Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Cocos nucifera

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Coconut Cream
softening and soothing
Products with this ingredient

Coconut oil softens and protects the skin and hair. It is also soothing and adds a tropical touch thanks to its fragrance. When applied topically, coconut oil can reduce the symptoms associated with psoriasis and eczema as it encourages a natural balance to the skin.



The coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) is thought to be native to the warm climates of Polynesia, Malaysia and southern Asia. The trees bloom and bear fruit throughout the year, growing a new flower spike nearly every month. This then becomes a cluster of six to twelve nuts. The nuts are the largest seed known to the world and can take up to a year to fully mature. When coconuts are young their flesh is soft like a melon. 'Kalpa vrishka,' the Sanskrit name for the coconut, means 'tree which gives all that is necessary for living.'

The coconut oil (or coconut butter, as it is also known) is extracted from the inner flesh of the coconut. It takes around 25 coconuts to produce 1kg of oil. Lush buys cruelty-free coconut oil only, meaning no animals are involved during the whole process, including harvests.

When mixed with sodium hydroxide, alone or with other vegetable oils and kinds of butter, coconut oil saponifies resulting a soft base, in which solvents, fresh ingredients and perfumes can be added to create an extravagant soap. Coconut is especially appreciated for this process as it creates a dense and creamy lather.

Extra virgin coconut oil is ethically sourced from a direct producer on the Indonesian island of Nias. Lush have been working with them for a decade, and since our demand rose due to the increasing use of the oil to create an in-house soap base, we also started working with another ethical coconut oil producer on a neighbouring island in 2018, to meet the production needs.

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil can be found in these products
Products with this ingredient
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil can be found in these products
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Oil's well that ends well: Sourcing coconut oil

Coconut oil is the oil of the moment. You’ll find it in everything from chocolate cake to hair conditioner. It’s packed full of vitamins and minerals, and in cosmetics is revered for its moisturising, glow-inducing properties.

One of Lush's direct sources coconut oil comes from the Indonesian island of Nias, where the coconuts are grown, harvested and processed - all by the same company, Sumatera. But how do the coconuts on the trees make it into the oil in products? It all begins with a shimmy - up a 20ft tree to be exact.

The journey from coconut to cosmetics….

If you’ve seen the cartoons of coconuts dropping onto heads, you’ll know that coconuts grow high up in the tree tops. This means that when they are ready to harvest - that’s around three times a year - coconut collectors must do a skillful shimmy up the tall trees to cut the fruits down with machetes. But don’t worry, although the hardy nuts fall from heights of up to 20 metres, they are protected by their durable outer shells. A good harvest at one of the largest coconut farms can produce up to 15,000 coconuts - each one priced fairly according to size and quality.

When coconuts fall they are at their prime for producing oil, so getting them to the factory quickly is important. Coconuts remain fresh for up to 3 weeks after harvesting, but their oil has a shelf life of up to two years. Once on the ground, it’s time to gather the coconuts up and take them to the processing facility. A driver collects the coconuts from different meeting points across the area, checks the quality of the harvest, and then pays the farmers directly at the time of collection.

At the processing facility, each coconut is de-husked manually before being split and and washed. The coconut flesh is then removed from the shell using a grating machine. In order to minimise wastage and support the community the de-fleshed shells are given to the locals to remove any leftover coconut for use in animal feed.

The next step in the oil making process involves mixing the shredded coconut with water and pushing it through a machine to separate the coconut meal from the coconut liquid. It is then left in a warm room overnight , which encourages the water and oil to separate. At this stage, the nutrient-rich water is separated from the oil, and local people are invited to collect what they need to give to their animals.
The oil is then ready to be filtered through a paper/bucket system and can be filtered up to 3 times before being packaged up and sent to mainland Sumatra where it is shipped to our UK and global manufacturing sites.

Oil’s well that ends well

But the coconut oil is more than good for your skin and your tastebuds. 10% of Sumatera’s profits go directly to support the Ono Niha Foundation - a not-for-profit organisation that provides physical and economic support to the people of south Nias and beyond.  The foundation funds education, literacy and computer classes for the local children, as well as funding therapy sessions for children with varying mental and physical disabilities. What’s more, the foundation, started by company founder Matt, funds a dental practice on the island, which provides dental hygiene, as well as full dental check ups once per year.

Creative Buyer for Lush, Steph Newton, explains why it’s important to ensure that ingredients are working for the communities they come from. She says: “There are many considerations we must take into account when sourcing new materials.  The social, environmental and financial impact are the first three that jump to mind.

“Socially, we must think about the impact we have on the community, the jobs that are generated, and the support, training and education that might be needed. Environmentally, we must think about minimising our carbon footprint and encouraging bio-diversity, reforestation and reducing waste. Then finally, how the community benefits financially as well as contributing to food sovereignty.”

The easiest way to ensure these things is to have a close and direct relationship with suppliers on the ground. Steph says: “Our main point of contact for sourcing coconut oil is Matt who is the founder of Sumatera. Matt purchases the coconuts from local farmers and employs local villagers in the factory.

“He and his team of workers are passionate about providing community support, which can be seen by all that the Ono Niha Foundation does. We are in regular contact with Matt, being kept up to date on production and any challenges they may be facing. On an island like Nias, wet weather for example can cause unavoidable delays to fulfilment. Having this up to the minute info when we need it and direct from the source means we are best equipped to manage stock accordingly.

“Working with a trusted supplier offers transparency. Having knowledge and confidence that trade is fair right the way through to the grower is the foundation of our work in sourcing, and what we strive towards for all our materials.”

Find out more about how Lush ingredients are sourced here.

Dehusking the coconuts