Coconut oil is great for the skin. When my husband lived in Colorado he always had a container of coconut oil on the edge of the tub for after-shower moisturizing. Since coconut oil melts on contact with skin, it’s a great way to treat your cracked heels and elbows, leaving them soft and much smoother. However, be cautious of using coconut oil on your face, as it can clog your pores or in the case of sensitive skin, can cause a rash or reaction.
In soap, coconut oil plays a different role. I know that some folks are very big on all coconut oil soaps, but unless you’re a mechanic, sailor or have very tough skin, you’re probably going to be disappointed. In soap, coconut oil is very cleansing and makes a very hard bar of soap, but it’s so cleansing that it can leave your skin feeling really dry. In the soap making world, it’s important to be sure that you “superfat” your soap in order to counteract the drying properties of coconut oil. In this case, superfatting soap means adding an extra 20% of another, more moisturizing oil to those hard coconut bars. Oils in this category include olive, avocado and sweet almond, as well as many others.
Most soap makers use coconut oil at 30% or less in their soaps, but if coconut oil is first in the list of ingredients in a bar of soap you’re buying, be sure to ask the soap maker what their superfat percentage is. They should answer somewhere in the neighborhood of 20%. They’ll be impressed that you’re knowledgeable enough to ask the question. Unless they can’t tell you the answer, in which case they’ll probably get annoyed.
Fun fact about coconut oil soaps: they are cleansing even in salt water. Something to keep in mind if you’re taking your yacht to Monaco for the weekend or are going on an Outward Bound adventure.
On the plus side, coconut oil does create wonderful, big bubbles in soap that many people love. I think a lot of times we believe that the more big bubbles we get, the cleaner we’ll be after the shower. This isn’t necessarily true, but I can’t tell that to my brain. I like the bubbles.
And those beautiful soaps you find at markets and festivals are all supposed to clean, right? Coconut oil is the ingredient in those soaps which you’ll need after those marathon-prepping runs or after a session at the gym. It’s the oil in soaps which provides that all-important cleaning.
So, use coconut oil out of the jar on your elbows and heels, make sure that it’s not the first ingredient in soaps you buy, and enjoy the bubbles it provides you in the shower.
And if you have questions about particular oils in soap, click the contact button. You can always ask me.