STYLE
07/12/2013 01:22 pm ET Updated Jul 16, 2013

Monoi Oil Is Coconut Oil's Sexier Cousin (PHOTOS)

The editors here at HuffPost Style spend a lot of time talking about oils. From weighing the pros and cons of face cleansing oil to discovering the wonders of castor oil, you'd probably imagine us as one greasy group of young women. But I was taken aback when I found out that my colleagues were clueless about monoi oil.

Monoi oil is considered the "sacred oil of the Polynesians," as it was traditionally used by priests in worship ceremonies to anoint newborns and purify objects, according to the Monoi Institute. It is cultivated by soaking Tiare Tahiti blossoms (an exotic gardenia) in refined coconut oil. This produces a light and fragrant oil with immense soothing and moisturizing properties. And it was this process that attracted Carol's Daughter founder Lisa Price to monoi oil.

"Gardenias have always been one of my most favorite flowers, and I had read about a sacred, ancient ritual using them in the Polynesian Islands," Price told us. "I was so blown away by the intriguing back story and beautiful fragrance that I wanted to learn more about the history and efficacy."

She explained, "Women put [monoi oil] on their hair and skin to nourish and protect it from the elements. The tradition is passed down to their daughters and has been for thousands of years. A mother-daughter story about recipes? It spoke to me."

Price introduced a hair care collection inspired by monoi oil back in 2011 with a shampoo, conditioner and mask. The line has grown over the past few years to include a split ends sealer and anti-breakage spray.

"Monoi oil is unparalleled in its natural power to heal and repair," said Price. "But I find it particularly beneficial when used on hair. Its intensely restorative properties strengthen hair from the inside out after just one use -- healing and preventing hair damage, from root to end."

Dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe backs up this claim telling us, "Monoi oil contains coconut oil, which has been shown to have tremendous moisturizing benefits for the skin and hair. The essential fatty acids in coconut oil, like lauric acid, may repair hair damage and increase shine."

Monoi oil's beauty benefits expand beyond the scalp, according to Dr. Bowe. "Coconut oil is loaded with protective antioxidants like vitamin E and ferulic acid, a plant-derived anti-inflammatory that neutralizes free radicals, fights signs of aging and treats certain skin conditions that predispose to infections, most notably atopic dermatitis," she said.

Dr. Bowe recommends slathering monoi oil on post-shower to lock in moisture, especially on those areas that tend to get dry like your heels and elbows. Adding a few drops of monoi oil to a warm bath also makes for a relaxing nighttime ritual. It could even be used for a deep tissue massage.

Now that you've learned another secret to sexy (and healthy) hair and skin, will you give monoi oil a try?

Shop our Monoi oil product picks in the slideshow below:

PHOTO GALLERY
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BEFORE YOU GO
Monoi Oil Products
PHOTO GALLERY
Monoi Oil Products

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