There’s a reason why coconut oil is the reigning ‘it’ ingredient of the natural beauty world: It’s a major multitasker. “It’s amazing that one pure, organic ingredient can be so versatile,” says Kiana Cabell, co-founder of Kopari Beauty, a premium organic beauty brand that’s all about the coconut oil.
So what makes coconut oil such an all-around MVP? For starters, it contains moisturizing fatty acids, such as lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Plus, it’s packed with antioxidant-rich vitamin E.
Intrigued? We rounded up 14 different ways to incorporate coconut oil into your health and beauty routines. It’s time to trade the constant clutter of bottles in your bathroom for a jar of coconutty goodness!
If your go-to mouthwash leaves your mouth feeling dry or irritates your gums, try swishing with a half-teaspoon of coconut oil (known as ‘oil pulling’) instead. Just keep in mind that it’ll take longer than your usual rinse: “For coconut oil you have to swish it for at least 20 minutes at a time,” says Dr. Mark Sperling, DMD. Try it before brushing your teeth.
Before reaching for your razor, try lathering up with coconut oil, especially if you have sensitive skin. “Coconut oil’s lauric acid has soothing properties that may help with shaving irritation,” says Avon’s consulting dermatologist Kim Nichols, M.D. Added bonus: It saves time. Since your legs will already be silky and hydrated, you can skip the moisturizer.
3. Foot Cream
If nothing seems to soften your cracked heels or rough calluses, grease them up with coconut oil. “Slather it all over your feet and put on socks before bed,” says holistic beauty expert Victorine Deych. Rub any leftover oil all over hands and cuticles. Just make sure to rinse your feet off before going barefoot the next morning—you don’t want to slip!
4. Deep Conditioner
Get your mane back in shape by using it coconut oil as a deep conditioning treatment. “Coconut oil promotes healthy hair and gives strands a shiny quality because it helps to protect the hair shaft from protein loss,” says Nichols. Because of coconut oil’s simple, single-chain molecular structure, it’s easily absorbed into the hair shaft, and thus better able to protect hair from breakage and damage than other oils, says a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science. Rub it into your scalp and through to the ends of your hair and let it sit for 30 minutes—or overnight. Then shampoo. (People with fine hair may need to shampoo twice, says Cabell.)
For those of us who, a) detest stinging eye makeup remover, b) wear a lot of eyeliner and mascara, and/or c) are paranoid about wrecking our eyelashes, a cotton pad soaked in coconut oil makes makeup removal a happier experience. “Gently dab the oil wherever you have makeup to remove and let it sit for a five minutes before rinsing with warm water,” says Nichols.
Another reason to switch to oil? Just like they moisturize your hair, those fatty acids can also quench your lashes, says Cabell. That’s some well-deserved TLC if you’re a daily mascara–wearer.
Coconut oil brings the silky smooth, but proceed with caution—a little goes a long way. “Apply it to damp skin after showering so it really absorbs,” says Cabell.
Your handy jar can also help keep your complexion in check—especially in the winter. “Rub a quarter teaspoon of coconut oil with a splash of bottled water between your hands, and gently press onto your skin,” says Nichols. “Wait for five minutes or so to let it absorb, then dab away any excess oil with a towel.”
Makeup Palette Saver
Before you chuck a broken powder makeup palette, try salvaging your cracked powder using coconut oil. “Coconut oil is like organic ‘glue,’” says Nichols. “Thoroughly mix your powder and a tiny bit of coconut oil and it’ll be back to life in about an hour.”
Exfoliating Body Scrub
Coconut oil makes a great base for a pampering at-home exfoliating treatment. The easiest do-it-yourself recipe is called a ‘sugar scrub.’ “Mix equal parts coconut oil and large granulated sugar together,” says Deych. “Rub all over to slough off dead skin and leave arms and legs extra soft.”
Wave tired eyes goodbye by applying coconut oil nightly. “The vitamins A and E in coconut oil may help soothe tired eyes,” says Nichols. She recommends chilling your oil before applying to the eye area for an additional calming sensation.
Tame unruly arches and add a glossy sheen to your brows by lightly dabbing them with coconut oil, either with your finger or a Q-Tip.
The simplest use for any leftover coconut oil you have on your hands? Just swipe it on your lips!