We've broken down what coconut oil is, how you can use it in your skincare routine without the nasty side effects, and what parts of your body it can be used appropriately on. So, whether you're looking to use coconut oil for your face, your lips, wrinkles, acne or to remove makeup, here's what you need to know.
What is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is a type of fat that has been regularly praised for its health-promoting properties. Coconut oil is a highly saturated oil that is traditionally made by extracting the oil from raw coconuts or dried coconut kernels. Coconut oil doesn't only possess anti-inflammatory properties helpful in skincare, it's been known to decrease levels of LDL cholesterol and improve brain function, according to Healthline. “Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of mature coconuts,” Shari Marchbein, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist told Women's Health. “It is 99 percent fat, composed mostly of saturated fats, with the most common being lauric acid.”
What type of coconut oil should I use?
It's always important to check the packaging of products before you use them in your skincare routine. When it comes to coconut oil, you don't want any with additives.
Is coconut oil good for your skin?
In short, yes. Coconut oil does have properties that are good for various skin conditions.
It can kill harmful microorganisms...
The fatty acids in coconut oil have antimicrobial properties that can help protect against harmful microorganisms. This can help in skin health, as many types of skin infections including acne and cellulitis are caused by bacteria or fungi. Applying coconut oil directly to the skin may prevent the growth of these microorganisms.
It can reduce inflammation...
Coconut oil is an anti-inflammatory due to its high lauric acid component and has been shown to have properties that can help skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
How can I use coconut oil on my skin?
There are lots of ways to use coconut oil: lip balm, skin soother, hair mask, nail hydration, body moisturiser, mouth wash and skin cleanser. Below, the different ways you can use coconut oil in your beauty routine.
As a moisturiser...
Sydney-based dermatologist, Dr Natasha Cook, told BeautyCrew: “It’s a brilliant ingredient in skin care and a great moisturiser. It’s all about medium chain triglycerides and medium chain fatty acids. The triglycerides help the lipids that are contained in the outer layer of the epidermis. There are free fatty acids in the natural oils of the skin, which make up part of the barrier wall function.
"So [when applying coconut oil] you’re actually adding free fatty acids into that structure. That’s why it’s so good for moisturising – it’s putting back what’s already there.”
Findings in a 2008 paper showed that coconut oil can improve atopic dermatitis, an inflammatory itchy skin condition, by acting as an effective moisturiser.
As a makeup remover...
Speaking to bebeautiful, skin expert and dermatologist Dr. Aparna Santhanam says using coconut oil as a makeup remover is “extremely safe”. “The only caveat is to wipe your face with a dry tissue to remove oil traces. Wash with a mild cleanser and use a skin type appropriate moisturiser post removal," says Santhanam.
As a hair mask...
Research published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science found that applying coconut oil to your hair can help reduce hair breakage. Later studies confirmed that coconut oil penetrates hair follicles better than common hair products. “Hair oils – and especially coconut oil – tend to seep into every tiny hole in your hair shaft and disguise the real problem to act as a quick-fix,” Ross Charles, owner of Ross Charles Hairdressing, told Glamour. “When hair needs moisture, it is thirsty and needs a drink [but] oil and water don’t mix.”
“Oil actually repels water and either pushes it out of the hair of stops it from getting into the hair,” he adds.
As a bath oil...
Using coconut oil during a bath has similar benefits to its skincare uses. The anti-inflammatory and moisturising effects make it a great option to bath in. Add coconut oil to a warm bath – the oil will stop the water evaporating and drying out your skin. Once you get out, pat the excess oil into your skin. No need to moisturise.
To treat acne...
Since acne is an inflammatory condition, coconut oil can be used to help fight breakouts. Lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties - both of which can be powerful weapons in the war against pimples.
There's a reason one of the benefits of using lauric acid to treat acne works, but most of those studies were conducted using pure lauric acid, as opposed to coconut oil. It's advised that you don't use coconut oil to treat acne, given its high potential to clog pores, but rather use it as a general skin cleanser.