Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Going nuts for coconut oil

Super silkie chickenNow, using coconut oil will definitely not turn you into a Silkie Chicken, but it will turn you into a silky chicken. Let me 'splain.

I've been looking for a natural deep hair conditioner as the majority of good mainstream ones out there tend to be full of odd sorts of chemicals. Most of the so-called "natural" ones I've encountered so far have been heavy, greasy or just gross and didn't really do anything or were impossible to wash out.

Well, much to my surprise I stumbled upon a group of people who use straight up coconut oil for their hair. It's referred to as "oiling" and basically you just apply some unrefined (aka "virgin") coconut oil on dry hair before washing. You can put it on 15 minutes before shampooing, overnight or anything in between - whatever you prefer. Obviously leaving it on longer will allow it to work more, just know that it will leave your hair rather oily and you'll want to protect your pillow with a towel if you sleep overnight with it in.

So, what's the big deal with coconut oil? Well, I tried it (since I have a ton of the unscented kind for making soap) and it washed out really easy, left my hair very soft and, most amazingly, my hair is super shiny, but not at all oily. The other weird thing is that the curls in my hair are a lot more defined, probably because the cuticle is less frizzy.

Coconuts!How often should you use it? Well, I guess it depends on how dry and damaged your hair is. You can probably get away with using it twice a week although I'm sure once a week or month is probably a goodly amount. Many people also use a very small (and I do mean tiny) amount on their dry hair daily for shine and for controlling fly-aways.

How does coconut oil differ from something like jojoba oil? Purportedly, coconut oil is able to penetrate the hair shaft better than jojoba or sunflower oils. According to one study:

Among three oils [coconut, mineral and sunflower], coconut oil was the only oil found to reduce the protein loss remarkably for both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product. Both sunflower and mineral oils do not help at all in reducing the protein loss from hair. This difference in results could arise from the composition of each of these oils. Coconut oil, being a triglyceride of lauric acid (principal fatty acid), has a high affinity for hair proteins and, because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft.

For more information you can check it out here.

The other thing you can use coconut oil for is moisturizing your skin. It magically disappears into your skin and doesn't leave you feeling oily or greasy.

This morning I whipped together a little body moisturizer using coconut oil, cocoa butter and vanilla essential oil. Since both coconut oil and cocoa butter are solid at room temperature (but melt at body temperature), I microwaved the two briefly and then added in the essential oil. Cocoa butter tends to be a little waxy, so if you try mixing up this concoction on your own, go easy on the cocoa butter.

50 comments:

Glenda said...

Thanks for the coconut oil tip. I will be getting my hair cut in a couple days, going to a Jamie Lee Curtis style (mine is normally not much longer than that, but it has grown out a good bit since my last cut) -- between the dryness associated with pool-swimming often, living in a very dry climate, and having a good bit of gray hairs sprouting up, I could use a deep conditioner that isn't full of can't-pronounce-the-names ingredients.

Would you mind sharing the approximate measurements of coconut oil to cocoa butter to essential oil you used for your body moisturizer?

Kristijoy said...

Hmm I will have to try with with eh SO's gargantuan supply of coconut oil.
He is on a special diet, and needs calories, and coconut oil is also anti-fungal and a key part of his diet that way.
So, it's also very good in cooking. Eggs cooked in coconut oil, fantastic, stirfrys, amazing. Greens, delish, gluten free baked goods, devine. I'm a convert.

What can't coconut oil do, I wonder?

Howzit work out with the baking soda wash? I don't use shampoo and can;t remember if you don't either.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Glenda - I used 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1.5 tablespoons cocoa butter. I melted that and added in 20 drops vanilla essential oil. It's just now solidifying back up again - although I suppose I could put it in the fridge to harden.

It's a little too buttery for me so next time I'll go with 1 tablespoon cocoa butter and see how that works. It's easier to remelt and add more if it's not enough but impossible to remove!

My daughter was so excited by the moisturizer she wanted to call her Daddy in the hospital to announce that "I'm going to have the softest skin in town!"

Kristijoy - yes, many speak of the miraculous nature of eating coconut oil. I'm not sold on that yet, though.

I don't use baking soda / no-poo method but many others who use coconut oil do. Might as well give it a try since you have so much on hand.

Melissa said...

I'll have to try this; I've been using jojoba and have not been super impressed thus far. My husband is from India and when we were visiting all the girls were appalled to find out I didn't put coconut oil in my hair!

Christine said...

I love coconut oil for my naturally curly hair and my skin. I don't mix anything with it for my body and just put it on everyday after the shower. I love that's it is solid and I melts as I rub it in on my legs, arms etc...

Crunchy Chicken said...

Christine - Right, you don't need to add anything to the coconut oil to use as a body moisturizer. I thought adding cocoa butter would give it a nice fragrance, but I think I almost prefer using it without it for summer. It's a lot lighter that way!

Samantha said...

I don't use shampoo or conditioner, and I have naturally neutral hair (neither oily nor dry), and I've tried using coconut oil as a deep conditioner in the past... and it was HORRIBLE. I normally just rinse my hair with water, and as such the coconut oil would not come out. My hair was a nasty, horrendous mess for at least a week--thankfully it was in the middle of winter, so I could just wear a hat all the time. Also, coconut oil has a very faint, but bad smell, which, when it's stuck in your hair for a week, believe me, you notice.

I don't use a baking soda/vinegar rinse, so if you did, maybe that would make a difference, I don't know. I'll tell you this though, I'm not in a hurry to find out.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Samantha - I sure as hell would not recommend using this in your hair if you only use water. That would be a nightmare as there wouldn't be anything to remove the oil.

The kind of coconut oil I use is unscented - it's not the kind you get for cooking.

Rebekka said...

"Also, coconut oil has a very faint, but bad smell, which, when it's stuck in your hair for a week, believe me, you notice."

Sounds like your coconut oil might have gone rancid? If it's not rancid the smell is quite pleasant, just smells coconutty.

Abbie said...

Does anybody know how it works for straight hair? I need lots of conditioning.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Abbie - I believe it works just as well for straight hair as it does for curly. I should know as the hair around my face is curly and straight in the back.

If you have a really oily scalp (um, like me) you might want to stay away from oiling things up too close to the scalp at first. Usually they recommend starting at the ears and going to the ends from there.

Lots of people use it as a scalp massage oil, but I haven't tried that yet as I tend to be a big greaseball without any help up topside.

MamaBird said...

If folks have kids with treenut or peanut allergies you might want to be aware that the FDA recently (2006?) noted that, although coconuts weren't classified as treenuts in the past, they are now. We were at a family party just today and were wondering aloud if coconuts were actually nuts. Bless google's heart, we found out instantly (which is why it's fresh in the mind). I wonder if there are any non-nut versions that work as well?

Abbie said...

If anything, my hair's really dry. I think I might try it out on my (very long) split ends before I go all out.

Thanks!!!

arduous said...

Yeah, my mom does this once a week. I really should do it too. I haven't used conditioner on my hair in months, and now that it is so long I really need some conditioner. Maybe next time I'm up there.

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

I'm putting coconut oil on my list. I can buy it in bulk at my local health food store so I would love it if it worked! Right now I use Aveda conditioner from the bulk dispensers and it's SO heavy. =(

Robj98168 said...

Yes but do you smell like a Pina Colada?

Tracy said...

And you didn't mention it as a natural lube for 'down there'???? Oh for shame! I thought that's what this post was going to be about. Everytime I hear about coconut oil, I hear about how great it is for sex!

Annie said...

Crunchy,

Thank you! I am trying to go all natural and the conditioner thing is just not working out. I live in Las Vegas and it is so dry here that my hair is just so brittle. It doesn't matter what I do. I am going to order some coconut oil tonight. I needed to place an order for some Shea butter anyway! I am going to try to make my own deodorant.

shell said...

I use olive oil. It's great for the hair by putting it on before washing, and as a weekly hot oil treatment. Plus I use it as a "lotion" substitue after I get out of the shower (I skip the face and use tea tree oil. Plus if I am spending time in the sun for too long I skip it and apply at night).

novemberjuliet said...

Hey Crunch, so what type of shampoo do you use? I think we might have similar hair types. I've been using burt's bee's pomegranate and only washing every few days. But then every few times I need to use a regular shampoo and lighten it up.

ruralaspirations said...

Thanks so much for this tip, Crunchy. I will be switching to Shampoo Soap when I'm finished with my current bottle of chemical-laden crap and I was wondering what to do about conditioner. Some say you don't need it but my long hair is brittle and since I'm letting my grey grow out well, that grey hair is frizzy! I can't wait to try this. Thanks!

PS - I'd love to hear more about your soapmaking!

Gaurav Jha said...

This definitely doesn't come as a surprise to me. We in India are quite used to using coconut oil based shampoos and they're fabulous. Coconut oil can also be used to massage your head when it pains. Works wonders, try it out. In case finding coconut oil is difficult for you guys, you can check out an Indian brand of oils and shampoos called "Parachute". You should hopefully get it at any one of the Indian stores around your area.

jennconspiracy said...

I read that the coconut oil is best applied to the hair using a wooden comb - do you use that method?

mudnessa said...

i am getting myself some coconut oil right away. too bad i didnt see this before i went to the store today. oh well another excuse to go browse the store.

i would also love to hear your ideas and what you use as a shampoo.

Pam said...

I have been washing my short hair with baking soda and conditioning with diluted apple cider vinegar. I use a small amount of coconut oil to texturize my hair instead of hair gel. Using the diluted apple cider vinegar every other day keeps my hair from getting oily. I have never had as healthy and soft hair as I do now.

Deanna said...

Tracy: Absolutely. I don't generally need it for me but my dh loves it on him. It will leave your hands nice and soft, too. ;)

Keep in mind that while solid in cool temperatures, it liquifies when warm. Despite central air conditioning it's liquid upstairs (where it's harder to keep it as cool) during the summer. It can be messy if you aren't careful. I washed out one of those glass jars that Burt's Bees moisturizer comes in and keep some in that on my bedside table. It's also good for moisturizing dry heels in the summer so it's handy to have it next to the bed. I can put some on at night but not have to walk across the carpet with it on.

Oh, and I also cook with it.

Theresa said...

I love it when I find out about something natural that can be used in so many healthy ways! I'll be checking out my local health food store this weekend to see if they carry coconut oil...

eco 'burban mom said...

Coconut oil is also awesome for cracked heels and very dry feet. So, I guess it's something that's good for the body - head to toe!!

My said...

I've been using coconut oil on my hair and skin for a while now. If you run out of coconut oil, olive oil works great too and absorbs nicely. I am AA and oils are my hair's best friend.

Kim from Milwaukee said...

I've read that all coconut products are wonderful, and keep you young. I started using coconut milk as a base for smoothies, it's so good, instead of milk.

Whenever I put coconut oil on after my shower my cats want some. It's great to keep the hairballs from forming. Just a dab on their paws and they lick it off and it coats their digestive tract.

Hausfrau said...

I'm a massage therapist and have heard that "fractionated" coconut oil is great as a massage oil. Of course, this means it is a little processed. They remove some of the triglycerides so that it has an almost indefinite shelf life - great if you are stocking up - it won't go bad.

Joanna said...

Thats what I've been looking for! My home made shampoo is wreaking my hair so bad I turned to a mass market rescue remedy (e.g. hot oil help) for much needed softness!

Bobbi said...

Wow - thanks for the coconut oil tip! I, too, have been looking for something natural to condition my hair with; this sounds perfect!

Moravia Peralta Hernández, said...

My hair wants to thank you for that tip. I have used "aguacate" (I think you named it "advocado"), mayonaise and linseed in different ways and my hair is always very dry. But I believe I remembered my grandmammy, who was a blackwoman, told me some time that recipe, but I never heard it. I'm going to try it and I'll tell you my results. Bye.

Green Bean said...

Timely post. My green moms group just attended a free, private class at Whole Foods today to learn about safe makeup and skin care. The instructor's favorite skin care/hair care product? Coconut oil!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Rob - yes, but only from the neck down.

Tracy - I have real issues with using non-water soluble lube, I don't recommend it.

NovemberJuliet & Mudnessa - Check out my post tomorrow. It will be all about shampoos and then some.

JennConspiracy - I don't know about the wooden comb thing (I've seen you over on the Longhair LJ Community, BTW). I would imagine it would get really gross, since it would be hard to wash the oil out of the wood.

jennconspiracy said...

That's funny - re the condition of the comb. I imagined it would be like seasoning a wooden cutting board or spoon: it will soak into the wood and won't feel totally oily. We should combs and test them out (still looking for a wooden comb...)

Crunchy Chicken said...

Jennconspiracy - I bet someplace like Whole Foods sells wooden combs. I've seen them in natural foods stores...

Texan Mama said...

Crunchy - Well I guess I am just a big fat novice but where do you get non-cooking grade coconut oil? I live in a fairly big metropolitan area but have never looked for this product before. I've never even been inside whole foods. I'm not too big on organic stuff. Don't get me started - I just like reading you because I want to learn and I like your writing style! Anyway, where can I go to get some coconut oil for my tresses?

Beany said...

Count me among those who massages their hair with coconut oil. I oil my hair every weekend (along with a full body massage) as it keeps everything nice, soft and silky. I buy my bottle of coconut oil from the Indian grocery store (the one I go to carries the oil in plastic bottles in a brand named parachute, been looking for glass to no avail). Adding a bit of henna powder to the oil makes the hair really soft too, my hair is prone to getting rough. I've been experimenting with the apple cider/baking soda no poo mix and haven't tried oiling my hair and washing it off with that mixture. I don't want to try too many new things with my hair.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Texan Mama - you can get away with using Spectrum Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. You should be able to find it readily in stores. I don't know what it smells like, but it's what a lot of people use.

By the way, I've subjected my two kids to coconut oil hair conditioning before their baths and now they have super shiny, easy to comb hair!!!!

Blue Castle said...

I just tried this yesterday - after running across your blog. My hair feels wonderful today. I usually have a bad case of the frizzies after I wash my hair, but today it is nice and smooth. Woohoo! I love it when you can find a natural, inexpensive alternative to buying something mainstream. Thank you!

Melinda said...

I have extremely sensitive skin all the way up to my scalp, so finding what to put on my skin has been a challenge. Essential oils for me are just as bad as artificial fragrances - they both make me break out in weird hives.

When I was in Hawaii I found the absolute perfect product for my skin and for extra hair treatments: macadamia nut oil. WOW. I bought a little bottle from an organic macadamia nut farm and it was amazing. Melted straight into my skin. But when that bottle ran out, I could not find the stuff again.

So I tried coconut oil and it didn't work so well for me - it was too greasy. I tried straight vitamin E and way too many other things. I finally found jojoba oil. The yellow-colored non-filtered kind didn't work. The clear-colored filtered jojoba oil (even comes organic) - as close as I could get to macadamia nut oil. I've used it for almost 10 years now. It's a great moisturizer and a great oil treatment for your hair.

So if the coconut oil doesn't work for anyone, do try the filtered, clear-colored jojoba oil.

Anonymous said...

I read the wonderful comments about using coconut oil as a conditioner for the hair. I use coconut oil and other essential oils in a lotion mixture that I make. I am going to try it for my hair. May God continue to bless you all?

Love & peace,
Lynette

Lisa said...

I just wanted to add my two cents...I tried the coconut oil yesterday (as I frequently do as you suggest for some reason) and I loved it. I was a bit nervous at first cause my hair was super greasy but it washed out well and my hair is now soft and silky...Thanks

Correne said...

I was so inspired to try the coconut oil that I went straight to the cupboard and rubbed some on my rather dry heels. Then I had the dog trying to lick my feet all night! Obviously, he can tell the difference between what's edible (coconut oil) and inedible (Vaseline Intensive Care)!

I've been planning to make some lotions out of coconut oil and almond oil, but I'm not sure if I want all the extra doggy attention. Too funny.

daharja said...

Can you suggest anything for we of the temperate regions?

You see, I'm *trying* to go 100% local in what we eat, use, consume etc., and coconuts just won't grow well down here in southern NZ. The frost tends to kill the poor buggers.

So...

Does anyone know of a similar high oil plant that might work that I can give a go?

justin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
myspace.com/pagosaspringsdoula said...

Hello, I am new to your site. I love it! Thank you for the great tips, can't wait for more. I am somewhat new to going green. I say somewhat only because I found a lot og the things I did before were green and I didn't pay attention. Any how I would love all you Crunchie Mommies to join me and other Birthing Doula's, Mommies, Women at myspace.com/pagosaspringsdoula Hope to see you all soon! Peace

Carrie said...

I'm excited to try this out...my husband and I just found a cool site to order coconut oil from in large quantities. Tropicaltraditions.com My hair has gotten so long, but I hate the idea of using crappy conditioner from the store...hopefully coconut oil will come to the rescue!

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