Coconut Clean: A Guide to Using Coconut Oil Outside the Kitchen

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by Molly O’Brien, Lifestyle Editorial Assistant

Coconut oil is not just for cooking anymore; bloggers, celebrities and Dr. Oz alike are raving about its alternative uses. With just a pinch, the versatile product works wonders in multiple self-care routines from teeth whitening to sleep improvement.

My personal interest in coconut oil sparked over the summer when I noticed my roommate using it to wash her face at the end of the night. Claiming it works as a makeup remover, she lathered the oil on her eyes and scrubbed — clean. Fine, I’ll try. After doing a little research, I bought a jar from Target with the intentions of a total beauty routine makeover. And, as self-loving hip-hop artist Lizzo puts it in her title track Coconut Oil, “I thought I needed to run and find somebody to love, but all I needed was some coconut oil.” She was right. It works for everything.

As a face wash, it is highly effective. I followed my roommate’s practices and ended my evening by wiping my eyes with a coconut oil-soaked cotton pad. Even with waterproof mascara, my face only needed a single wipe to come clean. That being said, there was a moment of panic — it leaves a greasy residue, as you might imagine. With vision slightly blurred but skin feeling clean, bedtime came a little earlier than expected.

Another well-known use is teeth whitening. This is done through “pulling,” or more generally, swishing it between your teeth. Coconut oil is a natural detoxifier, drawing bacteria from the gums and dissolving plaque to reveal pearly whites. Additionally, it serves as a natural breath freshener, though it doesn’t have a taste of its own. Most sources recommend pulling for 15-20 minutes, but in my experience, the oil liquefies very quickly and becomes difficult to continue pulling after about two. I would argue I saw results regardless.

Winter is coming. That brings dry skin, frizzy hair and chapped lips. No fear because, you guessed it, coconut oil. As with most oils, coconut provides moisture for skin in its time of need. Hair is no different. According to 2017 Organic Information Services, coconut oil was found to go deeper into hair than mineral oil, a leading ingredient in most conditioners. This means hair grows thicker and fuller with less breakage over time. It is also natural and organic, so sensitive skin is no issue. You can even take it one step further, heating up the thicker solid to a liquid for body-nourishing massage oil. Win-win.

With cash tight and time limited, having one product to cover all the beauty bases seems like a pipe dream, but maybe these hopes are not as distant as we thought. Coconut oil is found at all major grocery stores, typically for less than your average face wash. Pick up a jar today; you will not be disappointed.

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“13 Wonderful Benefits of Coconut Oil for Hair.” Organic Facts. August 24, 2017. Accessed October 12, 2017.

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