The bottom/top line:
Buy it. You’ll find a use for it even if it’s not the one you originally had in mind.
As an inherently lazy person, multi-use products are hugely appealing to me. And it’s safe to say that Coconut Oil is the multi-use product: you can eat it, cook with it, use it as an alternative fuel, use it in your hair, use it on your skin…but you cannot marry it. Sorry.
I use Coconut Oil as a body butter and as a general hair…thing.
As a body butter
The skin on my body is actually more reactive than that on my face, it likes to itch, break out, get rashes and get chapped. On a regular basis. Most moisturisers will burn my legs even if they sort out the rest of me.
Coconut oil saves the day: it doesn’t burn and it moisturises effectively, leaving my skin soft. It also sinks in/dries really fast (which isn’t usually my experience with oils) so you only have to wait for a minute before you get dressed.
If you have really dry skin Coconut oil may not be moisturising enough – I only apply mine once a day though so perhaps if you applied more of it more frequently, it might do the job.
As for the smell, I’m obsessed with it, but for all of you who aren’t as enamoured you’ll be pleased to know that once you’ve applied it you can hardly smell its coconutty goodness. A slight scent lingers if you get really close to your arm and snort it (and you look so cool doing that on the bus!), but coconut lovers will have to resort to sniffing its tub to get their fix.
For my hair
So Coconut oil is famous in the hair world because it can actually penetrate into the cortex of the hair strand, unlike most other oils. Other oils sit on the outside layer of the hair and do their thing but Coconut oil actually gets in and really hydrates it. I’m not going to pretend I know much about hair science so I’m going to link you to these two Coconut oil-related posts that explain it much better than I ever could.
This oil can be used for pretty much anything hair-related, except maybe shampoo, but I’m not ruling it out. A lot of people like to add a little bit to their conditioner for an added boost, or use it before shampoo to prevent their hair from being completely stripped. I like to use a little bit as a leave-in conditioner after I’ve washed my hair, and I also use it when my hair is dry as a hair moisturiser. It makes my hair silky soft, a little shiny, and moisturised. It also works to tame mild frizz.
The key to Coconut oil on hair is moderation. Really, just use a tiny bit and add more later if you think you need to. It’s an oil, after all, so if you overdo it your hair can look greasy. If you use way too much your hair turns into these crunchy/greasy/heavy tendrils that can only be salvaged by washing your hair (thoroughly) again.
Good to know
Coconut oil has a 24°C melting point, so for a lot of people it’ll be in its solid form when they use it. Some people like to melt it before they use it by running it under warm water, but I prefer to take it out of the tub as a solid (it melts on your fingers) and then use it. This way I tend to use less of it, which is good because: Coconut oil is expensive; and if I use too much on my hair it really weighs it down. The high melting point also means that if you apply Coconut oil to your hair on a cold day and go outside straight away, you can experience crunchiness from the oil solidifying in the cold. You have been warned.
When buying Coconut oil, go for virgin Coconut oil. I think RBD Coconut oil shares the same properties, (and it’s scent-free) but I can’t say for certain, so to be safe I’d stick with virgin.