Coconut Oil for Skin: How to Use & 10 Benefits
A natural ingredient generally found in every kitchen can help you get healthy skin, any guesses? absolutely right, it is Coconut Oil.
The antimicrobial, antifungal, and hydrating properties of coconut oils make it a super ingredient to get a soft, blemish-free, healthy skin.
In this article, you will get to know about the properties of coconut oil, why it is good for the skin, how to use it, and benefits.
What is coconut oil
Coconut oil is a solid (at room temperature: below 23.8° C) white fatty substance well known for its therapeutic properties. It has 82-92% saturated fat and little amount of unsaturated fat.
One tablespoon of coconut oil contains around 11 grams of saturated fats and a small amount of polyunsaturated, monosaturated fats.
Based on the extraction process the nutritional value and benefits of coconut oil differ.
Coconut oil contains various fatty acids. The medium-chain fatty acids make about 67-69% of its total composition (1).
Different fatty acids present in coconut oil are
- caprylic acid (8%)
- capric acid, (7%)
- lauric acid (49%)
- myristic acid (8%)
- palmitic acid (8%)
- stearic acid (2%)
- oleic acid (6%)
- linoleic acid (2%)
Types of coconut oil
Based on the process to obtain coconut oil, we can classify it in two main categories, 1. Dry Processed and 2. Wet Processed.
Coconut meat is dried to form a kernel. Crushing the coconut kernels results in oil cake formation. The crude form of coconut oil is extracted from the oil cake and filtered.
It goes through various other processes like deacidification, decoloration, and deodorization before regarded as fit for use.
Oil extracted from this process has a high smoking point therefore used in cooking.
The wet process uses fresh (non-dried) coconut meat to extract oil. We refer to it as virgin coconut oil.
Virgin coconut oil has a low smoking point and the scent of coconut. Because of the higher nutritional level, virgin coconut oil is better for the skin (2).
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Skin
Coconut oil has various health benefits like
- It boosts good cholesterol.
- It helps patients with diabetes or high blood sugar levels to control it.
- Coconut oil improves brain health in Alzheimer’s patients.
- Good for people with high blood pressure.
- Good food for the liver.
Apart from this coconut oil is beneficial for skin health. It helps fight acne, keep the skin soft, wrinkle-free, etc. Here are some of the most important benefits
1. Helpful in the treatment of acne
The lauric acid which is found in abundance in coconut oil has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Therefore, it can kill the bacteria present in the acne and speed up the healing process (3).
Animal studies conclude that lauric acid can be more effective than benzoyl peroxide in preventing the growth of bacteria causing acne.
Capric acid also possesses anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that help in reducing acne.
A study provided important evidence of lauric acid and capric acid killing the stain of bacteria causing acne (15).
2. Helpful in moisturizing dry skin
Xeroderma or Xerosis is a skin condition caused by a lack of moisture in the skin. There are different reasons for xerosis but aging, diabetes or skin disorders are most common.
Mineral oils which are derived from petroleum, have low-grade antimitotic action on the epidermis. Hence it is useful in reducing the dryness in the skin.
Coconut oil found as effective as mineral oil. The study showed skin hydration level was boosted along with the skin surface lipid levels because of the emollient effect of coconut oil.
You can use coconut oil as a home remedy for dry skin.
3. May reduce inflammation
Virgin coconut oil has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and skin-protecting properties (8). The bioactive components present in coconut oil works on various skin problems like itching, rashes, acne, etc caused by inflammation.
Skin inflammation is caused due to free radicals, the fatty acids present in the coconut oils help to reduce the effect of free radicals and in turn reduce inflammation (9).
4. Can help to reduce pain
Lauric acid present in coconut oil provides its analgesic properties. It can help in subsite the pain due to various skin disorders.
5. Potentially benefit in Eczema
Eczema is the skin condition where red patches appear on the skin, it becomes dry and itchy.
The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of fatty acids can help in this condition. Coconut oil also provides relief from dryness which can reduce the itchiness of the skin.
6. Antimicrobial antifungal properties
The studies are focused on animal trials and specific studies on humans are not concluded yet.
You can use coconut oil for a fungal infection, apply coconut oil directly to the affected site. If you feel any discomfort, wash off and consult a dermatologist.
7. Helpful in Psoriasis
The lauric, capric, and caprylic acid present in coconut oil helps in softening the skin. It helps in psoriasis and reduces the dryness of the skin.
Psoriasis is a skin condition where bumpy red patches are seen on the skin with white scales.
Regular use of coconut oil softens the scales. If the condition does not improve, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist.
8. Has wound healing properties
In various studies conducted on animals, coconut oil helped in the wound healing process.
Coconut oil did speed up the healing process and increased the level of collagen. Collagen in the protein which helps in wound healing.
Virgin coconut oil also helps in fighting infection which helps in an improved wound healing capacity. It can be used alongside antibiotics, the synergic effect boosts the body’s response to wound healing.
9. Effective on dark patches
Coconut oil is probably effective on dark patches. If you have uneven skin tone or blemishes, try coconut oil.
You can apply the thin layer of coconut oil and leave it overnight. Rinse with water the next morning. Do not apply a thick layer as it can clog the pores and result in skin issues.
10. Potentially beneficial in skin & breast cancer
A recent study concludes that medium-chain fatty acids are helpful in slowing down the cancer growth. Capric acid and caprylic acid shows anticancer activity and potentially be useful to prevent or treat skin cancer (14).
When to Avoid Using Coconut Oil
Coconut oil generally does not cause any health side effects however, it is advisable to avoid it if you have prior experience of any side effects.
People with oily or sensitive skin might face some issues while using coconut oil. It is comedogenic i.e. the skin pores are blocked/clogged by coconut oil and if you have oily skin it can cause various skin issues.
It is advisable to test coconut oil on a little part of your skin to make sure you do not have an allergy or if it doesn’t suit you.