(Forgive my minor absence – I do try to blog once a week, but liquors frequently drunken me and it’s very hard to write with a hangover. Plus with Easter and all, I’ve had a lot of important eating to do.)
Today I am wearing my helpful hat and come to your screens bearing a couple of my so-called miracle products for your delectation. Yes! Roll up, roll up, little children, and gaze upon my carnival cart of wonders! (it’s a piece of lino pulled by a pig).
I call these miracle products not because they heal the sick or turn water into nachos, but because once you discover their effectiveness, you will wonder how you ever did without them. And given their wide availability and low price, you’ll also curse the literally millions of pounds you’ve no doubt spent on more expensive, inferior products.
Oh unctuous ooze of the Caribbean, oh totally tropical topical tincture, get out of my Bounty bar dreams and into my face. Anyone with a pulse will have heard at least one person yapping on about the wonders of coconut oil lately, and I am no exception.
We’re not talking the perfumed tubs of body lotion flounced by Boots, nor some tarted up bottle of lies from high end salons. I’m talking the 100% raw, cold-pressed edible stuff they sell in giant jars for about £10 (mostly in health food shops). The sort you cook with. The sort you can eat straight from the jar (but don’t because….well don’t, that’s stupid).
Cooking with coconut oil is a wise move as it, as it is packed with healthy fatty acids boasting antiviral and antibacterial goodness. But its uses go far beyond the kitchen. I am actually a relative latecomer to the coconut party, having been temped in by the delicious Brittany, Herself and the splendid Miscriant.
A few tips to remember: coconut oil in this form is solid, but a chunk will liquefy in your hand swiftly. It’s best to handle this stuff over the sink or in the bath, as it melts quickly and you might slip and fall and die. Also, to avoid cross contamination, I scoop out the amount I need for a specific job into a separate bowl. This is more hygienic than polluting the jar with germs or chemicals on your hands.
The best known use for coconut oil is as a sensational hair mask. Slathering handfuls onto your washed locks, and letting it seep in for a few hours before rinsing out results in soft, bouncy hair that will be the envy of all.Even I, whose hair is always more oily than dry, found the mask to be fool-proof: seriously light and voluminous hair for two days, with a scent that can’t be beat.
I shan’t recreate the wheel with my own step by step guide, as it’s fairly straightforward, but do check out Brittany and Miscriant’s guides.
It’s a no-brainer but pure coconut oil makes a great body lotion, especially at night as it seeps in while you sleep. Do the following:
- Slather all over washed skin, and let it absorb (a little goes a long way)
- Tell someone you love that you are now ‘good enough to eat’
- Spend ten minutes saying sorry, and promise to stop calling them
Face, Eyes & Lips
Again, this serves as a very good night moisturiser, lip balm and eye treatment – gentle, light and pampering. A tiny amount will suffice, and perk up parched skin
Waterproof eye make-up remover
Don’t spend £20 on a fancy oil based make-up remover – this stuff, rubbed in very gently, will melt away even the toughest waterproof mascara without irritating your eyes. Use a cotton pad, or just your finger tips.
This is an intriguing one. Apparently ‘oil pulling’ (swilling a spoonful of melted oil around your teeth and gums for 10-20mins) works wonders for one’s mouth. The theory is that the oil, what with its buckets of luric acid, captures multitudes of germs because it can be swished into every crevice of your mouth, leaving teeth cleaner, whiter and stronger.
Websites advocating it claim that it is an ‘ancient form of medicine dating back 3,000 years’. I don’t know why people think this is a good thing; I’m pretty sure everyone from that era is still dead.
I will be honest: I have not had the patience to swill oil around my teeth for 20 full minutes every day. BUT I have tried it a few times, at around 10mins on each occasion, and I did notice my teeth looked brighter after a few days.
What is clear is that oil pulling should NOT replace your normal teeth cleaning regime, as it is not a proven method of total dental care. As an extra boost to regular teeth cleaning, it cannot really hurt.
The main rules are don’t swallow the oil under any circumstances (as you’d be glugging back a mouthful of germs and fat), and spit the oil into a bin rather than down the sink to prevent clogging.
Oils in general make excellent shaving aids, as they moisturise and protect as you go.
(Boys, look away). Coconut oil is an excellent post-shave/wax treatment for sensitive areas… You don’t want perfumed chemicals down there, ladies.
Cleaning slate surfaces
This I discovered by accident. I have a large black slate counter top in my bathroom, which looks lovely when clean but has mostly been a map of water marks, dust and scuffs that required daily scrubbing.
After using coconut oil for a hair mask one night, I wiped the residue from my experiments into the slate. It completely removed the water marks and created a thin protective layer over the top to ward off dust and staining.
If you have slate worktops, wipe clean with warm water and then buff a small amount of oil into the surface for a smooth finish. I believe you can do the same on stainless steel (baby oil certainly works) but I’ve yet to try this.
I cannot live without this stuff. As a household cleaning product it is unbeatable for removing stains and cleaning just about anything. Combine it with a little bicarbonate of soda, and the fizzing action will remove limescale from showers, clean toilets and flush out drains.
I have a few handy tips below, but I want to start with my favourite use for it – getting rid of perspiration stains and smells in clothes.
Most of us don’t talk about it, but damn it, it’s time to get this out in the open. Unless you are the type of person who is entirely perspiration free with nothing but rainbows and unicorn song flowing from your armpits, at some point you will have had to tackle with sweat stains on your clothes. Not only the white and yellow marks, but also the smell of sweat and deodorant that gets locked into certain fabrics and ‘reactivates’ the next time you where it.
I have had to throw away a lot of tops because of this, despite umpteen hot washes and stain removers. Like fabricated time bombs, they were. Until I discovered this ‘cure’.
Firstly, the issue lies in the material itself – your acrylics, your Lycra, your polyester. The more processed, the worse it will be. But we can’t have 100% cotton everything. So here is how to treat those pesky garments.
- Put all offending garments in the sink, bath or a large tub.
- In a small bowl, mix about a cup of bicarbonate of soda with a good glug of white vinegar – I do not measure it exactly, but it should be enough to fizz into a thinnish paste.
- Rub the paste into the arms of all offending garments (inside and out). You can also drizzle a little vinegar on top of the paste on the garment, so that it fizzes and works into the clothes
- Leave to sink in for at least a couple of hours, overnight preferably.
- Wash the garments normally in the machine, without softener. The smell and stains will have gone
For a regular treatment – if you’ve had a long day in an odour prone garment, for example – douse the armpits with a little white vinegar, and leave in the laundry until you’re ready to wash it. This is process has saved a lot of my clothes.
Here are some other splendid uses for white vinegar, beyond using it to drown your chips:
- Pet mess in the house? Clean up the solids or liquid, and then douse the stain with white vinegar. It will neutralise the smell. Come to think of it, any bad smells can be neutralised with white vinegar. Try using it in your bin, or on the poor.
- Used neat or cut with a little water in a spray bottle, it makes glass and mirrors sparkle.
- Pour a cup into your washing machine drawer once the cycle starts to make your whites brighter and colours softer (I no longer use fabric softeners as a result).
- Vinegar is a very good anti-fungal treatment, so use it diluted as a foot soak or an intimate wash if you are suffering from….you know….
- Vinegar mixed with a little water as a hair rinse will remove product build up and bring out the natural shine.
- It also wards off cats, so a diluted spray indoors or used neat outside will keep cats away from areas you’d rather keep feline free
- Pour it neat into cracks and crevices in the garden to kill weeds and deter ants.
What are your miracle products? What natural or unusual ingredients or products have rocked your world? Share with me!