13 Benefits of Coconut Oil For Skin Health

The skin is the part of the body that regularly comes in contact with the surroundings. It protects the vital internal organs of the body from pathogens, microbes and harmful substances.

It helps in retaining body fluids by preventing dehydration. Today, everybody yearns for a healthy and youthful skin.

Skin health can be affected by many factors like microbial infections, pollution, UV radiations, exposure to certain chemicals, injury and environment. Regular treatment and care are required to maintain a healthy skin and prevent it from harm.

Coconut oil has multiple health benefits for the skin. It protects and nurtures the skin cells. Coconut oil is obtained from the mature, white flesh of the coconut. It is rich in saturated fats and used for generations for its health benefits.

Coconut oil has this amazing and rather rare property that it is very effective when taken internally as well as when used topically. It has been used for skin care for ages now in tropical regions. There are several examples where coconut oil is considered to be beauty secret, such as that of Polynesian women.

Proven Benefits of Coconut oil for Skin

Coconut oil is toxin free and is readily absorbed in our skin thus providing several benefits to the skin such as anti-aging, soft & smooth skin, fighting infections, healing wounds, protecting from UV rays, help in insect bites, acne, rashes, sunburn, etc.

There are several benefits coconut oil provides to the skin, here are some of the most important ones:

Amazing benefits of coconut oil for skin

1. Coconut oil is a natural anti-microbial agent and can fight common skin infections

Do you know our skin is breeding ground for numerous bacteria, fungus and viruses? Yes, that is correct.

Not all of these microorganisms are harmful, some are essential for our health. You can consider skin as a wall against intruders waiting to enter our body and cause damage.

When we get cuts, bruises etc. they get an opening to do so. That is why it is important to wash your wound and apply anti-septic asap to avoid infections.

Fortunately, mother nature has provided us with a great mechanism to keep these microbes out – pH of our skin. Our skin is acidic in nature which makes it unfavourable for microbes to survive.

Role of sebum – We hear about sebum mostly in the wrong context – cause of acne. But this is not so. Sebum is the oil produced by our body (consisting mainly of triglycerides) which acts as food for lipophilic bacteria (good bacteria) which converts it into free fatty acids which have powerful anti-microbial properties. Sebum also makes your skin soft and smooth by acting as oil.

Various bacteria, fungus, and viruses are known to cause skin infections. Some infections are mild while others pose serious health risks. Examples of skin infections are cellulitis, boils, leprosy (bacterial); chickenpox, warts, measles (viral); athlete’s foot, yeast infections, diaper rash (fungal).

These infections are usually treated with topical application of an anti-microbial agent in the affected area, which can fight of the microbe.

Coconut oil comprises of medium-chain triglycerides and saturated fatty acids like lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid, which have antimicrobial propensities. [1] [2] [3]

In a study mentioned in The Research Journal of Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology, coconut oil was incorporated in a cream base and tested against various skin infection-causing microbes like A. niger, S. aureus. Ps. Aeruginosa, P. vulgaris, B. subtilis and C. albicans.

It was found that active ingredients of coconut oil (mainly monolaurin) that were released from the cream showed antimicrobial activity against these microbes. [4]

Monolaurin is the monoglyceride of lauric acid present in coconut oil.

Research from The Journal of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy proves lauric acid to be the most inhibitory and efficient against microbes, specifically the gram-positive bacteria. [5]

The International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research reports another study where the anti-microbial properties of various edible oils were checked against several microbes like E.coli, Trichophyton rubrum, and C. albicans.

It was inferred that coconut oil showed a significant inhibitory action against these microbes and can be used to treat skin infections. [6]

Candida species (mostly Candida albicans) are known to cause skin infections known as cutaneous candidiasis. It also causes diaper rashes in infants and vaginal yeast infections. [7]

The Journal of Medicinal Food reports a study where the efficacy of coconut oil against various species of Candida was examined. Coconut oil inhibited the growth of various Candida species, and it was proposed that it should be used in the treatment of fungal infections. [8]

In another study, coconut oil showed a strong antifungal activity against the species Candida albicans. [9]

Staphylococcus aureus is yet another bacterium that causes several skin infections, including psoriasis. [10]

What does this mean? Coconut oil can prevent and treat various skin infections caused by microbes.

2. Coconut oil can remedy acne

On the other hand, Propionibacterium acnes causes inflammatory acne among individuals.

The lauric acid present in coconut oil inhibits the activity of both these microbes. [11] [12] [13]

This inhibitory action against the bacterium P. acnes is also demonstrated by Capric acid, another fatty acid found in coconut oil. [14]

Also, solid lipid nanoparticles containing lauric acid and retinoic acid were developed to treat acne vulgaris, which is caused by P.acnes, wherein these fatty acids inhibited the growth of this bacterium. [15]

As the number of drug-resistant microbial species is increasing, coconut oil presents itself as an excellent and highly efficient alternative to antimicrobial drugs.

What does this mean? Coconut oil can prevent and treat infections that cause acne.

3. Coconut oil can reduce skin inflammation and soothes dermatitis

Most skin infections, injuries, and rashes present themselves with inflammation, swelling, and redness. This is due to the body’s immune response to invasion by microbes, pathogens, antigens or other foreign objects.

Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory nature which can help in preventing the swelling, pain, and redness of the skin. [16] [17] [18]

This is due to the presence of various fatty acids like palmitic acid, lauric acid, oleic acid and linoleic acid which have anti-inflammatory action. [19] [20] [21]

These fatty acids inhibit the production of TNF-α (Tumor necrosis factor-α) which is an important mediator of the inflammatory process. [22]

What does this mean? Coconut oil effectively treats and prevents inflammation, swelling, and pain caused by skin infections.

4. Coconut oil moisturizes the skin and benefits in eczema

Skin moisture is retained with the help of amino acids and lipids in the skin, which prevent water loss. Due to environmental factors, these lipids are sometimes lost or decreased, making the skin susceptible to drying.

Moisturizers prevent this by forming a coating on the skin and keeping it hydrated.

Coconut oil acts as an excellent moisturizer. When applied topically to the skin, it helps in retaining moisture and keeps skin healthy.

Coconut oil was also added to skin rejuvenating creams, lotions, and gels, which assisted in maintaining the skin tone, moisture, and smoothness. [23]

Xerosis is a skin condition that results in dry, rough and itchy skin. In a study conducted on 34 patients with xerosis, skin moisturizing effects of coconut oil were tested by topical application for 2 weeks.

Coconut oil improved skin lipid levels and hydration. Also, it was considered perfectly safe for use without any adverse reactions. [24]

In a study from The Journal of Tropical Pediatrics, it was proved that coconut oil massage in infants, twice daily, prevented epidermal water loss and improved the overall skin condition and water balance.

This helped in retaining body fluids and maintaining good health. [25]

Atopic dermatitis is another skin condition in which skin hydration is decreased due to increased epidermal water loss and impaired water holding ability of the skin.

Research published in The International Journal of Dermatology studies the effects of virgin coconut oil on 117 patients with Atopic Dermatitis. It was found that topical application of coconut oil improved the condition and helped with the treatment. [26]

Another study, comparing the effect of virgin coconut oil and virgin olive oil on 26 patients with the same condition, reported the effectiveness of coconut oil in the treatment of the disease. [27]

Coconut oil is a better moisturizer than most creams and lotions because it is more efficient due to its ability to stay longer on the skin. [28]

What does this mean? Coconut oil helps in moisturizing and softening of dry skin caused by various diseases. It also prevents water loss and keeps the skin hydrated.

5. Coconut oil is a natural sunscreen and protects the skin from UV radiations

Exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiations from the sun results in deterioration of the skin condition. It can cause sunburns, wrinkles, cancers, and premature skin aging.

A study published in The Journal of Pharmacognosy Research studies the UV absorbing capacity of various herbal oils.

It was found that coconut oil absorbed a significant amount of UV radiations and had a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of about 8. [29]

In another study, coconut oil was found to block 20% of UV radiations. [30]

This property can be used to formulate sunscreens and lotions containing coconut oil for skin protection.

What does this mean? Coconut oil absorbs a decent amount of UV rays and can protect the skin from its harmful effects.

6. Coconut oil promotes faster dermal wound healing

As skin is constantly exposed to the environment and vulnerable to injuries, it needs to get healed faster to prevent further infections.

Coconut oil helps in maintaining skin integrity and promotes wound treatment.

In a study, the effect of topical application of virgin coconut oil on wound healing was investigated.

Coconut oil healed the wound faster by increasing collagen (structural protein in the skin) synthesis and linking. It also increased the production of fibroblasts, a connective tissue in the skin. [31]

What does this mean? Coconut oil improves skin health by healing the wounds faster.

7. It is gentle on the skin to use

Several chemical-based skin products, creams, and lotions are commercially available, but they pose a serious risk of adverse effects, irritations, and allergies. Skin is a very sensitive organ and therefore, it is important to use skin applications with care.

Coconut oil is considered completely safe for use without causing irritations, discomfort, reactions, and side effects.

Allergies to coconut oil are also very rare. It is easily absorbed by the skin and very effective. [32] [33]

What does this mean? Coconut oil is gentle on the skin without causing allergies and side effects.

8. Coconut oil heals cracked and dry skin

We all are worried about our skin losing moisture very soon, especially in the winter season. Dry skin requires constant nourishment and moisture else it dries up and cracks.

Applying coconut oil is a great remedy for cracked and dry skin because coconut oil is absorbed very well into the skin.

Many find it better than any of the popular and expensive moisturizing creams available in the market.

The way to use coconut oil for dry skin is to keep applying it on the skin in small amounts at regular intervals till your skin condition improves.

Several people apply coconut oil just once and twice and then expect things to improve – this does not happen. You need to apply it regularly as one does with normal creams.

Cracking is a more severe condition as compared to dryness and takes a longer time to heal.

Here you need to apply coconut oil liberally and make sure it sticks to the skin. As this is generally not possible at daytime, use this remedy before going to sleep.

Soak a cotton cloth in coconut oil (it should not drip but should have a good amount of oil in it) and apply it to the affected area and then wrap it with plastic.

Plastic will ensure coconut oil does not stain your bed etc. Repeat it for a few days, you will see great improvement. Apply till condition goes completely.

9. The benefit in Jock Itch

In today’s lifestyle, we damage our protective layer of skin in many ways, one of them is soap. Soap not only washes away harmful microbes by also this layer and goof microbes, making our skin prone to infections.

Fatty acids present in coconut oil help in regaining the skin’s protective layer much faster and thus prevents microbial attacks.

One example of germ-fighting of coconut oil is its benefit in jock itch. Jock itch is caused due to fungal infection on the moist skin. Regular application of coconut oil treats this infection in just a few days.

10. Anti-aging effects

This is one is very important. But before we go into this one needs to understand what causes wrinkles, dull skin etc. at an early age.

One of the key reasons is free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for various diseases and disorders in our body.

Free radicals attack connective tissues of our skin which are responsible for elasticity and smoothness of our skin.

This results in sagging of skin, wrinkles, etc.

What can you do about it? If you take anti-oxidant rich food (rich in Vitamin A, E, and C), it helps in keeping your skin young. Coconut oil is also a great antioxidant and thus helps to maintain young looking skin.

This is not all, there are several other ways coconut oil helps your skin they are:

  • Removing dead skin: Our skin sheds dead cells on a regular basis and new cells take its place. With old age this ability to regenerate new cells decreases and thus our skin becomes dull. Coconut oil helps by removing these dead cells and thus keeping skin young
  • Coconut oil also increases the strength of connective tissues of our skin. This helps in removing wrinkles. Coconut oil acts at a cellular level unlike many other creams which we use which act superficially and their effect is not long lasting.

11. Great massage oil

Coconut is a great massage oil and can be used for full body massage. It helps the skin to remain soft and smooth. Coconut also does not stain too, thus much easier to use. It can be easily mixed with other oils and then used for massaging.

12. Helps in Insect Bites

Coconut oil can be applied to insect bites such as that of mosquitoes, ants, etc.

This decreases burning and itching sensation. Again antimicrobial properties of coconut oil come into the picture.

This is a tried and tested method. Next time you get bitten by an insect rather than jumping to an ointment – try applying coconut oil. You will be surprised by the results.

13. Protects from sunburns

Using coconut oil protects the skin from sunburn. Coconut oil has been used since long in tropical countries as suntan oil. Even today several lotions have coconut oil as an ingredient.

How to apply coconut on skin

While the application of coconut oil on the skin is simple to take care of the following:

  • Do not apply too much of coconut oil at one go. Oil should be applied in small amounts (the amount which your skin can absorb) but often rather than too much and seldom.
  • For benefits to show, you need to use coconut oil regularly.
  • You can apply it before sleep or as a massage oil or just before leaving into the sun

Which coconut oil to use on skin

There are several types of coconut oil available in the market today (Read: Types of Coconut Oil). Which one to use?

We strongly recommend virgin coconut oil.

If you find it expensive, you can make it at your own home easily (read here to know more). Virgin coconut oil can provide full benefits of a coconut oil which a refined oil cannot.

Also, we would suggest getting your virgin coconut oil from a trusted brand or vendor. As “virgin coconut” oil is not a standard term, different producers can name their oil like virgin coconut oil while they actually may not be fully pure, make sure you take care of this.

Coconut Oil based Deodorant

The basic coconut oil deo can be made using the following –

  • 1 cup of virgin coconut oil. This is very important do not use RBD coconut oil for making this, results will not be good.
  • 3/4 cups of baking soda
  • 3/4 cups shea butter (Shea butter is a slightly yellowish or ivory-colored fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree. It is widely used in cosmetic industry.)
  • 1 cup cornstarch

The making process is very easy, just heat (low temp.) butter and coconut oil and melt them, if they are already in the liquid state you do not need to heat it, just add other ingredients.

The aim is to mix all of them very very smoothly so that when you apply it you get a nice feeling.

You can add more cornstarch and baking soda if you feel that the mixture is not thick enough. It should be of decent thickness to hold nicely.

This one lasted for 8-10 months! as you do not need to apply it daily!

Coconut deodorant with essential oils

The main difference between my first one and this is the use of some essential oils.

Essential oils not only add mild fragrance to the deo but also have their own great health benefits. Here the ones you can use –

  • Tea tree oil : Known to be great for various skin disorders such as acne, warts, insect bites, rashes, itching, etc. Precaution: Tea tree oil may not suit everyone, thus make sure you do a patch test before using it extensively in your deodorant.
  • Lavender essential oil : Lavender essential oil has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties just like coconut oil. It is known to be great for various skin disorders such as eczema, itching, cuts, acne, wrinkles, etc. Precautions : Lavender essential may also cause irritation if your skin is sensitive, please do a prior patch test.
  • Rose essential oil : I love the fragrance of this one. It also have several skin benefits.

You can use any other essential too. Depends upon the fragrance you like and what all benefits that essential oil can add to your deodorant.

Essential oil is added after the mixture of all other ingredients is ready. So there is just one change in the actual process – adding essential oils.

Storing coconut oil deodorant

Coconut oil deodorant cannot be used as a spray.

It has to applied like a cream or like a roll on deodorant over the skin. But this is not a big deal at all.

Here are two great ways to store your coconut oil deodorant:

  • The key thing here is to ensure you are able to take out the deodorant easily. I found that moisturizing cream packs which have a wide mouth and low height are best suited for this job. You just take out the deodorant as you take out the cream. This is the way I store my deodorant
  • Deodorant containers can also be used. If you have these, remove the previous deodorant (if any)and then put your new coconut oil deodorant in them.

You can also find your convenient way to store your deodorant. Always put the can / bottle in refrigerator else it may melt!

How to apply your coconut oil deodorant

Based on the way you stored your coconut deodorant you may have to apply it like a cream or a roll on deodorant. Use the method you feel convenient.

I generally apply it after taking bath. Coconut oil in deodorant also replenishes the fatty acids we loose when we wask our body. These are essential for the health of our skin.

Coconut oil deo also helps in this, just amazing!

Possible issues

Here are some of the issues you may face initially while using the deodorant:

  • Skin rashes / redness in armpits: Armpit skin is sensitive and thus these problems may occur. This may be because of the essential oil or the baking soda used. Try to change your essential oil and if does not work reduce baking soda quality a bit.
  • This is not anti-sweat deodorant and thus do not expect it to stop your sweat. Based on the research I have done one should not stop the body from sweating anyways. What you should try to control is sweat odour and infections.
  • Initial odour issues : If you have been using commercial deos for long your body may take sometime to adjust this and during that some people may face odour issues, but it should go away in a week’s time

If you are using coconut oil deodorant share your experiences with all other readers !

Bottomline

Coconut oil is extremely beneficial for maintaining skin health. It helps in preventing skin infections caused by various bacteria, fungus, and viruses.

It prevents skin inflammation and also moisturizes the skin. It promotes faster skin repair and protects it from harmful effects of UV rays.

It is also completely safe to use and causes no side effects. It can be easily incorporated in creams, lotions, and soaps or used as such for healthy skin.

Do you use coconut oil for skin? If yes share your experience with us here!

3 Comments

  1. Coconut oil is one of the best you can use for your skin. Expensive creams and lotions are useless. Coconut oil can changes your skin from inside and in long term very good for health. Keshav any specific remedies for eczema ?

  2. @3d0de93c1654d25743c1ad031bfe46bd:disqus I agree with you. I will get back on how coconut oil can help in eczema soon. @271465859af3279036a727a7f7711b4f:disqus yes it does help in fading scars, even the stubborn ones, one needs to keep patience though while using it

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