Chances are you have at least one friend who's joined the cult of coconut. Many swear by the tropical fruit for its powerful health and beauty benefits, praising coconut-derived ingredients like oil, water, and extracts for their wealth of antioxidants and naturally antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties.
According to Jessica Weiser, M.D., of New York Dermatology Group, "Coconut oil is a saturated fat that is high in medium-chain fatty acids, which, when applied to the skin, have been shown to improve the barrier function and hydrate the skin." The CliffsNotes on coconut: It's one of the buzzy "new" ingredients that people have been using for every purpose imaginable—eating, cooking, brushing their teeth, and slathering onto their faces and bodies. And it seems that nearly everyone—well, not everyone—is pretty obsessed.
Curious to see whether coconut is capable of improving my skin and hair, I swapped my usual products for either coconut oil (based on Dr. Weiser's advice to find "a virgin oil that hasn't been hydrogenated, bleached, refined, deodorized, or otherwise processed") or coconut-based products—for seven days.
The result? Not only did I smell like a piña colada for a week—though not a soul seemed to mind—but I was thrilled with my smoother skin, shinier hair, and the wonderful beachy scent that seemed to follow me everywhere.
But don't take my word for it: Keep reading to find out which products I used, why they worked, and whether you too might soon become a coconut convert.