Beauty Benefits of Coconut Oil: Is It Worth the Hype?

Coconut oil might not be the miracle product we wish it was, but it still deserves plenty of hype.

Coconut oil is one of those products that many people swear by. It’s right up there with apple cider vinegar and aloe.

To be honest, there is a lot of hype around this sweet-smelling oil. A lot. But is it really the miraculous cure-all that we’ve been led to believe? At this point, it’s starting to sound like this oil could cure skin conditions, reverse cavities, and perhaps file my taxes for me.

Does it really live up to all that hype? Well, let’s take a look at what it can do – and what it can’t. (And no, it can’t do your taxes for you.)

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What is Coconut Oil Really Capable Of?

woman holding a jar of coconut oil

It’s no longer just the crunchy mom group that’s trying to sell me on the power of this particular oil. These days, it seems like the stuff is popping up just about everywhere, from boutique all-natural products to mass-produced items from big brands. I can’t even count how many friends of mine just use it straight from the jar. Hey, I do it too!

Related: Home Remedies for Your Skin That Actually Work

This sweet-smelling oil has been praised as a solution for so many things, one might think it’s some kind of cure-all. And while it might not solve all of your problems, it might actually help some of them. Just don’t expect it to actually cure you of anything.

Despite it not being a miracle solution, coconut oil does boast a few really great qualities that make it an ideal addition to any beauty stash. It contains lauric, myristic, and palmitic acids. These are types of fatty acids found in this saturated-fat ingredient. While myristic and palmitic acids are responsible for keeping in moisture to smooth and soften your skin, lauric acid has antimicrobial and antiviral properties. It can help fight pathogens, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.

This substance also contains vitamins D, E, and K. Those vitamins are good for your health when ingested, but they are also great for our skin and hair topically.

The Real Benefits From Using Coconut Oil for Hair and Skin

jar of coconut oil with coconuts

Okay, so how does all that specifically translate into skin and hair care? Are we just oiling up our skin to keep it moisturized? Does it make our hair shiny simply because it’s a slick oil substance? Or is there more to it? Before we go over all the benefits that you can get from coconut oil, there’s one important thing to mention: it might not be for everyone.

It’s definitely a staple that belongs in your beauty routine, as long as your skin is okay with it. Like many other products out there, it’s not a “one size fits all” type of situation. It can be comedogenic – despite what some corners of the internet may tell you. If it’s too heavy for your skin and starts clogging your pores, that’s going to outweigh the other benefits it provides.

The best way to find out if it works for your skin and hair is obviously to try it. Luckily, coconut oil is pretty cost-effective. And if it doesn’t work for beauty needs, you can always use it in the kitchen!

Soft, Moisturized Skin

woman sitting on bed looking at smooth legs

The obvious beauty benefit of coconut oil is gaining soft, supple skin. Many of us resort to deep cleaning face washes that actually strip the skin of important moisture. No, your face doesn’t feel tight because it’s clean – it’s tight because it is parched! Coconut oil won’t fix this on its own, but it can be a big help.

This oil is a great occlusive, meaning it locks in moisture. It’s an okay emollient thanks to the lauric, myristic, and palmitic acids. But really, coconut oil does its best work as an occlusive, keeping existing moisture in. To combat dry skin on your face, first dab on your moisturizer. Then, give it a little bit of coconut oil on top to help relieve that tight, dry feeling and keep it moisturized all day long.

Related: How to Apply Your Skincare Products in the Right Order

Coconut oil is much better for use on the body, though. Your body has fewer sebaceous glands, and a slower skin cell turnover rate. It’s less likely that the oil will clog pores and cause blemishes.

Eczema Relief

Although there is no definitive proof that coconut oil will help with skin conditions like eczema, there has been some evidence linking coconut oil use and relief from skin conditions. Thanks to the fatty acids in coconut oil that help the skin barrier and lock in moisture, you will find that it can help mitigate symptoms, such as itching and dryness.

Some of the relief provided by coconut oil may also be partially due to the presence of vitamins D, E, and K. These nutrients can help decrease inflammation, normalize cell turnover, and promote healing. It is important to remember that coconut oil will help! But, it won’t cure skin conditions, like eczema, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis.

Key Ingredients in a Body Scrub

DIY sugar scrub in an open glass jar
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Along the same lines of why coconut oil is good for skin conditions, it is also a great base for DIY body scrubs. It can help counteract the irritation and leave your skin soft.

Exfoliation is an important part of skincare. It sloughs off all the dull, dead skin, leaving you with brighter and softer skin. Proper exfoliation can also remove the dead skin cells that threaten to clog the pores and hair follicles, while it also helps moisturizing and anti-aging products to penetrate more deeply.

Luckily, you don’t have to shell out a bunch of money on exfoliants from store shelves, that may or may not contain artificial dyes, preservatives, fragrances, and other irritants. All you need is some coconut oil and sugar to whip up an extremely effective exfoliant.

Makeup Remover

removing makeup

For the longest time, I had no idea that you could use coconut oil as a makeup remover, but you can! It will even remove stubborn waterproof mascara, without a lot of effort on your part. No more tugging at that sensitive eye area! That’s because coconut oil breaks up even the most water-resistant substances that are often used in eye shadows and mascaras, among other cosmetics.

Scoop a bit of coconut oil from the jar and rub it between your fingers to warm it up a bit first. Then, smooth it over your face to loosen up any makeup. When you wipe it off, it will take all that makeup with it! I suggest washing your face with a cleanser thoroughly after if too much coconut oil tends to clog your pores. 

Deep Conditioner

Coconut oil has proven itself as a cheap and effective deep conditioner for dry, brittle, and chemically treated hair. Clearly, we’ve already talked about how well coconut oil can help with moisture in our skin, so it should come as no surprise that it can deeply hydrate our strands, too.

To take advantage of this, slather this vacay-scented oil all over your hair and leave it for at least 30 minutes. Then, simply rinse it out before shampooing and conditioning like normal. The coconut oil will prevent water from fully penetrating the inside of the hair shaft, where it can then evaporate, especially in low humidity.

Scalp Conditioner

Similarly, you can also expect coconut oil to make for an effective scalp conditioner. Although you can clearly use it as a hair conditioner and scalp conditioner at the same time, it’s also possible to only apply coconut oil to the scalp and roots, if you aren’t interested in deep conditioning all of your strands.

This can be especially helpful for those suffering from seborrheic eczema, scalp psoriasis, or even just a dry scalp. Coconut oil will provide relief from itching and irritation while helping to seal in moisture. Some conditions may also benefit from coconut oil’s antimicrobial and antiviral properties. A barrier of coconut oil can also block bacteria and irritants from causing more damage.

Hair Protectant

Woman checking for split ends

Even if you don’t color your hair, your strands face plenty of adversaries every single day. From tight hair elastics to heat styling to time in the sun, there are a lot of ways you could be damaging your hair. Hey, even just brushing your hair can be damaging! All of these regular activities can damage the cuticle, which in turn means it can’t properly protect the central parts of the hair shaft.

When used regularly, coconut oil can act as a hair protectant. It will prevent hair damage and help maintain hair moisture. It may also help prevent hair breakage and split ends — excellent news for anyone trying to grow their hair longer! And while other oils may provide similar benefits, coconut oil seems to be the most effective choice. As I already mentioned, coconut oil will prevent water from fully penetrating the inside of the hair shaft, something that other oils aren’t able to do.

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