Coconut Oil Benefits for Skin: Is This the Ultimate Beauty Hack?
The uses of coconut oil have now reached mythic proportions. It is the main ingredient in a number of prominent skincare products and many people apply coconut oil directly to their skin.
However, if you take a moment to think about it, how much do you know of the benefits of coconut oil on skin? Probably not a whole lot! This is because the science tends to get lost in all of the advertising hype about this oil.
Now, before you go ahead and slather yourself in coconut oil, you need to make sure that it is actually good for your skin. Furthermore, you must also know exactly how to use coconut oil to get the results that you want.
So, for the lowdown on this – and more – start reading now.
Is Coconut Oil Safe for Your Skin?
OK, before going any further, you have to first know whether or not coconut oil is actually safe to use on your skin.
Well, for the most part, coconut oil is natural – it is derived from the flesh of coconuts. Thus, it is quite safe to use on your skin. Not to mention, people around the world have been doing this for quite a while.
There is a catch though:
Coconut allergies, although rare, could be a problem for certain individuals. If you have a contact allergy to coconut oil, you may exhibit one or both of the following symptoms – itchy skin or blisters.
These issues may crop up within a day or so of your skin coming into contact with coconut oil. This is why it is important for you to always do a patch test before using the oil on larger areas of your body.
Separating Fact from Fiction – What Does Coconut Oil Do for Your Skin?
As mentioned, there is a fair amount of publicity surrounding coconut oil. This makes it a little difficult to know what the real coconut oil skin benefits are.
So, to separate fact from fiction, let’s take a scientific approach to this investigation. Below, you can find scientific evidence for what coconut oil can and can’t do for your skin:
Can Coconut Oil Treat Acne?
Acne is something that women and men of all ages suffer from. Thus, most people are looking for long-term remedies.
In particular, most individuals want a cure that is gentler on the skin since many traditional acne treatments can be rather harsh.
Thus, some have turned to coconut oil for this. Now, to a certain extent, there is some logic behind this belief.
See, coconut oil does have mild antibacterial properties.
Under certain circumstances, it has even shown to be effective against Propionibacterium acnes, a strain of bacteria that is responsible for facial acne.
So, does this mean that the coconut oil antibacterial element can be used to reduce breakouts? Well, the antibacterial elements of the oil don’t tell the whole story – there is more to learn.
Understand, coconut oil can also cause comedogenesis. This is where the oil blocks the pores on your skin, triggering or worsening acne breakouts.
The truth is that it can be difficult to know exactly what kind of reaction your skin will have to coconut oil as far as acne goes. If you wish to test the oil out, do so on a small patch of your skin, to begin with.
If there appear to be no new breakouts, you can continue using the oil. However, if your complexion worsens, you may need to look for another solution.
Coconut Oil as Moisturizer – What's the Verdict?
It is not uncommon to use coconut oil for dry skin. In fact, many people prefer it as an alternative to commercial body lotions.
Based on this alone, you would imagine that coconut oil is an excellent moisturizing agent. However, once again, there is more than meets the eye.
In the above point, you saw that coconut oil can block pores. One of the reasons for this is because it isn’t absorbed into your skin all that well.
Rather, coconut oil acts as a barrier on the surface of your skin. Thus, in terms of actual hydration, the oil doesn’t do all that much.
This doesn’t mean that coconut oil doesn’t have a role to play in keeping your skin moisturized.
Scientists have discovered that coconut oil can help to prevent transepidermal water loss. In layman’s terms, it prevents moisture from escaping from your skin.
Therefore, coconut oil works well as a final layer of your skincare routine. It can ensure that all of the emollients or other products that you previously applied will get absorbed into your skin.
Can Coconut Oil Treat Psoriasis and Dermatitis?
Psoriasis and dermatitis are two rather common skin issues. However, they are caused by two separate problems.
Psoriasis is characterized by dry, scaly, and itchy skin. It is often a result of a compromised skin barrier function.
Dermatitis, on the other hand, is caused by certain types of bacteria. Nevertheless, it has similar symptoms to psoriasis.
So, can coconut oil help to alleviate these widespread skin conditions? Well, it turns out that the answer is yes!
As stated in the previous section, coconut oil acts as a barrier between the skin and the air. Due to this, it is able to trap in the moisture and prevent it from escaping.
In one study, coconut oil was shown to effectively clear up the symptoms of psoriasis. So, by frequently applying the oil to areas affected by the condition, you could potentially see an improvement in your skin.
Now, let’s move onto how coconut oil can work its magic on dermatitis. You may recall that the oil was found to have antibacterial properties.
It was discovered in an experiment that coconut oil is quite effective against the bacteria that cause dermatitis. The fact that it helps to maintain the moisture levels of the skin makes it an even better solution for dermatitis.
Natural Coconut Oil vs. Coconut Oil as an Ingredient
As you can see, coconut oil does have quite a few benefits for your skin. So, if you are ready to use it, you may be wondering which delivery system is best.
Should you use straight up, natural coconut oil or should you find a product that uses it as the main ingredient?
Well, for the most part, this is a decision that should be left up to you. This is because there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer.
When using just coconut oil, you do have the advantage of knowing exactly what is going on your skin. Furthermore, regular coconut oil tends to be a lot cheaper than many skincare products.
Still, there are some advantages to using carefully cultivated skincare products. Understand, these contain a myriad of ingredients and components that are able to boost the positive effects of coconut oil.
Thus, when you use these products, you will be able to enjoy multiple skin benefits.
What Type of Coconut Oil Should You Use?
If you do want to use natural coconut oil on your skin, you need to know which kind to use.
Since you want to ensure that the oil you are using has as many nutrients as possible, avoid types that are overly processed.
These have been put through several treatments to remove any impurities. However, at the same time, a number of essential nutrients are expelled as well.
It is best to use virgin coconut oil as it is often virtually unprocessed. Due to this, many of the nutrients are maintained.
How to Use Coconut Oil on Skin
Now, let’s move onto how you can use coconut oil effectively to solve a variety of skin issues.
Coconut oil acts as an excellent base for a homemade face, lip, and body scrub. The most common ingredient to add for these scrubs is sugar. However, you may be able to add other exfoliating products such as oatmeal or even coffee grinds.
If you are concocting a scrub for your face, make sure to use smaller sugar crystals. These will not be as harsh as the larger pieces. For an even gentler scrub, opt for oatmeal.
For your lips and body, on the other hand, you can use any type of sugar.
Simply combine melted coconut oil and sugar together – don’t wait for the sugar to dissolve, however. Then, work the scrub into your skin in a circular motion. This will help to dislodge dead skin cells.
Wash off the scrub and you will feel like a brand new person!
If you don’t want to use chemical-based makeup removers, you don’t have to! Simply rub some melted coconut oil onto your face where you have applied makeup.
It is important to be careful around the eye area, especially if you have sensitive skin. The coconut oil could potentially act as an irritant.
Once you have worked the coconut oil into your skin, use a soft cloth such as flannel to slowly remove the makeup off of your skin.
Then, wash your face with a gentle cleanser to get rid of any remnants of the makeup and the oil.
As you may be aware, razor burn can be rather painful when shaving any part of your body. Coconut oil, however, can act as an excellent lubricant and help the blade glide across your skin.
Simply apply the oil in a thin layer to the area that you wish to shave. Avoid getting oil on the handle of the razor or on the hand you will be gripping the razor with.
Once you are done, move the razor over the skin against the direction of the hair growth. This should effectively remove the hair gently while keeping the skin below it nice and smooth.
Massages are a great way to improve blood circulation all over the body and to give you beautiful, glowing skin. Not to mention, it can be incredibly relaxing as well!
Coconut oil works well for individuals who may be sensitive to other scented massage oils.
It is as simple as warming up the oil between your hands and massaging it into your skin, using gentle pressure.
In case you are using it as a massage oil for your face, make sure to wipe off the excess oil with a cleanser.
Are you suffering from a dry scalp? Or do you just want to improve scalp and hair health by boosting blood flow to the area?
Regardless of what your goals are, coconut oil can certainly help in this situation. Once again, all you have to do is work the oil into your hair and massage it in.
Once you are done, you can wash out the oil with shampoo. For a greater impact, you can wrap your hair up in a shower cap and allow the oil to sit in your hair overnight.
As stated, coconut oil is great for trapping moisture in dry, cracked skin. So, if you want to improve the condition of your feet, work the oil into your skin and allow it to form a protective barrier. Wear socks on top to form an additional seal.
It is best to do this at night time so that you don’t slip and fall when trying to move about.
Coconut oil may also be a good remedy for anyone who is suffering from foot odor or bacteria-based skin conditions. Since the oil is a good antibacterial agent, it just may be able to clean up this issue for you.
Nonetheless, you should make it a point to remove the oil completely before wearing closed shoes.
Have you run out of your favorite highlighter? Then never fear! Dab on a thin layer of coconut oil along your cheekbones.
This will ensure that the light will hit these spots and cause them to shimmer. What's great about this solution is that the effect is a lot more natural.
Thus, it is perfect if you are going for a no-makeup look!
Want to lock in the moisture from your bath? Then just add a few drops of coconut oil into your bath – don’t go overboard.
Then, soak in this for a while to ensure that the oil forms a protective barrier on your skin. Gently dab the water off you to lock the moisture in.
How to Remove Coconut Oil from Your Skin
It is important to realize that coconut oil has a rather thick consistency. Due to this, it can be difficult to remove once applied to the skin.
Thus, when removing coconut oil, you should always be as gentle as possible. If you use an aggressive method such as scrubbing with a cloth or using heavy-duty cleansers, you will end up removing your skin’s natural oils.
As a result, your skin will be worse off than before you used the coconut oil.
Always use a gentle cleanser that is specifically meant for oily skin. Lather the product into your skin using your fingertips and wash it off thoroughly.
Once you are done, pat your face dry.
It is clear that your skin has a rather complicated relationship with coconut oil. While the oil is certainly beneficial for your skin, the actual process isn’t as straightforward as you might imagine. However, with all the information and suggestions available here, you will now know exactly how to use coconut oil on your face and body.
Riya Borah is a nutritionist educator and her job involves guiding people towards a healthier lifestyle. Growing up in India, Riya was aware of just how much coconut was used on a daily basis. This encouraged her to research the properties of this versatile drupe. It opened her eyes to both the limitation and possibilities of coconut. Her aim is to now educate as many people as possible about the best ways to utilize coconut in their own lives.
An Important Disclaimer
The information on this page should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult a doctor if you wish to consume any kind of tea regularly for the purpose of treating any condition or illness.