26 Everyday Uses for Coconut Oil

One of the most popular health trends in recent years, coconut oil is said to rev up your energy and keep you healthy from head to toe. Many fans of coconut oil claim that it can also help hydrate skin, smooth frizzy hair, and boost your wellbeing, thanks to its high content of lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid, and antioxidant properties.

But while evidence for its health benefits is still limited, coconut oil is a lower-cost natural option for many common skin, hair, and wellness concerns and a good alternative to dairy-free and vegan cooking. Here are some clever ways to use this multi-tasking ingredient every day.

Be sure to also not make mistakes when using coconut oil to avoid common errors people make when DIYing with coconut oil.


To Soothe a Sunburn

Coconut oil may help to soothe minor sunburns.

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Soothe a mild sunburn by applying aloe vera gel to the skin. After it has dried, gently apply a tiny amount of liquefied coconut oil over it. Place an old sheet over your bedding to avoid oil stains. Lifestyle blogger Michelle Phan has this DIY sunburn soothing recipe using coconut oil.


As an Exfoliating Sugar Scrub to Buff Your Skin

Coconut milk, whole coconuts, coconut oil, and toasted coconut, studio shot on turquoise background
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A sugar scrub helps to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells and tends to be more gentle than salt. For a simple scrub, mix equal parts sugar and melted coconut oil, rubbing rough patches of skin with the mixture (avoid delicate skin). Wellness Mama also has a sugar scrub recipe with variations such as a vanilla brown sugar scrub.

Other options include this coconut and lemon sugar scrub on Mind Body Green and this interesting coffee coconut exfoliating cube recipe on the Free People blog (just be careful not to wash the ground coffee down the sink as it may clog the drain).


As a DIY Massage Oil to Soothe Tired and Sore Muscles

Coconut oil as a massage oil.

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For an easy massage oil, warm some coconut oil between your hands. Although most massage oils are liquid, the heat of your hands will melt the coconut oil.


To Help Prevent Stretch Marks

Woman applying body cream.

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There are many reasons why stretch marks develop (including genetics), but keeping skin hydrated, moist, and supple may help to prevent them.


For Bug Bites and Itchy Skin

Woman itching her arm

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When applied directly to a small, non-infected bug bite or other areas of itchy skin, coconut oil may help to ease the itching sensation. Some people also swear by apple cider vinegar to stop the itch.


To Prevent Nosebleeds

Woman blowing her nose.

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Dry air and allergies are among the common causes of nosebleeds. To keep nasal membranes hydrated, a humidifier can keep the air moist. Applying a thin coating of a moisturizing ointment like coconut oil to the inside of your nose may also help. Dab it gently with a finger just inside the nostrils.


In Dairy-Free Cooking

Coconut oil in pie crust recipes.

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Coconut oil can be used in many dairy-free recipes as a substitute for butter. It makes a flaky crust and is great over popcorn as an alternative to butter. Whole Foods Market has some ideas on cooking with coconut oil. Other recipes to check out are 101 Cookbooks Healthy Cookies Recipe, this Coconut Maple Granola, and Gluten-Free Goddess' Dark Chocolate Brownies.


In Vegan Cooking

Woman frosting cupcakes.

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Coconut oil can be whipped into a fluffy texture and used as a delicious alternative to buttercream. Also, use it to sauté greens and try Thomas Keller's chocolate shell ice cream topping (using vegan chocolate) and drizzle it over frozen coconut or almond dessert.


As a Body Moisturizer for Dry Skin

Woman applying body lotion.

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Known for being hydrating, coconut oil is sometimes used as a body moisturizer. Smooth it over elbows and other areas where the skin is rough. It can be used right out of the jar (try applying a quarter-sized amount after you step out of the shower), however some people find coconut oil on its own too greasy or waxy and prefer to mix it with other ingredients (one part coconut oil and one part aloe vera gel is a popular combination).


As a Liquid Hand Soap

Woman washing her hands.

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If you have an extra, unused bar of soap, PopSugar has an easy, three-ingredient recipe for liquid coconut oil hand soap. The coconut oil adds a little extra moisturizer. If you add essential oils, use them very sparingly.


As a Hand Cream for Dry, Chapped Hands

Woman moisturizing her hands.

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For dry skin that can result from frequent hand washing and a lack of humidity, try mixing one part coconut oil and five parts hand cream or lotion in a bowl until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Be sure to see your doctor if there is persistent cracking, redness, scaling, or other symptoms.


As a Salt Scrub

Salt in a bowl

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A salt scrub can help to exfoliate tough skin. This coconut salt scrub recipe by Wonky Wonderful on The Frugal Girls website calls for mixing salt and coconut oil in a 2:1 ratio.


As a Luscious Body Butter

Whipped body butter.

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For a simple body butter, place one cup of coconut oil into a bowl and mix it with a wire whisk (a blender tends to melt the coconut oil, resulting in a thin consistency). Spoon the mixture into a container or jar.


As a Facial Cleanser

Woman applying facial cleanser.

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Place a dime-sized amount of coconut oil into your hands and rub it on your face in gentle circular motions, giving a massage as you go. Use a cotton pad to remove the excess coconut oil, rinsing any remaining coconut oil off with warm water. Be sure to do a patch test on sensitive or acne-prone skin. For a double-cleansing, follow it up with your favorite cleanser to remove any residue.


As a Makeup Remover

Woman removing eye makeup.

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Coconut oil can help to break up and gently remove water-resistant eye makeup. Rub one teaspoon of coconut oil between your fingers to soften it. Massage the coconut oil into your skin, and make gentle circles around your eye area with a cotton ball or pad. Wipe off any excess and rinse well with warm water. Avoid getting coconut oil in your eyes.


As a Face Mask

face mask on woman

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Best suited for dry skin, a weekly coconut oil and honey mask may help to keep skin hydrated and soft. Make a simple mask by mixing one teaspoon of honey and one teaspoon of coconut oil in a small cup or bowl. Spread the mixture on the face, avoiding the eye area. Leave it on for 15 minutes, wipe it off with a cotton pad, and then gently rinse it with warm water.


As a Highlighter for a Natural Glow

Woman wearing illuminator.

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For glowing skin, dab a little coconut oil under the eyebrows, on top of cheekbones, and on the cupid's bow (the dip above your upper lip). Apply it very sparingly or it will make skin look oily. Add light gold eyeshadow to the coconut oil for light-reflecting shimmer. The No More Dirty Looks website recommends INIKA's mineral eyeshadow in Lightening for the added shimmer.


As a Lip Balm to Nourish Dry or Chapped Lips

Woman applying lip balm.

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Fight chapped lips with a coconut oil lip balm. Use it right out of the jar, dabbing it on chapped lips. Also try this easy DIY lip balm by Daily Mom, made from beeswax, coconut oil, vitamin E oil, and honey.


To Soften Tough Skin on the Feet

A coconut oil foot scrub.

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For an easy overnight treatment, exfoliate feet and then apply coconut oil to tough skin on the feet. Coconut oil can stain sheets, so be sure to put on an old pair of thick socks after using the oil to prevent the oil from getting on the sheets. For an exfoliator that can be used all over the feet, mix together one cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of coconut oil. Combine thoroughly and then massage it into the feet and allow the abrasive action to exfoliate tough skin.


As a Shaving Cream

Coconut oil as a shaving cream.
Cathy Wong

Some people swear by coconut oil as a shaving cream for dry skin, saying that it leaves skin silky smooth. It can be scooped and applied directly to the skin. Although coconut oil is solid, it will begin to melt into contact with skin. Use it sparingly—about one teaspoon of coconut oil per leg will do the trick. Be sure to wash your hands after applying the coconut oil to your skin otherwise you won't be able to get a firm grip on the razor.

If you prefer a more cream-like consistency, try using a whisk or immersion blender to whip the coconut oil or try a recipe for homemade shaving cream such as this coconut oil shaving cream recipe from Hello Natural.


As a Lip Scrub

A coconut oil lip sugar scrub.

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Smooth dry, flaky lips with a brown sugar, coconut oil and honey lip scrub recipe from Honestly WTF.


As an Undereye Cream

Woman applying undereye moisturizer.

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The skin under the eyes is thin, making it prone to fine lines. For a DIY hydrating eye cream, try gently patting some coconut oil underneath the eyes. Apply it very sparingly and avoid getting it in the eyes.


To Smooth Frizzy or Flyaway Hair

Woman with fly away hair.

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To smooth flyaway or frizzy hair and add some shine, rub a tiny amount of coconut oil in between the fingers to warm it up. Smooth it onto the bottom couple of inches of hair and also use it to tame stray flyaway hairs. Don't use too much or it will make hair appear limp and greasy.


As a Hair Conditioner

Woman washing her hair.

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For a hydrating conditioner, try mixing together two parts coconut oil and one part jojoba oil. Apply a small amount to wet hair, allow it to sit for several minutes, and then rinse it out with warm water. Shampoo as normal.


As a Deep-Conditioning Hair Treatment

Combing in deep conditioner.

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Add shine to hair with a weekly hair treatment. Smooth a small amount to the ends of your hair (running your fingers through your hair to distribute it) and then cover it with a shower cap for at least 30 minutes. It can be kept on overnight, but be sure to cover up pillows with old towels. Rinse it out with warm water and then shampoo as normal. Michelle Phan also has a recipe for a DIY hair mask for dry, damaged hair.


To Soften Cuticles

Coconut oil for cuticles.

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Rub a bit of coconut oil onto nail beds and cuticles. For a more intensive treatment, dab coconut oil on nails before bed and put on gloves to prevent the transfer of the oil onto bed sheets.

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