Coconut Oil: Hero, Villain, Or Both?

Coconut and oilIt’s official: coconut oil is the devil. It’s high in saturated fat will kill you faster than your daily steak and eggs  breakfast. Or is it that the oil is the ‘exotic’ superfood more people should eat?

Confused? You’re not alone.

Just as there’s a mountain of research lauding the drupe(one seed fruit) as a disrespected treasure, there’s another mountain that’ll tell you that coconut oil is worse than a Big Mac wrapped in bacon and deep-fried.

Daily, both sides double down on their version of nutritional facts and readers rub their eyes.

As far as whether coconut oil is good or bad for the skin, things seem less complicated but, still, there are at least two sides to that story.

So, who’s right? Or, and this is the scarier question, could each side have a point?

What Does Lauric Acid Have To Do With Coconut Oil?

While scientists parse coconut oil to figure out if its a dietary hero or villain, when it comes to skin care, the focus is on one important component: Lauric acid.

Lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) that’s present in many foods such as cow’s milk and palm kernel oil. It’s the primary fatty acid in this oil, making up about 45-53%.

Lauric acid has shown antimicrobial properties against gram positive bacteria including Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) which causes acne. Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most common acne treatments and helped many overcome the condition.

However, a study showed that lauric acid did a better job of handling P. acnes than benzoyl peroxide. In fact, it completely killed the bacteria! Since lauric acid is a major component of coconut oil, it’s considered a safe therapeutic treatment for acne…but there’s a slight catch.

Which Coconut Oil for Which Skin Type?

Applied topically, coconut oil is known to moisturize skin, fight infection and some will claim that it heals scars because of the vitamin E. That’s not true. The oil doesn’t contain a significant amount of naturally occurring vitamin E. The percentage, which is about 1% or 2%, isn’t enough to reap the benefit of the vitamin’s scar healing properties.

While many will swear by coconut oil’s ability to reduce scarring, it’s more than likely because of the lauric acid, which reduced the inflammation caused by P. acnes.

The hitch in all of this good news is in the type of coconut oil used and the skin type. Acne is usually found in oily skin type, since excess sebum promotes the bacteria growth. But coconut oil, which does contain lauric acid, is comedogenic.

So, when someone with oily skin indiscriminately buys regular coconut oil of the shelf and uses it, they may not reap the benefits. As a result, they’ll figure it doesn’t work. The truth is it’s the information provided that isn’t working.

Here’s The Thing About Buying Coconut Oil For Skin Care

You need to be circumspect. That means reading labels, reviews, and asking questions of the person selling it.

Firstly, what you need to get is virgin coconut oil. That’s the kind that’s non-comedogenic. Secondly, you need to at least look for cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, which isn’t hard to find but you still need to ask. Throughout, you need to check out the company to make sure they’re not just slapping on the prominent terms to gather interest.

To start your jouney, here are a couple of products with good reputation and feedback from customers:

Tropical Traditions Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Moisturizing Cream

Made with virgin coconut and palm oils. No alcohol or petroleum. It’s made from fresh organic coconuts. The texture is firmer than softened butter and it absorbs in the skin pretty quickly. It’s good for oily, acne-prone skin. This moisturizing cream softens skin and lasts even through hand washing.

 

coconut country living cold pressed organic coconut oil - 2pkCoconut Country Living Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil,  Unrefined Cold-Pressed

This product is for cooking as well as hair and skin that’s well-liked and respected.

Customers rave about the smell as well as the way it smooths their lips, hands, and face. Manufactured at a dedicated coconut facility, the risk of nut allergen contamination is minimal.

Liquid Coconut Oil - Healing Ginger Coco Oil
Organic to Green Liquid Coconut Oil Ginger – Healing Coco Oil

In addition to coconut oil, aloe and vitamin E, Organic to Green’s Healing Coco Oil contains ginger, which helps reduce the appearance of scars. Sea Buckthorn helps to heal abrasions, burns, sun damage and more. Cherimoya, a tree native to Central and South America, whose fruit is an anti-inflammatory.
 

The bottom line is that everyone’s skin is different. You may find a product that works well for others but not for you  and that’s expected. When choosing products, you want to read the labels and ask questions, especially of your skin care professional.

Tried these products or others products? Let me know how it went!

 

 

 

Sources:

“Coconut Oil As An Acne Treatment?” Acne.com, 25 May 2017, www.acne.com/effective-products/over-the-counter-products/coconut-oil-acne-treatment/.

“Common Misconceptions about the Nutritional Value of Coconut Oil: Exposing Three Common Myths.” Health Impact News, 24 Jan. 2012, healthimpactnews.com/2011/common-misconceptions-about-the-nutritional-value-of-coconut-oil-exposing-three-common-myths/.
Dayrit, Fabian M. “The Properties of Lauric Acid and Their Significance in Coconut Oil.”SpringerLink, Springer, Dordrecht, 15 Nov. 2014, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11746-014-2562-7.
“Lauric Acid.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Apr. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lauric_acid.

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