The Coconut (Cocos nuciferas) tree belongs to the palm family and has a long rich history of use in cosmetics across cultures around the globe spanning centuries. It has many beneficial properties that enhance our wellbeing. Plus, various materials extracted from the tree and the coconut itself, aside from the oil, offer many uses across various industries.
History of Coconut Oil
Historical use of the oil was first recorded around 1500 BC in Sanskrit, showing us its widespread use in India, and there is evidence of its usage in many other tropical regions and societies. In the 9th century there are reports of the Chinese using Coconut to make fibers and in the 5th century AD, an Egyptian traveler known as “Costas” is the first person who recorded seeing it, and called it an “Indian nut”
Over the centuries, Its presence in historical accounts grew, and is well documented. Early usage was recorded by Captain Cook, Samoan Folk Medicine Healers, Marco Polo, Sir Francis Drake, and later by the Portuguese, who in the 1700s are attributed to giving the nut the name we use today: Coconut.
It’s origins though not confirmed is guessed to be from the tropical region surrounding India and Indonesia and it’s believed that the actual coconuts spread around the world by floating across the oceans and landing at different shores. And many cultures across the world even share similar ways in describing the coconut.
The tree is large and can grow up to 98 ft (30m) and its trunk is smooth and the leaves palm-like. To grow best, the tree needs sandy soil, and lots of direct sunlight, consistent rainfall and high humidity. They welcome salt air, and water which is why they can grow so close to the ocean shores. Cold temperatures, below freezing 32F can damage them and cause them to die. Coconut trees can also grow in marsh-like areas if there are no rocks within 2m of the surface and there is a water source nearby.
If the growing conditions are favorable, The Coconut Tree can produce fruit within 6-10 years and reaches its peak of fruit production between 15-20 years. It can take 1 single coconut almost 12 month to mature. Coconut Trees can produce fruits all year round and one tree can yield up to 120 coconuts per year, The coconuts grow in bunches of 5-12 fruits, and new bunches can grow each month. The best quality oil comes from those coconuts that fall naturally to the ground and are collected and processed. Though there are some producers who pick the coconuts too early and use chemicals to extact the oil.
Although the name Coconut may suggest it is a nut, the coconut is botanically identified as a “drupe.” A drupe is a fleshy, thick skinned fruit with a stone at its center, which contains the seed. Think peach, or apricot.
Every part of the Coconut may be used; the kernel produces the oil, charcoal can be taken from the hard outer shell and the outer husk can be used to make rope for matting,
The coconut is made up of 3 layers: the exocarp, the mesocarp and the endocarp. To extract the oil, the dried inner flesh, the endocarp is scooped out and taken to a drier which can take up to 4 day to thoroughly dry the meat. To produce 1 ton of dried coconut meat, 6000 mature coconuts are needed. Once dried it's bagged and taken to a large scale facility oil-seed mill where the extraction process happens.
There are many ways Coconut Oil can be extracted:
Cold Expeller pressing (Dry Method)
This process involves extracting the dried coconut meat. The by-product of the pressing is not good for humans to consume, as is often fed to faram animals. Once the oil is extracted it is fed through a fileter to remove any debris.
Wet Process extraction
This process of extraction uses raw coconut meat that is still wet and moist. The process to remove the oil involves some complicated techniques that include processing the material with salts, enzymes, and electrolysis.
This process of extraction involves using a petrochemical solvent like Hexane. It usually can produce a higher yield of oil and increases the oils shelf life.
What does Virgin Coconut Oil Mean?
It means that the oil is produced within one hour of the coconut oil being cracked open. This process of extraction uses the fresh coconut milk and meat. It can be either grated, then dried and pressed, or the milk can be fermented for up to 2 days and then the cream is then collected and the oil speartes out. Or the meat is put into a machine that uses centrifugal force to separate the Coconut Oil from the other oils.
What does RBD mean?
RBD means the coconut oil has been refined, bleached and deodorized. This process is done to coconut meat that has been dried and cold epeller pressed. This process leaves a crude oil that is brown, full of contaniments. To remove the brown color and residues, it requires further processing.
Refining involves using a corrosive soda solution to remove 35+ of some of the essential Fatty Acids.
Deodorizing involves passing steam through the oil to evaporate the aromas
Bleaching involves decolorzing it and making it clear when fractionated into a liquid and white when kept solid.
This RBD process can remove trace amounts of some of the therapeutic molecules along with the aroma of coconut and any brownish colors. This makes it much more desirable for use in the cosmetic industry..
Here are a few of the Essential Fatty Acids that we can find in Coconut Oil, and how they benefit the skin:
Myristic Acid 15-23% is belived to
- Deeply moisturize the skin since it absorbs quickly
- Enhances the foaming action of surfactants, and soap ingredients
- Softens hair and skin
Palmitic Acid 6-11% is known for:
- Having emollient properties
- Softening hair without leaving a greasy or sticky residue
- Being the most common saturated fatty acid
- Have cleansing properties that purge dirt, sweat and excess sebum from hair and skin
- Be an ideal emulsifying agent that binds water and oil
- Help products remain potent when stored for long periods of time
- Condition and protect hair from damage without diminishing luster or making it feel heavy
- Have exceptional cleansing properties
- Soften skin
Lauric Acid 39-54% is believed to:
- Assimilate quickly and completely into the body, as it is a Medium-Chain Triglyceride (Saturated Fat)
- Eliminate and prevent various viruses
- Exhibit smoothing properties and textures when used in body butter, soaps and salves
Capric acid 5-10% and Caprylic Acid 6-10% are believed to:
- Assimilate quickly and completely into our bodies, as they are Medium-Chain Triglycerides (Saturated Fats)
- Contribute antimicrobial and antifungal properties
- Stimulate hair follicles with natural proteins
- Repair and strengthen damaged hair while adding shine
- Prevent the spread of harmful bacteria, making it effective for use on acne-prone skin
Linoleic Acid 1-2% are believed to:
- Moisturize hair and promote its growth
- Facilitate wound healing
- Be effective emulsifiers in the formulation of soaps and quick-drying oils
- Exhibit anti-inflammatory properties
- Soothe acne and reduce chances of future outbreaks
- Promote moisture retention in skin and hair
- Make oils feel thinner in consistency, thus being beneficial for use on acne-prone skin
5 Ways to Use Coconut Oil for your Skin and Hair
Because of its nourishing and hydrating properties, Coconut Oil can be a great choice when looking to promote scalp health. Its natural protective characteristics, can help the skin of the scalp fortify against infection. It also encourages healthy circulation to the hair follicles which in turn supports the growth of stronger and shinier hair.
Our hair is constantly bombarded by extreme climate changes, numerous hair products and heated tools like hair dryers, irons and straighteners. And this damages and weakens our hair causing it to look dull and dry. By brushing Coconut Oil through your hair you can replenish hydration that will leave your hair looking healthier and shinier.
The array of essential fatty acids present in Coconut Oil are known to support the skin’s natural ability to regenerate and re-balance.. Coconut Oil can offer a dewy glow and a younger, more vibrant looking appearance.
Coconut Oil shares many similar properties with Babassuoil which has been known to protect and fortify our skin against the constant assault of pathogens and environmental stressors our skin battles daily.
Although the Coconut Oil may take a longer time to absorb into our skin and feel more greasy, its nutritive and tonifying properties make it one of the best choices for those looking for natural remedies to increase the youthful appearance of the skin. But if your skin is acne prone we recommend using it sparingly as it’s heaviness may clog pores.
The Glo Haus coconut oil is unrefined and has the light and beautiful beach-like scent of fresh coconut water. It soothes and sourishes the skin, while offering a layer of protection. Click ehre to check out our Coconut Oil!