6 Smart Ways to Use Coconut Oil On Your Skin
Plus, tips on choosing the right type of oil
It seems everyone is going nuts for coconut oil. While the jury is still out on its benefits for heart health and weight loss, some experts say it really delivers when it comes to improving, soothing and cleaning our skin.
“Coconut oil is so soothing to the skin because of its light texture and mild fragrance,” says David E. Bank, MD, a dermatologist based in Mt. Kisco, NY, and author of “Beautiful Skin: Every Woman's Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age.” Coconut oil contains saturated fats, as well as medium-chain fatty acids, which help repair skin, he says.
That said, not all coconut oil is equal. Vermén Verallo-Rowell, MD, a dermatologist and author of “Rx: Coconuts! The Perfect Health Nut,” says it’s important to choose organic, unrefined and cold-pressed virgin coconut oil — not the kind usually used for cooking. “Coconut oils that are made for cooking are typically processed with heat and chemicals to refine, bleach and deodorize, which can irritate the skin,” she says.
Check out these six tips for using coconut oil on your skin.
#1: Use it to moisturize.
Composed predominantly of saturated fats, coconut oil helps retain the moisture content of skin and keeps skin all over the body looking healthy and smooth, says Verallo-Rowell. “The natural fatty acids in coconut oil make it an ideal moisturizer for the face and body. It’s ideal for dry skin, and it works to reduce inflammation and irritation without leaving a greasy after-feel,” she says.
#2: Apply it after waxing or shaving.
Coconut oil contains three saturated fatty acids — capric acid, caprylic acid and lauric acid — that have strong disinfectant and antimicrobial properties, according to Verallo-Rowell. That makes coconut oil a great go-to for post-wax or shave. “I’ve even found that applying coconut oil helps to prevent rashes,” says Niecy McCoy, an esthetician at Beauty Bridge in Nutley, New Jersey.
#3: Consider it for eczema.
If you have eczema, a condition that causes skin to become very itchy, dry and inflamed, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Applying coconut oil, which contains natural antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties, can help tame skin inflammation, says Verallo-Rowell.
Related: How to Prevent and Treat Eczema
#4: Use it on dry skin, but not acne-prone skin.
It’s fine to use coconut oil on your face if you have dry skin, says Jill Jodar, a licensed skin therapist in San Francisco. But skip it if you have acne. “I advise against anyone using coconut oil with any acne issues or a tendency to break out,” she says. Coconut oil can clog pores, which can further aggravate acne.
#5: Layer it on for lips.
To relieve or prevent dry, cracked, chapped lips, apply coconut oil to your lips and repeat several times a day to keep them moist, suggests Bank.
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#6: Use it as a makeup remover.
“This light oil is a safe, natural way to clean off makeup,” Bank says. “Plus, it leaves no sticky residue.” Warm a small amount of coconut oil in the palm of your hand, or apply the oil to a cotton pad, and swab your face. Rinse with warm water and you’re good to go. Added bonus: Coconut oil is non-irritating and can be used in the eye area. Apply a small amount to a Q-tip for spot removal, says Verallo-Rowell.