Coconut Oil for Acne: Does It Really Work?

Coconut Oil for Acne: Does It Really Work?

We all know that coconut oil has an endless list of health benefits. Is treating acne one of them? Let’s find out.

How Does Coconut Oil Affect Acne?

Before we get into whether you can use coconut oil for acne, we need to explain how it works. Since coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids, which have an antimicrobial agent, it’s safe to say that coconut oil has the potential to kill acne-causing bacteria.

Half of these fatty acids is the so-called medium-chain lauric acid. This type of fatty acid has been shown to kill P. acnes (the bacteria that causes acne), viruses, and fungi.

Benefits of Coconut Oil for the Skin

Now that we’ve established the effects of coconut oil on acne, let’s take a look at the different ways that you can use it on your skin.

Using Coconut Oil as a Treatment for Acne Scars

If you’ve ever had to deal with acne scars, then you know just how long the treatment can last. With severe cases, you have to undergo several months of acne treatments to notice the slightest improvements.

Coconut oil works to treat acne by killing acne bacteria and stopping acne breakouts in the first place. And if you don’t have any breakouts, then there’s no reason to worry about the scarring that goes along with it.

It’s rich in vitamin E, which is known for its healing benefits. Vitamin E can potentially contribute to the normal functioning of the sebaceous glands, which produce sebum on the skin. In addition, unrefined coconut oil also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can also repair scarring and prevent pimples because inflammation is needed to produce acne and acne scars.

Coconut Oil as a Moisturizer

Moisture is essential for healthy and glowing skin. Coconut oil can make a great moisturizer for some people, especially those with very dry skin.

If you want to use coconut oil as a moisturizer, add a drop or two on the palms of your hand, and rub it between your fingers to warm it up. You can massage coconut oil directly on your face. Make sure to do it at night, after you’re done with your regular skincare routine.

Coconut Oil as a Face Cleanser

Due to its natural anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties, coconut oil may make for a great gentle cleanser.

After taking off your makeup, rub a small amount on your face and neck in circular motions, and gently massage it onto the skin. Once you’re done, wash your face as you would regularly and tap it dry with a towel. Why not try double cleansing while you're at it?

Coconut Oil as a Makeup Remover

Probably one of the most popular uses of this oil is as a makeup remover. It even removes waterproof makeup, which sometimes store-bought makeup removers can’t even do.

For this method, put a small amount of the oil on a cotton pad and gently rub it on your closed eyes. After a couple of minutes, wash your eyes with water to remove the excess oil.

You can also use it for your face makeup. Use the same method - only this time, you might need a few cotton pads to remove all the makeup. Wash your face and apply a night serum afterward - especially if you have dry skin.

Not only will this natural makeup remover work wonders for eye makeup, but it will also leave the delicate skin under the eyes moisturized. This can slow down aging and help with dark under-eye circles and bags. Not to mention, the makeup you put on the next day will look flawless under that hydrated skin.

Coconut Oil as a Natural Eye Cream

As mentioned above, it can hydrate the skin under the eyes and make it appear more youthful and dewy. It’s a great natural eye cream because it moisturizes without making the skin look and feel oily afterward.

Dab some oil under and around the eye area with a tapping motion. Be careful not to rub it in too hard since it’s a delicate spot. Repeat this twice a day, in the morning and before going to bed.

Coconut Oil as a Wound Healer

Did you know that this substance is proven to be amazing at wound healing?

This oil contains lauric acid. Studies show that coconut oil helps speed up the healing process, and increases the amount of collagen which the skin produces. All you need to do is apply a thin layer on your wound multiple times a day. This will create hydration and provide a helping hand in terms of recovery.

Is Coconut Oil Comedogenic?

According to the comedogenic scale, coconut oil is considered highly comedogenic. More than 90% of the fatty acids found in this substance are saturated, which is not ideal for those who have problematic skin.

This is not to say that if you apply coconut oil you will clog pores and break out, no matter what. Everyone’s skin is different. Which kind of coconut oil you use can also have an impact on whether or not you’ll end up breaking out.

Processed coconut oil and virgin coconut oil don’t produce the same reaction in the skin. Extra virgin coconut oil hasn’t been modified, so all the vitamins and benefits are untouched. However, some people claim that this type is too heavy for their skin, and it might clog pores and cause more acne if you have oily skin.

Refined coconut oil has had some of its benefits, fatty acids and antioxidants extracted, so it might be easier on the skin but not as beneficial.

Can I Use Coconut Oil if I Have Oily Skin?

Despite all the awesome benefits that come with coconut oil, it’s not suitable for everyone. There’s no universal way to determine if coconut oil will work for you (and your pores), so test it out for yourself to see your skin’s reaction.

Some dermatologists claim that applying coconut oil as a topical treatment might not be suitable for people with oily skin. Why is that? Well, coconut oil ranks high on the comedogenic scale, meaning it has the potential to clog pores. Not to mention, if you use coconut oil as a moisturizer, it can lead to an increase in sebum production, which can cause additional acne.

Can Coconut Oil Make Acne Worse?

So can coconut oil treat acne? Even though it contains some bacteria-fighting and acne-preventing properties, coconut oil can make acne worse. There's a chance that your skin won’t agree with it, and you should always be careful when trying out new skincare products.

Coconut oil contains a lot of saturated fat, which turns into a liquid when applied to the body. Some experts claim there’s a chance it might return to its natural, buttery state when it sits on the skin. This can clog pores and cause breakouts. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, it might create some issues for you.

If you want to try coconut oil to fight acne, you can help your skin out by exfoliating properly on the previous day. Use a gentle, non-abrasive exfoliator and rub it in circular motions over your face. This will remove any dead skin cells and rejuvenate the skin from the outside. That way, when you do apply the coconut oil, it will probably stick better to exfoliated and clean skin.

If you'd rather try safer acne treatments, keep this substance out of your cleansing routine and opt for things like benzoyl peroxide or retinoic acid.

Treat Acne With Products That Actually Work

If you're looking for a way to treat acne without unreliable, pore-clogging ingredients, try Misumi's Complete Clear 3-Step System. Complete with a facial cleanser, toner, and moisturizer, this routine is your ticket to clearer skin. It will reduce inflammation and redness, and get rid of acne-causing bacteria. Try it now!

Does Eating Coconut Cause Acne?

Now the risks of applying coconut oil topically have been covered, let’s look into whether eating coconut oil can result in breakouts.

Coconuts, the fruits known for their peculiarly sweet taste, are a great source of fiber. They’re cholesterol and gluten-free, and they are low in sodium. You either love them or hate them, and, unless taste is your main concern, there's no reason to hate them for their effect on the skin.

There haven’t been any trustworthy studies thus far to give a definite answer to this question. Generally, people who aren’t allergic to coconut don’t suffer negative consequences from consuming it regularly in a moderate amount - regardless of your skin type.

How to Tell if Coconut Oil Will Work for You

There's no guarantee that using coconut oil will give you the benefits mentioned above. Coconut oil may cause more harm than good. But there is definitely a way where you can ensure that there are little to no side effects from applying it topically.

This method is called a patch test, and it consists of trying out a new cosmetic product or method on a small area to see how your skin will react to it without risking breakouts all over your face.

All you need is to apply some coconut oil using the methods mentioned above on a small area of the face. Repeat this step, and wait for a couple of days to see if you get a reaction.

If your skin starts to improve, it means you can go ahead and use it all over. If it doesn’t, and you experience some breakouts, redness, or irritation then coconut oil is not the best option for you.

Instead, go with milder natural oils, which are more suitable for acne-prone skin and are deemed as non-comedogenic on the universal scale. Such oils include jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, and apricot kernel oil can be used for oil cleansing. Or, if you're choosing products, opt for those that are completely oil-free.

Side Effects of Using Coconut Oil on the Face

No cosmetic product comes without side effects. Keep in mind that even the greatest acne-fighting ingredients can cause trouble with some skin types.

That being said, coconut oil is not yet proven to be successful in fighting acne, so this list of side effects might be longer than with other non-comedogenic oils such as hemp seed oil and pomegranate oil.

So, which side effects might you experience if you use coconut oil topically?

The most common side effects include allergic reactions, irritation, and breakouts. Allergic reactions are fairly avoidable, so don’t apply the oil on the skin if you have a coconut allergy. We’ve talked about using patch tests, and you should always practice doing that to avoid irritation on a large surface on the face.

Breakouts can happen. However, it’s very rare that your skin will break out so seriously that the acne won’t go away after a couple of days. If you notice that your skin doesn’t agree with coconut oil, then stop using it immediately. Instead, visit a dermatologist to get the best and fastest acne treatment.

Consuming coconut oil can sometimes lead to acne too. This mostly happens when somebody uses extremely large quantities of coconut oil when cooking and messes up the balance of their omega 3 to omega 6 ratios.

Even though science is unclear on this subject, excessive oil consumption, especially if it’s full of saturated fats, can lead to acne. This is not to say that you can’t have any oil, but do use it in moderate amounts or switch to other oils with less saturated fat, like flaxseed oil or olive oil.

Final Thoughts

Coconut oil contains some ingredients, such as pure lauric acid, which can help with treating acne, and there’s some evidence that suggests that it can help with acne scarring.

However, people with oily and acne-prone skin should be very careful when using coconut oil for acne for the first time, since it can often lead to breakouts.

Consult your dermatologist if you do plan on using it, and stop if you notice any negative effects.


Science Direct - Propionibacterium acnes

Effect of topical application of virgin coconut oil on skin

Coconut Oil's Healing Properties

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