As a night owl, every morning is a giant fail for me. I'm disoriented and even more clumsy than normal, and indubitably I trip over the cat at least three times if the sun hasn't risen. The only thing I look forward to is my addictive daily Refinery 29 email. It runs the gamut from current events to workout tips to health news, but in my pathetic morning state, the pretty pictures and bright colors are pretty much all it takes for me.
Today I got an email for "13 Products That Changed Our Beauty Game". I used to have a bit of a spending problem with beauty products, but the past few years I have focused my sometimes-wandering attention to budget-friendly natural substitutions. However, I can't say that I'm not sometimes tempted by some of the gems the beauty industry puts out, and I kinda wish I didn't give in to temptation this morning, because it put me on this rant, and I had really planned on being more productive this morning. The first product showcased is the RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream, Retail $18 for 2.5 oz.
One of the natural substitutions that is the all time, hands down BEST natural substitute for a bevy of beauty products, in my opinion, is Coconut Oil. Raw, Organic Coconut Oil, to be exact. I have hooked multiple friends and family on it, and whenever someone asks me the trapped on an island question I always have to clarify whether or not there are already coconuts on said island before answering (this doesn't happen very often), because if not, I would probably bring me some coconut oil. It is my first answer whenever someone asks me (typically with a little judgement) how I managed to grow my hair to hippie lengths, it allegedly helps fight cellulite when slathered on asscheeks, it is a brilliant makeup remover, hand cream, is anti-bacterial, is said to help aid in weight loss, and excellent for making green smoothies taste like a pina colada. I pretty much worship it. So you would think I would be all about this RMS cream, right? It was one detail that set me off on this rant.
Except they already have. Unfortunately for them, however, they have priced it reasonably without a fancy brand name, and made it easily available to consumers. Yet, after a quick google, I found that the RMS Beauty Coconut Cream (do not be fooled by the "cream." This is Coconut Oil, they just wanted to "differentiate" it from its monetarily superior competition) is universally adored by both models and bloggers. As they should! Coconut oil rules. But I am not the only one who noticed that RMS is putting a fancy label on a product that you can easily acquire at most grocery stores, as you can see from the comments sections of the Refinery 29 article. Here is R29's response (deep breath):
We are SO glad you asked that. We asked RMS founder Rose Marie Swift and here's what she told us:
"The quality of a product depends on how it's made. Many think that if they pick up an organic coconut oil from their local store, it will be just as good. However, I always remind people that 'organic' is a guarantee of safety, not quality: an organic product at the grocery store can be good, bad, or mediocre — including certified organic coconut oil. For example, coconut oil can go through chemical refining, bleaching, and deodorizing. Really bad coconut oil can be hydrogenated and could still be called natural! Organic certification agencies don’t distinguish between oils made from fresh coconuts, and those made with dried coconut (copra). Certification agencies also allow the use of chemicals for oil extraction. But all of these processes impact the quality of the product in a negative way, and the RMS brand avoids them all, making it a superior product to what you would find at the grocery store.
"Traditionally, hand-pressed coconut oil is most common and is made by grinding and pressing fresh coconut into coconut milk. Unfortunately, the heat process involved depletes caprylic and lauric acids and reduces the antioxidant capacity of the oil. In some cases it can cause bacteria and rancidity. With the direct expeller process, dried coconut meat (copra) is ground and pressed to produce a liquid that’s 90% oil and 10% water. Some heat is applied to the liquid to remove the remaining water. The resulting oil is light to medium texture, but, like the traditional method, the heat depletes the beneficial nutrients. These techniques cause contamination and again rancidity even before the oil is extracted from the meat.
"The best extraction method is centrifuge-based, meaning the product is created without heat and makes a truly raw product with all the healing nutrients left 100% intact. This is the most expensive coconut oil and the only oil RMS uses. The coconuts used in our oil are handpicked, made the day we order them (to avoid fermentation and oxidation) and shipped fresh immediately to us. Nothing beats this coconut oil."
We've tried both this and the coconut you get at the grocery story and there is truly no comparison. Our senior beauty editor, who has dry skin but is prone to breakouts, immediately clogged up using the grocery store oil, and hated the residue it left on her face, never fully sinking in. The RMS hydrated her skin and gave it a glow without causing blackheads or pimples, and it absorbed fully within just a few minutes. Hope that lengthy explanation helps!
Lovely! That sounds great...but where have I read that before? Oh right, it was when I bought this Coconut oil at about $10 for 16 oz.
You can click here to visit their website, which has more details about how it's made. Made from only fresh, not dried coconuts? Check. No refining, bleaching, or deodorizing chemicals? Check. No heat, centrifuge based extraction? Nailed it. Hmmm, I'm starting to think that both RMS Beauty and I both purchase the same Coconut oil...
Let's break down the numbers, shall we? Per ounce, the Live Superfoods version costs $0.63 per ounce, while the RMS version costs a whopping $7.20 per ounce. That is a 1,152% markup per ounce, off an already marked up price (Live Superfoods has to make a living too). Yikes. Having used the Live Superfoods brand many times, I can say that it has never made me break out, and I have never had a problem with it absorbing into my skin, like the Senior Beauty Editor at R29, who may have purchased an inferior oil (even Whole Foods sells inferior brands).
Have you heard the phrase speak with your wallet? If we keep supporting companies like RMS by buying their overpriced Coconut Oil, they will continue to treat us like mindless lemmings who will blindly follow and pay unreasonable prices for a product we can easily find elsewhere, just because they wrap it up in a pretty package. I will definitely be supporting other Coconut Oil brands, and this incident has kind of turned me off RMS Beauty altogether. However, Live Superfoods isn't the only option for Coconut Oil (some, like Dr. Bronner's are even certified fair trade), however, they seem to have the best information regarding how their oil is made. Here are a few other good options out there (especially for you Trader Joe's shoppers...)
Certified Fair Trade, but states on the website that it is cold-pressed from dried coconuts. Might not be the best if freshness is your top priority, but I have used this brand before and it has worked great for me.
This is one of the first Coconut Oils I have tried (I have also tasted their Coconut Butter, which has the meat ground in, and it is INSANELY good. Like a Mounds bar but better.) Unfortunately, their website does not give a lot of information into their process, but it is stated that is is raw, organic, virgin and non-hydrogenated.
Hope this list helps you make an informed decision, and for those of you who already own the RMS Beauty Coconut Cream - now you have some great options for refilling your display worthy jar for all your moisturizing needs. Happy hydrating!
3/16/14 update: I found a Canadian brand that has an incredible Coconut Oil that is Fair Trade and cold-processed within hours of picking the coconuts:
This, friends, is the cream of the crop when it comes to Coconut Oil. This Canadian brand promotes and prioritizes ethical business practices and environmental sustainability, and this coconut oil is certified fair trade, a huge bonus for putting your money where it counts. The cold-pressed DME Virgin Coconut Oil has earned multiple organic certifications, and meets all the criteria above. You can read more about it on their website here, but I also contacted them, because I did not see it explicitly stated that no chemicals or other ingredients were added. They got back to me very quickly with the following:
Alpha's Award Winning Fair Dinkum Fair Trade DME™ Virgin Organic Coconut Oil is fresh pressed by small holders on the Solomon Islands from mature, wild crafted coconuts within 20 minutes to 2 hours of husking the nut. It is the freshest, fairest, most future friendly coconut oil that you can buy. It is not processed in any way other than filtering, and no chemicals of any sort are used in the pressing, processing or packaging of our coconut oil. It is not refined, bleached, or deodorized. With DME™ you get that fresh, smooth, coconut flavour that signifies the highest quality of oil.
You heard it right folks, and they even spelled flavour with a u, so they mean business. This brand even goes one step above RMS by promoting fair trade. The only downfall is that they are a Canadian brand, so shipping to the US can get a bit pricey if you order from their website (plus they require a $100 minimum, although they have some other products you could try - I have heard great things about their Tamanu Nut Oil and MCT Oil), but lucky for non-Canadians it is also available on Amazon for $19.99. Yay Amazon. Also, you get to support Canadians, who are 100% awesome (I have been there, this is verified.)