Sunday, January 6, 2013

Coconut oil? Coconut oil!

Coconut oil is a great choice for bath and body products. It's inexpensive and it has some fatty acids we don't find elsewhere. It has a really long shelf life - up to 2 years - thanks to all those saturated fatty acids.

Virgin coconut oil smells absolutely of coconuts and is divine if that's a fragrance you like. Use it where you would use normal coconut oil. 

The reason for this post is that I have seen coconut oil used as the primary ingredient in a lotion bar and a whipped butter recently, both of which are really bad ideas. Not only does it have a melting point of 76˚F or 24.4˚C, which means your lotion bar or whipped butter will melt on a warm summer day or a slightly warm day in your car, but it cannot whip up like shea or mango butter might whip because it lacks the proper fatty acids to do that. You can use it in small amounts in a lip balm or a lotion bar, but remember that anything that has a bit of coconut oil - let's say 20% or more - will end up melting in the summer in just about any part of the world.

I'm glad to see this inexpensive oil with a long shelf life becoming more popular, but really consider the conditions the product might be in before using it. It isn't a substitute for butters as it melts quite easily and it isn't a substitute for a lot of oils because it will harden! If you want to use it in a whipped butter, it is nice at 10% with 80% shea, 9% fractionated coconut oil (or other liquid oil of choice), and 1% fragrance.

And consider using it in a hair product or neat. I like to melt the virgin coconut oil lightly in the microwave until it's just liquid, then I dip the ends of my hair into the Pyrex jug and try to get it through the length while keeping it away from my scalp. Coconut oil has many studies showing its efficacy in hair products, and I recommend trying it in your products before you go off and spend a ton of money on something like argan oil! (I have nothing against argan oil, but there are no studies showing that it is more effective than any other oil for our hair, whereas coconut oil has a lot of scientific backing!)

Related posts:
Conditioners: Adding oils - coconut oil 
Coconut oil in hair products


Robert said...

Thanks for reference for coconut oil. Such studies for natural-type ingredients are few and far between.

Based on the reference, I will be excited to add coconut oil to my next shampoo. How much coconut oil do you think you could add to the shampoo without separation and the use of a solubilizer? If you were to use a solubilizer, which one(s) would you recommend for a ‘standard’ shampoo? Which one(s) for a very ‘natural’ PEG-free shampoo?

Constance Reader said...

I've started using coconut oil in my shampoo. It's too heavy for use in a conditioner, but using it in my shampoo means that I actually use less conditioner. And I put in on my hair straight once a week for deep conditioning. My skins loves it in body scrub as well.

Leana said...

What is "Neat"? I've seen it referred to in a couple of your posts, but I have no idea what it is.

Kari said...

Hi there! I was just thinking the other day about ways to have a whipped butter without it melting in the summer. I'm in the southern part of the US, and during the summer it gets HOT. If I have the butter in my bag or car, it melts in minutes. Do you have any other suggestions of what combination or types of ingredients would help keep anhydrous butters from melting?
Currently my anhydrous products have 60% butters, and 40% oils. I've tried 80% butters, 20% Oils and still melts quickly.

Thanks and LOVE LOVE LOVE the blog. It's so thorough and thoughtful. :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Robert. I wouldn't add the coconut oil to my shampoo - I prefer a pre-wash treatment or conditioner instead. It seems like it's an awful lot of work to get it to emulsify into the shampoo without a lot of benefits. And natural? You know I don't know what that word means any more! :-)

Hi Constance. How did you solublize the oil in your shampoo?

Hi Leana! It means undiluted.

Hi Kari. I've written up a detailed answer to your question in yesterday's Weekend Wonderings. Great question!

ros6nn6 said...

Hi Susan. When you dip the end of your hair in the melted coconut oil, is your hair wet or dry? What is better? And why coconut oil far from the scalp ? If is a pre-wash, the I wash all my head :D

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi ros6nn6? When I apply it to my hair, I apply it to dry hair. I think this is a better choice as it means the coconut oil can penetrate the hair strand to keep water out when I'm washing it and afterwards. I keep it away from my scalp as I have really oily hair and it means that my hair gets oilier quicker after using it. I can't seem to get all the oil out of my scalp. And besides, your scalp really doesn't need a lot of oils unless you have some kind of special condition. (Dandruff is about having too much oil and not enough exfoliation, so you definitely don't want oil in that case!)