We all know coconut oil is today’s craze, but is all the hype really deserved? When it comes to using this beloved cure-all for your skin, hair, nails, teeth and lips, is coconut oil bad for you? Let’s get the skinny on how good (or bad) it is for your skin.
With celebrity endorsements left and right, this beauty secret has to be good – Gwyneth Paltrow said so! Ancient practices tell us that coconut oil has been used for centuries for cleaning and moisturizing skin. In a society that has been recently getting back to natural ingredients in lieu of chemicals, using coconut oil in beauty products seems like a no-brainer. Recent studies and reports show that 59% of women in the US actually read product labels to see the list of ingredients, and 63% of millennial age women say they only buy natural skincare products. Anything with the words sulfates and parabens are immediately put down and replaced with products that say “all-natural.”
With that said, let’s dive deeper to understand what coconut oil really is. Stemming from cocos nucifera – the coconut palm – the “oil” is extracted from the coconut, which is technically both a fruit and a nut. Coconut oil contains skin protectants like vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and lauric acid, which is a fatty acid that has been shown in a study to have anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. So far, so good. What coconut oil doesn’t have is petroleum by-products or added water like some of its competitors on the market like mineral oil or baby oil. Steer clear of those if you actually want to improve skin conditions, as you will also find those in gasoline. When choosing a coconut oil, it’s best to buy one that is raw, extra virgin, unrefined and organic.
So now that we know what coconut oil is made of, let’s break it down whether or not it’s bad for you. It has vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant that fights free radicals that can damage skin. It strengthens the capillary walls thus improving moisture and elasticity, and acts as a natural anti-agent. Studies have shown that when using vitamin E on the skin, it reduces inflammation both on the inside and out. Another ingredient is omega-3 fatty acids are known to be anti-inflammatory and often prescribed to people with skin conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea. Usually found in consuming fish, applying topically is great too. Lauric acid is a fatty acid, or lipid, that makes up about half of the fatty acids within coconut oil. Lauric acid is known for its antibacterial properties and has an antimicrobial agent that is used to fight bacteria, yeast and other pathogens. It is typically found in many acne medications due to its healing nature. Coconut oil is a product that fights free radicals, is an antioxidant, is an anti-inflammatory, an anti-bacterial and aides in helping various skin conditions. It’s no wonder this panacea is everyone’s favorite multi-tasker.
So, is it possible that coconut oil is bad for your skin? When used correctly, coconut oil has amazing benefits for your entire body. It aids in hydrating and softening skin. It helps to naturally clear away dirt and toxins from your skin, it can help reduce redness caused from acne, it soothes skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, it works as an amazing hair conditioner and scalp treatment, it is a fantastic eye makeup remover, and lip treatment…this could continue for a while. The only negatives about using coconut oil for skincare comes in when used incorrectly. Some say that using coconut oil on your face causes acne, but that can’t be further from the truth. The oil actually draws the impurities out of your skin, ridding the toxins. When doing this, a mild outbreak can occur, but will go away shortly thereafter. It is important to stick with the regime and allow the oil to do its job efficiently. The job is removing all of the bad stuff from your skin, so it’s understandable that the first step can be an outbreak. However, within a few days, you’ll notice a clearer, healthier complexion. If you know you have acne-prone skin or have a tendency to get clogged pores, it is best to make sure you are also following a healthy diet and using a proper skincare regime everyday. Using coconut oil in tandem with other acne fighting products may be the way to go.
So, what have we concluded thus far? Coconut oil is great for the skin and body when used correctly. Here are some tips to make sure you are reaping all the benefits of this panacea.
- Rinse face with lukewarm water to clean out pores and pat dry, don’t rub. You actually want some water absorbed into the skin so it hydrates. Then pour a dime-sized amount of coconut oil in palm of your hand and dab your ring finger in it to apply. Start by placing a few dabs under each eye and work down the cheekbones in a circular motion. This technique helps move the oil into the skin by gently massaging it in. A thin layer is all you need, don’t over do it or you will end up oily. Let it absorb for 5-10 minutes, and then gently blot away any residue with a towel. You’ll instantly notice a youthful glow and the smell will be intoxicating. If you have acne-prone skin, use a mild face wash or soap prior to using the coconut oil.
- Coconut oil makes an excellent makeup remover. Pour a dime-sized portion into hand and rub hands together to gently warm the oil. Start applying to face in circular motion or use a cotton ball. Leave on for 5 minutes and rinse off with warm water. For use on the eyes, place cotton balls dipped in coconut oil over them and within a few minutes, the oil will dissolve all eye makeup including mascara and eyeliner so that you can gently wipe them off with another ball. Don’t worry if some oil gets into eyes, it is perfectly safe.
- Soothe chapped lips by applying coconut oil on them. Just dab on with fingertip and allow to dry.
- Using coconut oil in your hair is great for conditioning the follicles and the scalp. It’s best to warm the oil before applying. Massage warmed oil into dry or damp hair and gently massage the scalp. Comb through to distribute evenly and leave on for at least 30 minutes. Rinse hair with shampoo and warm water. You may use a pea-sized amount on dead ends for extra conditioning. Not only will your hair shine and feel incredibly soft, but it will smell delicious.