Coconut oil = conspiracy?; Image: John Block/Getty Images

Coconut oil, the darling of the natural foods world, has fallen from grace. According to a new report by the American Heart Association, the sweet, solid-at-room-temperature fat puts people at risk for cardiovascular disease and should not be used for culinary purposes. (What?!)

Back in the 1990s, coconut oil was condemned as “the devil himself in liquid form, with more poisonous artery-clogging, cholesterol-raising, heart-attack-causing saturated fat than butter, lard or beef tallow.” Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, once said that “theater popcorn ought to be the Snow White of snack foods, but it’s been turned into Godzilla by being popped in highly saturated coconut oil.” Then, coconut oil got a rebrand.

Scientists argued that coconut oil, though high in saturated fat, was redeemed by its high lauric acid content. (Lauric acid, which makes up about half of coconut oil’s fatty acid profile, is believed to raise good HDL cholesterol and lower the ratio of bad LDL cholesterol.) Vegans liked that the sweet veggie fat served as a solid (in all senses of the word) butter substitute, especially in terms of baking.

Now, the AHA holds that coconut oil’s purported HDL cholesterol-raising properties do not counterweigh the negative health effects of ingesting an oil that high in saturated fat. “Changes in HDL cholesterol caused by diet or drug treatments can no longer be directly linked to changes in cardiovascular disease (CVD) and therefore, the LDL cholesterol–raising effect should be considered on its own,” states the report. In other words, the fact that coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol levels, and thus the risk of heart disease, is reason enough to keep it out of your cupboard.

On the hunt for alternatives? A series of “carefully controlled experiments” comparing the effects of various fats found that olive oil and safflower oil have significantly less impact on LDL cholesterol levels than coconut oil. Not to mention, olive oil contains far less saturated fat than coconut oil (14 percent versus 82 percent). All hail the Mediterranean diet.

The AHA begins its hard look at coconut oil with the following statement: “A recent survey reported that 72% of the American public rated coconut oil as a ‘healthy food’ compared with 37% of nutritionists. This disconnect between lay and expert opinion can be attributed to the marketing of coconut oil in the popular press.” Looks like that figure is about to change.

On the bright side, those who choose to abstain from the stuff can use their leftover oil for hair masks and oil pulling, so there’s that.

Welcome to Women With Hair, a new series on the Cut that celebrates the many different ways women approach their hair. Each week will highlight a new woman while exploring her unique hair philosophy. We’ll dive deep into the shampoos, conditioners, and creams that make her tick. First up is Kassala Holdsclaw, a 22-year-old Portland, Oregon, transplant who worships at the altar of coconut oil.

How I describe my hairstyle: I have a very curly Afro. It kind of looks like a sun.

If I could name my hair, I’d call it: The White Dandelion.

In my shower you’ll find: DevaCurl gel and “No-Poo,” Tresemme’s Naturals conditioner, Shimmer Light’s toner and purple shampoo, and coconut oil.

I wash my hair every: Day. Everyone says “what, really?” but it works perfectly for me.

Photo: Mindy Byrd

A rundown of my hair regimen looks like: It depends on the day. I’ll use the No Poo every other day. I use so much conditioner it’s unreal. I go through a bottle a week and I’m not joking. I comb through with a wide-tooth comb and I don’t rinse all of the conditioner out of my hair. Then I put the gel and the coconut oil throughout my hair. I do this in the morning. I wish I could do this at night and just wake up, but it doesn’t work.

The worst thing I ever did to my hair was: Straighten it. I’ve been curly for two years. I threw my straightener away. There’s no way, ever again. Before I stopped straightening I was balding in the front and my hair was up to my ears, so I cut everything off and started over. I had no idea I had all of this hair.

The best thing I ever did to my hair was: Go curly.

I trim my hair every: Maybe every five months. I want it to be as big as possible.

My hairstylist is: Atoya at the Curly Hair Studio in Portland.

Photo: Mindy Byrd

The most important thing people with hair like me should know: Condition often and use coconut oil.

Check all that apply — my hair is dyed, is chemically straightened, is permed, has extensions, is braided/in locs: Just dyed!

Elaborate: My hairstylist bleaches my hair and then uses Olaplex. Olaplex saves my hair and makes my curls a lot more vibrant.

What I love most about my hair is: How big it is. I want people to not be able to see when they are standing behind me. I want it to be bigger. I usually pick it to make it more massive.

It’s no secret that we all live frantic, fast-paced lives. Between families, relationships, work and friends, there’s little time left to focus on our own well-being. Is it really any wonder that we’re so tired all the time?

Turns out that being constantly tired is something of a phenomenon. Beyond general sleepiness that may occur if you miss a couple hours of your usual eight-hour block (or six or seven, if that’s your normal routine), chronic tiredness manifests itself in different ways. It makes you feel like you can’t perform to your fullest capacity. Even the simplest acts — taking a shower or brushing your teeth, for example — sometimes feel overwhelming and complicated.

While many doctors will tell you to increase your sleep and cut down on stress, those obvious solutions aren’t always the answer. In fact, you may be missing the actual cause of your exhaustion entirely and left even more puzzled when you can’t get through the day without hitting a wall. What’s responsible for this mass increase in exhaustion and this seemingly collective notion that day-to-day living is such a tremendous chore?

If you’re sick of wondering, “Why am I so tired all the time?” we went straight to the experts.

You’re Doing Too Much

“We are never turning off,” says Dr. Gabrielle Francis, naturopathic doctor and author of The Rockstar Remedy. “This syndrome is also known as ‘wired and tired.’ It can manifest as fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, overwhelm, irritability, depression and other stress-related symptoms.”

The notion that we must always be on top of things and ready to tackle every single issue head on can take its toll indiscriminately. It may lead to adrenal fatigue, a non-medical term used to describe weakened adrenal glands. The latter are responsible for creating hormones, including stress-busting cortisol. If your adrenal glands are constantly pumping out cortisol in response to nonstop chaos (both internal and external), they’ll eventually grow tired enough that your adrenal system finally buckles under the pressure. This results in the many symptoms that give you that all-encompassing feeling of exhaustion.

Iron and Thyroid Checks

Chronic exhaustion may be attributed to a number of recognized conditions, too, all of which require medical attention. If you find yourself unusually tired during your period, for example, you may have anemia or low-iron blood that doesn’t effectively deliver optimal oxygen throughout your body. Since anemia may also manifest itself in other equally concerning ways (such as shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat), it’s important to seek a doctor’s opinion. After diagnosis, dietary adjustments may help you feel better. Seek out foods rich in vitamin B12, folic acid and iron.

If you show other signs of extreme tiredness, like muscle fatigue or weight loss, you may have a weakened thyroid gland. In other words, it’s not helping your body produce sufficient energy to stay active and strong. A thyroid hormone blood test will determine whether this gland is functioning properly.

You Are What You Eat

Your everyday diet may also be to blame, as it turns out. “Instead of being energized by food, after eating most of us find ourselves feeling heavy, bloated and tired,” says Rae Roth, author of Cut Your Cravings. High-glycemic foods, such as white rice, potatoes and white bread, can cause a rapid spike in your blood sugar, followed by that all-too-familiar crash shortly thereafter. Before you know it, you’re struggling to keep your eyes open.

There are other dietary substances that contribute to overall fatigue and it’s often not until you detect a pattern of regular exhaustion that you connect the dots. “Gluten and gliadin — the main proteins in wheat and many grains — are the most common allergens in food,” adds Francis. “They’re often the mystery substances triggering issues like fatigue. And MSG, hidden in most packaged and processed foods, should be avoided at all times. It’s linked to toxicity syndromes of the nervous system. Some of its negative effects include headaches, anxiety and fatigue.”

…or What You Drink

Many of us are guilty of self-medicating in the face of feeling tired all the time. But those quick fixes (think good ol’ Red Bull and bottomless cups of coffee) may be doing more harm than good. “Note how much [caffeine] you are consuming,” advises Karen Brennan, MSW. “Coffee increases your cortisol levels and puts stress on the adrenals. Caffeine can also contribute to mood and behavioral shifts.” She suggests Teeccino, a coffee substitute, as you gradually reduce your caffeine intake.

It’s Time to Disconnect

Finally, consider the side effects of simply being 100 percent connected from the moment you rise to the second you hit the pillow at night. How many of us are guilty of lying in bed with our iPads, checking text messages every five minutes and browsing Facebook first thing in the morning?

It’s a cycle of constant input, according to Dr. Wendie Trubow, MBA and president of Five Journeys. “We are notoriously bad at disconnecting. This causes stress and leads to exhaustion. If used at night, the lights emitted can alter our brain waves and decrease the quality of our sleep.”

Chronic exhaustion doesn’t always have to be a life sentence. Might it be worth it to finally pay some real, focused attention to our minds and bodies and treat ourselves the way we treat our loved ones? Our bodies put up with a whole lot, each and every day and deserve some respect in turn. Whether it’s intuitively disengaging from the obvious stressors of life — the unhealthy habits, the junky foods, the late nights — or paying better attention to our symptoms and visiting the doctor, we owe it to ourselves.

There are certain trends we’re a tad hesitant about. The return of scrunchies (thanks Mansur Gavriel), fashion(?) Crocs, squiggle brows and blurred lips. But perhaps the most divisive of all is the 80s staple that is crimped hair.

Yup, it’s back in full force on the runways and on celebs. The leader of the pro-crimp movement? None other than Beyoncé. She recently posted pics on Instagram swinging her fully crimped ponytail. But it wasn’t a one-off. She’s since posted more crimp-tastic images on her Insta, making the wavy hairstyle seem not only glam but also very 2018.

And she’s not alone. Dating back to 2016, other stars favored crimping on the red carpet. From Gabrielle Union to Anna Kendrick, the hair trend is becoming pretty pervasive.

Of course, designers have been brazenly experimenting with crimped hair for a few years now — it even appeared on a haute couture runway. While they tend to adhere to the go big or go home mantra, there are some looks that can translate to real life, like crimped tails on ponies or layered crimps under straighter strands.

Ready to try? Here are 22 examples of how to crimp in 2018, without a hint of 80s irony.

 Caroline Daur is a German fashion blogger who boasts over one million Instagram followers alone. She frequently takes to the ‘gram to post street style images and travel shots, feeding her avid followers (us included!) with a consistent stream of incredible fashion inspiration.

Over the past few months, we’ve noticed one item, in particular, Caro has been wearing on repeat—an extremely oversize super-fluffy teddy bear coat that looks oh so cozy and super stylish. It’s clear her followers are also huge fans of her choice in outerwear, which hails from Italian fashion house Max Mara and is fittingly named the Teddy Icon coat. (Of course, it’s sold out online as of now, but it may still be available for purchase at a store near you.)

If you didn’t already know, faux fur is a major trend this year, with the teddy jacket being the latest variation to win over everyone’s heart. As data has shown, Pinterest saves for this particular cold-weather essential are up more than 1200% this year. So clearly Caro isn’t the only one who is obsessed with this cute outerwear iteration. Grab it while it’s hot (and cold outside!).

The perfect Sunday 🐻

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Weekend 👋🏻

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When you think of classic trends, what comes to mind? Chances are you think of items like black ankle boots, trench coats, dark-wash jeans, and so on. Well, there’s one trend that should also be added to this list: leopard print. When you think about it, the spotted print has never really gone away. Though the pattern may seem more prominent in various seasons (FYI—it’s trending this fall and was seen at the runway shows of Isabel Marant and Saint Laurent), it’s always around in a variety of iterations.

This winter, we’re spotting a slew of women in bold leopard-print finds, including gorgeous coats, skirts, scarves, ankle boots, and everything in between. To be honest, if you invest in one of these items now, chances are it will still be in style in 20 years—given the trend’s perennial nature.

Interested in how fashion girls are wearing leopard print this season?