Coconut oil has crept into beauty routines and with World Coconut Day (2nd September 2020) upon us, we ask a dermatologist whether it’s safe to use on the skin or should it stay put in happy hour.
Tomorrow marks World Coconut Day, and there are plenty of reasons to celebrate the humble fruit (botanically speaking, it’s actually a drupe). They smell great in candles and are equally delicious in a Piña Colada.
But do they have a place in skincare? One quick Google search will return thousands of results detailing how to include coconut oil in beauty routines. People use coconut oil as a hair mask, makeup remover and body moisturiser. It is also listed for use in oil pulling; the ancient Ayurvedic practise of swishing oil in the mouth to help with bad breath.
Dermal therapists and dermatologists are well acquainted with DIY beauty treatments using pantry items that wreak havoc on the skin, and it feels like isolation exacerbated this trend. Read, rashes and irritation galore. So we are going to demystify this question once and for all, is it safe to use coconut oil on the skin?
Dermatologist Cara McDonald says coconut oil is generally safe to use on the skin, but there are some variables to how effective it will be for individuals.
“Allergy and irritation rarely occur from pure coconut oil. Coconut oil may cause breakouts in some people with acne-prone skin,” McDonald said.
Coconut oil is comedogenic and has a rating of four on the comedogenic scale. To put this into context, it’s the second-highest rating for an ingredient or product. While coconut oil is high in lauric acid, a soothing saturated fatty acid with antimicrobial properties, it is likely to clog pores in people with acne-prone skin. There are alternative natural oils such as jojoba that are nourishing with a lower comedogenic rating.
McDonald says coconut oil by-products could cause an allergic reaction in some patients.
“Allergy may be caused by an extract, coconut oil acid, known as coconut diethanolamide, which is commonly used in foaming skincare products. Beware of reactions other ingredients in ‘coconut’ skincare products such as preservatives and fragrances, which are not caused by the coconut oil itself,” she adds.
There we go. We have debunked that myth. Happy World Coconut Day!