Why Coconut Oil Does NOT Belong On Your Face + Which Oils to Use Instead

Natural Beauty

Is coconut oil good for your face? No! Here's why, plus which face oils to use instead

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.

Except…

Using coconut oil for face skincare? You may want to think again! Why coconut oil is not the best face oil + which oils to choose instead

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?

Coconut oil for skin? Think again! Here's why and which oils to choose instead


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

Related: How to Make a Custom Face Oil Blend Perfect for YOUR Unique Skin

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.

ARGAN OIL

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!

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  1. What is best to use with other essential oils? Like frankincense and/or lavender oil???

  2. Coconut does wonders on my face. I’ve tried so many other oils. Some were very expensive but nothing compares to the glow I get with coconut oil. Grew up on a tropical island where it was used for just about everything. Hardly recall people with acne.

  3. I start coconut oil after bath and before sunscreen before one month my face was so glume and moisturized I didn’t seen it any problem

  4. I’ve been using coconut oil at night after washing with warm water….no cleanser.
    It seems to soak in quite well and provides the moisture that seems suited to my skin. I also use it as a body moisturizer at night and again, it works well.

    It seems to soothe any dry skin where other moisturizers with added chemicals don’t do the trick, aside from pure vaseline.

  5. I have been having trouble with breakouts after I recently stopped taking the contraceptive pill for acne control. I read up on coconut oil where they swore by it, but since using it my face started to breakout more. Instead of the acne comming in waves as my cycle goes, I now constantly have acne on my face (regardless of my cycle). I’m so glad I read your post – now I know to avoid coconut oil. I’m considering using pumpkin seed oil. I do hope that it will work this time round. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  6. Hello I am a 54 year old man that loves a very fast paced life, worked construction underground all my life been in every unstable condition on the ground you could ever imagine. But in my case coconut oil has had great benefits on my skin and hair from top to bottom. My face is not full of wrinkles but I do have the creases of time in particular areas like around the mouth and eyes x 1… That’s it. Now time has given me a very slight bit of sag but nothing that is at all alarming. I live in it. And it feels good. And about every couple of days I run it lightly through my hair. And I have quite long hair past my shoulders. You don’t want to put to much on your face or you will have it in your eyes.
    It works for me. Don’t knock it till you try it.
    I have seen certain people who do break out on the face pretty bad and quickly. But hey everything is for everyone.
    You have to try something to see and as long as there is no allergic reaction, run it!

  7. I’ve very recently started “the curly girl method” for my hair (you must have a look if you haven’t heard of it!) and a lot of the approved products use coconut oil as a major ingredient. Though may hair seems very happy with it, my skin definitely isn’t! I’ve broken out in comodones like I haven’t in 20 years and am still trying to get rid of them. One of the reasons I’ve happened on your site, Nadia. So I’m definitely on team “no way” when it comes to coconut oil for face.

  8. Is it still okay to use coconut oil on eyelashes to nourish and help growth? I have been using coconut oil and castor oil on my lashes for this reason but I am careful about keeping it off my skin. Is this still a bad idea? Do you have any other suggestions to promote natural eyelash growth?

  9. My problem is after having a stroke last year my skin is wrinkled and there are deep lines on my face having an extremely aging effect. I do use coconut oil which is of no benefit to my face but good for haircrtc. I also use argan oil which after reading your site I will return to using , especially facial. My skin looks awful and feels dry. I use frankincense and rose essential oils mixed with argan oil. I shall try geranium also. I have a large collection of essential oils. My friend uses geranium oil on her face for rosacea On my advice funnily enough and it works. thankyou.