Olive oil will always be my favourite oil for cooking (you’re not a real Italian if you don’t use it for everything in the kitchen), but these days, for beauty purposes, I much prefer coconut oil. Although it is not quite the miracle worker many claim it is, it’s one of the most beneficial oils out there. For hair, it’s actually the best.
Before I explain why, let me clarify one thing. When I talk of coconut oil, I mean virgin coconut oil. That’s the type scientists have been studying. Other types probably work similarly, but if you want the full proven benefits of coconut oil, opt for virgin coconut oil.
Now, what’s so good about it?
Coconut oil is a wonderful emollient
Coconut oil is high in saturated fat content. Ok, maybe this wasn’t the best way to start. Isn’t fat always bad? Well, not really. It’s this fat that gives coconut oil its emollient properties. Studies have shown that it is as good as mineral oil at moisturizing skin (although it turns rancid faster). It is also very gentle, which is why it is widely used in products for babies and toddlers.
Coconut Oil has UV protection properties (but DON’T use it as sunscreen!)
I have already talked about this, so I’ll be brief. Coconut oil is being touted as a natural alternative to commercial sunscreens because of its supposed ability to protect skin from UV rays. There is a kernel of truth in this. Coconut oil has some sun protection properties, but only minimal.
A 2010 study has shown that coconut oil has a SPF… of 7! That’s a lot lower than the minimum level of protection recommended by dermatologists, which is 15. So, while coconut oil may help boost the protection properties of your sunscreen, it certainly is no substitute for it, and should never be used as such.
Coconut oil and acne
Coconuts contain between 45-48% Lauric Acid, a fatty acid that has antibacterial properties. A 2009 study has shown that it can kill propionibacterium acne, the bacteria that causes acne.
Does that mean that coconut oil can treat acne? Not so fast. One of its components can, which is not the same thing at all. Coconut oil itself may help, it may not. Further studies need to be carried out before we can say for certain that it is an effective treatment for acne.
We do know, however, that coconut oil is classified as comedogenic. While this doesn’t mean it will clog pores and cause breakouts as soon as it touches your skin, if you have oily skin that’s prone to blemishes, coconut oil may make things worse.
Coconut oil is the best hair oil ever
Enough about skin. What does coconut oil do for hair? A lot. Unlike most oils, coconut oil can penetrate inside the hair shaft, conditioning and nourishing hair from within. It makes it stronger, shinier, and protects it from hydral fatigue.
Hydral fatigue, due to swelling and contraction of the hair during the uptake and loss of water, can damage hair. Coconut oil, by reduces swelling of the hair shaft when wet, limits the damage. That’s why it makes such a great pre-wash treatment. Plus, it also reduce damage while combing.
Does coconut oil has any side effects?
I’ve already mentioned how coconut oil can clog pores and causes breakouts in some people. In others, coconut oil can cause allergies. This is very rare, but can occur. If you experience any negative side effect, discontinue its use immediately.
The Bottom Line
Although coconut oil can’t be used as sunscreen, and it’s unclear how well (if at all) it works for acne, it is one of the best, most effective, and gentler moisturizers for skin and hair.
Do you use coconut oil?