The Thai Guide to Coconut Oil

I’m fresh off of a holiday to Thailand where I only brought a carry-on bag (the 7kg limit is tough!), so needless to say, that didn’t leave much room for beauty. In fact, I limited myself to that one quart-sized TSA-approved ziplock bag.

I had to figure out my beauty on-the-go.

On my first day, I picked up a $4 bottle of virgin coconut oil as the spa. If there’s one thing I realized during my trip it’s this: Coconut oil is hands-down the most versatile beauty ingredient on earth.

It is truly God’s gift to earth. And if anyone on this earth knows how to use coconut oil, it’s the Thai people.


The Thai Guide to Coconut Oil:

Coconut oil has become wildly popular in the US over the past few years, but a few learned the hard way that coconut oil isn’t great for everything. For example, it’s really problematic for those with acne-prone skin, making it a less-than-ideal facial oil. As I’ve written about before, it’s also a less-than-ideal lash and brow grower, though it is an excellent hair conditioner (source).

That being said, it can do sooo many more things. It’s so versatile that it can do the job of 10 products in one.

Let’s dive into a few ways I used coconut oil in this trip alone, but first, the biggest question:


What Kind of Coconut Oil Should I Buy?

Hexane-free, cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil.

Good? Great. Onward, ho!


#1: Condition Split Ends

Coconut oil is a great conditioner–and strengthen–for your hair. The high lauric acid content helps it penetrate your hair shaft more easily, thereby preventing further hair damage (source).

My hair follicles are thin naturally, making my hair prone to breakage, but also meaning my hair gets oily quick. For that reason, after I got out of the shower, I poured just a few drops of coconut oil into my hands, then gently worked it into the ends of my hair. Conditioned, protected and ready-to-go!


#2: Soften Hands and Feet

If there’s anything that dries out my hands and feet, it’s the combination of sand and sea water. Omg, I just shuddered thinking about it again! AHH! Dry hands/feet are my worst fear. I don’t know if that is genetic or learned, but dry skin rubbing together with dry skin is my nails-on-a-chalkboard. *shudder*

While pure coconut oil on your hands and feed will soften the dry, hardened skin, pure oil on my hands and feet still feels a little.. weird. I like to mix a lotion and coconut oil half and half, to get all the benefits of the coconut oil, and still feel hydrated and light.


#3: Help Sunscreen Spread Easier

This is not a normal tip that I would give, because I find it a potentially dangerous if done wrong, but hey–this is legit what I did on my trip.

I found that after 2 or 3 days, my skin was so dry that I needed a WHOLE lot of sunscreen to spread on my skin. (Speaking of dry skin, sunscreen residue between my fingers is *shudder* the worst!!).

My solution? Just add a few drops of coconut oil! Just a few.

The sunscreen spread so much easier and made the process a lot more enjoyable. However, since I was diluting my sunscreen with coconut oil, I made sure to cut the time between reapplying sunscreen in half. which meant re-application every hour for me!


#4: Moisturize Your Lips

Sun + sea = dry lips for sure.

I didn’t bring a chapstick with me most days on my motorbike, because it would melt in the 90+ degree weather. Again, dumb for a skincare blogger. Your lips needs SPF. I know, I know.

I applied SPF lip balm in the morning or rubbed sunscreen on my lips (*gag*), but there’s no point in bringing a lipbalm with you if it’s just going to melt all over your bag.

Instead? My handy dandy 100ml bottle of coconut oil that was always liquid above room temperature worked just fine. Ta da!


#5: Hydrate Your Face

I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone with less-than-perfect skin. Coconut oil is best for “young, dry, non-acne-prone skin” (source).  Coconut oil is pretty comedogenic, but it works for many. If you’re one of those lucky ladies, coconut oil is a fine facial moisturizer and OCM (oil cleansing method) face wash. I used it on my trip as a facial moisturizer more than once. Sometimes you just gotta.


#6: Need a Shower Buddy?

My absolute favorite way to use coconut oil was in the shower! And no, my experience was nothing like the young lady that Allure posted about recently, who bathed with coconut oil and couldn’t even get out of the tub! (That was hilarious, though).

Instead, I used coconut oil as a OCM-like body wash. My skin was pretty dry and soap wasn’t helping the situation. I used a bit of coconut oil instead and lightly scrubbed. I left the shower feeling like an angel!

For those that want a more thorough scrub, salt + coconut oil will do the trick. I highly recommend not using this scrub on your face, though!


#7: Want a Snack?

This has to be the weirdest tip, but the taste of coconut oil is HEAVENLY!! You can cook at low temperatures with it, but truthfully, I prefer a few drops of coconut oil if I’m really hungry. It has the lightest natural coconut flavor. Mm… Y’all are gonna call me crazy in the comments section now.


#8: Massage Time!

Can you talk your travel companion into a coconut oil massage? It’s the best.

If not, ask the masseuse to use virgin coconut oil in your massage! The going rate for an hour-long oil massage in Thailand is 400 Baht ($11.42). If you bring your own oil, I’m sure you can negotiate it down to 350 baht ($9.99)–the perfect price!

Did you need any more reasons to visit Thailand? Hehe.


#9: Assuage Your Sunburn

This one is not just me being a coconut fanatic: cocos nucifera (coconut) oil has actually been proven to help heal burns (source).

When I scoured the spa shelves, I found that “100% natural aloe vera” was really a bunch of butylene and propylene glycols with the 10th ingredient being “aloe vera powder”. No way was I going to let some glycols do the moisturizing and healing when coconut oil was just as effective.

Coconut oil provides the skin with nutrition and moisture, making burns also less painful, especially when wearing clothes. Get generous with it!

I hadn’t had a burn in YEARS, but one day I half-assedly applied sunscreen to my stomach before going out of the house, because I was wearing full clothing and had no plans to go to the beach. What do you know, an hour later, I was on the beach.  That night, the weirdest hand-swipe shaped sunburns appeared on the bottom of my stomach.

Thanks to coconut oil, the small burns weren’t painful and only lasted about 2 days. Sweet!


#10: Remove Your Makeup Gently

Coconut oil is also a great makeup remover. Why? Because oil can easily dissolve tough eye makeup (especially mascara).

It’s really simple to use, too. Either pour some onto your fingertips and start to gently rub over your closed eyes, or apply a few drops to a tissue (much like our guide here), and use like a makeup remover wipe, to gentle remove tough makeup.

Again, the high stearic acid content of coconut oil gives it the ability to easily penetrate hair shafts–including lash and brow hair shafts. When used regularly, you can expect slight strengthening of the lashes and brows, though you won’t see the same EFA benefits that you would with WINK, because of the low (8-9%) EFA content in coconut oil, compared to the 95%+ EFA content of WINK.


Bonus Tip: Create, then Treat Your a Hangover

Ok this is NOT about coconut oil, actually.

My favorite drink in Thailand is a Batida. White rum over ice with coconut milk and passionfruit. THE best drink..ever.

But when you have one too many? Turn to coconut water.

If you have the opportunity to drink a coconut, DO IT! I don’t care if you’re hungover or not (but if you are, it’s the quickest remedy on the planet to cure a hangover). Potassium is great for your body, great for your skin, and will leave you feeling more refreshed than a long massage or a dip in the ocean.

All I have to say is: Drink up, baby!

Did you need another reason to go to Thailand? Because young coconuts are 70 cents in Thailand. Or you could climb a tree and hack one off for free, but I prefer paying 70 cents.


Takeaways: My Massive Free Advertisement for Thailand

It was a great trip thanks to…


If coconuts could sponsor my travel, I’d be on it faster than you can say Khop-Khun Kha! (that’s “thank you” in Thai!)

I hope you enjoyed my list of ways to use coconut oil; I’m sure there’s a hundred more! Feel free to add your favorite ways to use coconut oil below!



Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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