I’ve gone through quite a few jars of coconut oil over the years. Our family has used it in everything from coffee to toothpaste to sunscreen. One of the most popular ways to use it though is in skincare and personal care products (or just straight coconut oil). Here are 3 of my favorite coconut oil body lotion recipes and why you should use them!
Skin Benefits of Coconut Oil Lotion
Coconut oil (cocos nucifera) is high in saturated fatty acids which give it a creamy taste in cooking and baked goods. It’s also really high in lauric acid. Our body converts this into monolaurin, a compound that’s mildly antimicrobial, anti-viral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal when used topically. Coconut oil also moisturizes leaves skin feeling soft, and provides a protective barrier on the skin.
Unlike mineral oil and petroleum jelly, coconut oil is a natural lipid emollient. This means it hydrates dry skin to help make it softer and smoother. Studies also show it can help damaged skin, infections, and speed wound healing. Because it’s naturally antifungal and wound healing, it can be good for acne-prone skin.
Moisturizing Lotion for Eczema
Some dermatologists recommend using petroleum jelly on eczema patches to provide a skin barrier. There are several reasons why I don’t think that’s a good idea! If you’re looking for an alternative with natural ingredients, then coconut oil is an excellent choice.
A 2008 trial compared coconut oil with olive oil for atopic dermatitis ( the most common type of eczema). The researchers found that virgin coconut oil helped reduce skin symptoms and helped fight fungus and viruses on the skin. The majority of people in the coconut oil group had staph bacteria on the skin at the start of the study. After using coconut oil though only 1 of them had the bacteria on their skin.
Who Should Use Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil can be pretty magical for skin. It doesn’t work the best for all skin types though. Some people find it too drying on its own, which is why it can work better as part of a blend. If you’re prone to oily skin and clogged pores, it could make it worse.
However, some people love it as a body moisturizer to help with skin hydration. It’s also great for people with eczema and little ones with sensitive skin. While coconut milk and coconut meat allergies are on the rise, coconut oil allergies still seem to be rare. To be safe you can always test a little bit of coconut oil on the inner wrist and monitor for any reactions before you use coconut oil skincare products.
What Blends Well With Coconut Oil?
You can certainly rub straight organic coconut oil from the jar on your skin. Some people use oil cleansing with coconut oil as part of their skincare routine. I prefer to mix the coconut oil with other skin-loving ingredients. If you’re making your own coconut oil lotion (or buying some), here are some nourishing ingredients to consider adding:
- Cocoa butter
- Vitamin E (an antioxidant)
- Shea butter
- Jojoba seed oil
- Aloe vera
You can even infuse your coconut oil with soothing herbs like lavender, calendula, and chamomile.
Where to Buy Coconut Oil Lotion
If you don’t have the time or desire to make your own DIY coconut oil lotion, there are some good store-bought ones. Just be sure to read the label and make sure it’s not hiding any harsh ingredients! I look for skincare products that are cruelty-free and don’t have parabens, sulfates, or phthalates. Even natural products may have preservatives like phenoxyethanol which can be harsh on skin.
This whipped body butter features shea butter and coconut oil and has clean ingredients.
Refined vs. Unrefined Coconut Oil
So I may have convinced you to try coconut oil on your skin, but what kind?? Unrefined or virgin coconut oil is pressed from the fresh coconut meat. Refined coconut oil is made from dried coconut and doesn’t have a strong coconut scent. Either will work, but virgin coconut oil is my preferred option in skincare recipes.
Some brands of refined coconut oil are more chemically processed than others. Both Tropical Traditions and Nutiva’s refined coconut oils are expeller-pressed and deodorized with steam. These are healthier options than the chemically processed, solvent-extracted versions!
1. Coconut Oil Lotion Bars
Coconut oil is naturally solid at cooler temps (below 76 degrees). This makes it the perfect ingredient for lotion bars. Lotion bars (used on dry skin) combine the nourishing benefits of lotion without the need for a liquid to create an incredibly moisturizing bar.
These bars are meant to be used on dry skin and are best used after showering on warm skin. I like making variations of these lotion bars but sometimes I’ll also make these lotion bar sticks. The stick version is even more portable and doesn’t get hands messy!
The lotion bar sticks are super simple with only 3 ingredients, coconut oil, beeswax, and essential oils. The lotion bars have the same, with the added benefits of shea butter.
2. Luxurious Homemade Lotion
Just like the lotion bars above, this recipe doesn’t add any liquid so it’s incredibly nourishing. And because we’re not adding any water-based ingredients it has a much longer shelf life (6-12 months). You can customize it to your preference by adding your favorite essential oils. For a firmer lotion, use more beeswax. For a smoother lotion, use less and add more of a liquid oil like almond oil.
3. Magnesium Body Butter
Magnesium is another thing I’ve written about a lot in the past. I make my own magnesium oil which has been tremendously helpful for replenishing lost magnesium. My kids will often use it at night for better sleep. Magnesium oil also helped me avoid morning sickness during pregnancy.
Unfortunately, magnesium oil can sting and dry out the skin if you’re deficient.
An easy solution is to turn it into a magnesium-infused body butter instead. It packs a punch of magnesium but also moisturizes skin to keep it from getting dry. My kids prefer this version and they’ll often rub either this or magnesium oil on their feet.
Do you use coconut oil for skincare? What is your favorite way to use it? Share below!