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20 January 2023 / Laura Garvin Gomez

Coconut Oil for Skin: Benefits and How to Use It

Give your skin the boost it's been waiting for with this target-all wellness remedy.

Coconut Oil for Skin: Benefits and How to Use It

At this point, it should come as no surprise that coconut oil can (seemingly) do it all.

And the rumours are certainly not baseless either, with new benefits for our bodies popping up all the time.

For some of us, coconut oil is an ingredient mostly contained to the kitchen, but many scientists are beginning to argue whether its nourishments are better suited away from our stomachs and toward our beauty regimes instead.

As we all move into more natural choices for our skincare routines, these findings bring up curiosity as to what coconut oil truly is, what it works for, and how we can actually implement it effectively.

Illustration of a coconut

What is coconut oil?

Coconuts can produce several by-products in various forms, and the oil itself is extracted from the white flesh of the fruit and can go through several processes depending on the type of oil you choose.

The true appeal of coconut oil is its accessibility, combined with the largely inexpensive and remarkably versatile properties that have earned it a spot of acclaim in everything from daily haircare to eczema treatment.

When it comes to skincare, the same benefits shine brightly against many common ailments, but how do they actually affect us?

Is coconut oil good for your skin?

For the most part, coconut carrier oil is an exceptional remedy for your skin, providing moisture, hydration, protection, and nourishment.

However, as with any popular treatment, there can be rumours to decipher what it is or isn't suitable for.

For example, coconut oil should never be used as a replacement for sun cream, despite some sources claiming otherwise. This is because coconut oil only has an SPF factor of around 8, whereas you need at least 30 for broad-spectrum protection from the sun.

Coconut oil also isn't a great choice for acne sufferers, as it can be fairly comedogenic on more oily skin types, meaning it can clog up the pores and only lead to more irritating issues.

Those with these issues should opt for more oil-safe choices like rosehip oil, which may be less likely to cause breakouts.

That being said, using on most skin types will only reap glorious benefits, so don't stress too much if you're unfamiliar with what products tend to work best for you.

Coconut oil in a jar, surrounded by raw coconuts.

What are the benefits of coconut oil on skin?

Coconut oil is an emollient, meaning it can have a powerful effect on repairing the skin's barrier and defending it against environmental threats, pollutants, and irritants.

It is also a master of moisturising, which has earned its stripes across haircare applications and against more chronic skin conditions.

Here are some of the most impactful benefits of coconut oil for the skin:

  • It's antibacterial and anti-inflammatory

The primary feature that makes coconut oil so great is lauric acid, a healthy fat naturally filled with antimicrobial properties.

These properties can help clear the skin of harmful bacteria, particularly , as well as protect it from external factors.

Lauric acid is also known for its benefits against inflammation, which a confirmed could help protect the skin and reduce its inflamed appearance.

These same properties are what makes coconut oil such a sound remedy against eczema.

  • It's deeply cleansing and hydrating

On top of lauric acid, coconut oil is also packed full of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that help to retain moisture in the skin. This is particularly true of linoleic acid, which is known for being a tremendous hydrator.

These compounds can help lock in moisture at the skin barrier, and a even explored their ability to reduce levels of trans epidermal water loss (TEWL) - a process whereby water escapes through the skin and evaporates, leading to dryness.

Coconut oil can also absorb very quickly, making it easy to provide instant protection and hydration.

  • It can smoothen the skin

MCTs can further use their powers to smoothen the skin, particularly if you tend to experience dry or cracked patches in your complexion.

These factors also make coconut oil a excellent base for DIY exfoliants, as they can help encourage the clearing of dead skin cells and leave your skin with a fresh, radiant glow.

  • It can help reduce signs of ageing

Coconut oil can help keep your connective tissues strong and supple, allowing for more elasticity in the skin.

This, in turn, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and helps to plump the skin for a more youthful appearance.

is also revered for being a powerful antioxidant, meaning it can boost the nutrients in the skin and help fight against some environmental stressors that can lead to premature ageing.

Person dispensing oil into hand.

How to use coconut oil for skin

Implementing coconut oil into your daily routine is a fairly simple and straightforward practice, with several possibilities depending on how you best wish to use it.

Coconut oil's most popular application is as a moisturiser - both for the skin of the body and the face.

This can be a good option if you're looking to replace commercial body lotions or facial creams that may contain synthetic irritants.

  1. Apply to the face and body in small amounts at a time until all of the oil is absorbed (remember, less is always more!).
  2. Coconut oil can also be used as an effective lip salve, hydrating the lips in a similar way to other areas of the face. Leaving the oil to soak into your lips overnight may be the optimal choice for relieving dryness, particularly in the winter months.
  3. If you're looking for an apt replacement for makeup remover, coconut oil is great for achieving this too.
  4. Simply warm up the oil in your hands (unless you have a version that remains a free-flowing liquid) and apply onto your whole face, adding as much as you need until the surface is makeup-free. Then, rinse off the oil with warm water and pat dry.
  5. This technique can also double up as an effective way to cleanse your face, particularly after engaging in outdoor activity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is coconut oil safe for sensitive skin?

Coconut oil is safe for most skin types, including and especially sensitive skin.

This is because, like most plant-based carrier oils, it is naturally gentle and hydrates the skin without stripping it of its essential nutrients.

Coconut oil is considered so safe, that it has become a highly popular choice for conditions like psoriasis and eczema.

Can coconut oil clog pores?

If you have oily skin or skin prone to breakouts, coconut oil may not be the best choice for you, despite its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

While it can absorb easily in most skin types without clogging pores, those with excess oil in their glands may only encourage further issues in these areas.

Can you wash your face with coconut oil?

Coconut oil doubles up as a great facial cleanser, and can be used in the morning and at night to help rid your skin of harmful bacteria.

Try rubbing the oil into your skin and then letting it sit for a few minutes, before rinsing it off with warm water and patting dry.

Botanical illustration

If you've never used carrier oils like coconut oil on your skin before, it can be a rather daunting process to get stuck into.

That being said, it's very easy to pick up on the processes and benefits of these natural alternatives, and before long you'll be wondering how you ever went without them.

Remember to always start small with the amount of oil you use, and work your way up as needed. Once you've established the routine that works for you, you can feel free to dive into all the other amazing possibilities this superstar oil has to offer.

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