Does coconut oil actually work to nourish and hydrate your skin?

·4-min read
close up of young female with gloss make up
Does coconut oil actually work to nourish skin?Jonathan Knowles - Getty Images

When it comes to beauty, there are some traditional at-home remedies that have been passed down through generations. From using rice water to wash hair to DIY turmeric face masks, at-home beauty remedies should be approached with caution.

One of the most popular kitchen cupboard beauty remedies is coconut oil. Used to hydrate hair, nourish the body, as a mouthwash and even as a make-up remover, there are a myriad of ways to incorporate this wonder oil into your beauty routine. But… should you?

Women's Health spoke with skincare experts Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme and Dr Ewoma Ukeleghe to debunk the myths surrounding coconut oil and skincare. Keep reading for everything you need to know…

What are the skin benefits of using coconut oil?

“Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids, such as lauric acid, which have moisturising properties that can help to hydrate and nourish the skin,” explains medical consultant and founder of Adonia Medical Clinic, Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme. “It also contains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which may be beneficial for those with inflammatory skin conditions.”

Is coconut oil a good moisturiser?

One of the most common ways of using coconut oil on the skin is as a moisturiser – as it's easily absorbed into the skin and can leave your complexion feeling hydrated and nourished. However, skincare experts don't love coconut oil as a skincare ingredient, especially if you have congested or acne-prone skin.

Will using coconut oil on your skin cause breakouts?

“Coconut oil is highly comedogenic,” explains Dr Ukeleghe. This means it has the ability to clog pores “so I would definitely avoid if you are prone to breakouts and black heads as it will likely exacerbate your skin issues,” advises Dr Ukeleghe.

If your skin is acne-prone, avoid using coconut oil on any areas that you suffer from breakouts – such as the face, back and chest.

Is coconut oil suitable for sensitive skin?

“Coconut oil may not be the best choice for those with sensitive skin, as it can be irritating and increase sensitivity in some people,” explains Dr Ejikeme.

Can you use coconut oil on your body?

Okay so perhaps coconut oil isn't the all-encompassing natural skincare saviour we once thought but skin experts suggest that it can be used on the body – especially if you're not acne-prone.

“Coconut oil can be used as moisturiser for dry skin on your arms, legs, and other areas of your body,” says Dr Ejikeme. “I recommend using a formulation that is kept clean and secure, for example I suggest using bottles with a pump rather than a tub as this will stop bacteria getting into it.”

What's the best coconut oil to use on your skin?

While you might be forgiven for thinking that all coconut oils are made equally – this isn't quite true. The best coconut oils are pure and raw formulas, that have been cold-pressed to retain their levels of antioxidants.

Alternatively, try opting for a coconut based body lotion or butter that has been specifically formulated for use on the skin. Our favourites include…

1/ Mario Badescu Coconut Body Butter

Enriched with shea and mango butter, plus apricot, argan, meadow seed foam and rosehip oils, this ultra nourishing and non-greasy conditioning cream delivers long lasting hydration to parched skin.

2/ Cantu Skin Therapy Coconut Oil Hydrating Body Lotion

Blending natural coconut oil with shea butter, cocoa butter and vitamin E this silky body oil is quickly absorbed by the skin – leaving it soft and smooth.

3/ Pacifica Coconut Cream Body Lotion

With a delicious coconut and vanilla scent, this soothing body lotion is also packed with sunflower oil to moisturise, arnica extract and coconut water to relieve inflammation and irritation.

4/ The Body Shop Coconut Body Lotion

100% vegan and made with 93% ingredients of natural origin, this creamy coconut oil lotion melts easily into very dry skin, leaving it feeling instantly soothed and smoother.

5/ Neighbourhood Botanicals The Body Oil

Formulated with ceramide-rich cold-pressed oils, this body oil helps to soften and provide your skin with long lasting protection from moisture loss.

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