10 reasons why coconut oil is awesome.

You can’t flick through a health magazine without being bombarded with images of the humble unsung health hero that is coconut oil. Go for the organic, raw virgin coconut oil (mostly found in health shops) such as this one and NOT the cheaper kind you find in haircare sections of supermarkets to enjoy a plethora of natural, effective and cheaper ways to improve your skin, hair and health.

coconut oil

1 – It’s the healthiest oil to cook with. Forget olive oil, which has a low smoke point and when used to cook at high temperatures the beneficial compounds start to degrade and could potentially harm your health coconut oil is safe, healthy and super cheap. It doesn’t add any flavour so don’t worry about that, just keep a small jar in your kitchen cupboard and whip it out when you’re going to lightly fry or oven bake something. Sweet potatoes are particularly nommy when smothered in coconut oil and baked in the oven on a low temperature, they’re crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside and really good for you – see this guide for the health benefits of sweet potatoes.

2 – It makes the best, and cheapest deep conditioner for your hair. I like to put the jar in warm water so it’s got more of a runny consistency then I work it into the ends using my fingers and smother it into the rest of my hair, combing it through with a wide-toothed comb and leaving it to work its magic wrapped up in cling film. I leave it for around 2-3 hours or you could leave it overnight and wash it out in the morning and your hair will be soft, shiny and smell like holidays. You can also use it sparingly as a serum to tame flyaways but steer clear of the roots as it can make your hair look greasy.

*edit – I’ve since been informed coconut oil can strip dye from coloured hair, especially brighter colours that are prone to fading and although I’ve never experienced this it’s something to keep in mind.

3 – You can use it as a natural and effective make up remover. Taking off layers of mascara, eye shadow, eye liner and all the other crap we smear on our faces is hard work using a traditional cream based make up remover or wipe and all those chemicals really can’t be good for our skin, can they? I’ve been using coconut oil on the back of a cotton pad for a while now and it gets rid of EVERYTHING in just a few swipes and it’s particularly good for your eyelashes as it moisturises and conditions them beautifully. You only need a tiny bit and for the rest of my face a warm a bit up in my hands until it forms a runny oil and massage it over my skin, removing it with more cotton pads or you could use a flannel. Cheap, effective and natural.

4 – It’s an amazing skin softener, especially when used on tough, dry skin spots such as feet, knees and elbows. A keen user myself and I have a lot of friends who swear by coconut oil as their go-to moisturiser, especially in the Winter months where skin is more prone to chapping, peeling and dryness as it’s ravaged by the hideous cold winds and moisture stripping central heating. A little goes a long way, so use sparingly when using on large body parts such as legs and arms, warm a little in your hand before spreading evenly in long, sweeping strokes. I especially like using it after a long, hot bath in which I’ve shaved my legs before bed, I wake up in the morning and want to stroke my body like I’m Mariah Carey.

5 – Adding it to smoothies and hot drinks adds a tropical twist and provides amazing health benefits. A lot of health freaks I know swear by drinking green tea with a dollop of coconut oil in it in the morning to build up your resistance to fight against viruses and disease-causing bacteria as well as aiding weight loss and keeping a healthy metabolism. I also like to stick a spoon in a jar and slurp it straight off, it’s a really odd sensation as it transforms from a solid into oil in your mouth but it tastes incredible and there’s nothing like eating it in it’s most natural form to benefit from all the above!

6 – All out of Slide ‘N Ride? Coconut oil makes an awesome lube should you be caught short, I’ve not personally tried this one but it’s more natural than shoving something strawberry scented up there I guess. Be careful when using with condoms though as it can weaken latex but latex-free condoms should be fine.

7 – It can help to heal bug bits, chafing, stretch marks, light scars, eczema and sunburn. As well as being intensely moisturising the vitamin e and anti-inflammatory properties in coconut oil have been known to help with the healing of a number of common skin complaints. As it’s all natural it will not sting or irritate skin further but simply help heal, rejuvenate and restore your skin to optimum condition. Breastfeeding mothers are said to love coconut oil as a natural and effective nipple cream to treat sore, cracked nipples. Simply apply frequently to the affected area and it should clear up in no time.

8 – You can make a natural anti-bacterial and softening face mask using coconut oil and honey. This has been raved about all over the internet for making your face baby soft! Simply mash together a small scoop of coconut oil and a drizzle of honey, lightly spread over your face and kick back for 20 minutes or so whilst it gets to work. I would advise exfoliating beforehand so it really has a chance to get to work without any dirt, sebum or sweat in the way. This would also be really soothing after a day out in the sun to combat any sunburn or irritation, as it’s all natural you can use it as often as you want, maybe even mixing a little tub of coconut oil and honey and keeping it in your bathroom as a pampering treat whilst you soak in the tub.

9 – Crazy cat ladies and dog owners can use it on their pets to keep their coats healthy and shiny. I have a long-haired cat and keeping her fur tamed is an absolute nightmare! She’s very temperamental and only lets me come near her with a brush when she’s in the mood (which is not very often!) but I’ve found stroking her with a tiny bit of coconut oil rubbed into the palms of my hands helps keep her long fur soft and shiny and prevents the Bob Marley-esque dreadlocks she’s prone to on the underside of her tummy. Much more natural than any shop-bought shine spray, I would hate for my cat to ingest a crapload of chemicals I’ve intentionally put on her.

10 – Use it around the home as a natural furniture polish, bath tub scum remover and to lubricate any hinges. I’ve not personally used it for household cleaning (yet) but I can easily see why it work just as well as a wax-based polish for buffing furniture with the added bonus of being completely natural and safe for pets or those who suffer with allergies. You can also use it to lube up any squeaky doors or bike chains as well as using it as a natural stain remover on carpet or upholstery, you can mix it with baking soda for more effective stain removal and this method can also be used as a whitening toothpaste.

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Broke in the city – a guide to being moneyless and fabulous.

Being broke is not fun, I’m currently on a strict budget after moving in to my new place (rent, deposit & bleach… Yeah, I get through a lot of bleach) and being the social butterfly and dirty shopoholic I am it’s all got a bit on top until I next get paid. That’s a month away. A WHOLE MONTH AWAY! Pretty much my whole pay packet bar a few stray pennies went straight back out on the above so I’ve limited to myself to just £100 a week until I’m flossing again next pay day. Now £100 sounds quite a bit but when you think of travel costs, lunch and 2-3 nights out a week it’s going to be pretty tight! Luckily, most of my friends are in the same boat and those who aren’t won’t mind saving a few quid whilst I tighten the purse strings and only let us eat in BYOB restaurants and list my entire life on eBay.

I’ve always been a bit tight (that’s what he said) and most of my shoes were purchased in sales and I refuse to pay more than £1 when I go food shopping, ask my mum, when I lived with her and she picked up something that cost more than £1 I made her put it back. Pound shops are my idea of heaven and I would rather slurp a can of 50p ‘perry‘ than pay £7 for a glass of wine in the theatre/cinema. One of my biggest outgoings seems to be bloody food, oh how I wish I was one of those skinny bitches who could forget to eat lunch or saunter home and be so engrossed in who Spencer is nobbing on MIC I blissfully down a cup a soup as dinner and be fully satisfied. Uh huh honey.

being broke

Fortunately, I know a few tricks of the trade when it comes to being on a budget AND having a social life in one of the most expensive cities in the world and I’ve rounded up a few of my favourite websites that help me stay on track.

lastminute.com – I buy ALL my theatre tickets from here! I’m on the mailing list too so I get first pick of special offers and even bigger discounts. I adore the theatre, it’s one of my biggest indulgences and something that gives me incredible enjoyment. I’ve seen a lot of productions this year, inc. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Let The Right One In, Fatal Attraction, Coppelia, Romeo & Juliet, War Horse, 1984, Lion King and Wicked. The tickets that I purchased myself were all ‘cheap seat’ offers that I got for as little as £10. I don’t mind the cheap seats, the view isn’t as great but then you’re saving around £50-80 off the price of sitting in the stalls and if you’re feeling cheeky, you can ask the ticket staff if there’s any chance of an upgrade… If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Don’t be shy about bringing in your own drinks/snacks too, everyone does it and no one gives a shit. Check the theatre layout too to see where you’ll be sitting, if the theatre is small cheap seats aren’t bad at all but for bigger productions they might suck a bit. I wish I had bought more expensive seats for Lion King as we were about 200ft up in the air and had an annoying little posh kid talking the whole way through it but c’est la vie! The theatre and meal deals are pretty awesome too, for Lion King we paid £50 each and got a 2 course meal (with a drink!) at Planet Hollywood and tickets to the show.

Wahanda.com – I haven’t paid full price for a hair cut/massage/manicure/pedicure/brazilian blow dry/spa break in a good few years now and I’ve found some real gems through Wahanda. I suffer from an ongoing back problem and stumbled upon Will at Hairdressing Station a few weeks ago and for just £18 a session (even less now as I purchased 4 in bulk!) he really gets to work on the knots in my back and leaves me walking out of there a new woman. As broke as I am, I will never look broke and I can’t let my beauty regime slide. I always have my nails polished to perfection, my hair is always healthy and shiny and I feel like beauty treatments are an inexpensive way to make you feel amazing when everything else is going to shit. My recent spa break was another Wahanda find and I’ve also found their customer service (esp. the Twitter team) to be really efficient and quick to respond to any problems. They take a lot of care in choosing who they represent and out of all the treatments I’ve booked through them I’ve always had excellent service and quality.

Groupon.co.uk – If I have dinner plans with a friend I’ll always have a quick scan on Groupon to see if there’s any offers in the area we’re looking to head out to and I’m always finding new and exciting offers from full 3 course meals, to cocktails and cooking classes. I’ve been to some amazing restaurants with a Groupon voucher I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford to visit and I’ve booked a few beauty treatments with them too. It’s worth signing up for their mailing list as some of the offers have a limit and it’s good to get in there first! I’ve never felt like a voucher customer with them when I’ve been to a restaurant and I’m really keen to check out the gym pass deals and getaways they’re offering.

Wowcher.co.uk – Similar to Groupon in terms of the variety of deals but Wowcher work on more of a first come first serve basis and when the deal is gone, it’s gone. The business works on a basis that the discount offered can only happen if enough people sign up and the length of time you have to sign up to a deal can vary between days or just a few hours. Every day they feature things you would never think of doing which makes it really exciting if you have a free weekend coming up, from zorbing and indoor sky diving to go kart racing and wine tasting. I’ve booked a few activities through Wowcher including a 6 cocktails for £10 offer at Green Carnation which was AMAZING value for money seeing as most of the cocktails are £9 each! Again they offer beauty treatment, spa breaks, hotels etc. but their main pull is the fun activities.

Timeout.com – I absolutely love living in London and every time I find myself in the buzzing city centre there’s always something going on, most of the time for free. Timeout is really good for being on top of all the events, galleries, exhibitions and festivals that are going on that cost nowt. You’ll be surprised at just how many free gigs there are too, mostly from shitty hipster bands you’ve never heard of but still… A free gig is a free gig! The food festivals (mainly in Summer) are well worth checking out if you’re really cheap as a lot of the stalls offer free samples of the vegan horse crap they’re peddling so you can fill up for free saving yourself even more pennies for Red Stripe. One of my favourite ways to spend a lazy day in London is by visiting a gallery or museum (these are mostly free to enter but certain exhibitions charge a small entry fee) and having lunch along the river, which you can either pack yourself OR see what’s around the area and grab a Groupon/Wowcher code for somewhere.

Agirlcalledjack.com – Jack Monroe is bad ass, she’s a thrifty lesbian who can cook and knows how to make her pennies stretch. I find her blog so inspiring, not just for cooking but her whole attitude is awesome, even though she’s now somewhat of a celebrity she’s still pretty tight and understand what it’s really like to live in poverty as she was a struggling single parent who could barely afford to feed herself and heat her home. The recipes are brilliant and really good for those who can’t afford fancy ingredients, Jack truly is a breath of fresh air in the world of food bloggers and ‘celebrity’ chefs. I also adore the fact she’s an experimental cook, much like myself and throws together whatever she has in the house to make something awesome, cheap and flavourful.

Also, supermarket own brand stuff is just as good as the more expensive counterparts and you can steal staples like olive oil etc. off your housemates (they’ll never know) but if you have a concious Jack has made this awesome video on cheap substitutes for fancy ingredients.

I love watching this kind of crap too, a bit extreme but hilarious!