The beneficial effects of coconut oil on skin, hair, and on our bodies in general have been well documented. It is possible to get rid of most chemical-laden cleaning and moisturizing products for skin and hair and substitute coconut oil in their places, with simplicity and effectiveness being the end result. In addition to avoiding chemicals, using coconut oil also provides skin and hair with a rich source of antioxidants and vitamins, which can heal damage to skin and hair.
Basic Types of Coconut Oil
There are two basic types of coconut oil on the market, with a few other variations.
Virgin coconut oil is extracted from the fresh meat of coconuts. It is not dried or heated above about 200 degrees. It can also be referred to as unrefined coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil might be cold-pressed, expeller-pressed, or separated with a centrifuge.
Refined coconut oil is extracted from coconut meat that has first been dried. Refined coconut oil is bleached and cleaned to remove contaminants. During the refining process, most of the vitamins and just about all of the taste are removed. There is a type of refined oil called fractionated coconut oil in which almost all of the saturated lauric acid has been removed. Fractionated coconut oil stays liquid at any temperature, where all other coconut oils become solid at temperatures below 76 degrees.
Although both types of coconut oil are high in saturated fat, that fat comes in the form of medium chain triglycerides, which are more readily absorbed and processed by the body and are less likely to raise cholesterol than other kinds of saturated fats. For skin and hair applications, the amount and type of fat are not a consideration, except that MCTs absorb into the skin's pores better and allow the oil to moisturize more effectively.
What Is the Best Kind of Coconut Oil to Use?
Many experts would say that virgin coconut oil is healthier than refined oil. There are several reasons for this. First, virgin coconut oil is fresher, since it comes from fresh coconut meat that has not been dried first. Foods that are closer to their original form tend to be healthier than those that have been processed.
Another reason virgin coconut oil is better is because the refining process adds chemicals to the oil while removing most of the vitamins and antioxidants. The healing and soothing effects of coconut oil come in part from these nutrients, so it stands to reason that some of the benefit would be lost when using refined oil.
Biconi's hair products all use virgin coconut oil due to the purity and vitamin content of the oil. Biconi also offers cold pressed virgin coconut oil for use in all health and beauty applications.