10 Benefits of Coconut Oil on Skin

Coconut oil is a natural and versatile skincare ingredient that offers multiple benefits. Its moisturizing, anti-aging, and antimicrobial properties make it an excellent choice for hydrating, protecting, and nourishing the skin. It can also be used as a gentle makeup remover and for soothing irritated skin.

Let me tell you in detail how important coconut oil is and how is it made. 

How Is Coconut Oil Made?

Coconut oil is made by extracting the natural oils from the white “meat” inside a mature coconut. 

There are a few different ways to make coconut oil:

Wet-milling: The coconut meat is removed from the shell and pressed to extract the coconut milk. The milk is then allowed to separate, and the oil rises to the top. The oil is skimmed off and filtered.

Dry-milling: The coconut meat is dried in the sun or a kiln and then pressed or dissolved with solvents to extract the oil. The oil is then refined, bleached and deodorized (RBD).

Cold-pressing: This method doesn’t use heat. The fresh coconut meat is pressed to extract the oil which is then filtered. This produces virgin coconut oil.

I prefer virgin coconut oil made from fresh coconuts using the cold-pressed method. It retains more nutrients and doesn’t use chemicals. But refined coconut oil is still beneficial for the skin too.

10 Benefits of Coconut Oil on Skin

  1. Deeply moisturizes dry skin: Coconut oil is an excellent natural moisturizer for the skin.
    It contains fatty acids like linoleic acid and lauric acid that penetrate deep into the skin to provide lasting hydration. Coconut oil helps strengthen the skin’s lipid barrier to prevent moisture loss. 
  1. Reduces inflammation and redness: The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil, especially lauric acid, have potent anti-inflammatory properties. Coconut oil may help calm irritated skin, reduce redness, and soothe inflammatory skin conditions. Its skin-soothing effects can provide relief for itchy, inflamed skin.
    The antioxidants in coconut oil also help neutralize free radicals that contribute to skin inflammation.
  1. Promotes wound healing and treats minor cuts and scrapes: Coconut oil forms a protective antibacterial layer on the skin that can promote faster wound healing. The lauric acid in coconut oil has antimicrobial properties that help prevent infection in minor cuts, scrapes, and burns.
    Applying a thin layer of coconut oil to injured skin may accelerate the healing process by stimulating collagen production and promoting skin cell turnover.
  1. Fights acne breakouts: Although coconut oil is comedogenic and not recommended for acne-prone facial skin, it can be beneficial for treating body acne. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of lauric acid help kill acne-causing bacteria on the skin’s surface.
    Coconut oil may also help regulate sebum production and unclog pores to prevent future breakouts on the back, chest, and shoulders.
  1. Smooths skin texture and reduces the appearance of fine lines: The rich fatty acids in coconut oil deeply nourish the skin to improve its texture and appearance. With regular use, coconut oil can help smooth rough, uneven skin and minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
    The hydrating and plumping effects of coconut oil make the skin look more supple, firm, and youthful.
  1. Provides gentle makeup removal: Coconut oil can be used as a natural makeup remover, even for stubborn waterproof makeup. The oil helps break down and dissolve makeup, allowing it to be wiped away easily without harsh rubbing.
    Coconut oil leaves the skin feeling soft and moisturized after cleansing. It’s a gentle alternative to drying makeup removers that can strip the skin of its natural oils.
  1. Soothes skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis: The anti-inflammatory and skin-nourishing properties of coconut oil make it beneficial for soothing chronic skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
    Applying coconut oil to affected areas can help alleviate dryness, itching, flaking, and irritation associated with these conditions. The oil forms a protective barrier on the skin to prevent further moisture loss and promote healing.
  1. Enhances skin’s natural glow: Coconut oil can give your skin a healthy, radiant glow. The fatty acids in coconut oil nourish and moisturize the skin from within, improving its overall tone and texture.
    Massaging coconut oil into the skin can boost circulation and promote a brighter, more even complexion. The oil’s natural sheen also imparts a subtle dewy glow to the skin.
  1. Protects skin from environmental damage: Coconut oil contains antioxidants like vitamin E and phenolic compounds that help protect the skin from environmental stressors.
    These antioxidants neutralize damaging free radicals caused by UV exposure and pollution, which can break down collagen and accelerate skin aging. Applying coconut oil creates a barrier on the skin that shields it from external aggressors.
  1. Serves as a natural lip balm: Coconut oil is an effective natural remedy for chapped, dry lips. The oil’s emollient properties help soften and moisturize the delicate skin on the lips.
    Applying a small amount of coconut oil to the lips can prevent dryness, flaking, and cracking. The lauric acid in coconut oil also provides some protection against cold sores and fever blisters around the mouth.

These are just some of the many potential skin benefits of coconut oil. Its unique combination of fatty acids, antioxidants, and antimicrobial properties make it a versatile and nourishing ingredient for the skin. 

However, it’s important to note that individual skin types may react differently to coconut oil. Those with oily or acne-prone facial skin may want to avoid applying coconut oil to the face and instead use it on drier areas of the body. 

As with any new skincare product, it’s best to do a patch test first to check for sensitivity or allergic reactions. When used correctly and consistently, coconut oil can be a wonderful natural addition to your skincare routine for achieving soft, smooth, glowing skin.

Best Type of Coconut Oil for Skin

When it comes to using coconut oil on your skin, I recommend choosing a high-quality, organic virgin coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil is the least processed form, so it retains more of the beneficial nutrients.

Look for these keywords when buying coconut oil for your skin:

  • Virgin
  • Unrefined
  • Cold-pressed
  • Organic

Avoid coconut oils that are labeled as RBD (refined, bleached, deodorized) as these are more processed and contain fewer nutrients. Fractionated or liquid coconut oil is also not ideal as some of the beneficial fatty acids are removed.

How to Use Coconut Oil for Your Skin

There are many ways to incorporate coconut oil into your skincare routine:

  • As a moisturizer: After showering or washing your face, apply a thin layer of coconut oil and massage it into your skin. A little goes a long way!
  • As a makeup remover: Rub a small amount of coconut oil onto your face and eyes to break down makeup. Wipe it off with a soft cloth.
  • As a lip balm: Dab a tiny amount of coconut oil onto dry, chapped lips for instant relief.
  • In a face mask: Mix coconut oil with other natural ingredients like honey, avocado or oatmeal to create a nourishing face mask.
  • As a body scrub: Mix coconut oil with sugar or salt to make an exfoliating body scrub that will slough off dead skin.
  • For oil pulling: Swish a spoonful of coconut oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes to help remove bacteria and promote oral health.

What Skin Type Is It Good for?

Coconut oil is most beneficial for people with dry, irritated or mature skin. Its moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties help soothe and hydrate the skin.

However, coconut oil may not be the best choice for people with oily or acne-prone skin. Coconut oil is comedogenic, meaning it can clog pores. If you’re prone to breakouts, coconut oil may make them worse.

If you have oily skin, I recommend using coconut oil sparingly or not at all on your face. You can still use it on your body and lips. Or look for skincare products that contain coconut oil along with other non-comedogenic ingredients.

Can you use coconut oil as moisturizer?

Yes, coconut oil can be an effective and natural moisturizer for the skin. It works especially well on dry, rough patches like elbows, knees and heels.

Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids that help strengthen the skin’s barrier function, which keeps moisture in and irritants out. Specifically, coconut oil contains:

  • Lauric acid (49%)
  • Myristic acid (18%)
  • Caprylic acid (8%)
  • Palmitic acid (8%)
  • Capric acid (7%)
  • Oleic acid (6%)
  • Linoleic acid (2%)

These fatty acids have emollient properties, meaning they fill in the gaps between skin cells, creating a smooth surface. They form a protective layer on the skin that helps prevent water loss. This keeps skin hydrated and supple.

To use coconut oil as a moisturizer, follow these steps:

  • Start with clean, slightly damp skin.
  • Take a small scoop of coconut oil and rub it between your palms to warm and liquify it.
  • Gently massage the oil into your skin using circular motions.
  • Focus on dry areas like elbows, knees, hands and feet.
  • Use a light touch on your face to avoid clogging pores.
  • Let the oil absorb for a few minutes before getting dressed.

A little coconut oil goes a long way, so start with a pea-sized amount and add more as needed. It’s best to apply it at night before bed so it has time to fully absorb.

In the morning, your skin should feel soft, smooth and moisturized. You may not need to use coconut oil every day, especially if you have oily skin. Experiment to see what works best for you.

Does coconut oil clog pores?

One of the main concerns about using coconut oil on the face is that it can clog pores, especially for people with oily or acne-prone skin. Coconut oil has a comedogenicity rating of 4 out of 5, meaning it’s likely to clog pores and cause breakouts in some people. This is because coconut oil is very rich and thick compared to other oils.

When coconut oil is applied to the skin, it forms a barrier that can trap dirt, oil and dead skin cells in the pores. This can lead to blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. However, not everyone will experience clogged pores from using coconut oil. It depends on your individual skin type and sensitivity.

If you have dry or normal skin, you may be able to use coconut oil on your face without any issues. But if you’re prone to breakouts, it’s best to avoid using coconut oil on your face altogether. Stick to using it on your body instead.

If you want to give coconut oil a try on your face, I recommend doing a patch test first:

Apply a small amount of coconut oil to a small area of your face, like your chin or cheek.

Wait 24 hours to see if any redness, itching, swelling or breakouts occur.

If your skin looks and feels normal after 24 hours, you can apply coconut oil to your entire face. Start with a small amount once per day.

If you notice any irritation or breakouts, discontinue use immediately.

Some people find that using fractionated coconut oil, which has had the long-chain fatty acids removed, is less likely to clog pores. But I still recommend proceeding with caution, especially if you have oily skin.

There are plenty of other non-comedogenic oils that are better suited for acne-prone skin, such as:

  • Argan oil
  • Rosehip seed oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Hemp seed oil

These oils have a lower comedogenicity rating and are less likely to cause breakouts. They still provide moisture and nourishment to the skin.

FAQs

Can I use coconut oil on my face every day?

It depends on your skin type. If you have dry or normal skin, you may be able to use a small amount of coconut oil on your face daily without any issues. But if you have oily or acne-prone skin, it’s best to avoid using coconut oil on your face as it can clog pores and cause breakouts. Use it sparingly or not at all.

Does coconut oil help with wrinkles?

Coconut oil may help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by keeping the skin moisturized and promoting collagen production. But it’s not a miracle cure for aging skin. Consistent use over time, along with a healthy lifestyle and sun protection, may lead to smoother, more youthful-looking skin.

Can I use coconut oil to remove eye makeup?

Yes, coconut oil can be an effective and gentle way to remove eye makeup, even waterproof mascara. Rub a small amount of coconut oil onto your lashes and lids, then wipe it away with a soft cloth or cotton pad. Be careful not to get the oil in your eyes as it may cause irritation.

Is it better to use refined or unrefined coconut oil on skin?

For skincare purposes, I recommend using unrefined virgin coconut oil as it retains more of the beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. Refined coconut oil is more processed and may contain fewer skin-friendly compounds. However, refined coconut oil is still moisturizing and may be a good option if you don’t like the scent of coconuts.

How long does it take for coconut oil to absorb into the skin?

Coconut oil is a thick, heavy oil that takes some time to fully absorb into the skin. It can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes for the oil to sink in, depending on how much you apply and your skin type. To speed up absorption, apply coconut oil to damp skin and massage it in well. You can also try mixing it with a lighter oil like jojoba or grapeseed.

Conclusion

Coconut oil can be a wonderful natural moisturizer for the skin, but it’s not for everyone. It’s best suited for people with dry, irritated or mature skin who are not prone to breakouts.

When using coconut oil on your skin, be sure to choose a high-quality, organic virgin coconut oil for maximum benefits. And always start with a small amount to see how your skin reacts.

If you have oily or acne-prone skin, coconut oil may do more harm than good by clogging your pores. 

Stick to using it on your body and lips, or opt for a less comedogenic oil instead. As with any new skincare product, it’s important to listen to your skin and adjust your routine as needed. 

What works for one person may not work for another. With a little experimentation, you can find the perfect way to incorporate coconut oil into your skincare regimen for soft, smooth, glowing skin!

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