10 Slick Uses for Coconut Oil

By: Alia Hoyt  | 

coconut oil surrounded by coconuts
Coconut oil has lots of uses as a health and beauty aid. MaraZe/Shutterstock

Coconut oil has been used for many different things over the last millennia, particularly in tropical countries. Now the U.S. has warmed up to it as well, so to speak, and has discovered how valuable it is.

Before we share some of our favorite uses, here's a little bit about the product. Coconut oil doesn't look particularly oily. It probably most closely resembles shortening, thanks to its waxy, white/clear appearance and the fact that it's solid when kept at room temperature. When heated up in a skillet, however, it melts into a clear liquid. The reason it remains solid at room temperature is because it's 80 to 90 percent saturated fat. So, use it sparingly in frying or cooking. Coconut oil also contains vitamins and minerals and has antibacterial properties. It smells good too!

Here are 10 amazing ways to use that jar of coconut oil. Use pure virgin coconut oil to get the best results.

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1. Moisturize Skin

Skip the pricy lotions in favor of coconut oil as an effective moisturizer. Simply massage a small amount directly onto the skin, but skip any oily zones (in fact, people with acne should skip this altogether). Since coconut oil is antibacterial, it'll keep any nasty stuff at bay, and it's also been shown to help treat eczema, athlete's foot, psoriasis and other skin ailments.

2. Body Scrub

Dead skin cell buildup can cause issues like blocked pores or scaly patches on your body. Avoid all this by whipping up some coconut oil-based exfoliator. Mix a cup of brown sugar or a half-cup of sea salt with a half-cup of coconut oil. Gently scrub into your skin and rinse. Use this on your body about once a week.

3. Substitute Shaving Cream

Skip the shaving cream and opt instead to lather up with coconut oil. Just use it in place of regular shaving products and watch it both hydrate and produce an effective shave.

4. Hydrate Hair

Tame frizzy hair with a dollop of coconut oil, which is rich in saturated fat, vitamins K and E and iron, all of which are great for hair. You can also use it as a conditioner: Melt 2 teaspoons of coconut oil into 1 cup of warm water. Allow it to cool, then pour on your hair. Leave the concoction on for about 30 minutes. Make sure to rinse thoroughly so your hair doesn't come out greasy.

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5. Prevent or Treat Dandruff

If you're experiencing dandruff or an itching dry scalp, the highly moisturizing properties of coconut oil may take care of the problem. Simply apply coconut oil to the scalp area, then comb it through the rest of your hair. (You can melt 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a cup of warm water, instead, if you want more lathering.) Cover your head with a shower cap and allow the oil to soak in your hair for a few minutes; then rinse completely. Do this in place of your regular shampoo and conditioner.

girl applying coconut oil to scalp
You can apply coconut oil to your scalp to get rid of dandruff.
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

6. Get a Healthier Smile

Oil pulling is a very popular, natural method to treat and prevent all kinds of mouth ailments, like bacteria, bad breath, bleeding gums and tooth decay. It's not 100 percent proven, but it's not likely to hurt anything, either. And coconut oil has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

To do an oil pulling, swish 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 15 or 20 minutes (if you can't do it that long, simply build up a little bit more each time). Don't swallow! When done, spit it into the trash can, then rinse out your mouth thoroughly with water. (Avoid spitting in the toilet or sink as this can lead to oil buildup and clogging in these drains.) Oil pulling can be done multiple times per day or week.

7. Heal Scrapes

Coconut oil may also help cuts and scrapes heal faster than if they're left alone. Simply add a little coconut oil to the affected area, then cover up with a bandage. Repeat and replace as needed.

8. Massage Oil

Coconut oil is a primary ingredient in many massage oils, so use it for home massages instead of forking over big bucks for name-brand oils. Just melt it on the stove and let it cool to the touch before using.

9. Revive Cuticles

A little bit of coconut oil rubbed into cuticles and nails will go a long way toward making them more hydrated and healthier.

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10. Baking Substitute

Whether you're doing some vegan baking – or just want to give a different flavor to your muffins or cakes, it's coconut oil to the rescue! Replace a half stick of butter with a half-cup of coconut oil or 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Note that coconut oil is not a healthy substitute for butter – it's very high in saturated fat.

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