What’s the Deal With Coconut Oil?

According to our expert, it has a whole host of beauty benefits.

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Photo by Jose Picayo

As much as I consider myself to be up on the latest beauty trends, I was sadly behind on the whole coconut oil craze (in fact, I first heard about it in the comments section of a blog entry I posted—thank you, Real Simple readers!). Anyway, now it’s become one of those things; once you know it exists, you start seeing it and hearing about it everywhere. So I’m up to speed.



For those of you who are not yet coconut oil aficionados, it’s a highly moisturizing natural oil (derived from you know what) that can be used in myriad ways. It comes in solid form, is sold in health-food stores and, increasingly, at salons and spas. As soon as you heat it up in your hands, it spreads easily. Some people, I’ve learned, store it in the shower; the humidity keeps it soft and always at the ready.

I asked my friend Jamie Ahn, owner and creative director of the Townhouse Spa and Acqua Beauty Bar in New York City (and a longtime coconut oil fan), for her best uses since I’m so new to the game. Without further ado, here’s what she said:

Body moisturizer: “Once it is settled and blended into the skin, coconut oil leaves a silky finish that is not as greasy as you would think. It is especially great for really dry and sensitive skin. I also carry a small amount in a tiny jar and apply it continuously throughout the day to my lips, cuticles, and around the eyes where crow’s feet form.”

Makeup remover: “Coconut oil is also a very effective makeup remover (including waterproof mascara). I usually massage it into my skin in circular motions around the eyes until all the makeup is lifted, then I use a cotton swab to wipe the excess along the eyelids. It’s not as irritating as some other removers.”

In addition to Jamie’s uses above, RS readers have recommended it as a hair conditioner.

Jamie turned me onto Jax Coco coconut oil (you can buy it online for $19 at amazon.com). I like the design of the jar, to be honest, and its hefty size. But I’ve seen tons of options at health food stores (now that I’m in the know). Coconut oil is also starting to turn up in other beauty products (for example, Nexxus hair conditioners) because, well, did I mention it’s tremendously versatile? Let me know what you use it for.