Coconut oil. One minute it’s recommended for everything – from our food to our skin, and our hair to our teeth – and the next we’re told it’s not great for us at all. So what is the truth about the oil we can find so easily in our supermarkets, drugstores and health shops? And is it something you should be putting on your face? That’s exactly what we’ll be answering today…
THE TRUTH ABOUT COCONUT OIL
While many people choose to use coconut oil as part of their skincare routine, there are some considerations if you are thinking of using coconut oil, particularly on your face. When our founder was experiencing stress eczema, she used coconut oil on her face to create a barrier so air and water would not sting her skin. She applied it as a final layer over some sweet almond oil and only temporarily until the worst of her eczema had passed. Here’s why:
- Coconut oil forms a non-penetrative barrier. While this is beneficial in some ways as it means coconut oil locks in moisture and can protect you from free radicals through the presence of fatty acids supporting the skin barrier lipids, what this also means is that it is more difficult for anything to leave the skin, resulting in clogged pores. As the pores become blocked, the excess sebum under the skin mixes with bacteria, which causes breakouts. It also restricts skin regeneration where dead cells are pushed from underneath the epidermis to be replaced by new, healthy cells. The dead skin cells then collect in the pores, again leading to breakouts.
- Coconut oil is generally thick, greasy and not easily absorbed. This leaves you with a bit of a dilemma. Do you apply it in the morning, knowing that it will leave a noticeable layer, no matter how much you massage it in or try to disguise it as a base under makeup? Or do you apply it in the evening when your skin should be given time to breathe and rejuvenate? The best way we’ve found to use it on normal skin is as a pre-cleanser (makeup remover). We recommend starting by warming no more than a teaspoon of coconut oil between the palms of your hands before working into skin in small, circular motions. Then soak a muslin cloth in warm water, wring it out and place over your face for a few minutes before wiping off. We find this to be a better solution than leaving it to sit as a layer on top of your skin as it effectively dislodges makeup particles and dirt thanks to the aforementioned omega 3 fatty acids.
- Most coconut oil products aren’t good at helping the skin to balance itself. Maintaining the balance between alkaline and acidity is essential to keep moisture in and toxins out. Most coconut oils are heated during manufacturing to make them solid, leaving them to be on the acidic side (pH 3.5-5.5). When our natural pH is altered and becomes more acidic by the products we use, we experience dry, sensitive skin which is more vulnerable to rosacea, eczema, dermatitis and premature ageing. If you have normal to dry skin and choose to use coconut oil for its moisturising properties, look for its raw form (non-heated) as this can help to restore pH and leave the skin silky smooth.
For all of these reasons, coconut oil is not recommended for those with acne-prone, combination or oily skin. We like to use it on our hair or body when it is super dry to bring a richness to other products, but not on our face for any length of time. While coconut oil is naturally antibacterial, anti-fungal and does contain relatively low quantities of vitamins E and A which can help reduce skin damage and nourish, there are some lovely alternative options available which contain more beneficial properties for skin, and we also find much easier to blend…
THE BEST ALTERNATIVES TO COCONUT OIL
Rosehip Oil – Perfect for sensitive skin, this natural retinol has a high linoleic and linolenic acid content, making it thinner and more readily absorbed by skin, helping it to retain moisture and support healthy cell regeneration.
Jasmine Oil – Another calming oil, this has toning and balancing properties to moisturise the skin, assist with breakouts, increase cell turnover and reduce inflammation.
Moringa Seed Oil – A natural moisturiser, this has antiseptic and antibacterial properties, and is packed full of antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E) making it ideal for dry, ageing skin.
Jojoba Oil – This has all of the properties of the above and can repair a damaged skin barrier, ease the appearance of acne and improve wound healing.
DO YOU USE COCONUT OIL ON YOUR FACE OR DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE?
We’d love for you to tell me in a comment below!