Spotlight On Coconut Oil

spotlight oin coconut oil

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 sunscreen

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 skin hair benefits

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?

Know Your Ingredients: Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE)

Dimethylaminoethanol

What it is
Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) is an amino alcohol that naturally occurs in fish.

What it does
Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) can increase the thickness of the skin. This helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Side effects
We don’t know how Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) works yet. There is some research that hints its thickening properties are a result of the skin cell death and the reduction in the proliferation of fibroblasts (the cells that make collagen) it causes. When skin is damaged, it thickens.

(Sources: British Journal of Dermatology, March 2007)

What Are The Best Ingredients For Oily Skin?

best ingredients for oily skin

Excess oil, clogged pores, acne… oily skin can be a nightmare to deal with! But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many ingredients that can help alleviate its symptoms and keep excessive oil production, with all its nasty consequences, under control.

But what are they? How do they help exactly? And where can you find them? Read on to find out:

philosophy clear days ahead toner moisturizer

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid, part of the beta hydroxy acid (BHA) family, is by far my favourite ingredient for oily skin. Derived from the bark of the willow tree, this ingredient is able to penetrate deep inside the pores, removing all the sebum, dead cell, and other gunk that’s clogging them.

It can also exfoliate the surface of the skin by dissolving the “glue” that holds skin cells together. This dual exfoliating action prevents and remove blemishes, blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples, while, at the same time, reducing signs of premature ageing, such as roughness, wrinkles, and dark spots. Like that weren’t enough, it also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help treat acne.

Now, for the bad part. Salicylic acid, like all exfoliants, increases skin sensitivity to the sun. So it should always be used with sunscreen. Even then, salicylic acid is not for everyone. If you have a zinc deficiency or are allergic to salicylates (including aspirin), you should stay away from salicylic acid. Pregnant or nursing women should instead consult their doctor before using any product with this ingredient.

Best picks: Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Lotion and Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Oil-free Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment & Moisturizer

md formulations moisture defense antioxidant hydrating gel

Hyaluronic Acid & Glycerin

In an effort to remove excess oil, we can often go too far and dry out our skin. When this happens, skin reacts by producing even more oil! That’s the last thing you need.

To help skin stay hydrated, you need to trap water into the skin. This is usually done by adding oils to moisturizers. Once on the skin, they create a protective barrier that prevents water from evaporating.

But oil-based moisturizers are often way too greasy for oily skin. Enter humectants. These ingredients are capable of attracting water from the environment into the skin, hydrating it without the need to use oils.

The most famous humectants are Glycerin and Hylauronic Acid and its close derivative Sodium Hyaluronate. Hyaluronic Acid and Sodium Hyaluronate are particularly effective because they can bind 1000 times their weight in water and work well both in high and low humidity conditions.

Best picks: MD Formulations Moisture Defense Antioxidant Hydrating Gel, Olay Regenerist Regenerating Lotion with Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50, and Paula’s Choice Skincare Hydralight Moisture-Infusing Lotion

paula's choice skin balancing oil absorbing mask

Oil-absorbers

Although I don’t believe that primers and maks are a must, when they contain oil-absorbing ingredients they can certainly be very useful for oily skinned girls. They help to keep sebum production and shine under control during the day, so you won’t have to blot excess oil away with absorbing sheets and retouch your makeup so often.

My favourite oil-absorbers are kaolin and bentonite, two types of clay commonly found in masks. Silica, magnesium aluminum silicate, and sulfur also help keep excess oil at bay. At first, you will probably need to use them daily but, as you start getting your oily skin under control, an oil-absorbing mask once or twice a week should be enough.

Best picks: Marcelle Hydra-C Ultra-Light Mattifying Fluid and Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Oil-Absorbing Mask

proactiv pore targeting treatment

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide is one of the most powerful weapons in an oily skinned girl’s arsenal. As such, it must be used carefully, sparingly, and strategically.

Benzoyl Peroxide has a peeling action that can keep pores clean, and thus heal and prevent breakouts. It can also kill P. Acnes, the bacteria that causes acne. And, best of all, bacteria don’t seem to develop a resistance to it.

Unfortunately, Benzoyl Peroxide is quite harsh and can cause dryness and irritations. It can also generate free radicals, which are one of the main causes of premature ageing. But at least this can be easily countered by applying a serum or moisturizer chockfull of antioxidants afterwards.

Even so, whenever possible, it is best to use Benzoyl Peroxide only as a spot treatment. Only when your acne isn’t responding to other treatments, you should consider using it all over the face.

Best picks: Paula’s Choice Clear Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide and Proactive & Proactiv+ Pore Targeting Treatment

Do you have oily skin? Which ingredients are you using to deal with it? What’s working well for you?