Written by Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
Coconut oil is extracted from the “meat” of coconuts. It is high in saturated fats, but these are not typical saturated fats, such as those found in meat and cheese. It contains lauric acid, a type of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are metabolized differently than long chain fatty acids. It has been shown that lauric acid increases the good HDL cholesterol in the blood to help improve cholesterol ratio levels. MCTs can also increase energy, kill harmful pathogens, and reduce appetite. In addition to its health benefits, coconut oil is good for your skin, hair, and mouth and can also be used as a mild sunscreen.
Several months ago, I stocked up on coconut oil in several forms. I found the oil sold in jars the easiest to use for both cooking and personal care. But I bought only certified organic and verified non-GMO coconut oil that is cold-pressed, made without hexane, and has not been deodorized or bleached. Refined coconut oil does not contain coconut flavors, and I use it when I want a neutral flavor profile. And I bought steam-refined coconut oil, which has not been refined with harsh chemicals.
For me, living an organic and non-GMO life began with food but has since included changing my textiles, bedding, carpets, and now personal care products to non-GMO and organic. I was shocked to learn that neither the FDA nor the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides standards to the cosmetic industry. Thus, with no requirements for U.S. cosmetic companies (nor importing cosmetic companies) to file product formulations, there is no prescriptive oversight of this industry. So rather than reading labels that I can’t understand, I start with the ingredients I want to have on and in my body in order to find products with these ingredients. And top among them is coconut oil.
While there are also many “recipes” for making your own coconut oil products at home, I have no time to make my own cosmetics. I will leave that to professionals. My skin is my largest organ and absorbs what I put on it. So I use a lip balm of virgin coconut oil, which has not been chemically treated and contains more antioxidants than refined coconut oil. Made from rich, raw coconut oil and organic coconut, this fresh, creamy balm glides on smoothly to calm and soothe lips.
It is made from raw, organic, and non-GMO ingredients and is certified vegan, certified cruelty-free, free of gluten, soy, and does not contain petroleum, parabens, preservatives, artificial flavors, or colors. The tubes have up to 50 percent recycled content and are BPA-free. Honey Skin Ultimate face and body cream has replaced my former lotion. Its synthesis of coconut oil along with Manuka honey, aloe vera, and shea butter is like velvet in a jar.
And I finally found a coconut oil deodorant that really works, Green Tidings All Natural Deodorant. Having tried several organic deodorants that were waxy, scented, and not effective, I am delighted with this product that is unscented and made of organic coconut oil, baking soda, starch, shea butter, wax, and magnesium oil. It is made in a solar-powered facility and is in a BPA recyclable tube.