There’s a saying made famous by John Fairchild, the former editor of Women’s Wear Daily (where both Nick and Alessandra clocked time), that goes: "Twice is a coincidence—three times is a trend." Well, the times we've heard about the myriad uses of coconut oil is way past three. Whether mixed with baking soda and arrowroot and swiped under your arms as deodorant (as suggested in the Moment For Deodorant comments by Gingeroo, Whitney Vesterfelt, and Valerie.CC); slicked on your feline for added shine (as explained to Emily by Sophia Lamar, whose cat Emily described as “so glossy...jaguar-like”); used for cooking (as instructed to Alessandra by her ballet teacher); or applied to your face (as advised by basically everyone), coconut oil seemed pretty close to a miracle substance, if what we'd been seeing/hearing these past few months was true. Time had come for a little investigative journalism (here’s where we put on our fedoras and slip out of the room—cigars optional).
First of all, a little background info: coconut oil's bad rap (in the nutrition community, that is) dates back to 1934, when Congress imposed a tax on imported palm and coconut oils, in order to protect domestically produced vegetable oils (less healthy for the bod, but better for the nation's wallet). In 1986, the National Heart Savers Association mounted a misguided smear campaign, including full-page advertisements in nationally distributed newspapers, against “tropical oils,” aiming to convince the consumer that palm and coconut oils would clog arteries due to cholesterol-raising saturated fats—when, in fact, the partially hydrogenated (USA-produced) replacements were the real offenders. Got all that?
But anywho, the public seems to have put their aversions aside and now coconut oil is everywhere. And, the applications are endless: as car polish, guitar-string lubricant (and, ahem, personal lubricant, though it reportedly breaks down latex condoms), mascara-brush cleaner, stress reliever (via oil massaged into your scalp)...and TONS of other health- and fitness-related uses. Coconut oil possesses an unusualy high percentage of lauric acid (more than 50%), which is both anti-viral (known to help treat cold sores, herpes, boils, acne, and warts) and found in breast milk. It also has a big ol’ helping of vitamin E, which is prime skin goodness, and its antimicrobial/antibacterial properties are said to help in preventing UTIs and yeast infections. Also, its very small molecular structure—this, according to a deep Google dive—allows for quick penetration into your hair follicles for moisturizing, and it increases your cell turnover rate, making it ideal for rejuvenating treatments.
But back to brass tacks: Emerald Carroll told us she uses it on her whole body and cooks with it, Lindsey Wixson is all about it, Carolyn Murphy “swears by” it, and Laurel Pantin, Sharmadean Reid, Keegan Singh, and Amanda Harlech have all touted it.
Why? It’s dope for your face. Says Marina Strom, one of the herbalists from the highly holistic Earth Tu Face (a bath/body line we love, which believes whatever you put on your body you should be able to put in your body—i.e., eat):
"We LOVE coconut oil: it's powerfully protective and hydrating, rich in minerals and nutrients that quench thirsty skin and it's molecular structure allows for easy absorption through the skin and gives it it's soft, smooth texture—not greasy. Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fatty acid esters that absorb quickly and efficiently and help transport nutrients to the cells. It's a natural sunscreen, high in antioxidants, prevents destructive free-radical activity (the primary cause of aging), and lessens skin spots and other blemishes caused by aging/over-exposure to sunlight."
Not to mention Earth Tu Face's coconut-and-cardamom Body Butter smells insane; we were thisclose to tasting it. Thankfully, the company's rep, Stephanie, told us that was A-ok, adding: "Marina uses it when she makes pancakes!" [Ed. note: Please, Earth Tu Face ladies, invite us to breakfast. Thanks!]
So, how/where should you procure your coconut oil? Via ITG word-of-mouth: for the high-end buyer into the whole 'cult-following' thing, Rose-Marie Swift offers a Raw Coconut Cream beloved by Stevie Dance, Rebecca Dayan, and Lisa Marie Fernandez. If you're more health-store-inclined, Garden of Life sells a 16 oz jar of Extra Virgin Coconut Oil for $10.99; and for those proud inhabitants of 'Spaceship Earth,' our man-with-a-plan Dr. Bronner sells a fresh-pressed, fair-trade, organic Coconut Oil that looks solid but melts immediately into a fast-absorbing fluid, which your skin just soaks up, sans residue and, contrary to our fears, without a lingering Mounds bar smell. Us? We're just loving the deeply moisturizing, all-natural, straight-from-the-earth glow thing at the moment. Whichever type you fancy (just keep it un-refined and organic), feel free to apply liberally, all over—seriously, wherever—and call us in the morning. (Or just tell us about your adventures in coconut oil below.)