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14 Ways to Use Coconut Oil in Your Beauty Routine

coconut oil swatch

Beauty lovers treat coconut oil as a miracle ingredient, using it to soothe everything from burns to dry hair. Users on TikTok have gone so far as to dub it an antidote for menstrual cramps, which medical experts have swiftly debunked. “There is no scientific evidence suggesting that coconut oil can be a treatment for menstrual cramps,” doctor of nursing practice Dr. Jodi LoGerfo says.

But why exactly is coconut oil lauded as such a wonder salve? Well, it’s 100% true that coconut oil has some very unique attributes that set it apart from other oils. “Coconut oil has skin-repairing properties and can also decrease transepidermal water loss, so skin stays more hydrated,” LoGerfo explains. “Coconut oil also contains monolaurin, which is a monoglyceride from lauric acid that is antibacterial and antiviral,” she adds.

And beyond its skincare benefits, this coconut-derived ingredient can also be used on your hair, nails, and more. Ahead, find 13 expert-approved ways to use coconut oil from head to toe.

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All-Over Body Moisturizer

“Coconut oil is a great hydrating oil for your body,” LoGerfo says. “It is cheap and effective and can leave skin feeling soft, moisturized, and smooth.” Our experts recommend Applying it while your skin is still slightly damp to help lock in moisture. If pure coconut oil is too thick for your liking, you can also look for coconut oil-based moisturizers, which will give you the same moisturizing effects but absorb more quickly, according to cosmetic chemist Krupa Koestline.

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Skin-Soothing Balm

According to Koestline, virgin coconut oil has been shown to reduce inflammation and have an excellent potential for wound healing, thanks to its high content of polyphenols and triglycerides. It can also help soothe the skin and combat itch, so she recommends applying it to an eczema flare-up, a rash, a cut, etc. She suggests using it two to three times per day.

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Hair Mask

“Coconut oil is a great emollient that forms a lightweight coating over the hair shaft, sealing the cuticle and moisture inside,” Koestline says. “The fatty acids make it a great lubricant, which provides increased slip between the strands, helping it detangle, smooth, and flatten the cuticle surface. This improves the health and appearance of the hair.”

If you have finer hair, however, you might want to refrain from applying coconut oil all over to avoid weighting your hair down. Your best bet? “Apply the coconut oil to your ends and work into the hair, moving up to the scalp but avoid your roots,” creative director Elevate Hair and Aveda Arts Tatum Neill says. “Place a hot towel or a shower cap over your head, and leave it on for anywhere from 15 minutes to overnight before rinsing thoroughly,” he says. Neill notes that those with fine hair should keep it to 15 minutes, max, whereas those with thicker or more textured hair can get away with using it overnight.

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Cuticle Oil

LoGerfo says the oil is great for combatting dry cuticles and cracked skin on your hands. Plus, it’ll add an instant shine to your hands and nails. Slather it on before bedtime, taking a few extra seconds to massage it into the cuticles and nails themselves.

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Brushing your teeth with coconut oil can prevent the risks of gum disease and tooth decay,” board-certified cosmetic dentist in Beverly Hills Dr. Kevin Sands says. “Recent studies show that using coconut oil for teeth cleaning may work to decrease plaque buildup.” Create a DIY coconut oil toothpaste by combining six tablespoons of melted coconut oil with four tablespoons of baking soda to create a paste. You can use it two to three times per week, according to Dr. Sands.

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Oil Pulling

“While more research is still needed, coconut oil may support the health of your teeth, gums, and oral cavity,” Sands says. You can reap the benefits by oil pulling, the practice of swishing the oil in your mouth and on your teeth; it’s believed to have a cleaning effect and help reduce the adhesion of bacteria and plaque on the teeth, he notes. “For optimal results, try to oil pull at least a few times per week or up to three times per day,” he suggests. “Start by oil pulling for five minutes, then gradually increase your time as you get used to the feeling to up to 20 minutes each day.”

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Smoothing Hair Oil

If your style doesn’t have the level of shine you want or your ends are looking a little frizzy, a small amount of coconut oil may be the solution. “Adding a little bit of oil to your ends can help remedy the frizz and give your hair a beautiful luster,” Neill says. Plus, it helps nourish your hair. “The great thing about coconut oil is it is not a superficial silicone coating,” he adds. “lt penetrates into the hair and starts to nourish and repair.”

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Moisturizing Styler

Hair feeling perpetually dry? Neill says adding a little bit of coconut oil to any moisturizing cream is the perfect way to score an extra boost of moisture. “Add a small amount of oil to the cream, starting with a one-to-four ration, and work into your hair just as you normally would,” he says. “This could be a great option for a naturally diffused style or a protective braid, bun, or twist.”

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Makeup Remover

Remember that oil breaks down oil, meaning pure coconut oil can dissolve oil-based makeup. LoGerfo says it’s an especially ideal makeup remover if you have sensitive eyes or skin, as it’s very unlikely to cause any irritation (you may want to steer clear if you have oily or acne-prone skin). Warm up a small amount in your hands until it’s almost liquified, then massage over areas where you’re wearing makeup, wipe off with a cotton pad, and wash your face as usual.

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Heavy-Duty Foot Cream

“Coconut oil works as a great, inexpensive moisturizer for rough, dry, callused feet,” LoGerfo says. “It can moisturize the skin and soothe cracked heels.” Just make sure to pop on a pair of socks post-application; this will ensure you don’t slip and help increase the absorption of the coconut oil, she says.

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KP Treatment

“Treating keratosis pilaris, or KP, requires more than just exfoliation,” Koestline says. “Coconut oil helps repair the lipid barrier to the skin, which helps the skin function better, reducing KP flare-ups in the long term.”

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Lip Balm

Lost your lip balm? Just slather on a bit of coconut oil. It’s a great, easy, and cheap way to combat chapped lips, according to LoGerfo. The one caveat: She notes that you may want to avoid doing this if you have oily or acne-prone skin, as the heavy oil can cause clogged pores.

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Pre-Wash Scalp Treatment

Coconut oil’s anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties help keep the scalp’s microbiome balanced, Koestline says. She also points out that the ingredient’s anti-inflammatory properties help calm flare-ups. Massage a small amount into your scalp and roots for a few minutes before shampooing and conditioning as usual.

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Tattoo Healer

Per the point about coconut oil’s wound-healing properties, Koestline says it’s a great choice to use as part of the tattoo after-care process. She explains that it helps heal wounded skin, reduces redness, and keeps the skin moist.

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