For today's DIY Friday, we're thrilled to feature a post by our dear friend and coconut queen, Nora Pittenger. Through her work with Fair Trade USA, Nora has become an expert on all things coconut. Not only does she understand the complexities of the burgeoning coconut industry, she knows some killer ways to incorporate the magic of coconut into your beauty routine. Lucky for you, she's graciously shared her knowledge with Beauty Lies Truth in this exclusive post. Let's get our coconut on!!
I love the coconut. I love drinking its water, sprinkling it on top of my oatmeal, munching on it in chip form and nourishing my skin with its luscious oil. Not surprisingly, I'm far from being the only one obsessed with coconuts. The coconut water industry alone is expected to grow 250 percent this year, grossing $1 billion in sales. In 2012, there were 780 percent more coconut oil product launches than in 2008, according to global market research company Mintel.
What’s more, the coconut is no longer just a tropical fruit or a transport-you-to-an-exotic-island cocktail with a colorful umbrella: I can count at least 23 products made out of coconut just off the top of my head! In addition to hydrating you after a workout and satisfying your cravings for something sweet and crunchy, coconuts can do wonders for your hair and skin. In a way, the coconut tree really is the tree of life. Today, I’ll walk you through how Fair Trade Certified™ Organic coconut oil can make your hair glisten like the brightest stars in the sky—or at least give you a hint of summer shimmer.
But before we get pretty, we need to get real. Falling in love with coconuts feels great, and it should, but it's important to stick to products with only a few, simple, understandable and organic ingredients. Don’t worry, what I share with you isn't going to make you question your current coconut romance. Instead, it will help you make informed decisions about the products you buy, and help you feel even better about standing by brands that are good for you, the earth and the farmers who grow them.
So, what’s the deal with coconuts? Full disclosure, I have my dream job at Fair Trade USA, and through my work in the coconut industry I’ve learned some things I think you’d like to know, too. It turns out that the hard-working farmers who grow the fruit from seed to tree to nut aren't always benefiting from the coconut industry boom. In fact, 60 percent of coconut farmers live in poverty in the Philippines, where a full 59 percent of the world's imported coconuts originate.
Those farmers face a myriad of challenges. For one, the current crop of coconut trees are getting older, producing fewer nuts and generating fewer profits for the farmers growing and selling them. That means coconut farmers are less and less likely to be able to afford things like replanting new trees or college educations for their children. Add to that the effects of climate change, which are making coconut farmers increasingly vulnerable to natural hazards, such as typhoons, earthquakes, floods, droughts and severe storms—all of which can tear apart their crops, homes and roads.
But there's something you can do about it. One: stand by brands that are committed to investing in Fair Trade coconut farmers. Why? Fair Trade standards guarantee that farmers receive more from your purchase. For every Fair Trade coconut product you buy, companies invest in a coconut farmer community development fund. The farmers in those communities then vote on the optimal ways in which to invest the funds to address the biggest issues they face, whether it be education, building infrastructure or increasing their productivity. In less than one year, Fair Trade farmers in the Philippines have already earned $238,278 in premiums (in addition to the price they’re paid for every coconut). That's cash money that empowers farmers to make smart decisions to ensure that their land, the environment, and their communities thrive.
On a trip this spring, I met a Fair Trade coconut farmer named Estrella Formento. Estrella was new to the committee but ready to become a leader. "It's only by working harder and together that we make our lives better," she told me. Her words demonstrate the power of Fair Trade's focus on community empowerment. She explained how her community, which has already received thousands of dollars this year, had voted to invest in new coconut trees to increase their incomes and to provide scholarships so their kids can attend college. Estrella is living proof that the coconut boom can benefit farmers. But we, as consumers, have to help.
Of course, Fair Trade isn't a magic wand that can solve all of the deeply ingrained challenges that coconut farmers face. But by buying Fair Trade coconut products, you can be part of the solution.
Ok, now let's get glossy! Nutiva is a company near my apartment in Oakland, California. They buy Fair Trade Certified™ coconuts for their 23 fl oz virgin organic coconut oil product. I use it to cook, nourish my skin and make my own sunscreen for my scared-of-the-sun face. Today, I’m going to show you how I use it in my hair. Thankfully, Alexis was just in the Bay Area crashing at my apartment while recording her new album, so I asked her to slather it on her hair, too. We took some silly photos for your viewing pleasure!
Coconut oil is fantastic for dry damaged hair. After a weekend of hiking, climbing and swimming, Alexis' hair was in need of some serious deep conditioning.
The best time to coat your hair in coconut oil is before bed so you can sleep with it in your hair. It smells so delicious, it's almost like aromatherapy. I like to scoop out the coconut oil over my bathroom sink just in case it drips. To begin, take a generous amount of coconut oil and using your hands spread it through your hair. Don't be shy!
After your hair (especially your ends) are saturated, start twisting your locks up into a bun. If you have short hair you're already good to go!
Finally, pop your hair into a bun so the coconut oil can work its magic overnight. When you shower in the morning you might need to shampoo two times to remove all excess oil. Condition and style as usual. Your hair will be extra shiny and feel silky smooth. Feel free to repeat whenever necessary. Remember this is healthy hair care free of nasty chemicals, so ditch the parabens in expensive hair masques and try coconut oil instead!
Share your coconut oil beauty adventures with us on Instagram using the hashtag #coconutqueens