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Find the best coconut oil for every purpose
Shake up your routine with a health and beauty multitasker.
Coconut oil’s known for its rich vitamin and fatty-acid content that contributes to a slew of purported health benefits. And it’s so multifunctional, you can use it in your beauty routine or cook with it.
But the best pick for you depends on what you plan to use it for.
Our top picks
Best coconut oil for hair
The fatty acids in coconut help moisturize and condition your hair. It’s a great deep treatment that adds shine and tames flyaways.
Coconut oil is quite absorbent, but it can potentially weigh down finer hair. Dry, curly or kinky hair can better handle coconut oil as a leave-in treatment.Shop hair oil
How to make a deep hair treatment with coconut oil
- Warm the coconut oil on low heat.
- Apply to damp or dry hair.
- Massage it into your scalp, working down the length of your hair and concentrating on the ends. If you have fine or thin hair, avoid the roots.
- Put on a shower cap and leave it on for at least 30 minutes.
- Rinse hair thoroughly. Depending on your hair type, you might want to use shampoo for this step. If you have dry or very curly hair, plain warm water might do the trick.
Best coconut oil for skin
You’ll find coconut oil in products like primers, foundations and facial wipes. Adored for its light texture and absorbency, it can be used on your face as the last step in your skincare routine to seal in moisture. It also doubles as a makeup remover and shaving cream for slick, smooth skin.
Unrefined coconut oil is usually considered best for direct use on the skin — especially on the face — because it contains more nutrients and antioxidants. Just be cautious if you have oily, acne-prone skin — coconut oil can cause breakouts for some.Shop skin oilBack to top
Best coconut oil for cooking
Most dietitians and cooks would agree that virgin coconut is the healthiest choice. However, refined coconut oils can also be used.
There’s some controversy as to whether or not cooking with coconut oil is healthy. Some health experts say that it’s a much healthier alternative to peanut and canola oils. But others say that its high saturated fat content makes it unhealthy.
Before you decide to make the switch, speak with a doctor or nutritionist.Shop cooking oilBack to top
Difference between refined and virgin coconut oil
Two main production methods are used to create coconut oil, which result in either refined or virgin oil.
Refined coconut oil
Refined coconut oil is generally considered to be lesser-quality than virgin coconut oil — though it’s the most common and economical choice. It goes through a refining process, usually at very high temperatures and sometimes with the assistance of different chemicals to help extract the highest quantity of oil from the coconut.
Refined coconut oil is made from the dried white “meat” of the coconut, called copra. To extract the oil, copra is pressed, heated and blended. Then the oil is extracted and processed. Some brands actually take the coconut smell and flavor out of the oil to make it more like a general-purpose vegetable oil.
For this reason, refined coconut oil is sometimes called and labeled “RBD oil,” which is an acronym for refined, bleached and deodorized.
If you prefer to buy products that have been through as little processing as possible, then you’ll probably prefer virgin coconut oil.
Virgin coconut oil
First things first: Unrefined coconut oil and virgin coconut oil are the same product.
And despite different labeling, there is also no measurable difference between “virgin” coconut oil and “extra virgin” coconut oil. The extraction process that olive oil goes through that differentiates between virgin and extra virgin does not apply to coconut oil.
Virgin coconut oil can also be extracted by a method called “cold pressing” which keeps more of the original nutritional compounds intact. Cold pressing isn’t really that cold, and the coconut is still heated to extract the oil — but at much lower temperatures than traditional extraction methods.
Virgin coconut oil is extracted from the fresh milk and raw meat of the coconut soon after it’s picked. The process of selecting ripe coconuts and the timely oil production means that virgin coconut oil tends to be higher-quality and more expensive than refined coconut oil.
Our top picks
Viva Naturals Cooking Coconut Oil
Coconut Oil for Skin
Coconut Hair Oil Conditioner
Frequently asked questions
Photo by deanna alys on Unsplash
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