Coconut oil in jar with spoon. Cooking pan with coconut oil

From cooking to deeply conditioning hair, coconut oil is super versatile. It's also loaded with antioxidants that help your body ward off free radicals. But before diving into the benefits that come with using this magical product, it's important to understand what sets virgin coconut oil apart from refined coconut oil.


The main difference between virgin and regular coconut oil is the amount of refining the oil undergoes. Refined coconut oil, sometimes referred to as deodorized or bleached, has undergone a process of drying the coconut, which is typically done outside in the sun. Generally, refined coconut oil is considered a lesser quality.


Unrefined coconut oil may also be called virgin coconut oil. The type of method used to extract the oil from the coconut is done in the most natural way, without the use of any artificial filtering, which is sometimes used in the process of refined coconut oil. No chemicals are used in this process either.

Smell and Taste

Virgin coconut oil maintains a sweet smell and taste of the coconut, whereas refined coconut oil will lose much of the flavor and scent. An easy way to know if coconut oil is unrefined is to hold a bit of it in the palm of your hand. Unrefined coconut oil should easily melt while refined coconut oil will usually stay fairly solid.


Copra, which is used in refined coconut oil, is the dried kernel or meat of the coconut. Coconut oil made of copra is generally thick in consistency, making it too thick to use as a moisturizer for the skin or a conditioner for the hair because it will sit on the skin without being absorbed. This can clog the pores and actually do harm to the skin.