Beauty IRL: Coconut Oil Is Truly Magical

I don’t much care for natural beauty products. Natural toothpaste is gross, leaving my mouth film-y and unclean, no matter how hard I brush. Natural deodorant leaves me smelling worse than I did to begin with. The few times I’ve used a “natural” face wash — something formulated without harsh chemicals or astringents  — I smelled like a yoga studio but just didn’t feel clean. I know that the tight, clean, taut feeling I have after giving my face a good scrub with Noxzema and a knockoff Clarisonic is not necessarily the best thing for me, but I’m a sucker. If my face really feels clean after using a product, then that means it’s done its job.

I don’t think that these products I love so dearly are killing me. But I know that the fact that I can’t pronounce or readily identify any of the ingredients in my beloved Noxzema or the off-brand body lotion I bought in a panic at the drugstore is probably not a good thing. That path towards a more natural beauty regimen is clear. I have to wean myself off the hard stuff, and get into oil cleansing. I have to make my own face wash, out of oils ordered from the internet and various berries. I should make my own chapstick, because petrolatum is the devil. But I can’t. I won’t. When you live in a house with three other people and one bathroom, spending 10 minutes morning and night steaming your pores open and massaging sebum out of your nose with a very hot washcloth is a luxury that I don’t have. But I’ve been trying to make concessions.

Coconut oil, that much-lauded savior of DIY hippie beauty blogs everywhere, is the answer. Here’s a list of things you can do with it: take off your makeup, wash your face, moisturize your scaly lizard legs, make a hair mask, cure split ends. There are surely more, but I just haven’t figured them out yet. I’m not endorsing a full on oil-only beauty regimen. I love the restorative properties of benzoyl peroxide way too much to give up my half-used tube of zit cream. But I’m making an effort to reduce the amount of garbage I siphon directly into my pores.

Skin is a funny thing. You can sail through your teens and twenties with the beautiful, dewy skin of an angel, forgetting to wash your face or take off your makeup for an entire semester. The occasional zit will rear its head, and you’ll gleefully pop it with a sterilized safety pin and skip off into the night. Then, when you turn 30 or so, you catch a glimpse of yourself in a window, and you wonder who the hag is. It doesn’t happen to everyone. I thought for a long time that I would be immune to it. But it seems that the ceaseless tugging of the delicate skin around my eyes while scrubbing eye makeup off with toilet paper has caught up with me. Coconut oil, when rubbed gently into the eye area and wiped off with a cotton pad, leaves a nice sheen and has firmed up the skin near my eyes. A miracle! Or just what I should have been doing all along.

This winter left me with a general malaise and a lack of care towards something that I am religious about — keeping this body moisturized. When the first warm day of spring rolled around, I shaved my legs for the first time in longer than I’d like to admit, and then stared at the bottles on my dresser warily. A brief fling with the KonMari method had left me with not that much to work with in the way of beauty supplies. I had a half-used container of a nameless body butter and a giant jar of coconut oil, left over from a brief beauty experiment in which I used coconut oil as my body wash for a week. My legs were in a state of high emergency. So, I doubled up. Coconut oil plus body butter plus some more coconut oil for good measure, and just like that, I was ready to leave the house in nothing but a dress and a smile.

Use coconut oil on your skin if you want to be smooth yet slippery. Use it if you want to smell like the beach. Use it if you want to reassure yourself that there’s at least one thing in your life that isn’t toxic and horrible for you. Use it because it makes you feel like the glowing lifestyle blogger that lives within. Use it because it’s a good thing to do.