Is coconut oil good for your face? Contrary to what you may hear from many (misinformed!) health and beauty bloggers, coconut oil for face skincare isn’t a great idea. In fact, for many people it’s a downright terrible idea! Here’s why.
Do the benefits of coconut oil have a place on your face?
If we gave out Golden Globe Awards for natural health and beauty, coconut oil would take one home EVERY YEAR and for good reason.
It’s the duct tape of the natural world!
“I’ve got 99 problems… and coconut oil’s solved like 84 of them.” — Every naturalista ever
Coconut oil works wonders as a natural moisturizing hair treatment and metabolism-boosting superfood, with about a million other uses in between.
I use and recommend coconut oil as a healthy, heat-stable cooking oil.
Not only have the medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil been shown to boost metabolism and aid weight loss (source), but the antibacterial lauric acid in coconut oil also helps maintain digestive health and a balanced gut microbiome (source). And who doesn’t want a little metabolism boost and better gut health!?
Coconut oil is also a staple in my natural beauty routine — I regularly use a DIY hair mask made with coconut oil or this DIY Hot Coconut Oil Hair Treatment, and often even use it as a body moisturizer.
But there’s one place coconut oil does NOT belong: on your face.
While incredibly moisturizing, coconut oil’s skin benefits about end right there.
A 2013 study published in in the Journal of International Dermatology found that virgin coconut oil improved skin barrier function in patients with atopic dermatitis, a chronic skin condition marked by dryness and irritation.
And another study published in the journal Dermatitis found that coconut oil moisturized skin better the olive oil.
So there’s no doubt about the fact that coconut oil helps skin retain moisture and prevents transepidermal water loss.
This is all GREAT.
Coconut oil isn’t able to easily penetrate the deeper layers of the skin.
Instead, it sits on surface layers of the skin more like a wax.
For this reason, it doesn’t provide the long-lasting moisture most of us are looking for.
Coconut oil is extremely comedogenic or pore-clogging.
Because it forms a barrier on your skin, coconut oil blocks and suffocates pores (source).
And we all know what clogged pores can lead to — breakouts!
For this reason, coconut oil has a very high comedogenic rating of 4 (on a scale from 0 to 5), meaning it’s very likely to clog pores.
It’s no wonder why New York-based dermatologist Shari Marchbein, M.D doesn’t recommend the use of coconut oil for face acne or any application on the face given the high potential to clog pores and cause significant breakouts (source).
And I couldn’t agree more!
Please don’t be fooled by those arguments that the lauric acid in coconut oil helps manage breakouts and as a result reduce acne.
While lauric acid is antibacterial, this doesn’t negate the pore-clogging properties of coconut oil. Plus, managing breakouts is usually so much more complex than simply managing the bacteria on the skin.
So particularly if you struggle with breakouts or acne, you’ll want to steer clear of using coconut oil on your face.
And this isn’t limited to coconut oil for face moisturizer. You also want to avoid coconut oil face masks and coconut oil face wash, too.
Coconut oil doesn’t contain many vitamins or antioxidants, one of the biggest benefits of other face oils.
While coconut oil may be an effective face moisturizer for those who don’t struggle with breakouts or acne, one simple fact remains: coconut oil simply doesn’t hold a candle to most other face oils — nutrient-rich, antioxidant-packed oils like argan, pumpkin seed, and rosehip seed oils (each discussed in more detail below!).
Antioxidants protect the skin from damaging UV rays and aging free radicals, as well as prevent the sebum oxidation that clogs pores and leads to breakouts. They’re necessary for any effective skincare routine, and face oils are a wonderful natural source of topical antioxidants.
And while you’ll often hear that coconut oil is rich in vitamin E, this isn’t even entirely true. According to Livestrong:
“Interestingly, coconut oil does not contain many vitamins… Coconut oil is not a significant source of vitamin E.”
Why simply settle for just a moisturizer when you can have a moisturizer and antioxidant-packed serum in one?
If not coconut oil, which face oils should you be using?
Oh my friend, the list is endless!
The right face oil really depends on your skin type and skin needs.
But let’s take a look a few that work well for all skin types.
Related: The Best Face Oils By Skin Type
PUMPKIN SEED OIL
My favorite of the dozens of face oils I’ve tested over the years, pumpkin seed oil is rich in the antioxidant vitamins A and C, we well as zinc. It’s a wonderful choice for all skin types, which is why it’s included in all three of the Body Unburdened Beauty Blends.
Pumpkin seed oil is also high in linoleic acid, making it a particularly great choice for blemish-prone skin, which has been shown to often be deficient in linoleic acid. Applying linoleic acid topically helps to bring skin back to a state of balance (source) — one study found a 25% reduction in breakouts after just 1 month of applying linoleic acid to the skin!
ROSEHIP SEED OIL
This golden-colored oil is extremely rich in the antioxidant vitamin C and has been linked to increased collagen production. Rosehip seed oil is also high in retinoic acid, which studies show reduces the appearance of wrinkles and scars, and generally brightens skin.
Because of its high vitamin C content, rosehip seed oil is also used in all three of the Body Unburdened Beauty Blends.
Referred to as “liquid gold”, argan oil is fast-absorbing and known for increasing cell regeneration, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Argan oil is also rich in phenols and carotenes, antioxidants that protect the skin from aging free-radical damage.
Do you have experience using coconut oil for face skincare?
Or other face oils?
Please share your experience with us below!