You really can't go anywhere on the Internet without hearing about the all the reasons people love using coconut oil. Its purported benefits include lowering your cholesterol, improving digestion, boosting your immune system, fighting frizz, healing split ends, stopping aging, and probably fueling rocking ships or something. But seriously, everyone's all about the coconut oil and I'm over here like, well coconut oil's great and all, but is it useful in a way that will actually benefit me and save me some cold, hard cash? People use coconut oil as shaving cream and moisturizer, they use it to wash their hair, they cook and bake with it, and so much more.
As far as my own personal life went, I was interested to discover whether or not all the coconut oil hype was real or not. Could I actually use it to simplify my life? Was using it as easy as everyone makes it seem?
According to the holy grails of Pinterest and the DIYers of the Interwebz, it's absolutely acceptable to swap out coconut oil for many different aspects of your beauty routine. Coconut oil is an easy substitute for toothpaste, some people rock coconut oil as deodorant (no, seriously), and some enjoy all the benefits that come with coconut oil pulling.
I wasn't quite ready to let go of toothpaste, but I will admit that I've been on the hunt for an all-natural lotion for quite some time now. I mean, have you ever looked at the ingredients in even the most "natural" versions of lotion? They're loaded with all sorts of chemicals and things that sound very suspicious. Our skin is our largest organ and frankly, I'd love for there to be a simple way to get my moisturizing on in a natural way. So I decided to try out coconut oil as a moisturizer, swapping my normal lotion for straight-up coconut oil. And while I was at it, I used coconut oil as my shaving cream because YOLO.
Here's what happened:
To kick off my coconut oil experiment, I raided my pantry for some mostly unused jars of coconut oil (my mom had gotten swept up in the coconut oil craze, only to abandon it after a week, so I was gifted with a lot of coconut oil, which, lucky me!).
The thought of putting just straight coconut oil on my skin kind of freaked me out, so I looked up a few coconut oil recipes and found this lovely one for whipped coconut oil body butter. Basically, you just throw a cup of coconut oil in the mixing bowl and let 'er rip. I used my Kitchen-Aid mixer and let it run for about eight minutes while the machine did all the work. And my son was completely helpful in the process.
The recipe said you just let the machine whip up the oil until it resembles body butter and if you're feeling fancy, you could add a drop or two of any essential oil that you wanted to make it smell pretty and do whatever stuff essential oils are supposed to do. I had some lavender essential oil that I have literally not used for anything after purchasing it and I know lavender is supposed to be good for skin and soothing and stuff like that, so I threw a drop in.
Next step: Shave!
With my coconut oil body butter officially ready to go, it was time to put it to the test. First, I tried it on my face, which in retrospect, was probably not the best idea. It probably would be a better idea to test a new lotion, especially one that's homemade and made from a jar you found in your pantry and supplemented with an essential oil you've never used on a smaller, more inconspicuous part of your skin, like the top of your arm or something, but I went right for it.
Spoiler alert: it burned like crazy. As my face with turning into fiery flames before my toddler's eyes, it dawned on me that many members of my family are actually allergic to lavender, so perhaps I may have some kind of sensitivity, too. Oops.
After the unfortunate episode that was burning my face off with my homemade coconut oil concoction, I was a little more than hesitant to shave with it too. But I pressed forward in the name of science and well, because it had been a while since I shaved, so priorities.
I didn't want to waste my precious body butter, however, so I decided to simply shave with straight-up coconut oil out of the jar. Somehow, I thought that would be easier and after reading a few posts on it, people varied how they used coconut oil as shaving cream, but essentially, you can just use it straight from the jar. One person recommended making a sugar-coconut oil scrub, but that sounded like way too much work and frankly, I was tired just from making the body butter that went wrong. (Also, that version used orange juice and it just sounded straight-up wrong to me to pour freshly-squeezed orange juice on my razor-bladed legs, but maybe that's just me?)
So, straight from the jar it was. I brought the jar into the shower and had enough foresight to bring a spoon because I knew from experience that it would be hard to get the stuff out of the jar. A lot of people said that the coconut oil would melt from the heat of the shower, but that didn't happen for me. It remained completely rock solid.
Actually though, I was rather surprised with how well using the solid coconut oil worked as a shaving cream. I just took a chunk out of the jar and basically used it as a bar of soap — a shaving cream bar, if you will. I found that it was really easy and actually kind of convenient to rub the oil all over my legs and then shave. Instead of trying to fight with the water like I normally do with shaving cream, the coconut oil stayed put. I could tell exactly where the coconut oil was on my legs, which eased my fears that I would be shaving the first layer of my skin off.
Once I got my legs coated and did that initial fear-filled shave, it was smooth sailing from there. The coconut oil worked very well as shaving cream, it didn't clog my razor up at all, and it rinsed off, for the most part. And it didn't make my shower slippery either, because I checked, just in case.
After my success with shaving, I decided to give the coconut oil lotion one more try, this time on my legs instead of my face. No burning sensation happened, which was a relief and overall, I didn't have any problems using the body butter. My legs felt like they normally do with lotion, no itchiness or dry skin noted, but I did have a little bit trouble with the after-feeling of greasiness. It felt like I coated my legs in oil and then slid into bed. I was a little worried that my legs would leave giant grease streaks on my bed, but fortunately, when I checked in the morning, it was fine. No coconut oil streaks, guys.
I also found that using the coconut oil in the shower as shaving cream on my legs really cut down on how much moisturizer I needed after my shower anyways. The oil from shaving kept my legs pretty moisturized to begin with.
I tried the coconut oil body butter on my face again and found that while it didn't burn as much as it did before, it still really wasn't doing the trick for me as a moisturizer. It felt way too greasy on my skin, didn't really absorb in, and honestly, left my skin still feeling super parched. I hate having dry skin and I kept finding myself running back and forth to re-apply the butter, just hoping to reach that perfect state of moisturized nirvana.
By the end of the day, I gave up on the coconut oil as a facial moisturizer and decided to keep it solely for my body. I went out to the store that night and bought up my favorite Burt's Bees lotion and when I put it on I swear I heard my face say, ahhhhh...... in total and complete relief.
Today was the day. I decided to take my coconut oil shaving experiment to the next level and went where I'd been too scared to go before: the bikini line.
Shaving my legs with coconut oil was one thing, but shaving my bikini with coconut oil? That took me some talking into. I pretty much used up the entire jar, just in case, and stuck to the perimeters for the initial trial, but thankfully, things turned out just fine. The coconut oil worked just like shaving cream, although I will admit that it was a little different than shaving cream to try to rinse off. (Coconut oil doesn't completely rinse off, so be prepared for that or just look it as a nice moisturizer for your bikini line.)
I also kept an eye out afterwards for any razor burn or weird reactions, but no adverse side effects went down. I did notice that this time, when I got in the shower, however, my razor was clogged with coconut oil, but it rinsed out very easily with a spray of hot water from the shower head.
By now, after enjoying such success with the coconut oil and basically feeling like a shaving pro, I decided to mix things up a bit and use my coconut oil as a moisturizer — for my hair, that is.
Everyone's always talking about how good coconut oil is for your hair and how it will make your hair so shiny and thick and full of life. And I mean, if one of my favorite writers extolls the use of coconut oil for her magical mermaid hair, that certainly means I can use it too.
But unfortunately for me, I didn't do a single bit of research before actually using the coconut oil on my hair and I mistakenly thought that I could just use it like a kind of conditioner, using it in place of normal conditioner. So after I shampooed in the shower, I took some coconut oil and rubbed it in my palms until it melted, then very ungracefully applied it in chunks to my hair. I left the oil in when while continued to shave my legs with another chunk of coconut oil, then rinsed, and hopped into my bed for my new nightly ritual of moisturizing with the coconut oil.
I woke up, excited to see what the coconut oil had done to my hair and fully expecting it to at least help somewhat with my incredibly static-filled hair, thanks to the dry heat of our house and Michigan winter. Instead of luscious locks, however, I woke up to stringy, grease-filled hair because apparently you're supposed to put the coconut oil on as a conditioner before you shampoo, because coconut oil is notoriously hard to get out of your hair. Who knew?
You'll be happy to hear that the next day, after I successfully shampooed the stuff out, my hair was a tiny bit softer and more manageable. But then I was too scared to try it again, so I'm not sure if it was a fluke or not.
The Final Verdict on Coconut Oil
Honestly, I think I might just be a coconut oil shaving cream convert. First up, let's talk the cost factor. A three-pack of basic Gillette Shaving Cream "for women" (because everyone knows that shaving cream is totally different for men and women — how would we know if the packaging wasn't peach or pink?!) is 50 cents an ounce on Amazon. Meanwhile, a 54-ounce jar of coconut oil is 28 cents an ounce. So coconut oil, assuming you use the stuff ounce-for-ounce, would definitely be cheaper. And then there's the chemical component of ingredients. Let's take a gander at the ingredients in shaving cream, shall we?
Gillette Venus With a Touch of Olay Vanilla Cashmere:
- Palmitic Acid,
- Glyceryl Oleate
- Stearic Acid
- Tocopheryl Acetate
- Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer
- Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter Extract
- Pvm/ma Copolymer
Good grief, that's a lot. But aside from the natural appeal of coconut oil as shaving cream, I actually found it incredibly easy to use. I'm not entirely sold on using coconut oil as a straight-up lotion just yet, but I will continue to use it as a supplement and luckily, using the shaving cream left my legs moisturized straight from the shower anyways, so overall?
Coconut oil as shaving cream: 1
Shaving cream: 0.
Nicely done, coconut oil, nicely done.