Coconut Oil has been one of the skin care's darlings lately--it's everywhere you turn. But what is it and how can if possibly be used for as many things as you're seeing on store shelves for? Read on...industry experts explain coconut oil's health and beauty benefits from head to toe, inside and out...
First, what's the difference between coconut oil and coconut milk? You see them both listed in beauty care products, but what are they? According to NJ-based Palmer's (as in the 'stretch mark' company), "Fresh coconut meat is grated and pressed to produce the coconut milk. Pure coconut oil...is acquired by separating the oil from the other particles in the milk." Coconut oil is known for its hydrating properties when used either straight-up or in skincare formulas.
So what do the experts think? Here's what they have to say:
Dr. Marc Lowenberg, Cosmetic Dentist of Lowenberg, Lituchy & Kantor and “Oil Pulling Guru”
Q: How does Coconut Oil improve oral health?
A: Oil pulling is a 3,000 year-old Indian practice and an inexpensive and harmless healing remedy with no downside. It reduces inflammation by combining the fat-soluble toxins found in the mouth, a byproduct of bacterial dental plaque, with the use of coconut oil. Results of oil pulling include fresher breath, whiter teeth and a reduction of bleeding gums while flossing. It is important to note, that oil pulling does not take the place of brushing and flossing, and I suggest using a tongue scraper after swishing with the oil for 20 minutes to remove the oil from the surface of the tongue. The proof of efficacy of this treatment is something you can see and feel after several days of this treatment.
Rita Hazan, Celebrity Colorist and Founder of the Rita Hazan Salon in New York City
Q: How does Coconut Oil benefit hair and how do you use it?
A: Coconut oil gives a hair a high shine since it contains fatty acids, more than other oils. I recommend it for over bleached, coarse and thick hair. The best type is organic raw Coconut Oil from Whole Foods. Heat it up for a few minutes, apply it to your ends and work it to the top of your hair. You can leave it on overnight with a shower cap; however, it is important to wash it out first thing in the morning.
Dr. Frank Lipman, Integrative & Functional Medicine Physician and founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center
Q: How should Coconut Oil be factored into your daily routine?
A: Healthy fats such as Coconut Oil are crucial for healthy skin. Coconut Oil is great for the skin as it contains lauric acid which has antimicrobial properties. It also contains Vitamin E which is essential for healthy skin growth and repair. The saturated fat in Coconut Oil is even known to protect the skin from UV damage from the sun. Taken internally, Coconut Oil will nourish the skin from the inside out. It can also be used externally as a moisturizer. I hope to help people let go of the myth that fat is bad for you! I am talking about good fats from Coconut Oil, coconut cream, olive oil, butter from grass-fed cows, and nut butters. Fats are essential for proper nerve activity, fat-soluble vitamin absorption, immune-system function and healthy cells.
Kat Burki, Founder and CEO of Kat Burki Skin Care
Q: What makes Coconut Oil essential in beauty products?
A: Coconut Oil, rich in Vitamin E, is known for its reparative and moisturizing capabilities, restoring suppleness and delaying signs of aging. Essential fatty acids and major antioxidants, such as Ferulic Acid and P-Coumaric Acid, combat free radical damage. We incorporated a virgin Coconut Oil into our Hibiscus Antioxidant Face Mask. This oil is cold-pressed, pure, natural and unrefined, with no chemical additives, ensuring all of the rich antioxidants remain to fully protect while repairing skin.
Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, Cosmetic Dermatologist and Founder and Director of The Fifth Avenue Dermatology Surgery and Laser Center
Q: Why is Coconut Oil top-of-mind for those looking to boost the appearance of their skin?
A: Coconut Oil has always been a well-accepted moisturizer and antioxidant for “Skin Care Gurus.” Coconut Oil has beneficial uses, both internally and externally. It has pure fatty acids essential for moisturizing and also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Comuaric acid is an antioxidant present in Coconut Oil and decreases inflammation and increases overall health of the skin. It is also very moisturizing and soothing for sunburns and helps skin’s luminosity and gives a nice temporary glow.
Dr. Stafford Broumand, NYC-based Plastic Surgeon and Associate Clinical Professor of Plastic Surgery at The Mount Sinai Hospital
Q: What skin type is Coconut Oil best for?
A: Recently many people have been talking about Coconut Oil, but it has actually been used for years. In the Middle East, women have been known to use it on their hair to keep it healthy and add a silky shine. Coconut Oil is soothing with Vitamin E and it also has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, which can be known to help with skin disorders. It is light in smell and consistency, so it absorbs easily into the skin, making it suitable for all skin types.
Joanna Vargas, Celebrity Facialist
Q: How can you incorporate Coconut Oil into your body treatments?
A: Coconut oil is amazing for the skin – it is very soothing and contains fatty acids that help maintain the skin’s lipid layer. I would also recommend it for people who have eczema, due to its calming properties. A unique at-home body treatment that I would recommend is covering your whole body, head to toe in coconut oil, and then wrapping everything in ace bandages. The coconut oil increases the metabolism in your cells, so it will help with cellulite, it’s a major detoxifier and it's also very hydrating. Stay wrapped for 45 minutes.
Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, Co-Director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in D.C
Q: Are there any precautions one should take when applying Coconut Oil?
A: Coconut Oil should be used cautiously on the skin, especially for those prone to acne because it can clog pores, which can lead to breakouts.