Coconut Oil as an Acne Treatment?

Coconut Oil

For every over-the-counter acne treatment product in drugstores and websites, you can find a homemade counterpart that people swear will work. Coconut oil is the latest ingredient that has people excited as many are discovering its natural benefits for both good health and fighting acne.

While oil cleansing is not a new idea, coconut oil for acne has only recently made headlines as many people search for more natural and organic warriors against their breakouts. Best of all, it’s easy to find in stores or online. As with any new remedy there are a host of questions, concerns and conflicting information so let’s sort through some answers to your burning question: does coconut oil help treat acne?

Q: Does Coconut Oil help acne? Can’t I just use any oil? Why does it have to be coconut oil?

A: Other oils such as olive and jojoba have proven to be great skin care products, but coconut oil contains high quantities of both lauric acid and capric acid. These ingredients are antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antimicrobial. That’s a lot of fighting power! Lauric acid is especially effective against the bacteria linked to acne (P. acnes) and it’s also found in breast milk, which means our bodies will recognize it. Plus, those acids are medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which means they are quickly converted to energy that jump starts your cells’ metabolism, lending strength to their detoxifying abilities.

Q: Great! So, I can just go to the store and buy any old coconut oil for acne?

A: Not exactly. It’s important to buy organic, extra virgin coconut oil, which is available at most health food stores or online retailers. The good news is that a large container will last for a long time since coconut oil’s shelf life is eighteen months to two years. A jar of coconut oil starts out solid but warming up the oil in your hands or fingers for a just a few moments will dissolve it into a liquid that you can apply to your face.

Q: I can’t get past the idea of using coconut oil on my face. My skin is already oily so how will this be good for it?

A: Your body produces oil as a natural reaction to fight against dryness. This is a good thing but it can go overboard if you’re drying out your skin by over cleansing or using too much toner. Coconut oil absorbs easily into the skin and tells your body it can calm down on the oil (a.k.a. sebum) production.

Q: This all sounds good but I’m still not convinced.

A: Really? Well, luckily you have options. Ingesting coconut oil has also been found to help fight against acne. It’s no secret that a healthy inside translates to a healthy outside. Coconut oil keeps you balanced by boosting your liver’s ability to get rid of toxins such as excess bacteria and Candida. If these stay in your system they can grow in your intestines and travel through your bloodstream where it can manifest on your skin in the form of acne.

Q: Wait; is this the same coconut oil that people use for cooking?

A: Yes, it is. And the fact that it’s edible should tell you that it’s safe for your body.

Q: Are there any negative side effects of using a coconut oil acne treatment?

A: There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to acne treatment. While some have seen miraculous results with coconut oil, others find that it doesn’t help. Coconut oil is comedogenic, which basically means it can clog pores – the exact opposite of what you want. Whatever oil you use on your face, it’s important to thoroughly wash it away from the pores.

Q: I thought I read somewhere that coconut oil is non-comedogenic. Which is it?

A: According to science, yes, coconut oil is comedogenic and full of fatty acids. In fact, 90% of its fat content is saturated fat, which we’ve all heard is bad for you. But there are a couple of things going on here. The first thing to remember is that there is a significant difference between refined or processed coconut oil and virgin coconut oil with the latter being better for you. Virgin coconut oil is non-comedogenic and the high fat content means it doesn’t oxidize easily. Why does that matter? Because if oil oxidizes it can act as glue to dead skin cells and therefore clog pores. Refined coconut oil often strips away the powerful antimicrobials that could help your skin.

The other explanation is that, like most health and beauty products, it all depends on your DNA and skin type. Some people will react well and others won’t. In most cases, a comedogenic ingredient blocks pores in people who are already susceptible to that in the first place. There’s no guarantee on either side but it is widely believed that the benefits of using coconut oil are numerous and given that coconut oil is a staple in many cultures’ diets and beauty regimens, it’s worth investigating.

Q: Great. Well, now I’m just confused.

A: Understandable. You should approach trying coconut oil as you would any other product for your face. Keep an open mind and use it on a trial basis in moderation to see if it works for you. In fact, testing it on your elbow is a good place to check if you have any allergies or negative reactions to coconut oil. If you’re one of the lucky ones who respond positively to coconut oil as an acne treatment then you’ve found a natural, organic, cost-effective way to combat your acne! If not, there are plenty of other natural oil treatments (e.g., jojoba, tea tree, castor, etc.) or prescription medicines that might be a better fit for you. If you have any negative side effects or reactions to coconut oil then stop using it immediately and consult with your doctor.

Q: OK, I’ll take a chance. What’s the coconut oil acne treatment regimen?

A: Pretty much like any other cleanser. The key is to be gentle. Excessive rubbing could unnecessarily irritate your pores and actually push bacteria deeper into your skin. Also, make sure your hands are clean before you make contact with the coconut oil as bacteria from your fingers and hands could cause a reaction. Gently massage a tiny mount (no more than a dime size) on your face for about 30 seconds. Apply a warm, wet washcloth to your face to open your pores and leave it there for 15-30 seconds so that the oil can be absorbed into your skin. Then remove any excess oil with the washcloth. Whatever you do, do not scrub your face! If there’s still excess oil, splash some warm water on your face and gently pat dry with a towel. You want to get all of the bacteria and dead skin cells that the coconut oil “grabbed” out of your skin.

Remember, coconut oil whether ingested or applied topically should be done in moderation. And only use organic, virgin coconut oil to get the purest version with the most concentrated benefits.