Coconut oil has women everywhere declaring it as their miracle beauty secret, basically the beauty world's equivalent to Windex from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. From hair masks to skin moisturizers, makeup remover, lip balm, deodorant, gum sanitizer, and more, we're told the uses for coconut oil are endless. Is this unassuming product we can buy at the grocery store really such a big deal?
To find out, we've asked some skin experts and dermatologists to give us some straight facts: Are the benefits of coconut oil all they're cracked up to be?
Acne-Prone Skin, Beware
Across the board, dermatologists and skin experts told us that coconut oil is definitely not for your face. Wait, what? That's the first place we'd assume this supposed miracle worker was meant to be applied.
Dr. Jill Waibel told us, "It is crucial to not apply this oil on your face—especially if you are acne prone." She explained that even though coconut oil is healthy, people with oily or acne prone skin don't need to be adding more oil to their faces. Rachel Winard, founder and formulator at Soapwalla echoed Waibel's words, saying, "Coconut oil is comedogenic, meaning it's more likely to clog pores, leading to a higher instance of acne and blackheads."
But Wait, the Hair!
Now that we know that we should be keeping this oily substance away from our faces, are there any other beauty benefits for coconut oil? Dr. Waibel gives us a reason to not chuck our trendy coconut oil just yet. "The chemical structure of coconut oil allows it to actually penetrate the hair shaft—not just coating the outside like other hair products. This allows for your hair to become stronger and more flexible—which leads to having less breakage and split ends."
She recommends applying the oil to your hair at night and then covering it with a shower cap to let it soak in while you sleep. Then in the morning, shampoo and condition!
It Can Be Drying
The common thought with oil is that, if anything, it would be over-saturating. Well, this is another surprise! Dr. Cindy Jones, a cosmetic formulator, explains that since coconut oil is pure oil, it contains no water. While it will help trap water in the skin, it will not add water to your skin like a moisturizer that has both water and oil in the ingredients.
Rachel Winard adds that individuals who have allergies to tree nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans) may be sensitive to coconut oil in high concentrations. If you've experienced your skin becoming inflamed, splotchy, itchy, or feeling tight, you might just be allergic to coconut oil!
One and Done Doesn't Work
Dr. Jones explains that coconut oil is composed of short-chain fatty acids, such as lauric acid, which does benefit skin health but it simply isn't enough. She says, "Just as with food, we are encouraged to eat a wide variety of healthy foods. I encourage people to use a skin care product that contains more than one plant based oil (such as oleic and linoleic acids found in olive oil and rice bran oil) so that they can get a wide variety of fatty acids, oil soluble vitamins and antioxidant sterols."
The experts have spoken. Coconut oil is not the creme de la creme of cosmetics, but if shining locks are your priority, you may have found a goldmine indeed.
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