This my sound weird to you but… I LOVE coconut oil for my hair, not so much for my skin.
My hair soaks it up until it gets all soft and shiny but my skin… well, the two just don’t get along that well. Using it as sunscreen, as the natural crew recommends, is totally out of the question.
So what should you use it for? Here’s everything you need to know about coconut oil and how to use it in your beauty routine:
What Is Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is an oil derived from the kernel or meat of mature coconuts. It is high in saturated fats, like lauric, myristic and palmitic. These fats make sure coconut oil oxidizes (i.e. goes bad) slowly.
The type you want to use for beauty is virgin coconut oil. It’s the purest.
Is Coconut Oil The Best Moisturiser For Dry Skin?
You know how I just told you that coconut oil is fatty? Believe it or not, all that fat is good for your skin. It’s what makes coconut oil so incredibly moisturizing.
Studies show it’s as good as mineral oil at moisturizing skin. It’s also very gentle, so babies can use it too.
This makes it a godsend for dry, sensitive skin. But if yours is oily or combo like mine, it may be too moisturising for you. And you know what happens when you use something too rich for your skin type… You may end up getting pimples. 🙁
Related: The Best Skincare Routine For Dry Skin
Struggling to put together a skincare routine that banishes dryness and makes your skin supple and dewy? Download your FREE “Best Skincare Routine For Dry Skin” to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):
Is Coconut Oil A Natural Alternative To Sunscreen?
Coconut oil is NOT a sunscreen. I repeat, coconut oil is NOT a sunscreen.
I don’t care if the natural brigade says otherwise. Don’t fall for their nonsense about how coconut oil is a safer alternative to sunscreens.
A 2010 study showed that coconut oil has a SPF… of 7! 7 ladies! That’s half the amount recommended by derms (SPF 15). How is that supposed to keep you safe?!
A lot of people are fooled into thinking coconut oil is an effective sunscreen because they can stay in the sun without burning. But that means nothing.
You need to stay under the sun for a certain period of time to burn. If you stay less, you won’t get a sunburn and coconut oil has nothing to do with it.
Besides, sunburns are just one symptom of sun damage. What about wrinkles, sun spots and cancer? Using coconut oil as sunscreen is just asking for trouble. Don’t do it!
Related: Is Coconut Oil An Effective Alternative To Sunscreen?
Coconut Oil & Acne: Cause Or Cure?
This is where things get tricky.
Coconuts contain between 45-48% lauric acid, a fatty acid with antibacterial properties. A 2009 study shows this acid can kill propionibacterium acne, the bacteria that causes acne.
So it naturally follows that coconut oil can treat acne, right? Not so fast.
Lauric acid is part of coconut oil. It’s NOT coconut oil. There may be something else in coconut oil that stops coconut oil from treating acne… or even causes it!
Coconut is classified as comedogenic, after all. Now, that doesn’t mean it’ll make you erupt in pimples, either. Whether something gives you pimples or not also depends on your skin type, the amount used etc…
But if you have oily, acne-prone skin, this is an oil you may want to avoid…
Related: What Ingredients Are Comedogenic?
Is Coconut Oil Is The Best Hair Oil Ever?
Enough about skin. Let’s talk about hair now.
Coconut oil is one of the very few oils that can penetrate inside the hair shaft, strengthening and nourishing your hair from within. It makes it stronger, shinier, and protects it from hydral fatigue.
Hydral fatigue happens when you wash your hair. Your hair absorbs water, swelling it up. Then as it dries, it loses water again. All this swelling isn’t good for hair. It makes it weak and prone to breakage.
Enter coconut oil. It prevents hair from absorbing too much water, limiting the damage. That’s why it makes such a great pre-wash treatment.
Related: Oil Pre-Shampoo: Why It Works And How To Do It
Does Coconut Oil Has Any Side Effects?
I’ve already mentioned coconut oil can clog pores and cause breakouts in some people.
There’s more. In rare cases, coconut oil can cause allergies. If that happens to you, stop using it immediately.
The Bottom Line
Coconut oil is the best oil for hair, a wonderful moisturizer for dry skin and a crappy sunscreen. Use it carefully!
I can’t live without my Olive Oil either!
Annette, it’s wonderful, isn’t it? It makes anything taste better and can be used for so many DIY beauty recipes.
Would love to know if there is a coconut oil product you’d recommend for the hair?
Rachel, thanks. I just use plain virgin coconut oil. It’s the best for hair. Other hair products with coconut oil usually only contain very little of it, so they aren’t really worth the money.
I do use coconut oil, but oddly enough, it is not hydrating enough for my dry skin. I use it in cooking, to remove makeup sometimes and hydrate my eyelashes, and on my nails. And during the holidays when I used the permanent false lash glue by mistake, it was the only thing that helped me get the lashes off!
Allison, it’s so versatile isn’t it? Glad you’ve found so many other uses for it.
I loooove coconut oil and I use it mainly as a pre-shampoo hair mask and to remove the bulk of my makeup, it works great! I’ve even done a post about the top 20 uses of coconut oil 😉 x
Stavroula, it is so versatile, isn’t it? I love using it as a pre-shampoo treatment too. It’s amazing.
Does coconut oil work as a good thermal protectant? I am wondering about using coconut oil before I use a hair dryer or curling/flat iron on my hair.
Does olive oil work as a good thermal protectant?
For some reason I’ve started to develop chemical sensitivities and am struggling to find hair products so I am trying to use ‘food’ products that I know I am not allergic to or have any dermatitis from using. Olive oil is always safe for me. Coconut oil isn’t one I’ve tried before though.
SP, yes both coconut oil and olive oil are amazing for hair. Coconut oil penetrates the hair shaft better than other oils so it doesn’t only protect it from heat, it also strengthens it from within. I highly recommend it.
Coconut breaks me out. I have combo skin and also a fragrance allergy. In fact, all plant oils break me out, and I think there must be an allergic component to even non-fragrant oils. My skin likes conventional products. But coconut oil does work well on my hair!
Sherry, maybe it’s the fatty acid content that breaks you out? All oils have them, in different proportions. And I agree, coconut oil is awesome for hair.