“Coconut oil is pure poison.”
Is that so?
In August, Harvard University professor Karin Michels, delivering a lecture to college students in Germany, declared that coconut oil is one of the worst foods you can eat due to its high saturated fat content. (And what about whole milk and red meat, professor?) The talk, captured on video and shared on YouTube, quickly went viral; it’s since been removed from the video sharing site.
Health nuts decried her statements as inflammatory and misguided. India, “the land of the coconut tree,” asked for a retraction. And I began to eye my tubs of white death — stowed in my bathrooms for topical application and in my kitchen for cooking — with suspicion.
- Psoriasis causes and treatments
- Coconut oil and psoriasis
- Other natural remedies for psoriasis
- 4 Essential Oils to Try for Psoriasis, According to Dermatologists
- 1. Coconut oil
- 2. Lavender oil
- 3. Rose oil
- 4. Tea tree oil
- Almond Oil for Hair
- 4 Beneficial Uses for Almond Oil in Treating Pesky Skin Conditions
- Coconut Skincare Products Worth Trying
- What are the downsides?
- Want $10 off your first order?
- Coconut oil is comedogenic.
- Coconut Oil for Your Face: Debunking the Myths
- According to dermatologists, few topical collagen skin supplements live up to the hype, and coconut oil is no exception.
- “Look for coconut oil as an added ingredient in various skincare products so you can reap the benefits and use a product that can be used on most skin types.”
- Coconut oil can help other skin conditions.
- The Bottom Line on Coconut Oil
Why I Use Coconut Oil
I have psoriatic arthritis with mild plaque psoriasis and, since my experimentation with coconut oil, only gotten milder, sometimes completely disappearing if the circumstances (good dietary choices, lots of vitamin D, and exercise) are right. Even if I stray from the path of healthy lifestyle interventions, coconut oil softens my spots and reduces itching and redness.
After a tub or shower, I slather on coconut oil with abandon. I buy it at a local discount store — if you ever visit Rhode Island, stop by Ocean State Job Lot for the coconut oil and stay for aisles upon aisles of quirky finds — for less than $5 per tub. And I buy the best quality stuff: cold-pressed, pure extra virgin organic coconut oil. Refined coconut oil, while odorless and tasteless, is treated with heat and sent through a bleaching clay, which can kill off beneficial proteins and minerals.
I was inspired to try extra virgin coconut oil after perusing a message board with moisture-locking alternatives to petroleum jelly, another swear-by solution for people with psoriasis. My mom is a big proponent of the petroleum jelly and plastic wrap method, however I found the process to be cumbersome and inefficient, since my lesions are small and sporadically distributed. I learned that coconut oil was easy to apply; it melted in my hands and I could slick it on without any sticky residue. I also became accustomed to smelling like a pina colada – a feat for a person who, before psoriasis, avoided coconuts at all costs. Now, I love it everywhere: on my skin, in my hair, sautéed with vegetables, in my granola, and in soups.
Research on Coconut Oil’s Benefits
After officially declaring myself a coconut convert — I’ve got a badge and everything — I had to figure out why it works for me. And others. While I did not find published research papers on coconut oil and psoriasis, I did discover one study that looked at the anti inflammatory and skin barrier repair qualities of various common oils.
Since psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, I figured this was a good place to start. The paper, published in January of 2018 in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, compared coconut oil with the several other plant oils. Only coconut oil had positive skin barrier, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and wound healing effects across the board. Coconut oil’s oft-compared kitchen cousin, olive oil, also clocked many benefits but skin barrier repair is not one of them.
In light of the so-called toxicity concern of ingesting coconut oil, I also sought research on its health implications. A randomized trial comparing coconut oil, olive oil and butter found that, although coconut oil and butter are both saturated fats, coconut oil — like the monosaturated olive oil — did not raise the bad cholesterol, LDL-C, while butter did. Different fats, different fatty acids, it seems.
And, finally, the study of my coconut oil dreams: Researcher Dr. Jose Scher, out of New York University, is seeking to test the benefits of oral coconut oil for people with psoriatic disease. Scher, a leader in the field of autoimmune disease and microbe research, is conducting a clinical trial to assess whether oral pure extra virgin coconut oil, delivered to participants via a 1,000 milligram supplement four times a day, improves disease activity and T-regulatory cell counts for people with psoriasis who are not currently taking other medications. Both the psoriasis group and the healthy control group will take the coconut oil supplement for six weeks, then a non-coconut supplement for three additional weeks.
In an email interview with HealthCentral, New York University researcher Luz Alvarado tells me the proof-of-principal study is bolstered by preliminary data on oral coconut oil’s effectiveness with animal models of psoriasis as well as some prior data on a small number of healthy subjects.
The trial is expected to wrap up in 2020, but I won’t be waiting for the results. I’ll run through a dozen more tubs of coconut oil, both in the bath and the kitchen. I won’t be eating it by the spoonful, to be sure, but a turmeric coconut curry with sautéed vegetables sounds pretty tasty right about now.
See more helpful articles:
Coconut Oil is a Different Kind of Saturated Fat
Save Money on Your Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment
Psoriasis Soothers From Your Kitchen Cupboard
Psoriasis is a skin condition and autoimmune disease, which typically manifests through the appearance of red or pink scaly patches on the skin. Most commonly, this will affect the elbows, forearms, back, knees and scalp, although it can also present in many other locations of the body. The patches will often be itchy and sometimes painful too.
There are five main types of psoriasis, but plaque psoriasis accounts for around 90 percent of all cases. With plaque psoriasis, the patches on the skin often have a white or silver centre and this will typically have a scaly texture.
People with psoriasis experience it in different ways and although the severity of the condition and the location of the patches can vary significantly, most sufferers seek treatment methods that can minimise its symptoms and keep the condition under control, with these treatments ranging from medication to natural remedies.
Psoriasis causes and treatments
Psoriasis occurs when the epidermal layer of the skin grows too rapidly. Essentially, this results in skin cells being replaced too frequently and cells then build up, resulting in dry skin patches, which flake. The precise reason why this occurs is not yet known, but it is thought to be linked to a problem with the body’s immune system.
The underlying causes of psoriasis are also not fully understood, but it is generally accepted that there is a strong genetic component. Meanwhile, lifestyle factors can also contribute to the condition developing or worsening, with examples including stress, changes in climate and excessive alcohol consumption.
Although there is no known cure for the condition, there are a number of treatment options available. The purpose behind treatment is to control the condition, limit the severity of its symptoms, reduce inflammation, itchiness and soreness, and correct immune response.
Treatment can also greatly improve self esteem and mood. Topical treatments are generally utilised for mild forms of the disease, while light therapy may be used if the condition does not respond. In the most severe cases, oral or injectable treatments may be used. In all cases, treatment can also be supported with some natural remedies, which can help to improve psoriasis symptoms.
Coconut oil and psoriasis
When it comes to natural remedies that can help to manage psoriasis symptoms, coconut oil is one of the best known and most readily available. As the name suggests, coconut oil is an oil extracted from the fruit of a coconut. It is edible, although has high saturated fat content, but can also be applied topically to the skin.
Utilised in this way, coconut oil serves to hold in moisture, stop the growth of some bacteria and reduce redness and swelling of the skin. It is, therefore, an effective natural remedy for dry skin, scaling and itching, all of which are associated with psoriasis as a condition. Moreover, it can be used to help loosen psoriasis scales.
In addition, coconut oil is often used in personal grooming, especially on the hair and nails. For those with scalp psoriasis, it is an easy transition to use the product as a natural treatment. Indeed, the coconut oil can help to remove some of the flakes and restore moisture to the scalp, while simultaneously improving the hair.
With that said, while coconut oil is a useful natural remedy for psoriasis symptoms and can have a role to play in treating or managing the condition, it should be used in conjunction with other topical treatments and home remedies, rather than as a single solution. Coconut oil should not be used in place of prescribed treatments.
Other natural remedies for psoriasis
While coconut oil is one of the best known and most effective natural remedies for psoriasis sufferers, there are a number of other options which are worthy of consideration as well. The first of these is light exposure, although time spent in the sun should be managed carefully to avoid damage caused by UV rays.
Olive oil for psoriasis
Olive oil, applied topically, can help to increase skin moisture, reduce inflammation and soften dead skin, making it easier to remove. Similarly, apple cider vinegar and aloe vera both have a useful role in treating psoriasis, helping to soothe the skin and reduce itching. Apple cider vinegar should be diluted and should not be left on the skin for too long, due to its acidity, which can lead to side effects like irritation and the formation of more dry skin.
Salts for psoriasis
Both epsom salts and dead sea salts can be added to bathwater in order to create salt water soaks. Although the primary use of salts in this context is to provide relief from some of the more problematic symptoms, such as itching, soreness, irritation and inflammation, they can also help to simplify scale removal.
Finally, research has suggested that diet can also have a role to play in treating psoriasis. In particular, multiple studies have highlighted potential benefits from taking fish oil supplements that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Moreover, limited research has established a link between celiac disease and psoriasis and some studies have suggested that the severity of symptoms can be reduced by limiting gluten intake.
There are many uses for coconut oil; one of them being an emollient (fancy word for moisturizer) for the skin. Recently, we have been informed of a few of our customers even using it to treat their skin disorders such as psoriasis.
Golden Barrel Coconut Oil works great as a moisturizer
Psoriasis is a common, reoccurring skin disease that is characterized by red, scaly patches, papules, and plaques, which usually itch. Apparently, the cause of psoriasis is still unknown but a possible cause could be when the immune system misinterprets a healthy skin cell for a pathogen and then attacks that cell by producing new cells with the intentions of destroying the pathogen. It may also be a result of an allergic reaction to foods or drugs or even stress. Whatever the cause, it can be quite unsightly, uncomfortable, and unpleasant.
Apparently, there is no known cure for the skin disease, but there are several methods used to treat the problem. One treatment that has become popular recently is the use of coconut oil. The method is to take 2 tablespoons of coconut oil internally daily whether directly on a spoon or mixed with other foods that you typically eat on a daily basis. Another more common treatment is to apply a small amount of solid coconut oil right on the affected area and rub it in 3 times per day. The solid oil will melt on the skin as it treats and soothes.
If you do research for psoriasis treatment with coconut oil, most internet sources will tell you to use virgin coconut oil since it is the least processed. However, does that mean that refined coconut oil is ineffective or shouldn’t ever be used? The answer is no. Refined coconut oil contains exactly the same medium chain fatty acid composition as virgin coconut oil which includes lauric acid. Lauric acid, which is also found in breast milk, is great for the body as it provides antiviral, antimicrobial, antiprotozoal and antifungal functions. The real concern is whether chemicals are used in the process. for more information on how our Golden Barrel Coconut Oil is processed and here for more information on the debate between refined coconut oil verses virgin coconut oil.
Here are some testimonies from a few of our customers that have used Golden Barrel Refined Coconut Oil to treat psoriasis:
Anonymous on July 26, 2014:
“For any psoriasis sufferers out there, this product is amazing. Just use a tiny bit, which is all that’s needed. If you are in an area below 76 degrees, the solid just melts right into the skin. Within a day I noticed a huge improvement. HUGE.”
Peg on August 14, 2014:
“Yes, yes YES!! I have been fighting psoriasis for years, and several years back now I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis. I’m taking this as part of my nutrition regimen, and also applying to my plaque psoriasis. I made the mistake of using too much, but it was a minor mistake as I just rubbed it in further up my arms and down to my wrists, and on my shins and ankles as well as my knees and elbows where I meant to apply it. It liquifies nearly instantly at skin temperature, so work with a little TEENY bit, as you can always add more! I am applying twice a day, my knees are nearly CLEAR, and my elbows are vastly improved! I also am going to apply to my scalp on nights when I’m going to shampoo in the morning… Bonus – I love this for all my cooking needs! Just made up a batch of frosting, cut the butter by 2/3, and it’s wonderful! LOVE IT!!”
Obviously, this is not a cure and we are not necessarily making any definite claims as some people may have better results than others from using coconut oil. However, we hope the above info and testimonials help you to make an informed decision on possible treatments. If you have tried or are planning to try using our Golden Barrel Coconut Oil to treat any skin conditions or just as a moisturizer in general, we would love to hear about it. Leave a comment for us and others to see how it worked for you.
Mitch has worked with Golden Barrel Baking Products in Quality Control and Online Marketing since 2002. He is a transplanted Canadian to Lancaster County who still enjoys playing hockey, eh! If you have ever asked a question through email or social media, then you have most likely interacted with Mitch.
4 Essential Oils to Try for Psoriasis, According to Dermatologists
If you have psoriasis—an autoimmune skin disorder that causes scaling and patches—and are coping with constant bothersome itchy and scaly skin patches, you may have considered using essential oils to help calm your skin, in addition to other prescribed treatments.
However, before you apply any essential oil to your skin, keep in mind that there has been little evidence or randomized clinical trials that essential oils can work to relieve psoriasis symptoms, says Matthew Lewis, MD, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Stanford University.
With that as a caveat, our experts stress that, anecdotally, they have seen patients experience psoriasis relief thanks to the use of certain essential oils. “Ultimately, your goal should be to look for essential oils that calm the skin and help with scarring,” says Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
Something to also keep in mind: You should always speak to your healthcare provider before using essential oils in your regimen to make sure they don’t interact with any of your other medications. You should also test the essential oil on a small patch of your skin first, to make sure it doesn’t irritate your skin. With those tips in mind, here are four essential oils to consider trying, according to dermatologists.
RELATED: Is Psoriasis Contagious? What Dermatologists Have to Say
1. Coconut oil
“This is a really good and gentle oil to apply on the skin,” says Dr. Lewis. He clarifies that it’s not technically an essential oil, but he still recommends it to his patients for its anti-inflammatory properties. ” can help my psoriasis patients who are experiencing painful scales, it’s good for moisturizing the skin and coconut allergies are rare,” he says.
2. Lavender oil
“Lavender has been known to boost circulation and oxygen to the skin,” Dr. Engelman says. “Lavender oil contains certain properties that help to condition the skin, ultimately providing calming and hydrating benefits that improve the appearance of new or old scars.” Dr. Engleman also says that lavender’s anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties can also help to expedite healing.
3. Rose oil
“Rose oil contains anti-inflammatory properties which are great for calming redness and for helping relieve sensitive skin,” Dr. Engelman says. “It’s very emollient, meaning that it’s good for locking in moisture and hydration as well.”
4. Tea tree oil
“Tea tree oil can be helpful due to its anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties,” Dr. Lewis says. “It may help reduce scaliness as well.”
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Almond Oil for Hair
Almond oil softens hair
Almond oil is an emollient, meaning it can fill in gaps in your hair at a cellular level. That makes your hair feel smoother to the touch. Using almond oil on your hair gives it a softer texture over time. Once almond oil is incorporated into your hair care routine, you may also notice that your hair is easier to comb through and style.
Almond oil strengthens and repairs hair
Using certain oils to treat hair can make it less prone to breakage and diminish split ends. The lubricating properties of nut oils, like almond oil, diminish friction during hair styling. A study on Brazilian nut oils (many of which contain oleic acid and linoleic acid, just like sweet almond oil) showed improvement in hair’s resilience when it was treated with small amounts of oil ingredients.
Almond oil could make your hair grow
There aren’t clinical trials that prove that almond oil is effective in making hair grow. But here’s what we do know: almond oil can make hair stronger and less prone to split ends, which means your hair growth won’t be slowed by losing hair that becomes damaged. Almond oil contains high amounts of vitamin E, which is a natural antioxidant. When antioxidants combat the environmental stress around your hair, your hair looks younger and healthier.
Almond oil treats scalp conditions
Almond oil can also be used as a treatment for flaky scalp (seborrheic dermatitis) and scalp psoriasis. While we don’t have studies that show how almond oil treats these conditions, almond oil has been used to treat dry scalp conditions in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Rubbing a small amount of almond oil directly on your scalp increases blood flow to the area and introduces powerful antioxidants to the skin on your head.
4 Beneficial Uses for Almond Oil in Treating Pesky Skin Conditions
So let’s dive into a few of the highlights:
- Skin prevention, protection, and repair
Almond oil naturally possesses highly potent antioxidant vitamins. The oil is rich in Vitamin E, monounsaturated fatty acids, proteins, potassium and zinc, and a number of other minerals and vitamins. It is so beneficial for our skin. Regular application of the oil can protect your skin from oxidative stress and UV radiation damage, keeping it healthy and hydrated.
- Eczema and Psoriasis
These skin conditions can be caused by the body’s own reactions to external and internal triggers leaving areas of the skin dry and itchy. Scratching can result in broken skin that starts to weep and make crusty deposits. It also makes way for bacterial and fungal infections.
Keeping the affected skin soft and hydrated can reduce itching. It moisturizes the skin without irritating it further.
- Cradle Cap and Baby Acne
Almond oil is a mild, hypoallergenic oil that can be safely used even on baby skin. In fact, it is the best massage oil for infants. Very effective in treating cradle cap as it is a lighter oil that will soften scaly skin without damaging delicate new skin.
- Rashes and Skin Irritation
Skin rashes are common and can occur from a number of different reasons. Almond oil can be a great alternative than most creams or lotions you find in a store. You don’t have to worry about chemicals irritating the skin further as it naturally contains zinc and is rich in vitamins= WIN!
The only downside we see to this oil as that is an allergen to nut conscious people. Other than that, we think it is the greatest skin oil out there. And lots of men love it, too as it is super light and doesn’t contain much of a scent. As mentioned, we use organic sweet almond oil in our Tough As Nails. It contains a number of skin nourishing oils but a few of our favorites are: tea trea oil, lavender, and frankincense. These oils heal, soothe and have anti-fungal properties making, what we believe to be, the perfect skin treatment for all of the skin issues listed above and SAFE for babies! Yay!
Once upon a time, my friend accidentally knocked over a fragile glass vial of my very favorite, very pricey face serum, causing it to shatter on the tile floor. I cried (not really) (but really) as I picked up the shards of glass and wiped up the mess. I was thisclose to forgiving her when she had the audacity to say, “You don’t need all those skincare products anyway—all you really need is coconut oil.”
Um, what?! I thought. How dare she?! But my rage quickly turned to curiosity. Could she…be…right? Is coconut oil actually the miracle beauty ingredient I’ve been needing all this time but have been avoiding out of fear of breakouts and oil slicks?
I mean, sure—people have been talking about coconut oil like it’s magic for ages. Bad breath, underarm B.O., dry hair—coconut oil supposedly cures it all. But it couldn’t possibly be the skincare miracle worker it’s touted to be, right? Right!?
Skeptical, I reached out to dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, to find out what’s true and what’s just beauty BS. Keep reading to find out what you should know before slathering coconut oil all over your face.
What are the skincare benefits of coconut oil?
Although coconut oil is usually praised for being a great, hydrating moisturizer thanks to its fatty-acid content, here’s the crazy truth: Coconut oil is actually too thick to soak into your pores and sufficiently hydrate your skin. In fact, all facial oils kinda suck at moisturizing (what! Yeah, it’s true).
Technically, they’re best when used as a final step in your skincare routine, to lock in all the hydration and the products applied before it (kind of like a seal) rather than as a moisturizer itself. And coconut oil is no different, says Dr. Zeichner. So if you’re planning to slather on a layer of oil and call it a day, you might actually be drying out your skin in your quest to hydrate it.
Still, if you’re really amped up about dipping your face in coconut oil, make sure to apply it over a layer of moisturizer to make it effective. Or tiptoe into the trend by using it as a makeup remover or cleanser since, you know, oil dissolves oil, says Dr. Zeichner.
Coconut Skincare Products Worth Trying
Coconut All-Purpose Cream RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream dermstore.com $18.00 Coconut Oil Cleanser Kopari Beauty Coconut Cleansing Oil ulta.com $32.00 Coconut Face Wipes SheaMoisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Facial Wipes ulta.com $6.99 Coconut Oil Lotion Epicuren Discovery Kukui Coconut After Bath Body Moisturizer dermstore.com $40.00
Of course, there’s one caveat to the whole coconut-oil thing: breakouts. Some people swear coconut oil is the ultimate DIY treatment for acne, while others promise it’ll break you out as soon as it touches your skin. Which brings us to…
Does coconut oil help with acne breakouts?
The internet is a fun place where you can find arguments to support literally any idea (flat-Earth conspiracy, anyone?), which is why it can be difficult to figure out the truth about coconut oil and breakouts. So here are the facts, straight from an actual doctor:
“Coconut oil may be useful in treating acne-prone skin, because it has high levels of skin-soothing linoleic acid—something that’s deficient in the skin of people with acne,” says Dr. Zeichner. “It also contains lauric acid, which is thought to be antimicrobial, so it may lower levels of acne-causing bacteria on the skin and reduce inflammation.”
That being said, some people with acneic or oily skin still find coconut oil too heavy and comedogenic (pore-clogging) for their faces. “Everyone is different,” says Dr. Zeichner. “If you prefer a natural face oil, you can certainly try coconut oil on your skin, but if it ends up breaking you out, you’ll know it’s too heavy for you.”
In short, it might help or it might make things worse. I know, I know—life’s not fair. And if that answer isn’t clear enough for you, stick to the acne ingredients and treatments that have been thoroughly studied and proven to work, like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide.
Overall, is it okay to use coconut oil on your skin?
Unless you consider possible breakouts “harmful,” coconut oil is pretty harmless to try, according to Dr. Zeichner. But is it the magical, wonderful, multipurpose skincare ingredient it’s touted to be? Eh, probably not, or the entire world would be happily using it and the shelves of Sephora would be stocked with it.
As a cleanser and makeup remover, yes, it works (but can also leave a residue behind that might clog pores), and as a last-step facial oil, sure, it’ll lock in your moisture. But as far as being an acne treatment, what works for you might not work for me—and, realistically, probably won’t work as well as other tried-and-true treatments out there.
Still, if you live life on the edge and are willing to give coconut oil a go, you’re a brave, brave soul. As for me and my acne-prone face, though, we’ll be sticking to the pricey serums and acne products that I know will, for a fact, work, TYVM.
Related Story Brooke Shunatona Brooke Shunatona is a contributing writer for Cosmopolitan.com.
If you’ve got the right skin type, coconut oil can be great when used as a moisturizer. “Coconut oil for normal to dry skin can be very hydrating,” says Audley, who points out that the ingredient’s occlusive nature traps moisture beneath the skin’s surface to lock it all in. But this benefit is also why it’s not good in other skin types.
What are the downsides?
If you’ve ever cooked with coconut oil, or touched it at all, you’ll know that it’s pretty slimy. “It’s often too greasy for many people and has a high tendency to clog pores in acne-prone skin,” says Dr. Nazarian. In this case, only use it to moisturize skin on your body, like your elbows, knees, etc.
You know how you’re often told to look for beauty products that are non-comedogenic? Yeah, well coconut oil’s the opposite. “On the comedogenic scale, coconut oil is a four on a one-to-five scale,” says Audley. “So if you’re prone to clogged pores, coconut oil use on the face may be an issue.” Also, it tends to sit on top of your pores and back things up—it’s heavy. “It’s a heavier oil and can clog pores and cause blackheads, whiteheads, or even breakouts on those with combination, oily, or acne-prone skin,” adds Wong.
But it really all depends on the type of coconut oil you’re working with. Audley notes that fractionated coconut oil would be a better choice if you get acne because it doesn’t solidify. “Fractionated coconut oil has had the long chain fatty acids removed, which keeps the oil in a liquid state—meaning it allows it to penetrate the skin more readily, making it less likely to clog pores,” says Blake. Be cautious though, if you have finicky skin. “Just like anything else when it comes to our skin, we are all different,” says Audley. “Just because one thing works for one person does not mean it works for everyone. Everyone’s skin responds to things differently.”
So if you’re not a good candidate for using coconut oil on your face, know that you can still reap its multitasking beauty perks for other things. Like a hair mask, or to moisturize those cuticles, or to use instead of a shaving lotion (I love it for this purpose). Or, ya know, you could just stick to using it in the kitchen.
If it’s hydration you’re in need of, here’s what to look for in your moisturizer. And this is how to prevent acne from happening, according to dermatologists (in case you’re in the camp that shouldn’t use coconut oil on your face).
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First Published: https://www.healthyway.com/content/coconut-oil-for-face/
by Katie Martin
This past Christmas, my aunt gifted each of her sisters a jumbo jar of coconut oil because she loves it so much. She keeps a jar in the kitchen (it’s her favorite way to make light and airy stovetop popcorn) and a jar in the bathroom, where she slathers the coconut oil on her skin instead of regular lotion.
Despite my aunt’s enthusiasm, my mom—who has notoriously sensitive skin—was skeptical about using coconut oil, especially when I told her I used it to treat my dog’s seasonal eczema with mixed success. Still, she tried it one night instead of her favorite nighttime facial moisturizer. The next morning, my mother woke up with a rash of angry, red bumps all over the lower part of her face and neck.
My mom is far from the only one to suffer this same fate, which is why, to put it bluntly, I’m completely flummoxed by the fact that coconut oil continues to be touted as a great natural facial skincare solution.
We talked to dermatologists to find out why you shouldn’t use coconut oil on your face. Here’s what they had to say.
Coconut oil is comedogenic.
“Coconut oil has one of the highest comedogenic ratings, which means that it could be a big problem for sensitive or blemish-prone skin,” explains dermatologist Paul Dean, MD, creator of Skin Resource.MD. “This means coconut oil can’t penetrate the pores and actually can suffocate your skin and will clog your pores because it sits on top of the skin.”
What is a comedogenic rating? Essentially, beauty products are rated on a scale of 1 to 5 based on their pore-clogging potential, with 1 being the least likely to clog your pores, and 5 being reserved for the worst offenders.
The scale doesn’t mean that every single product that’s considered highly comedogenic will clog your pores and cause breakouts, though. A lot of factors—like pore size and how oily or dry your skin is—also affect how your face will react to comedogenic products.
But a higher rating does increase the likelihood that a comedogenic ingredient, like coconut oil (which scores a whopping 4 out of 5 on the scale!) will cause a negative reaction.
Coconut Oil for Your Face: Debunking the Myths
A quick Google search reveals that many people believe coconut oil is basically facial skincare magic. Even dermatologists (skincare experts, no less!) have hopped on the coconut-oil-for-your-face bandwagon.
So do these purported claims have any merit? Here’s what our experts have to say.
Coconut Oil for Face Acne
Myth: Coconut oil can get rid of acne.
Reality: “While coconut oil is soothing and contains lauric acid, it is never a good idea to put any oil on broken skin. It can clog the pores and irritate the skin and make the condition worse,” says Berenice Rothenberg, a certified clinical electrologist (CCE) and licensed cosmetologist practicing in New York.
According to dermatologists, few topical collagen skin supplements live up to the hype, and coconut oil is no exception.
Rothenberg is right; coconut oil does contain high levels of lauric acid, a saturated fatty acid with antimicrobial properties. And lauric acid has been shown to reduce inflammation from acne, hence the claims that the lauric acid in coconut oil will result in clearer skin.
It’s also true that coconut oil is a good antibacterial agent. In addition to being full of vitamin E, it also contains other proteins and caprylic acids that are known for their antifungal properties, says Dean. And since bacteria causes acne, coconut oil should be great for getting rid of bumps…right?
Sadly, Dean says coconut oil “will actually act as a barrier and can cause or worsen acne-prone skin.”
Alternative solutions for face acne: If you’ve turned to coconut oil for face acne, there are better ways to treat your acne. The best thing you can do to prevent acne according to Rothenberg? “Never go to sleep with your makeup on!”
We love a good double cleanse, but for that first oil cleanse, avoid the coconut oil. Instead, Dean recommends grapeseed oil or hemp seed oil to remove makeup at the end of the day because, despite being oils, both have a low comedogenic rating. Rather avoid oils altogether? Another alternative is micellar water, a French skincare product that can be used as an all-in-one cleanser and makeup remover. (It really is a skincare miracle!) You can even make your own micellar water at home if you use herbalist Rebekah Epling’s recipe.
After removing makeup with a makeup remover, you still need to cleanse your skin with a face wash that’s right for your skin type. For acne-prone skin, choose a face wash that contains benzoyl peroxide, an antibacterial agent that helps dry the skin to treat pimples. Or if you’re looking for an all-natural facial cleanser, try a face wash that contains witch hazel or lavender, both of which inhibit bacterial growth, according to Epling.
Coconut Oil as Facial Moisturizer
Myth: Coconut oil is a great facial moisturizer.
Reality: “Coconut oil is primarily made up of saturated fats. This is great for repairing your skin’s natural barrier and trapping in moisture. Because of these properties it soothes rashes, combats dry, flaky skin, and speeds up the healing process,” says Dean.
Sounds great, right? Well, from the neck down, coconut oil is a great moisturizer. But on your face? Not so much, says Dean.
In fact, the very properties that make coconut oil work so well on your ashy elbows and cracked heels are the same properties that make it less than ideal for your face. Though it’ll make quick work of those areas where your skin is thicker, it’s just too heavy for most skin types, leading to clogged pores.
Alternatives to using coconut oil for facial moisturizer: Ideally, facial moisturizers should keep your skin hydrated while remaining light enough that they don’t clog your pores.
Aloe vera gel is a great all-natural moisturizer for all skin types. Like coconut oil, it can help soothe skin irritation and help wounds heal faster, but unlike coconut oil, it won’t clog your pores. Just make sure you look for aloe vera gel products that actually contain aloe vera—many of the aloe products sold by big-box retailers have been found to contain little or no aloe vera!
And, says Rothenberg, don’t forget the power of drinking the daily recommended amount of water to keep your skin hydrated and healthy.
Coconut Oil for Face Wrinkles
Myth: Coconut oil can turn back time and minimize face wrinkles.
Reality: Our bodies’ store of collagen, the protein that helps skin maintain elasticity, naturally depletes as we age. Because of its moisturizing properties, coconut oil is purported to be a great collagen-boosting supplement to improve skin elasticity and reduce wrinkles.
But according to dermatologists, few topical collagen skin supplements live up to the hype, and coconut oil is no exception. “All oils, when applied to the skin, give the appearance of smoothing out lines,” says Rothenberg. “But these oils do not penetrate the basic layer and cannot produce collagen.”
Alternatives to coconut oil for face wrinkles: While coconut oil won’t work to get rid of wrinkles, there are several things that do work to reverse early signs of aging—no expensive creams or serums required.
For one, it’s no secret that UV rays can cause serious damage to your skin, so stay out of the sun as much as possible. I know how hard that can be for some of you sun goddesses, so if you must get your tan on, always wear a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF (even if it’s overcast).
And, if you’re a smoker (even if it’s just the occasional cigarette), kicking the habit is key if you want to maintain a youthful glow. Plus, going smoke-free is just plain good for your overall health.
“Look for coconut oil as an added ingredient in various skincare products so you can reap the benefits and use a product that can be used on most skin types.”
—Paul Dean, MD
Finally, your daily cardio may be doing more than keeping your booty toned; according to recent studies, daily exercise may actually help reverse the signs of aging.
In addition to these lifestyle changes, getting more of certain antioxidants in your diet may help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. In particular, vitamin C may help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on your face.
Coconut Oil on Your Face Overnight
Myth: Coconut oil is a good overnight emollient.
Reality: If you can’t even use coconut oil as a reliable daytime moisturizer because of its comedogenic properties, you sure as heck can’t leave coconut oil on your face overnight for eight hours. (Okay, who am I kidding? I get a full 10.)
Using coconut oil overnight is a great way to get clogged pores and wake up to a breakout. Good morning, sunshine, indeed.
Alternatives to coconut oil on your face overnight: Not all oils are bad for your face. Grapeseed oil and hemp seed oil aren’t just great makeup removers; they’re also wonderful as overnight emollients to soften skin as you sleep. “Jojoba oil has a low comedogenic rating as well,” says Epling, “It’s ideal as a carrier for other essential essences, like lavender or tea tree oil, to use overnight.”
Coconut oil can help other skin conditions.
I know I’ve been giving coconut oil a bad rap so far, but coconut oil actually is great for a variety of skin conditions (that aren’t on your face).
In particular, coconut oil was shown to alleviate physical symptoms of atopic dermatitis—a skin condition that causes an itchy red rash—in pediatric patients. Another study found that in addition to reducing the appearance of atopic dermatitis, coconut oil was effective at combating colonization of Staphylococcus aureus, which produces a certain toxin that causes the immune system to react by breaking out in dry, scaly patches.
Another study found that coconut oil was as effective as mineral oil in treating xerosis, a condition similar to atopic dermatitis that also causes dry, scaly skin.
Finally, a 2010 study of animal subjects also should that wounds treated with virgin coconut oil healed much faster than those that were not treated with coconut oil. So, if you have a scrape or cut and don’t have Neosporin handy, a dab of coconut oil (and a cute bandage) may help your wound heal faster.
The Bottom Line on Coconut Oil
So here’s the deal: For a very, very small number of people, coconut oil may help skin conditions. As Dean puts it, “Using coconut oil directly on your skin can be extremely beneficial, but not good for everyone.”
For instance, he says that for people with severely dry skin, coconut oil may help restore moisture content.
But for most of us, using coconut oil on our faces will likely result in more breakouts and clogged pores.
All is not lost, however. If you absolutely must have coconut oil as part of your facial skincare routine, Dean says to “look for coconut oil as an added ingredient in various skincare products so you can reap the benefits and use a product that can be used on most skin types.”
The bottom line on coconut oil? Skip using coconut oil on your face, and stick to using coconut oil as a delicious addition to stovetop popcorn instead.