Seems everyone is getting in on the coconut oil goodness these days. Coconut oil is to beauty what kale is to diet. From oil pulling to hair treatments to skin care, this is one hot natural ingredient. So, I did a little experimenting to see exactly what is so great about using coconut oil for skin.
I’m not unfamiliar with coconut oil. As a beauty writer I’ve written about this crowd pleaser more than once and even partake of the occasional bulletproof coffee (or two). But have I subbed in coconut oil for my usual skin care products? That’d be a nope.
But, like you, I can’t quit hearing about all the ways coconut oil helps people in the skin department. You can view pics on Instagram of DIY coconut oil body scrubs, read Facebook posts on quick and dirty makeup removal, and peruse many a blogpost on how coconut oil kicked dry skin to the curb. Heck, my own sister swears it has been a huge boon in curing her acne.
With the enviable squad goals of the uber popular coconut oil, I decided it was time to take the nutty plunge and find out what I was missing. A bit of research, a little experimenting, and a very small chunk o’ change later, and here’s what I now know and love about coconut oil for skin.
Skin Benefits from Coconut Oil
Let’s back track just a sec and delve briefly into why so many females are slathering themselves in this nut butter. As you probably guessed, it makes skin feel soft, like most oils do. But does coconut oil hold real advantages to skin?
Coconut oil is rich in saturated fats which not only make skin feel smooth and soft upon application, but hold in moisture, keeping skin supple over time. The oil also contains lauric acid, which has antimicrobial and disinfectant properties, helping to keep pores clear and prevent blemishes. And vitamin E protects and heals skin, great for reducing the appearance of spots, scars, and wrinkles.
As you can see, all skin types benefit from coconut oil. Beyond that, it has a pacifying and cooling effect on skin, so those with pitta skin (Ayurvedic term for skin prone to irritable conditions like rosacea) may find relief with this ingredient.
And not the least important perk of using coconut oil? It is super affordable (a 15 ounce jar of Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil runs around $8.50, for example) and its multiple uses save you time and effort. A minimalist beauty gal’s dream.
How to Choose the Best Coconut Oil
Before heading out to your local Whole Foods to grab a jar of coconut oil, there are a couple of important things you should know. First off, not all coconut oils are created equally. And yes, the difference is important.
The two main types of coconut oil you will come across are virgin coconut oil (VCO) and refined coconut oil (RCO). To make VCO, oil is cold pressed from the meat of the coconut. VCO has both the flavor and smell of coconut, and is often creamier. RCO is a mass produced oil obtained from dried coconut and is usually chemically treated. If you open a jar of RCO it will have no coconut aroma or flavor.
Recently, another type of coconut oil has made the scene. Often marketed as liquid coconut oil (because it will remain liquid even in the refrigerator) this is nothing new but an oil manufactured by fractionating coconut oil and removing most of the fatty acids that stay solid at lower temperatures. So, not only is fractionated coconut oil lacking the fatty acids which make it so good for skin, but it is highly processed.
VCO is the way to go to avoid additives and contaminants. But we are not done ID-ing the best coconut oil just yet. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (EVCO) can be found pretty much anywhere coconut oil is sold. The problem with this stuff? There is no such thing. Here’s the deal, the term “extra virgin” refers to the oil that comes from a first pressing, as with olive oil. But coconut oil only undergoes one pressing. So, coconut oil cannot be “extra virgin” and any product bearing the term is simply a brand trying to make its product seem extra healthy. Take a look at Nutivo’s new stance on EVCO for a snapshot of this misleading practice in action.
How to Use Coconut Oil for Skin
Okay, now that we are squared away on the why and what of coconut oil, let’s get straight to the how. The most common uses for coconut oil are as a straightforward moisturizer for skin and body. But there are many roles of coconut oil for skin go way beyond that. Some legit, others not so much. For instance, this ingredient makes an effective make up remover but, contrary to what you may have read, is not as well suited for use on its own as deodorant or sunscreen.
Coconut oil will look at least semi-solid and white in the jar, but warms up quickly at room temperature in hands and is easy to apply. When using coconut oil as a moisturizer, a little goes a long way, so start out with less than you think you may need. As with all new beauty products, you may want to patch test before using if you are prone to sensitivity.
Coconut Oil for Face
1. Makeup remover: Coconut oil binds to dirt and debris, and melts away makeup with no drying effect. Warm a small amount in hands and massage into skin. Wipe away with a tissue or damp cloth. Cleanse skin as usual.
2. Cleanser: You know how good oil cleansing is for skin. Coconut oil is great for this too. Simply warm a small amount in hands and use as you would any oil or cream for cleansing. Works like a charm.
3. Eye cream: Since coconut oil is softens lines and smooths skin, it can sub in as an eye cream. The key to applying the oil around eyes is to use sparingly and pat into skin to avoid greasiness. Keep to outer edges of eye area so no oil migrates into eyes. This application is best suited to your night time routine.
4. Night cream: Speaking of night time skin care, coconut oil makes a rich and nourishing night cream. Apply to skin as you would your regular moisturizer or under a thicker moisturizer if skin is dry. A serum may be layered under the coconut oil too.
5. Skin soother: Dealing with rosacea or other upset skin conditions? Coconut oil soothes and cools irritation and inflammation, toning down redness and giving a calm look to skin. May be used day or night.
Coconut Oil for Lips
1. Lip scrub: Feeling a DIY project itch? Create a coconut oil lip scrub. All you need is coconut oil and sugar. Easy to make and your lips will feel ultra-soft and smooth. Try using brown sugar for a gentler scrub.
2. Lip balm: If you’ve ever downed a spoonful of coconut oil you already know that it makes a great lip balm. Use on its own or make your own custom blend.
3. Lip gloss: Never thought of making your own lip gloss? Try this tinted homemade gloss but sub in coconut oil for the avocado oil.
Coconut Oil Lotion
1. Body oil: What works on face, works on body, right? In the case of coconut oil, YES! Warm coconut oil between hands and apply to clean skin. It may seem greasy at first, but soaks in quickly.
2. Body scrub: Concoct your own scrub with coconut oil and sugar or salt. Combine the two ingredients and exfoliate skin in the shower before cleansing. The result is silky, smooth skin that holds in moisture.
3. Soap: When added to soap, coconut oil cleans and soothes skin. Try this coconut oil bar soap recipe.
4. Body balm: When using coconut oil as a balm or lotion, try mixing with a thicker ingredient, like beeswax or shea butter. You can even add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for fragrance. Try this recipe using coconut oil in place of almond oil.
5. Shaving cream: This one may seem sort of strange but is said to work like a charm. Razor glides easily over skin, and legs (and pits!) are left super smooth. Use in place of body wash or shaving cream.
6. Hand and foot repair: A layer of coconut oil, massaged into hands and cuticles, repairs dryness and rough skin. Don socks or cotton gloves and try this trick before hopping into bed. Same goes for feet.
7. Sunburn relief: So, you’ve got yourself a sunburn. Take the sting out with cooling coconut oil applied to the burn. Offers fast relief and helps to prevent peeling.
8. Massage oil: One of the best massage oils around. Warm a few tablespoons of coconut oil in hands and apply to skin, massaging as usual.
What I Learned From Using Coconut Oil for Skin
Coconut oil for skin is a useful and effective ingredient to have on hand. And I do feel it has uses for every skin type, for sure. But do all of the uses work on every skin type? Probably not.
For Face: Like I said, coconut oil is cooling and helps some skin types to stay clear of pimples. I have dry skin that is pretty low maintenance but tends to be a bit sensitive. When I used the oil as a facial moisturizer it worked for the first 2-3 days at moisturizing and softening my skin. I didn’t have any irritation, but after the first few days experienced a bit of pore clogging.
My Opinion: As a makeup remover and cleanser, coconut oil works like a charm, but may be a better moisturizer for those with irritable or oily skin.
For Lips: Ok, love this oil for lips. Admittedly, on its own coconut oil is a bit slippery for my taste when used as a balm, but I absolutely adore it in a lip scrub and mixed with other ingredients.
My Opinion: Yes! Go for it! Super softening and I love having a whiff of lovely coconut right under my nose.
For Body: Again, my dry skin does not prefer this oil as a moisturizer. But as a scrub? Awesome! Still wondering about the shaving cream? Yes, I tried it and it is a dream. Skin is left so smooth and you get a nice close shave.
My Opinion: Coconut oil is perfect used in a scrub or balm, and makes an ideal foot balm.
Organic Beauty Products With Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is definitely a worthy addition to any skin care regimen. Since certain skin types don’t get along as well with the oil on its own, or straight up CO isn’t your thang (some people are turned off by the coconut-y scent), there are plenty of products that contain the health nut that you will love.
Coconut oil combines with other plant oils in Hurraw! Coconut Lip Balm to create this creamy treat for your pucker.
Avoid the DIY mess with this already whipped up balm. Kahina Giving Beauty Fez Hand & Body Balm uses coconut oil and plant butters to moisturize seriously parched skin.
Perfect your pout with this coconut oil infused lip gloss by Evelyn Iona. Pretty and good for nourishing too.
While coconut oil doesn’t do much to keep underarms fresh solo, it is the perfect addition to any natural deodorant. Agent Nateur No. 3 Deodorant is coconut oil based and divinely scented.
What do think? Will you give coconut oil a try? Tell us about how you use (or plan to use) coconut oil for skin. Drop us a comment on our Facebook page!
Image of woman on beach with coconut via Shutterstock