There was a time when I tried to get super clean with my diet and skin and body products. This was the time when I only used coconut oil on my face for like…at least a couple of months straight.
It wasn’t good (for me). I wasn’t in a great place emotionally either, though. I was stressed and having some existential anxiety- and this could have definitely played a part in my skin’s condition. As a matter of fact, I just learned today that your gut microbiome is linked to your emotional state. Dr. Will Bulsiewicz stated on the Rich Roll podcast that often, you have to address emotional issues to restore gut health, and that trauma from abuse and other psychological stressors is a definite factor in the dysfunction of gut health (and thus the collective health of the body). The reason this pertains to the skin is that the skin and gut are also very closely connected. Many skin issues are directly linked to the health of the gut. So yeah, maybe coconut oil isn’t totally to blame. But here’s some more thoughts:
Coconut oil is composed of the fatty acids, caprylic acid C -8:0 (8%), capric acid, C-10:0,(7%), lauric acid C-12:0, (49%), myristic acid C-14:0(8%), palmitic acid C-16:0 (8%), stearic acid C-18:0 (2%), oleic acid C-18:1 (6%) and 2% of C-18:2 linoleic acid. It’s anti-fugal and antimicrobial and the antimicrobial properties are from the high lauric acid content (about 49%) which is said to be effective as a treatment for acne. The lauric acid works to kill the bacteria that can cause breakouts and has been proven to stop bacterial growth over 15 times better than benzoyl peroxide (per The Journal of Investigative Dermatology). Another study found that lauric acid was highly effective at blocking the growth of bacteria (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC444260/). This sounds as though it could indeed be helpful for combating acne that has a bacterial component, which a lot of acne conditions do have. On the other hand, sometimes acne is caused initially by congestion in the pore (due to poor exfoliation and hydration) and the bacteria is a secondary issue. So, the lauric acid content of coconut oil could be helpful, but…
The problem is: coconut oil is also comedogenic- rating a 4 on the comedogenicity scale. A 4 wouldn’t be so bad if the scale went to 10, but it only goes to 5 so, that means it’s pretty dang pore clogging. It’s kind of a crapshoot as to whether or not it will help with acne because the drawbacks (comedogenicity of #4) could cancel out the benefits (all that anti-bacterial/antifungal goodness). The only way to know for sure is to give it a try for yourself. But…
There is also the issue when using single oils on the skin- of using an oil that doesn’t have a properly balanced fatty acid for the skin. That’s one reason why jojoba oil is a favorite of so many oil users; it’s a safe bet. Since it’s so close to the oils the skin naturally produces, you can assume that it will be well tolerated by the skin. On the comedogenicity scale (at least one of them) it rates between 0-2 for clogging pores, which is not too bad (and definitely not a 4).
Different oils have different ratios of essential fatty acids and the ratios need to be taken into consideration because oils with a higher linoleic acid to oleic acid ratio have better barrier repair potential, whereas oils with higher amounts of oleic acid, while often beneficial for dryer skin types, may be detrimental to skin-barrier function overall. Coconut oil may not be the best choice by itself simple because it only has 2% of the skin barrier loving linoleic acid, which could be why my skin didn’t seem very healthy when I used only coconut oil (temporary emotional issues aside). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28707186/
Confusing though, right? And that’s why sometimes it’s good to give different skincare products a try based on a) what skin types a product is recommended for and b) a really good, educated guess based on the ingredients (and the information you can learn about ingredients) that it might be a good fit for your skin. Experimentation is a good thing as long as you know when to quit (like if you aren’t experiencing positive results).
So that’s it…that’s as deep as this dive is going, because any topic under the sun is bound to end up VAST. And for this topic, we don’t need vast, we just need a little info (because fixed oils/carrier oils/edible oils) are pretty safe. We just need enough information to decide whether or not we want to go on a little coconut oil excursion and also a little insight into how coconut oil maybe isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Photo credit: Tijana DrndarskiTijana Drndarski@izgubljenausvemiruFollow@izgubljenausvemiru