About 18 months ago, I began an extensive revamping of my beauty routine, taking out most commercial products and replacing them with food products. Extra Virgin Olive Oil was found to work wonders as an under eye night treatment. Bentonite Clay mixed with water is the perfect non-SLS "shampoo". And mashed bananas mixed with Greek yogurt brings out the beauty of my curls like no commercial conditioner ever has.
After perusing a few of my favorite websites, like AGRLCANMAC, I decided to try coconut oil as a body and hair moisturizer. I heard the praises from various curly haired girls how nourishing coconut oil was for adding bounce and luster to their locks. And those suffering from dry skin swore by coconut oil for chasing away the winter ashiness.
So off to the grocery store I went. My first discovery was the vast price difference between coconut oil and other oils, like olive. The least expensive brand was $8 for a small jar (sorry, I don't remember the exact ounces) and I thought, This stuff better be good.
After a week of use, I have to say I wasn't impressed. I didn't see a major difference in my skin's condition, nor my hair's luster. Although the packaging said it was extra virgin and there were all sorts of brag language about how good it was, I kept wondering why it didn't smell or taste like coconuts. Not even in the least. I've learned that products claiming to be natural should smell or taste like the original or something is amiss.
After some online research, I figured out the problem: Not all coconut oil is created equal. Like most other food products, coconut oil can be created the healthy way or the cheap way. Believe it or not, the brand I purchased at $8 was manufactured in such a way that most of the nutritional value was taken out through chemical extraction.
What is known as refined coconut oil (just like refined shea butter, which we'll talk about in a future post), has gone through a high heat and chemical solvent process. The oil is extracted from dried coconut meat known as copra. Without getting too technical, I'll just say this is inferior to making coconut oil from fresh coconut meat dried under natural conditions.
Now as an enlightened consumer, I sought out a higher quality product. Scrolling the internet and chatting on Twitter brought me in contact with Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil. I asked them to send a sample of their product. They were kind enough to send their full size 32 oz jar.
I opened the UPS box the minute it arrived and opened the jar. The contrast between the quality of their oil compared with the oils I'd tried in the supermarket (I went back for a second brand that also failed to impress) was stark.
First of all, Tropical Traditions coconut oil smelled like fresh coconuts! Nice. Then I noticed the pure white color of this oil compared to the yellowish shade of the other brands. When I scooped some of the oil out and rubbed it between my fingers, it was smooth and silky, not gritty.
Their Gold Label oil is extracted using natural methods that have been employed in the Philippines for hundreds of years - no chemicals, no bleaching. And it's certified organic.
Melting some of their oil, I massaged my legs (my driest parts) after showering and then went to bed. The next morning my legs were still moist and supple - a miracle for my dry skin. I've also been using it in my hair and seeing a light sheen. It's too early to comment on the protein benefits and strengthening of the hair shaft that I keep reading about. But I'll keep you posted.
On a different note, it's wonderful for cooking as well. Coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils you can use - no trans fats. I've used it in place of butter in baking. And I've fried plaintains in it. Sheer heaven. That's one of fun benefits of food grade beauty products. What you don't use on your body, you can use in your dinner.
Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil sells for $32.50 for 32 oz. Their website often runs specials, sometimes even 2 for 1 deals. They make other fine coconut products like all natural soaps and exfoliants.