Coconut oil is a natural by-product of coconut and is known for its high content of medium chain fatty acids, making it thicker than most vegetable oils. It is extracted in one of two ways, producing either refined coconut oil, or unrefined coconut oil.1
The first method of extraction occurs when bleached and deodorized copra (dried coconut meat) is pressed mechanically. The second method extracts coconut oil from unprocessed coconut cream by emulsion. The most common type of coconut oil is refined, but pure coconut oil is becoming more popular.1
How to Mix Essential Oils with Coconut Oil
You can use coconut oil as carrier oil for essential oils by mixing 1 Tbsp. of coconut oil with 4 drops of your favorite essential oil. Due to the thickness of organic coconut oil, it makes a great base for lip gloss, body cream, and face masks. You can also dilute your essential oil blend with fractionated coconut oil, which has some of the fatty acids removed to make it thinner, and remain a liquid.2 This liquid carrier oil works well as a massage oil, face wash, and shampoo.
Coconut Oil for Hair
Coconut oil makes a great natural hair care product because of its low molecular weight, which allows it to penetrate the hair shaft, unlike other hair products. Past research on coconut oil has shown that it can reduce the amount of hair protein lost during weekly cleaning and styling rituals, making it a natural protectant.3
Mixing essential oils with coconut oil increases the benefits of coconut oil on hair, by combining the strengths of each individual product. For example, a 2010 animal study applied Ziziphus jujube (red date) essential oil to shaved test subjects. Results showed that the essential oil was capable of increasing hair growth when compared to a control group.4
To learn more about how to use coconut oil for hair, or as a coconut carrier oil in hair care, read on below.
Coconut Oil Hair Mask
For a coconut oil hair treatment that will add a layer of protection to your hair, and prevent further damage, try a coconut oil hair mask. In a small mixing bowl, combine 3 Tbsp. organic virgin coconut oil, 3 drops lavender essential oil, 3 drops chamomile essential oil, mix well and apply to dry or towel dried hair. Massage into the scalp and along hair strands. Gather hair on top of your head and cover in a shower cap. As coconut oil sits on your hair and scalp, the heat from your body will cause it to liquefy, giving it a greater range of coverage.
To remove the mask, combine 2 Tbsp. white vinegar with one cup of warm water before the rinsing process begins. Rinse hair in warm water until most of the coconut oil is removed, then apply your vinegar rinse to ensure that your hair won’t feel too oily when dried and styled.
This recipe used lavender essential oil and chamomile essential oil for their soothing properties and mild smells, but you can choose your own essential oils based on preference of scent.
Coconut Oil for Hair Growth
Due to coconut oil’s ability to deeply penetrate the hair shaft, and its mildness on the scalp, mixing coconut oil and essential oils for hair growth has the potential to maximize results. Some common essential oils for natural hair growth treatments at home include, thyme essential oil, cedarwood essential oil, lavender essential oil, and rosemary essential oil.
In a 1998 study, researchers applied a mixture of these four essential oils to the scalps of 43 participants, all diagnosed with alopecia. A control group of 41 volunteers, also diagnosed with alopecia, used a mix of only grapeseed oil and jojoba oil. Following 7 months of daily application, there was a significant improvement in the essential oil group over the carrier oil group.5
To create your own hair growth formula at home, try the hair mask recipe above, with a few minor changes. Combine 4 Tbsp. coconut oil, 2 drops thyme essential oil, 2 drops lavender essential oil, 2 drops rosemary essential oil, 2 drops cedarwood essential oil, mix well and apply to dry or towel dried hair. Leave on for 30 minutes and rinse as previously instructed. This mask can be used up to twice a week.
Coconut Oil for Beard
Coconut oil not only penetrates the hair on your head, but the hair on your face as well, making it a great natural beard oil. You can individualize your beard oil blend by adding your favorite masculine essential oils. Combine the moisturizing properties of frankincense essential oil with sweet aroma of orange essential oil for a added punch of zesty citrus.
To make the perfect beard oil blend, combine 1 Tbsp. fractionated coconut oil with 2 drops frankincense essential oil, 2 drops orange essential oil, mix well, and apply sparingly with clean dry fingertips. You can also brush some of your beard oil onto a beard comb, and comb it through your beard.
Coconut Oil Shampoo
To harness the natural protein protection of coconut oil on your hair, you can make your own shampoo at home. In a clean shampoo bottle, mix ¾ cup of water, ½ cup castile soap, 2 Tbsp. pure coconut oil, 2 Tbsp. fractionated coconut oil, and 10 drops of your favorite essential oil, such as peppermint essential oil or sandalwood essential oil.
Some essential oils offer hair benefits, as well as favorable scents to your shampoo. The benefits of tea tree essential oil include natural dandruff relief and works as an effective lice treatment.6, 7
Coconut Oil for Skin
There are many coconut oil benefits for skin, including increased hydration and added protection for surface lipid layers. A double-blind study found that when applied to patients diagnosed with xerosis cutis (abnormally dry skin), coconut oil helped restore moisture and make a visible difference over a 2-week period.9
Coconut Oil Stretch Marks
Coconut oil for stretch marks is a common treatment used by pregnant women, and individuals who have gained or lost large amounts of weight over a short time. Coconut oil is found in some commercial stretch mark products around the world, and may help speed the fading of stretch marks.
In a 2010 animal study, the use of coconut oil on test subjects saw a higher turnover of collagen, and an increased rate of healing due to the antioxidant activity of coconut oil.10 These same skin benefits can be applied to the healing of stretchmarks, by massaging pure coconut oil into the affected skin area daily.
Coconut Oil for Face
Coconut oil for acne is a natural solution, which moisturizes as it treats the skin. The best way to use this method of acne management is by washing face with coconut oil and an antibacterial essential oil blend. One of the most useful essential oils for acne is peppermint essential oil, which effectively inhibits the progression of several strains of bacteria, including those that cause pimples. The toning and antibacterial qualities of lemon essential oil make it another useful essential oil for acne.
You can create your own acne face wash by mixing 1 cup coconut oil, 1 Tbsp. baking soda, 10 drops lemon essential oil, 5 drops peppermint essential oil, and mixing well. This cleanser can be stored in a sealable glass jar, and used every second day.
Coconut Oil Mask
Using carrier oils for skin is a great alternative to expensive face masks, and allows you to customize with various essential oils, according to your skin type. To create your own acne controlling coconut oil face mask at home, combine 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, 3 Tbsp. oatmeal, 3 drops peppermint essential oil, and 1 Tsp. warm water. Mix until the mask looks like a paste. Apply to your face, careful to avoid lips and eyes. Leave mask on for 15-minutes, rinse off with cool water, and pat face dry with a towel. This treatment can be used up to twice a week.
Does Coconut Oil Help Sunburn?
Using coconut oil for sunburn may be helpful due to its ability to penetrate the skin and provide a collagen and moisture boost.10 You can increase the level of sunburn relief by adding essential oils to your coconut oil application. For example, chamomile essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties which can counter the effects of sun damage to the skin, and reduce swelling and redness.
To treat a sunburn at home, mix 2 Tbsp. fractionated coconut oil, 1 Tsp. liquid aloe juice, and 4 drops chamomile essential oil. You can double or triple this batch depending on the size of the burned surface area. Apply with a cotton swab, or use in a clean spray bottle for easy application.
Coconut Oil Deodorant
Coconut oil makes a safe and natural alternative to commercial brand deodorants, especially when mixed with antibacterial essential oils. In 2006, lemongrass essential oil’s properties were tested against 6 strains of bacteria to determine its antibacterial properties. Lemongrass essential oil showed success as an antibacterial agent, and offers a sweet, earthy, lemon scent to homemade deodorants.8
To make your own deodorant, mix ¼ cup arrowroot starch, ¼ cup baking soda to a small mixing bowl and blend well. Mash in 6 Tbsp. coconut oil, and 8 drops lemongrass essential oil. This mixture can be stored in a clean sealable glass jar, or a recycled deodorant application tube for later use. Apply as you normally would, smearing only a thin coat under the arms as needed.
Where to Buy Coconut Oil
For users looking to buy coconut oil intended to be used as a carrier, Essential Oil Experts recommends purchasing from vendors who specialize in essential oil and carrier oil products. Previously, high quality, pure carrier oils could only be purchased through specialty health stores. Now, due to advancements in technology, users can easily purchase top quality carrier oils over the internet at extremely affordable prices.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Marina, A. M., Che Man, Y. B. & Amin, I. (2009) Virgin coconut oil: emerging fractional food oil. Trends in Food Science and Technology 20(2009), 481-487. Retrieved on June 3, 2017 from http://www.meltorganic.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Virgin-coconut-oil-emerging-functional-food-oil.pdf – View reference
- Rasor, A. & Ducan, S. E. (2014) Fat and oils – plant based. In Clark, S., Jung, S. & Lamsal B. (Eds.), Food Processing: Principles and Applications (pp. 457-480). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Retrieved on June 4, 2017 from http://nfscfaculty.tamu.edu/talcott/courses/FSTC311/Textbook/20-Chapter%2020%20Fats%20and%20Oils%20from%20Plants.pdf – View reference
- Rele, A. S. & Mohile, R. B. (2003) Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. Journal of Cosmetic Science 54(2), 175-192. Retrieved on June 4, 2017 from http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/12715094
- Yoon, J. I., Al-Reza, S. M. & Kang, S. C. (2010) Hair growth promoting effect of zizyphus jujube essential oil. Food and Chemical Toxicology 48(5), 1350, 1354. org/10.1016/j.fct.2010.02.036
- Hay, I.C., Jamieson, M. & Ormerod, A. D. (1998) Randomized trial of aromatherapy – successful treatment for alopecia areata. Dermatol. 134(11), 1349-1352. doi:10.1001/archderm.134.11.1349
- Satchell, A.C., Saurajen, A., Bell, C. & Barnetson, R. (2002) Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 47(6), 852-855. org/10.1067/mjd.2002.122734
- Di Campli, E., Di Bartolomeo, S., Pizzi, P. D., Di Giulio, M., Grande, R., Nostro, A. & Cellini L. (2010) Activity of tea tree oil and nerolidol alone or in combination against pediculus capitis (head lice) and its eggs. Parasitology Research 111(5), 1985-1992. DOI: 10.1007/s00436-012-3045-0
- Prabuseenivasan, S., Jayakumar, M. & Ignacimuthu, S. (2006) In vitro antibacterial activity of some plant essential oils. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine DOI: 10.1186/1472-6882-6-39
- Agero, A. L. & Verallo-Rowell, V. M. (2004) A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis. Dermatitis 15(3), 109-116. Retrieved on June 4, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15724344
- Nevin, K. G. & Rajamohan, T. (2010) Effect of topical application of virgin coconut oil on skin components and antioxidant status during dermal wound healing in young rats. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 23, 290-297. doi.org/10.1159/000313516