Coconut oil has been a staple since our grandparents days for multitude of things. Coconut oil is a fat extracted from raw coconuts or dried coconut flakes and kernels. It has a long shelf life and a number of health benefits. Research has suggested that coconut oil is something just what our skin needs. Its benefits include reducing inflammation, reducing the damage caused by free radicals and helping to prevent infection. It acts as a natural moisturiser, especially for the face. Coconut oil gently works for sensitive areas like those under the eyes and lips.
There are three main types of coconut oil – unrefined, refined and liquid. Liquid coconut oils are mainly used for cooking. The quality of commercially manufactured coconut oils varies. Some oils are extremely refined and processed using chemical processes. These may not be ideal to be used on skin and may not render the expected benefits.
Unrefined coconut oil which is made by pressing the edible flesh of the coconut and is free from chemicals, is best for skin care. Out of different methods of coconut oil extraction, cold-pressing technique contained more of fatty acids and compounds that are beneficial for the skin.
Choosing the best one
While choosing a good type of oil to apply on the face, it is best to look for organic coconut oils labeled as unrefined, virgin or extra virgin. The cold pressed coconut oil is the one in which high grade cold-centrifuged process (no heating) is used. This ensures the oil to be 100% raw and in its purest form. This helps to retain all of the oil’s natural healing properties and antioxidants, making it a great choice for a dry, irritated and inflamed skin.
It is a good replacement to be used as a night cream. People who have oily or combination skin, can try as a spot treatment under eyes or some dry skin patches. To get an extra luxurious feel, some people prefer whipping or whisking the oil which gives it a frothy texture. Adding essential oils, tea tree oil and Vitamin E drops has skin nourishing properties.
Benefits of using coconut oil on the face
Coconut oil contains nourishing fatty acids that help hydrate and protect skin. These include linoleic acid, an unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid which helps skin retain its natural moisture and soothes the skin, and lauric acid, which has anti-bacterial properties, reduce redness and even out skin tones. Coconut oil is best suited for dry and flaky skin. It works even better than a moisturizer, softening and hydrating the skin, giving it a very refreshing look.
- Increases hydration : Coconut oil helps strengthen and support the skin’s protective barrier layer, trapping moisture inside and keeping the skin supple. It give the skin more glow and radiance. It can be used as a whole body moisturizer as well as a face moisturizer. It is great at repairing an restoring skin damage as it is rapidly absorbed into the epidermis. One of the other way to use coconut oil is before and after shaving the legs. Its skin soothing properties make the legs look hydrated and not greasy
- Reduces inflammation : Coconut oil has known to have anti-inflammatory properties, ideal for irritated and sensitive skin. A recent study showed that virgin coconut oil can soothe eczema (cluster of skin issues that lead to red, itchy and swollen patches on skin), better than any other mineral oil. It helps in relieving the itching when applied to affected areas. Coconut oil can help in restoring the skin’s natural pH, thus leaving it smooth and free from inflammation
- Increases collagen production : The lauric acid in coconut oil has a beneficial effect on collagen production. Collagen is a vital skin nutrient that helps to maintain firmness and elasticity of the skin tissue. By promoting collagen production, it helps in eliminating fine lines and wrinkles, and play an important role in wound healing.
- Exfoliator : It also helps in exfoliating the outer layer of dead skin cells, making the skin smooth and soft. As the skin on the body is generally thicker and has less oil glands as that on the face, one may notice that the skin is more tolerant when coconut oil is used as the base of a body exfoliator. It makes for a great foot scrub particularly since coconut oil has anti-fungal properties and can be used as a home remedy to treat foot infections like athlete’s foot.
- Anti-bacterial : It’s anti-bacterial properties aid in being a helpful medium for killing bacteria in skin and reducing inflammation. One of the study done on coconut oil showed that placing virgin coconut oil on people having atopic dermatitis saw a dramatic decrease in bacteria on the skin. Coconut oil is also a safe measure to try for psoriasis infected skin (autoimmune disorder that causes skin cells to build up and cause rough, itchy and scaly skin)
- Lightens dark patches : According to experts in the field, coconut oil helps to lighten skin and may aid in reducing the appearance of dark spots or uneven skin tone
- Under eye cream : It is suggested that dabbing coconut oil on undereye bags and fine lines helps to get rid of dark circles. When absorbed into the skin and connective tissues, coconut oil helps in reducing the appearance of age lines by keeping the connective tissues strong and supple. The antioxidants are great for smoothing fine lines and wrinkles
- Cleanser : Because of its detergent effect, some people use coconut oil to remove make up. This works even for the stubborn eye make-up and foundation, because of coconut oil’s cleansing properties
- Massage oil : Slightly warm coconut oil with a few drops of essential oils makes a great soothing massage mix and leaves the skin supple and soft as it is slippery, skin friendly and moisturizing. The exotic coconut scent helps the senses to relax
- Acne treatment : Although coconut oil is can clog pores, considerable research has shown that it might actually help in treating acne. As coconut oil and its components may help in reducing inflammation, have antibacterial properties, this can help to reduce acne. For best results, it should be applied directly to the skin in areas where acne is found.
Other benefits include- breath freshener and remedy for hair lice for other parts of the body.
As listed above, coconut oil has many benefits. But it does not work well for everyone, especially in people with oily skin as it is known to be comedogenic – it can clog pores, which can make matters worse for people with oily. As everyone has a different skin, everyone will respond to this oil differently. To give it a try, one can try applying coconut oil to just one part of the face or trying it as a make-up remover first. If the results are satisfying, one can keep using it more.
Using coconut oil as an overnight moisturizer is worthwhile for people who have dry, flaky and chafed skin. It is linked to some potential benefits for skin including reducing inflammation and wound healing. It is easily available and relatively inexpensive as compared to the commercial moisturizers. It is also important to understand that processed forms of coconut oil can be loaded with chemicals and contaminants which can do more harm than good. Hence, selecting a good, authentic, purified , cold-pressed liquid coconut oil could be a good idea. Consulting with a dermatologist is recommended if one has very oily and highly sensitive skin.