Coconut oil has taken the natural health and wellness world by storm because of its many claimed benefits for skin, hair, and overall health.
Some call coconut oil a superfood, and many people are now using it for beauty and skincare.
For the most part, coconut oil really does live up to all the good things said about it. It has much to offer us whether it's used on the inside or outside of our bodies and has quickly become a staple in natural skincare products.
Here's more about this superfood and the top benefits of coconut oil for your skin.
All About Coconut Oil
Coconut oil comes from pressing either the dried or fresh meat of coconuts. The result is a highly saturated oil that is solid at room temperature.
For a while, coconut oil was thought to be unhealthy because it's high in saturated fats.
A report by the American Heart Association (AHA) that saturated fats are bad for heart health made people wary of oils like coconut. (1) However, the AHA also stated that saturated fats were not to be avoided altogether (our bodies actually need them to function).
Also, more studies on coconut oil have shown it to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can improve heart health and protect against other diseases. (2)
These facts and studies have made coconut oil grow in popularity as a health food.
Coconut oil contains many different medium-chain fatty acids, which are considered healthy fats. This makes coconut oil easy to digest and a good source of energy as well as giving it benefits for skin care and beauty.
If you're thinking about adding coconut to your skincare routine, here are the top benefits to expect from it.
One of the reasons coconut oil is so popular as a skincare ingredient is because it's an antimicrobial.
It can protect the skin against harmful bacteria, fungi, and even viruses. Lauric acid, one of the fatty acids found in coconut oil, has been shown to have especially strong antibacterial properties. (3)
Using coconut oil in a face wash or face moisturizer can be beneficial for several skin issues caused by bacteria or fungi, including acne.
While coconut oil may not help everyone's acne (it can still block pores for some), many have found success using it rather than harsh face washes that strip the skin of natural oils.
Coconut oils has even more benefits for troubled skin because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
While coconut oil can be beneficial for any type of skin, inflammation plays a big role in skin issues like psoriasis and dermatitis. (4) The strong anti-inflammatory nature of coconut oil can make it especially beneficial for soothing these inflamed skin conditions. (2)
The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial nature of coconut oil, along with its skin-soothing properties, are one of the reasons its so often used as a base for natural skin and body products.
Hydrates Dry Skin
Keeping skin well moisturized and hydrated in an important factor in keeping it healthy.
One of the major benefits of coconut oil for skin is hydration. While other oils will simply sit on top of the skin, coconut oil is able to penetrate skin because of its low molecular weight and other characteristics. (5)
This makes coconut possibly more beneficial for those with dry skin than oily skin.
It has been shown in at least one study to be as effective at hydrating skin as mineral oil, making it a good substitute for those who don't want to use petroleum-derived products. (6)
Another one of the top benefits of coconut oil for skin is its high antioxidant content which can prevent and slow signs of aging.
The antioxidants within coconut oil are one of the reasons it has such strong anti-inflammatory properties. They also work to stabilize free radicals that harm the body and contribute to signs of aging. (7)
Coconut oil also contains vitamins A and E, which help to slow down the aging process and may be beneficial for combating sun damage.
Softens and Smooths Skin
The vitamin E and healthy fats found in coconut oil are especially nourishing to skin.
Using coconut oil regularly can help to smooth out skin, soften skin, and improve skin elasticity. It also has a balancing effect on skin's pH, further promoting smooth and healthy-looking skin.
Coconut oil also helps to boost collagen production. Collagen is a very important building block in healthy skin and hair.
For the best results, use coconut oil consistently in your skin care routine to get all these benefits.
Helps Wound Healing
Coconut oil is also showing benefits for wound healing when applied to damaged skin.
Its antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory properties help to calm inflammation around a wound. Its antimicrobial properties help to prevent infection and speed up healing. (8)
Interestingly, one animal study found that coconut oil applied to wounds also increased the levels of collagen, which is a protein essential to healthy skin and wound healing. (8)
Refined vs. Unrefined Coconut Oil
When looking for coconut oil to use for skin care, you'll see two different varieties: refined and unrefined.
Refined coconut oil goes through more processing to get to the end result. The coconut meat is typically dried before being pressed to extract the oil. The oil is then bleached and deodorized.
This process gives refined coconut oil a more neutral smell and a higher smoking point, which makes it better for cooking with.
Unrefined or virgin coconut oil is less processed. It's typically extracted from the raw, "wet" coconut meat and keeps the original coconut smell.
When it comes to skincare, unrefined coconut oil is the best choice.
Because it's not processed as much, the unrefined version keeps much more of the beneficial compounds of coconut and has a much higher antioxidant content. (9)
Look for coconut oil that is labeled as "unrefined" or "virgin" to get the most benefits for your skin.
Getting the Benefits of Coconut Oil for Skin
Now that you know all about the top benefits of coconut oil for skin, what's the best way to use it?
You can find it in many natural skincare products and get all its benefits along with other herbal and natural ingredients.
Or you can use coconut oil by itself as body or face oil, makeup remover, hand moisturizer, lip balm, massage oil, or to cover small wounds and irritated skin.
Just warm up a small amount of coconut oil in your hands until it starts to liquefy and apply to the area of your body that needs it.
If you haven't yet tried coconut oil as part of your skincare routine, it might be time!