Let’s talk about coconut oil, often referred to as CO for short. It’s being hailed on every corner and in practically every conversation as the modern day equivalent to sliced bread. It’s praises as a beauty must-have are being sung in blog articles, on social media forums and memes everywhere. CO is said to be packed with nutrition and moisturizing abilities. Everyone knows if it’s good to eat, it’s good to wear, right? It’s easy to find, easy to use and easy to pronounce and spell. And of course, it’s cheap in comparison to finished product with multiple ingredients. Everyone loves inexpensive, right? Everywhere you look, coconut oil is billed as some sort of end-all-of-all-cure-all for absolutely everything, making it widely sought after. Many think they want it, need it, must have it because it fixes everything. It’s the miracle we’ve all been waiting for. Yes? Well, let’s just look at that for a moment.
First, let’s look at what coconut oil is. CO comes from coconuts and is comprised of over 90% saturated fatty acids. There are actually several forms of coconut oil. The one most people are familiar with is coconut oil 76, which is a semi-hard oil that’s solid at temperatures below 76 degrees and is non-hydrogenated. Next is coconut oil 92, which is hydrogenated and melts at 92 degrees and above. Both carry the INCI of “Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil“. For Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, there is the sub-set of virgin CO, unrefined CO and refined CO. Virgin coconut oil is made from coconut milk. Unrefined and refined are both made from “copra” or dried coconut meal. Then there’s fractionated coconut oil (FCO), which is used often in aromatherapy as a carrier oil and in massage oils. FCO is “fractionated” by dividing the fatty acids to leave us with the triglycerides known as caprylic and capric acids. This produces an oil that remains liquid at all times regardless of temperature. It carries the INCI of “Caprylic/Capric Triglyciride(s)“. You can read to learn more here.
Although it’s said to be the absolute best oil for skin and hair, there are a number of issues with coconut oil and its benefits or lack thereof for skin and hair health. Now this is just my professional and personal opinion based on the research I’ve done. So hear me out before you shut off the message because you may learn something. Here’s what I have determined based on facts, not blogs and bragging. Unless you are looking at soap, there is little to no substantial need or benefit to using copious amounts of coconut oil in skin care products or for skin care needs. I’m talking about real soap made with oils and lye and a chemical process called “saponification”, not detergent based cleansers. In soap making, CO is used to produce lather and a harder soap bar. This is needed, desired and beneficial for soap. But overall, there is no reason or benefit to using coconut oil alone or in large amounts for cosmetics or as a stand alone hair and skin care option. There really is no miracle here. Trust me on this.
Now, I’m not saying coconut oil has no benefit at all. Just that it doesn’t offer as much as folks may think and especially not when used in huge amounts or by itself. I DON’T use regular coconut oil 76 or 92 in our skin care products for a number of reasons which I’ll get to in a few. I do sometimes use fractionated coconut oil, for our personal aromatherapy needs and also for perfumery. When asked, I tell people at max, 10% to 20% in a formula is more than enough to offer the benefits coconut oil 76 or 92 do offer, while reducing the risks any of the following counter-productive issues.
- If you follow and believe comedogenic ratings, coconut oil has a rating of 4 on the comedogenic scale. This means it can clog pores and do so very quickly, leading to inflammation, irritation, blackheads and breakouts. Ain’t nobody got time for that, right?
- It has a definite drying effect on the skin when used in high percentages due to its chemical composition, how it absorbs and the message it sends to the skin and sebum production system. This is counter-productive in the quest for healthy, hydrated skin. Remember, hydration comes from water/moisture, not oil.
- It has shown repeatedly to have an adverse effect on skin troubled with eczema, psoriasis, rashes and more. Coconut oil can (read that as usually will) produce the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. Yes, it makes the problem worse and may cause additional problems. How many are slathering on coconut oil regularly and repeatedly in an attempt to soothe the inflammation and irritation of these medical conditions only to be left with more of the same? If Facebook is any indication, thousands are doing this while they wonder why it’s not working.
- The chemical composition and molecular chains are such that coconut oil doesn’t provide even remotely near the health benefits to skin or hair that many of the bloggers and companies which sell it would have you believe. In comparison to fixed oils such as avocado, olive, grape seed or more exotic oils such as tamanu, borage or pumpkin seed, coconut oil has little to offer. As an additive with other oils to make an oil blend, it can be enhanced but alone….I’m just not impressed.
So these are just a few of the issues with coconut oil and why it’s not the natural miracle it’s touted as being. All of these are reasons why I choose more skin friendly fixed oils that are richer and higher nourishment contributors for Neos Skin Care™ products. Truthfully, I may add coconut oil to a skin care product or two at some point for one reason or another. But for now, I opt for better oils with higher benefits and attributes which have solid track records backed by science and chemistry instead of hype and anecdotal testimonies or company marketing campaigns and blogger articles promoting for views and profit through affiliations.
While I’m on the subject, please use your cognitive critical thinking when you read or see all these too good to be true claims. Because they are too good to be true. Applying an oil, herb, or any other ingredient on the skin is not going to get the attributes from that ingredient inside your internal body. Yes, I have seen this said. Study the function of the skin. It’s an intricately designed defense barrier to keep stuff out of the body, not a doorway to let it in. Our mouth and nose are the doorways into the internal body along with the vagina and the anus for some areas of the body. Simple anatomy and biological function, y’all.
In addition, because of public demand, coconut oil has significantly increased in price over the last 5-10 years. Supply and demand drives prices up. Think about this. Can the supply be sustained with the demand we see now? I don’t know if nature can continue to support or sustain the wide use and demand for coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut water, coconut flour and the variety of coconut-derived products we are currently seeing. That’s a huge factor for me not only from an ecological standpoint but I live me some coconut pie or cake. I might just not be so nice if I had to say good-bye to those forever.
So the next time you are told “use coconut oil for….”, Please just say NO To CO until you take the time to really research and learn why this advice may be more misinformed trend than solid solution for YOUR need. I can almost 100% guarantee you will find a better option that will produce better results.
Until next time….enjoy the Ahhh moments and be the belle you always wanted to be!