I'm guessing you've heard of coconut oil. It's kind of Cher-Horowitz popular right now (snaps for anyone who caught that Clueless reference), and I'm actually really happy about it because it's so good for you in so many ways, and most trends are strictly for the sake of fashion and serve very little purpose otherwise (remember those black wire-y chokers in the late 90s? WHY?!?)
I boarded the coconut oil train after Miranda Kerr's last VS Fashion Show back when she was an angel. I think she's so incredibly adorable and gorgeous at the same time (dimples seem to have that perk; thank your lucky stars if you got 'em!), and I thought "Screw Victoria; I want to know MIRANDA'S secret!" (or something less nerdy-sounding but along those lines)
Google Search: Miranda Kerr Beauty Regimen.
As I'm gathering intel, I stumbled across an interview revealing that Miranda swears by coconut oil. I don't think I even bothered to read the rest; I got what I came for.
That was about two years ago, and since then, its popularity seems to have absolutely exploded, (YAY FOR HEALTHY HUMANS!) and I'm finding that the benefits are almost endless! For $6, you're basically buying a magic potion for human health. I strongly encourage you to get on board if you haven't already, and we can all meet up when we're 114 with perfect skin and talk about how much safer the roads are now that we're all flying hovercrafts (AKA: look better and live longer).
What are the highlights?
For starters: IT'S AN ANTI-AGING AGENT! Many people use coconut oil for cosmetic purposes to improve the health and appearance of their skin and hair.
Studies on people with dry skin show that coconut oil can improve the lipid content and moisture of the skin. I use it on my lips all the time—especially before I get ready for the day—and I rub it off before I apply lipstick so the lipstick can be absorbed. Lip color stays (and LOOKS) way better on moisturized lips.
Not to mention: IT STRENGTHENS, PROTECTS, and SHINES UP YOUR HAIR! It's basically a hair steroid. Coconut oil has good amounts of vitamin E, which is a very protective antioxidant against hair damage.
Put 1-2 tbsp of melted coconut oil in your hair for 15-20 minutes before washing it out for a quick hair mask! My hair is so soft and shiny when I do this.
I know nothing about the science behind hair products so bear that in mind if hair tips ever leak onto here, but I do know it's good for your hair and makes it feel amazing!
By the way: IT WORKS AS A SUNSCREEN. The vitamin E antioxidant protects not only against hair damage, but against skin damage from UV rays. One study shows it blocks about 20% of UV rays, giving it some street cred in the sunscreen ball-game too.
Finally, though this isn't really a physiological benefit, I use this stuff as a makeup remover. As a makeup blogger, I put my face through quite of bit of applying and stripping of makeup, and my skin (actually, reeeeally my eyelashes) take a lot of the blows. This removes mascara sooo gently and perfectly. AND on that note, rubbing a little bit of coconut oil on your lashes at night protects the lashes and stimulates growth.
Like I said, it's a miracle potion. Chuck Norris in a jar. Every time I take the lid off, I'm half-expecting a light breeze to roll through while the cast of Glee crescendoes to "Hallelujah" and confetti falls around us.
Keep in mind: If you are using coconut oil on the skin regularly, try to find an organic one to reduce the absorption of toxins and pesticides through your skin.
Look for extra virgin that has not been hydrogenated, bleached, refined, or deodorized.
I listed the cosmetic benefits of coconut oil first because this is a beauty blog. HOWEVER, more important are the proven health benefits. Your body is your temple (and your soul's only vehicle in this world) so anything we can do to help preserve it is a worthy task because we like having you around!
1. Populations That Eat a LOT of Coconut Are Among the Healthiest People on the Planet
2. Coconut Oil Contains a Lot of Medium-Chain Triglycerides (which are metabolized and can have therapeutic effects on several brain disorders, including epilepsy and Alzheimer's)
3. Coconut Oil Increases Your Energy Expenditure, Helping You Burn More Fat
4. The Lauric Acid in Coconut Oil Can Kill Bacteria, Viruses, and Fungi, Helping to Stave Off Infections
5. Coconut Oil Can Improve Blood Cholesterol Levels and May Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
6. Coconut Oil Can Help You Lose Dangerous Belly Fat
Also, I've been reading about (and doing) a lot of oil pulling lately, and the research shows it to be a holistic treatment for a vast array of mouth and bodily diseases (AND a natural teeth whitener). Check out this article for more on the health benefits of oil pulling here!