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21 July 2023 / Laura Garvin Gomez

What Is Fractionated Coconut Oil?

Explore the wonders of Fractionated Coconut Oil and learn about its uses and benefits for beauty and wellness.

Many opened coconuts on a light brown background

Fractionated coconut oil has much more to offer than just working as a carrier oil to blend with your essential oils.

From improving skin hydration and healing chapped lips to smoothing frizzy hair and helping to combat free radicals, the oil may be subtle, but it comes stacked with an array of health benefits.

You may have noticed that it is frequently used in a lot of skincare products, although it never comes with an explanation as to what it actually is. So, we’re here to provide some answers and explain more about fractionated coconut oil, including its benefits and much more.

What is fractionated coconut oil?

Fractionated coconut oil is an oil that is extracted directly from standard coconut oil. It provides a fantastic source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that are delivered directly to the liver from the digestive tract, providing a quick source of energy. It differs from standard coconut oil in that it is odourless and tasteless and it is commonly used as an ingredient in popular moisturisers and hair products.

How is fractionated coconut oil made?

Fractionated coconut oil goes through a refining process that sees certain types of fat. The oil is heated above its melting point and then left to cool, with lauric acid and long-chain fatty acids turning solid faster than other types of fat, which allows them to be separated and removed from the liquid.

Opened coconut next to a small ramekin of coconut oil

What are the benefits of fractionated coconut oil?

Some of the benefits of fractionated coconut oil you can enjoy include: 

  • Hydrates and moisturises the skin: Applying fractionated coconut oil to your skin allows you to enjoy rich hydration and moisturising properties that can soothe and soften the pores. Many people use it to reduce the appearance of stretch marks, whilst it can also be used to prevent razor bumps and itchiness after shaving.
  • Easy to blend with essential oils: Fractionated coconut oil works as a carrier oil and it is completely odourless and colourless. These characteristics make it ideal for blending with a wide range of essential oils. When applied topically, it will not interfere with the fragrance of the essential oil or any other perfume or aftershave you may be wearing.
  • Great source of medium chain fatty acids: There is a high content level of medium chain fatty acids (MCTs) in fractionated coconut oil, offering a good source of caprylic acid and capric acid. These are regarded as high energy fats that can be easily digested, whilst also helping to moisturise and protect the skin.
  • It’s high in antioxidants: Even though fractionated coconut oil goes through a refining process to remove some of its healthy fats, you can still benefit from the many natural antioxidants that are left behind. These help to protect the skin against damage caused by free radicals, UVs and other environmental pollutants, which can help you to maintain a more even skin tone.
  • Can improve the condition of your hair: The oil is not just good for your skin, but your hair too. For example, some people use it to reduce hair frizz and to smooth and protect their hair and it can also work wonders as part of a hair mask. It can also be used as a lip balm or even as a natural ingredient in a homemade deodorant.
  • Longer shelf life than regular coconut oil: When buying fractionated coconut oil, you will certainly get value for money as it can last indefinitely. The refining process removes impurities that can affect the oil’s stability (regular coconut oil only lasts for around two years at room temperature), so you won’t have to worry about it expiring. 

Open coconut resting on sand in sunbeams

Is fractionated coconut oil the same as MCT oil?

Once the long chain triglycerides have been removed from the oil, there are still a lot of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) remaining. In most cases, fractionated oil and MCT oil are the same thing, although they are marketed under different names for consumer uses (this also applies to liquid coconut oil).

You’ll often find the term MCT oil used in supplements intended for consumption, whilst products designed for use on the skin will mention fractionated coconut oil. However, because they are identical they can be used in the exact same way.

The best course of action is to check and read the ingredients carefully before purchasing a product, to ensure you are buying what you are looking for.  

Does fractionated coconut oil contain lauric acid?

Most fractionated coconut oils do not contain lauric acid, as this long-chain fatty acid is removed during the refining process. Lauric acid is known for providing a variety of health benefits, such as moisturising the skin and antibacterial properties. It’s naturally found in coconuts and coconut oil, so virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil may be a better option if you want to enjoy the full benefits of coconut oil.

What are the risks of fractionated coconut oil?

Fractionated coconut oil is safe to use for most people and provides a host of health benefits. However, if you are allergic to coconut oil and have previously experienced bad reactions to it, you should not use the fractionated version.

Some people also consume the oil, which in most cases is fine, although in some instances it has been known to cause an upset stomach. Therefore, it is advisable to start with only 1-2 teaspoons at most and only once you are happy that your body is accepting the oil should you increase the dosage.

Because fractionated coconut oil is free of fragrances, dyes and irritating ingredients, it is often recommended to people who suffer with allergies and similar issues. And if you intend to apply essential oils directly to your skin, it can help to soothe the risk of any irritation occurring.

black and white illustration of a coconut

Fractionated coconut oil contains moisturising properties that can help to keep your skin hydrated and free from unwanted irritation. It shouldn’t clog pores or cause greasiness and because it has no colour or smell it blends well with almost any other type of fragrance. Although it does not contain lauric acid it still has a lot to offer, so if you want to improve the condition of your skin or hair or need a reliable carrier oil that won’t expire quickly, then fractionated oil is a great option.

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