When I was back in the UK packing to come on this trip (feels like a lifetime ago already), I had every intention of packing lightly and was trying to consolidate the various toiletries and products I might need, which proved no easy task. I mean there’s certain things a girl just can’t do without. Right? From night cream to hair conditioner, from body cream to hair serum, and from eye make-up remover to insect bite relief.
But of course, as soon as I got to India I realised there’s one product that performs all these functions and more. It’s readily available, incredibly cheap and best of all completely natural. And the name of this miracle product? Coconut oil.
I knew you could use it for a lot of things, but I had no idea how far reaching these were until I came across this great blog post 101 Uses for Coconut Oil. So I decided to try out some of the suggestions and my favourite ones are listed below. As I don’t have a full kitchen I haven’t really been cooking for myself, so most of these are external uses, but as you can see from the list there are countless culinary and internal uses too.
1. Body Lotion
Used sparingly as an all-over body moisturiser after showering. Gives your skin a lovely, healthy glow and a fresh, tropical scent for the rest of the day. Just make sure you wait a while before putting your clothes on!
2. Face Moisturiser
Makes a wonderfully rich, nourishing alternative to night cream and is thought to have anti-ageing properties.
3. Intensive Hair Treatment
Before you go to bed you can rub it into your scalp and all the way through to the ends, giving yourself a relaxing head massage in the process. Leave it on overnight, then wash it out in the morning for an intensive deep conditioning treatment.
4. Hair Serum
If your hair is anything like mine and you suffer from frizz and pesky flyways, rubbing a little coconut oil into your hands and smoothing down the hair shafts can do wonders for your dry hair, particularly on those dry or split ends.
5. Eye Make-up Remover
On the increasingly rare occasions when I decide to wear some mascara of an evening, I’ve found that dabbing a piece of tissue or cotton wool in a little coconut oil removes the mascara like a dream.
6. Insect Bite Relief
Dabbing a little coconut oil on insect bites, particularly from mosquitoes, really helps reduce the itch.
7. Massage Oil
I’ve had several massages where coconut oil was the main oil of choice. It goes on easily, is cheap enough (in India at least) that you can be generous with it, and it leaves you smelling lovely all day.
8. Cold Relief
When I was suffering from a cold a few weeks ago, I would blend a spoonful into herbal tea to help speed my recovery. But be careful – I found it makes the tea much hotter when you first put it in!
9. Oil Pulling
I decided to try oil pulling while I’m here, which is a process of swishing oil around your mouth and ‘pulling’ it through your teeth for about 10-15 minutes each morning when you first get up. You can also use sesame or sunflower oil, but I decided to try coconut oil for the taste and also because it’s in such plentiful supply. I’ve noticed my teeth feel much cleaner and smoother after a couple of weeks and I think my gums feel healthier too. There are claims that oil pulling can help with not just improved dental health but in curing many other diseases and ailments too.
A word of warning though: DO NOT swallow the oil once you’ve finished pulling, as it will be full of harmful bacteria and toxic bodily waste. Spit it into the toilet, down a sink or drain and then clean out the receptacle and your mouth with plenty of water afterwards. Tongue scraping immediately afterwards also feels very cleansing, particularly when you see the residue that’s left behind!
10. Nappy Rash
A slightly delicate subject this one, but important nonetheless. The combination of the hot climate (and it’s getting especially hot now), tight clothing and overuse of either toilet paper and/or bidet spray showers can result in a sore, painful rash around the genital region. Applying coconut oil to the area after showering is not only safe and soothing but reduces the rash in just a few days.
The benefits and uses of coconut oil are almost never-ending; it really is a miracle product. Now, if only we could find a way to grow coconut trees in the UK…