Intensive Moisture Cream, and Crisp Citrus Body Wash.
It is incredibly nourishing and protective to both skin and hair strands, and is very well tolerated by the skin – even those with sensitive or acne prone skin. In addition to lauric acid, there are two other fatty acid components of solid coconut oil that round out the overall benefits – myristic acid and palmitic acid. These three acids in their unadulterated state are a trifecta for hair and skin.
Benefit #2 – Strengthening, Softening Fatty acids and Antifungal Properties Restore Hair and Scalp Health
Not only does coconut oil have protective, health boosting fatty acids, but the oil itself is highly antifungal in nature. Why does this matter for your hair and scalp? Eczema and dandruff of the scalp are caused by fungal growth. Since coconut oil inhibits fungal growth, many see an improvement in their scalp health when using coconut oil rinses or soaks periodically – even better results are seen when it is used in regular hair care products.
Other skin conditions caused by fungal growth are:
Coconut oil also helps to “fill in” the pores on the hair strands that lead to excessive porosity often caused by over-processing, coloring, or just plain old age. Because it helps to strengthen the hair strands, it helps reduce breakage and can lend a hand in healthy and fast growth. It can also help hair feel and appear thicker over time since it preserves the integrity, elasticity and strength of the individual hair strands.
The fatty acids that comprise coconut oil also lend a natural protection to the hair strands, helping to temporarily coat them with a protective layer and add a really nice healthy luster and sheen in the process. Some studies suggest it helps to restore protein loss in the hair strands, which further bolsters its ultraprotective and strengthening properties. Since it helps to maintain and even restore elasticity, it can also help reduce breakage.
When the hair strands are stronger and more moisturized on a regular basis, this really boosts resistance to breakage. Lots of people begin to notice thinning and breakage on the hair that immediately surrounds the face over time.
This is because it is the most exposed to the elements – sun damage, styling damage and general wear and tear tend to be most evident here because it is so “exposed”. Coconut oil can help offset this damage and promote stronger, healthier hair in these areas most susceptible to damage.
Healthy Lips and Skin
We also use solid coconut oil in our Natural Lip Balm line, including our new Herbal Relief Lip Balm for those that struggle with excessive dryness, cracking and irritation of the lips doe to persistent viral breakouts. Coconut oil is an excellent nourishing protectant for the lips, and in unison with essential oils, castor oil and beeswax, provides excellent "nutrition" for your lips.