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Is Coconut Oil A Cure All For Your Skin?

One of the more frustrating parts of my job is the amount of time I have to spend correcting misinformation. While your favourite social media stars might have lots of interesting and insightful things to say, they don’t necessarily thoroughly fact check every post they make. They will often spread incorrect or conditionally correct information. This information gets filtered down to men and women like you and me who simply hear that we “have” to be using coconut oil (or whatever) because it’s “really good for your skin.”

The truth is much more complicated. Coconut oil actually has a number of theoretically positive properties that make it quite useful for acne and aging on paper. In practice, however, it is not something you want to put ANYWHERE NEAR your face. I think of it like this: the ingredients in coconut oil might be healthy, but the physical form of the stuff is just not good for your pores.

Let’s talk about the bad first. Dermatologists use a scale of zero to five in order to rate how comedogenic things are, which is a fancy word for how likely they are to make you break out. Coconut oil is rated at a 4. This means that it’s just shy of being one of the worst possible things to put on your face as far as acne is concerned. It can and will cause fresh breakouts of large, stubborn pimples. Acne usually takes 90 days to form in the skin, so even if you were using coconut oil three months ago and stopped just recently, you will still get these pesky breakouts from the clogged pores that have been building up over time.

This is caused by the physical nature of coconut oil. Coconut oil has the interesting property of being a solid at room temperature. Its melting point is 24 C, which is warmer than your house in the winter and well below your body temperature. Even after it melts, coconut oil is still a thick, slimy oil that is difficult to get off of your skin. It’s made up of big particles that cannot penetrate your pores. Instead, it sits on top of your skin and forms a barrier, which prevents your skin from breathing, and functioning normally.

Those of you who are familiar with how acne works probably know where this is going. The film of coconut oil cannot get inside of your pores, but it won’t let things out, either. This means that any skin cells that your body sheds naturally are trapped under the layer of coconut oil. They will mix with your natural oil and form plugs inside your pores, blocking them further. These plug-blocked pores will swell up and become blackheads, whiteheads, inflamed red angry breakouts, or non-inflamed breakouts.

Some people like to use coconut oil or products that have coconut oil in them on the body immediately after a bath or shower, as oil repels water and it creates a barrier over the skin to hold in the moisture and keep you hydrated. If you are acne prone however, make sure there is not a drop of residue on your hands before touching your face, and do not apply it to the hair or scalp as the residue can run down your face and clog your pores.

While coconut oil might have some helpful properties in theory, it’s quite likely to make you break out in practice. If you like a makeup remover or moisturizing product that won’t make you break out and is compatible with your skin type, try enrolling in Essence of L’s Clear Skin Acne Coaching Program for personalized tips and expert advice. Alternately, head on over to the online Glow shop for a wide selection of carefully curated products that have been hand-picked for their safe, effective ingredients. Either way, you will be able to build a healthy, safe skincare routine that won’t make you break out.

Written by Leah LaVanway