The natural beauty guru and hair stylist to the stars teaches us how to use coconut oil basically everywhere.
Hardworking, multitasking, versatile, smells delicious … Liz Taw has a lot in common with her beloved coconut oil.
If you didn’t know, the Vita Coco ambassador is a celeb secret weapon, styling the likes of Florence Welch, Jessie Ware and Daisy Lowe’s locks for the red carpet, creating dreamy looks for magazines and promoting natural beauty remedies that are good enough to eat. Which she often does.
A fan of the philosophy that you shouldn’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t be happy to put in your mouth, Liz spends her time cooking up endless creative ways to use Vita Coco coconut oil on face, hair and body.
We caught up with her to chat oil, more oil, and that awkward time she accidentally turned herself into an Oompa Loompa (so we don’t have to)…
Liz, what are your favourite ways to use coconut oil?
There are so many! I love it as a scalp treatment. People already use it on their hair a lot, but they might not know it’s also really fantastic to get rid of a dry, flaky scalp.
So it’s good for dandruff?
It’s great for dandruff, especially if you add tea tree oil. Coconut oil really helps to clean the scalp and the follicles and promote hair growth. It’s really lovely to use for an Indian head massage and it’s very gentle, so perfect to use before your shampoo.
Sounds much kinder than the usual anti-dandruff treatment…
So much kinder – it doesn’t strip out the skin’s natural oils. It’s also a really great for guys (especially those with beards) because it’s such a good conditioner. Guys should use it all over their face and body, then shower, use a hot flannel to remove the excess oil, whatever stays on will nourish the skin and hair perfectly.
How about the ladies?
I love to use coconut oil as my evening cleanser – it’s a quick, easy and gentle way to remove make-up and leaves skin feeling clean and nourished. Warm it in your hands, massage it into your face and neck, then use a flannel and hot water to gently remove and rinse and repeat until your skin feels squeaky clean.
It’s also a wonderful pre-cleanser, to remove make-up. Don’t be afraid to slather it on if you have skin problems, as the antibacterial qualities of coconut oil will help treat and balance acne-prone skin. Use a hot towel to thoroughly remove the excess, to make sure it’s not going to block pores.
What about the rest of the body?
I always use it as a pre-cleanser on the body. I rub it all over my body and then get in the bath or a hot shower – I love that. And the smell of coconut is divine.
The wonderful thing about coconut is that it goes quite neutral as a carrier oil, so it’s great to blend with other oils. On its own it’s so distinctive, but then you add a drop of rose and immediately it becomes totally rose. So you can change your mood.
How should we use a coconut oil blend, apart from smelling it?
I pour the mix into chocolate moulds to create coconut oil massage ‘stones’ that slowly melt on the skin. I find sandalwood and rose are really fantastic for dry and hydrated skin, while lavender’s really good for calming and relaxing before bed, and neroli and lemongrass are reviving and uplifting in the morning.
And there’s one other fragrant morning fix…
Yes, it’s a deodoriser! You can make fantastic deodorants with coconut oil too. They’re a little bit more complicated – it’s quite an alchemy, you add ingredients like arrowroot. But it’s great for feet and underarms.
What else do you like to mix with coconut oil?
I really love to mix in raw honey, it’s fantastic on the hair.
Honey on the hair? For real?
Yes, it’s amazing! Honey can be a bit tricky to apply to the hair, but when you add it to liquid coconut oil, it takes the stickiness away. Warm up the coconut oil – you can drop the pot in some boiling water or melt it on the stove or in a bain marie, making sure it’s cool enough to touch so you’re not damaging the active ingredients – then add the raw honey to it.
I put it into one of those nozzle bottles that you apply hair colour with, and just rub it through my hair. Then I wiggle my head, so it runs down my face too…
Then you try to lick some off?
Yes, that’s the only problem. You tend to eat most of it!
We don’t call that a problem. How long should you leave the hair mask on for?
At least half an hour, but as long as you want to. I leave it on for ages. My Sunday? I’m pretty much walking round all day covered in coconut oil.
Do you use coconut oil with make-up too?
You can use it as a highlighter. Just rub it on the palms of your hands, and tap it gently on the cheeks for a nice sheen. Or use it on really dry patches, just before foundation – around the nose, in between the eyebrows…
Everywhere that tends to suffer in winter…
Definitely! Great for guys too – it’s a brilliant emollient to shave with – face, legs and anywhere else. As an anti-inflammatory, it’s fantastic for shaving rashes. It does it all at once.
So it’s a cleanser, a conditioner, a body moisturiser, a hair mask, a carrier oil, a scalp treatment, a deodorant, a shaving cream … anything else?
There’s more! It’s an amazing lipbalm. You can use it on its own, but I really love blending it with baobab powder [made from the antioxidant-rich African super fruit].
It’s quite a funny story – I play around with these products a lot at home, and I thought as baobab is a source of vitamin C with that lovely zingy quality, it might make a good scrub. So I tried it with coconut oil, massaged it into my face, and it was tingling so I was thinking ‘this could be good’. But when I went to take it off, my face was a bit… orange.
But actually it tasted amazing, so I thought, ‘let’s see what happens if it’s a lipbalm’. Obviously we’re ingesting a lot of the stuff that we put on our mouths, so why not have some vitamin C in your lipbalm? And it’s got a lovely tinge of apricot colour!
Try it with a drop of mandarin oil or orange oil, mix it all up and pour it into a pot. I like those little jam jars you get in hotels. It’s easy, it tastes amazing, and it’s good for you.
When you put it like that, all cosmetics should double up as delicious snacks…
That’s oil, folks!