Coconut Oil has been used for its health promoting properties across the world; from helping stimulate hair growth, to improving brain function by reducing inflammation.
The question is, how does Coconut Oil benefit our skin?
What is Coconut Oil?
Coconut Oil is an edible oil derived from the flesh (meat) of the Coconut. It’s a high saturated fat type oil (rich in medium-chain fatty acids or MCTs) which is slow to oxidize – meaning it can remain stable for a very long time without going off.
Moisturise and Nourish Dry Skin
Coconut oil can be an effective natural moisturiser for dry and dehydrated skin.
It helps prevent water loss by providing a barrier to your skin to keep water locked in. As you wash your hands, use soap or abrasive products on your skin, the protective barrier can break down which could lead to infections, inflammation and of course dry skin.
Coconut oil can help provide the extra barrier and offset the effect of breakdown. The effect is your skin will feel supple and smooth.
Coconut Oil is best applied as the final layer to seal in the moisturising properties of your chosen moisturizer which will contain other vitamins and minerals and could be more beneficial to hydrate and repair your skin. As such, Cosmopolitan recommends using Coconut Oil to seal in the moisturiser [3 Benefits of Coconut Oil for Your Skin According to Dermatologists].
Inflammation is one of the major symptoms behind most skin diseases, including Acne, Psoriasis and Eczema. Inflammation contributes to the red-patchy, burning sensation on your skin.
Coconut Oil is rich in anti-inflammatories and has research aiming to prove its benefits for reducing inflammation. It may help reduce inflammation by curbing oxidisation, and in reducing oxidative stress in your body by eliminating free-radicals, help reduce the inflammation caused by oxidation.
By reducing inflammation, Coconut Oil may help you itch less and keep the symptoms of these inflammatory skin conditions under control.
Help Treat Acne
Acne is an inflammatory condition of the skin and because Coconut Oil has been identified as reducing inflammation of the skin, it may help with reducing Acne.
However Acne is also bacterial in nature, and Lauric Acid which is found in Coconut Oil has been linked to killing off the bacteria associated with Acne [source – The antimicrobial activity of liposomal lauric acids against Propionibacterium acnes].
Can act as a light sunscreen
If you’ve run out of SPF creams, Coconut Oil is said to have an SPF of 8 [source – In vitro sun protection factor determination of herbal oils used in cosmetics] which although is very low, can still be helpful if you have sensitive to sun skin, if in need of a quick topical application before going out to replenish.
May Promote Collagen Production
Coconut Oil can help with repairing wounds or damaged skin, while potentially reducing the appearance of wrinkles. It is said to achieve this by helping promote the production of Collagen in your skin [Effect of topical application of virgin coconut oil on skin components and antioxidant status during dermal wound healing in young rats].
Ultimately Coconut Oil was shown to help increase the recovery of the wounds in rats, however this should not be the primary use case of Coconut oil. Because this doesn’t absorb into your skin very well (and forms a protective barrier), it is far more beneficial to use other options to promote collagen internally.
Coconut Oil is a thick oil which has a comedogenic rating of 4 – which means it can block pores due to its inability to be absorbed by your skin. While this won’t necessarily be a problem for all skin types, if you suffer from oily skin and have had acne in the past, then over-use should be avoided Coconut Oil could block pores which leads to breakouts, blackheads and other spots.
How to Use Coconut Oil
Apply topically to the affected regions on your skin. Just take a couple of drops or more and gently rub the oil over the regions which are affected. Continue to do this until you begin to feel improvements.
As part of your diet
You can also add coconut oil into your diet. If you’re usually frying foods, switch your vegetable oil to coconut oil. Add a tea spoon to your vegan protein shake, or your baking.
As a face or skin mask
Coconut oil can be applied to your face or body via a mask. While the benefits of Coconut Oil by itself are plentiful, adding as an ingredient or using as a carrier oil with avocado, oatmeal or turmeric can further enhance the protective benefits of Coconut Oil and help your skin look younger and feel stronger.