Ten ACTUAL uses of coconut oil as tested by me.

Ten ACTUAL uses of coconut oil, as tested by me.

After seeing a lot of articles about 101 uses of coconut oil (or more) I decided to write a list of what I’ve used coconut oil for. All of the things I mention here are things I’ve actually used coconut oil for, because there’s a lot of embellished “uses” for coconut oil floating around the internet that aren’t quite verifiable (I wrote about this yesterday in my article 10 Myths About Coconut Oil That Just Need To Die).

1. To cook food. It’s especially good to fry stir fry if you’re having Thai food. I tried spreading it on toast but I didn’t like it. I’ve never tried it in coffee, but in tea, it just sits on the surface as an oily blob even if you use a blender.  People say it’s flavourless in cooking – I disagree, I think it tastes like coconut.

2. As a moisturiser / lotion. Just rub it on your skin. Too much can cause breakouts on sensitive skin (e.g. my cheeks). Bear in mind it sits on the surface a bit, so it will cause grease stains on your clothing, sofa or sheets unless you want to stand upright for several hours after using it. Coconut oil and silky fabrics REALLY don’t mix.

3. As the base for homemade cosmetics, such as DIY lipbalm. Actually that’s the only one I’ve used it for but it was really easy to add some rosewater. I’ll make a video of how to do this real soon.

4. To clean and possibly whiten your teeth via the oil pulling method, which is an Ancient Ayurvedic technique (i.e. they use it in India and have done for a while). I’ve made a video where I investigated the claim that coconut oil can whiten your teeth. Watch the video here.

5. To moisturize dry hair as an intensive conditioning treatment: Melt, slather over hair, leave on for at least 30 minutes and wash out with normal shampoo and conditioner.

6. As a home-made dandruff prevention and scalp soother. Melt a small amount in your hand, rub between your fingers and rub it over your scalp. I found this sped up hair growth as well.

7. To smooth frizz/flyaway hair. Using a small amount regularly prevents split ends so hair appears to grow faster.

8. For hayfever and seasonal pollen allergies. Rub it on the inside of your nose instead of Vaseline to soothe allergies.  This isn’t going to be as effective as Benadryl; it catches the pollen before it gets a chance to get up your nose where it would usually wreak havoc, but of course it’s not going to catch all of it.  When I worked at a pharmacy we used to recommend this to pregnant women as they were unable to take allergy tablets.

9. To make natural home-made tea light candles instead of using beeswax. Melt it, mix with the scents or colorants you feel like, add a wick, set it on fire.  I only did this once and I found the coconut oil melts too quickly unless you do this in a tea-light foil dish thingy.  Do those things have a name??

10. To make natural home-made soap instead of using glycerin. Melt it, mix with the scents and colorants you feel like, and rub it on you in the tub (but remember it’s still going to melt at relatively low temperatures).

Please consult a healthcare provider before using coconut oil if you feel ill.

What have you used coconut oil for?  Did it work as you expected?  Let me know in the comments!

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Can a whitening toothpaste really whiten your teeth?

After being ill for so long, my teeth were in serious need of some whitening. Lack of nutrients coupled with vomiting millions of times a day means I look and feel like a train wreck at the moment (actually I’ve visually improved a lot over the last fortnight but I’m still not my usual self), and I’m trying to attack my problem areas head on.

Tooth whitening is one of those tricky spots in beauty, because one one hand you’ve got every sixteen year old on Youtube telling you that they’ve found the perfect homemade tooth whitening formula and on the other hand you’ve got cosmetic dentists who claim that the only way to get whiter teeth is to pay them large amounts of money for an in-office or take-home whitening treatment. Both in-office and homemade tooth whitening remedies can be extremely damaging to the teeth if you just blindly follow them, so I decided to do some research before I put anything in my mouth.

I researched exactly what these whitening products did, then tried one out myself to find out if the middle ground – store bought whitening products, such as whitening toothpastes – were really worth the money.

How whitening works:

There are a lot of scam whitening products on the market that don’t really work, and a lot of “home whitening” recipes that are complete and utter bullshit. All of the whitening products that actually work contain peroxide in one of two forms – hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) or carbamide peroxide (CH6N2O3). Carbamide peroxide is an unstable molecule made of urea and hydrogen peroxide, and when it comes into contact with water or certain types of light, it breaks down into urea and hydrogen peroxide. Urea, in case you missed it at school, is the concentrated waste product that combines with water to form urine. In beauty products, it usually comes from animals because, while it can be synthesized in a lab, it’s easier to get it from pig urine.

For the purposes of whitening, your teeth have two layers; enamel and dentine. Your natural tooth colour comes from the dentine which is slightly yellow and which shines through the enamel. This is genetic. When staining occurs, it affects the enamel on the outside. This is environmental. Both genetic and environmental tooth colour can be changed by whitening products.

Professional whitening products tend to use carbamide peroxide, where shop-bought (or Amazon bought) whitening products tend to go straight for the hydrogen peroxide. How are they different? Well they’re really not. And here’s why: When the carbamide peroxide is put on the teeth and exposed to light (water isn’t used because it would wash the gel off the teeth), the carbamide peroxide breaks down into its component parts (urea and hydrogen peroxide). The hydrogen peroxide whitens the enamel which removes staining, then it penetrates into the dentine layer to change your natural shade. This double-action is why products which don’t contain hydrogen peroxide just don’t work very well – other ingredients can only affect the enamel (and some products such as salt or lemon juice can cause serious abrasion or acid erosion). If the enamel gets damaged by inappropriate whitening ingredients, it doesn’t grow back and in spite of what it says on all those “enamel repair” products, all they do is patch the holes, they can’t grow back tooth enamel, so it’s really important to avoid using abrasive products that will damage the tooth surface. That’s why I’d prefer to use hydrogen peroxide, which has been proven safe in the concentrations found in tooth whitening products, than any of those “home remedies” or other ingredients that haven’t been tested to find out whether they damage tooth enamel – enamel damage isn’t immediately obvious and I’m not going to risk my future tooth health because once you’ve ruined your teeth, you’ve only got a turd to polish.

Is peroxide safe on teeth?

Yes and no. It is safe in the small quantities you can find it in EU approved products. Not so much if you buy a bottle of hair bleach and apply it liberally – this is NOT safe. This sort of silliness causes tooth loss, gum damage, whatever. You MUST use a product that is SPECIFICALLY for teeth. If you swallow a little bit of it, don’t worry because the hydrochloric acid will neutralize it in this reaction:

2HCl (stomach acid) + H2O2 (peroxide) –>> 2H2O (water) + Cl2 (chlorine).

As the chlorine gas gets produced, however (such as in the event of ingesting a fair amount of H2O2), the chlorine reacts with the unreacted hydrogen peroxide (remember, it doesn’t all react at once, reactions take time):

H2O2 (peroxide) + Cl2 (chlorine) –>> O2 (oxygen) + 2H+ (hydrogen-plus ions) + 2Cl- (chlorine-minus ions)

The + and – signs denote ions, which means they behave differently. This is a free radical reaction that you don’t want running round your body because it can cause cancer and premature ageing.

The concentration in tooth products is 0.1% (UK) up to 3% (US). A few molecules of chlorine won’t kill you. HOWEVER, it IS a poisonous gas, so if you swallow a tablespoon or more of 3% hydrogen peroxide, take the container and get yourself straight to the ER (or A + E) at the hospital.

Safety is a sliding scale, and on it, we can put Hydrogen Peroxide between Coca Cola (not great for you but won’t kill you for a long time) and House Bleach (contains peroxide and other active ingredients such as anionic surfactants). As an aside, all those things that say “uses pure oxygen to clean” contain peroxide. That’s where they get the oxygen from. Hydrogen peroxide is just water with an extra oxygen atom attached, but that doesn’t mean you’d want to drink it, and I’m mentioning this because it concerns me that some “health nuts” are drinking hydrogen peroxide for it’s alleged (read: none) health benefits. One day, the damage will catch up with them in the form of cancer (peroxide will release free radicals if you drink it) or loss of function of their digestive system (chemical burns, yum). I suppose that’s why the posthumous Darwin Awards were invented. So don’t drink it, that’s stupid, but using small amounts to whiten your teeth then rinsing your mouth with water is fairly harmless in the grand scheme of things.

What about gum damage? And other problems with the red squishy tissue in your mouth? Small amounts of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide don’t seem to damage the red stuff (gums, tongue etc), whereas there are a lot of reviews of “peroxide free” whiteners (usually these come with a snazzy blue LED to make you think you’re shining a UV light on the gel, which ALWAYS contains some chemical that will cause irritation) which state these have burnt people’s mouths. When that happens, people are duped into thinking the product is working, but you know what? Vindaloo curry burns your mouth and THAT doesn’t whiten your teeth. However, in high concentrations of peroxide, or if you leave the peroxide in your mouth for too long, you will end up with sensitivity in your mouth area.

Which products did I use to whiten my teeth?

I took a two pronged approach – I used two different whitening toothpastes. I started with the Arm and Hammer Truly Radiant toothpaste, which contains Hydrogen Peroxide. It claimed that it would give a “radiant smile in 5 days” and I wanted to test that. What exactly is a radiant smile? No idea. For the purposes of research (to find out if this stuff really worked), I brushed my teeth 10 times in the same day. This lifted a lot of the surface staining but I’m not sure it had as much of an effect as I would like. Also brushing my teeth so many times in one day made my mouth very sore and irritated because the toothbrush abraded the gums and the toothpaste dried out my lips. I liked the idea of using a toothpaste to whiten, but I disliked the idea of not being able to just put the stuff in my teeth, wait 20 minutes then get white teeth. In the past I’ve used Rapid White and that worked faster, but you can only use it once per day and it left my teeth feeling very sensitive so I haven’t used it for several years. I also hated having two trays in my mouth because it stopped me swallowing my saliva, meaning I had to use huge quantities of tissue to stop that saliva from interfering with the gel on my teeth.

Here is the Youtube video showing me brushing my teeth a lot to test the Arm and Hammer Truly Radiant Whitening Toothpaste:

I would recommend this for a couple of quid if you need a quick fix but it’s not the sort of results I could get from painting white nail varnish over my teeth going to the dentist, but then, I could buy 1000 tubes of Arm and Hammer for the cost of one whitening treatment at the dentist (I was quoted £500, and I was told I’d have to do the actual treatment myself at home as my dentist said that dentists aren’t allowed to whiten in the UK any more). Once some of the stains had lifted a bit from using the Arm and Hammer, I tried out the Blanx White Shock Toothpaste (with a special blue light) which cost about £10. I first tried this in January 2015 and wasn’t too impressed, but thought I’d try it again for comparison with the Arm and Hammer. It claims to be peroxide free. I tried it again this time, making sure I kept my teeth under the light for half an hour, and it STILL did nothing.

In conclusion, the toothpaste containing peroxide worked MUCH better than the “whitening treatment” with a scientific-looking blue light which did absolutely nothing to change the colour of my teeth. However, neither of them gave me the sort of results I was looking for, and I am still looking for my perfect tooth whitening product. I looked into whitening strips but all the ones for sale in the UK sound like crap.

Looking for a more natural alternative, I tried an experimental coconut oil rinse this morning. I rinsed for two separate sets of 5 minutes, which was very boring, but my teeth looked shiny afterwards. I’m not sure they’re any whiter, but I’m going to try it out over the course of a few days just to see, because oil pulling with coconut is totally harmless (unless you choke on it or something). I’ll write a new article if it works out, but I’m still on the look out for a good chemical whitener.

Have you tried any tooth whitening products? What did you think of them?

Hair: What do I use between the silver shampoos?

What do I use between the silver?

To maintain my silver hair, I have to take good care of it by making sure it stays nourished and conditioned.  This article is about how I do that.

silver hair care

I’ve got a range of products that I use, some expensive, some cheap, for the “rest days” when I am not using a silver shampoo to avoid build-up and maintain healthy hair:

Claudia Schiffer Omega Complex: It’s drugstore available, the shampoo has got sulphates and yet somehow, this Omega Repair Mask makes my hair feel softer, smoother and fresher than anything else. It goes against modern hair advice, due to being less than $10 a bottle and the shampoo being all sulphatey, but maybe my hair needs that sometimes. This is my most frequently used pair of non-silver products.

Pure:Ology Shampoo: I was put onto this by this Grazia article I read, where 3 fashion editors explained how they cared for their long blonde hair. It was really informative and full of product recommendations, although not all of the products are as readily available as of 2015 as I would like. The shampoo is gentle, and smells nice and doesn’t leave deposits or take weeks to wash out.

Article here

Gliss Liquid Silk Conditioner: Another cheapo fave, this one is something I’ve been occasionally using since 2005, when my older cousin told me about it when I was in high school. It leaves my hair soft, shiny, moisturised and each strand really sparkles almost like I’ve used one of those shine sprays on it. It’s called Gliss Kur in the US.

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Reconstructor: Does what it says on the bottle. Bung it on your hair, leave for a few minutes, and your hair will be softer than a Sheila’s jumper. This stuff really makes my hair look and feel great, I use it once a week and it vastly improves my detangling as well.

Moroccan Oil Shampoo: I was using this for a very long time (the Moroccan Oil brand), it actually used to be my favourite before I transitioned to extra-super light blonde. Now I can’t use it, which is a shame because I generally found that when I used this, I needed no conditioner. Like, literally, I had the whole set, but the shampoo would always run out three times before I’d need another conditioner, which I only put on my ends. If you’re a warmer blonde, or any other hair colour apart from platinum, silver or white, this stuff is the best shampoo you can get. Sadly, it orangeifies your hair as it’s infused with argan oil and through experience (over time it actually made my hair 2 shades darker!) it’s just not compatible for me if I want to have icy light hair. Also it’s like serious cash per bottle.

So that’s a run through of the products I use to wash my hair between silver shampoo sessions. There’s also the stuff like coconut oil that I use between washes, but the other stuff I use between washes is highly variable and I don’t feel like I’ve got a regular, dependable and results-focussed set of products going on in that category yet, so it’d basically just be an article on coconut oil, only I don’t use it as often as I might, so it’d be a really short article on coconut oil. My main point, however, is you don’t need to spend serious cash to maintain your silver hair, if you choose your products wisely.

Dry Skin? Have you tried macadamia oil?

Last night I was despairing at the state of my skin.  I had a huge dry patch on my forehead where the car’s heater vents have been blowing straight into my face.  It would probably be a lot worse if I didn’t wear sunglasses like ALL THE TIME.

So I thought I’d try putting macadamia oil on instead of moisturiser.  I got mine from Aldi last year, but you could try this with any light oil such as grapeseed oil, olive oil or coconut oil.

I put a fair amount on my face and neck, but not so much that it didn’t sink in within a few minutes, because the worst thing you can do to dry skin is to swamp it with greasyness, that just leaves you with dry skin and spots, which means  the dry bits have to get drier while you avoid oils until the spots go away.  It’s just a bad time.

I went to sleep and when I awoke, I was pleased that my skin had regained its moisturisation and suppleness, because we all know that oil has the potential to just make you look like you bathed in a chip pan, whatever skin type you have.

I washed it off with some warm water, because I have found that spots are caused by grease getting trapped in my pores.  I rarely have spots.  I reapplied it today, more lightly, as a base for foundation – it was an idea I got when I heard someone say that younger people don’t need primer unless they have very dry skin, and I thought, what would be better than moisturiser and primer for dry skin?

The night before
The night before
The next morning, after washing my face.
The next morning, after washing my face.

Well I tried it and I’m completely sold.  Instead of expensive primer full of silicones and whatnot, for everyday wear, I’m going to use my macadamia oil as primer.  It’s amazing.  *UPDATE: Photo below* I don’t have any photos because I lost my phone yesterday (and there has been major drama while I’ve been searching for it) and so I can’t take any pictures, but if you have dry skin and find that your foundation creases when you first apply it, try a light oil on your face, like coconut oil or macadamia (or almond) oil, apply only a small amount, your face shouldn’t be an ice rink otherwise the foundation won’t stick, and see whether it improves the smoothness of your foundation.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that it makes my face feel cool and refreshed, and the foundation feels much more breathable than usual, which is a nice bonus! I use the Benefit Oxygen Wow foundation in Ivory.

This is what my foundation looks like with using Macadamia Oil as a primer instead of moisturiser and primer.
This is what my foundation looks like with using Macadamia Oil as a primer instead of moisturiser and primer.

Oils not to use: Sunflower oil, any animal based fat calling itself an oil, mineral oil, baby oil, vegetable oil, castor oil, aromatherapy “scented” oils (they’re too strong for the facial area unless being used under the direction of an aromatherapist who will usually dilute them with a carrier oil such as the grapeseed oil I mentioned earlier).

Only use a very small bit of coconut oil because it’s thicker than some of the others that I said were good to use.

Update: I’ve now added before and after pics of using macadamia oil on bare skin and under foundation.