Coconut oil is a popular ingredient not just in cooking but also in cosmetic products like bar soaps and shampoos. You may have heard conflicting information about whether coconut oil is good for your skin, and perhaps you’re wondering, ‘is coconut oil comedogenic?’ Keep reading to find out what you need to know about coconut oil, what comedogenic means, and why you should or shouldn’t use coconut oil for your skin.
Coconut Oil in a Nutshell
Coconut oil is extracted by pressing either fresh or dried coconut meat. This versatile oil has many uses, including cooking and being a component in beauty products. In many places, coconut oil is applied directly to the hair to moisturize and improve its shine.
What Does Comedogenic Mean?
Comedogenic is a term used to describe a substance that is likely to block the pores of the skin. This term comes from the word for small bumps on the skin, which are called comedones, and ‘genic’ which means to cause. When pores are blocked, it can result in blackheads and other types of blemishes (ie. comedones).
Examples of Comedogenic Products
A comedogenic product is anything that contains ingredients that may block your pores. Some examples include algae extract, acetylated lanolin, carrageenan, and cocoa butter.
You can check if a product is likely to block your pores by checking the label for concentrations of certain ingredients. The higher the ingredient is on a label, the higher the concentration. Some ingredients to look out for are:
- Isopropyl myristate
- Oleic acid
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
- Myristyl myristate
- Sodium salt sulfuric acid
- Isopropyl isostearate
- Linseed oil
- Lauric acid
If any of these ingredients are high on the label and you have oily or acne-prone skin, you may want to avoid these products. Some products may be labelled as specifically non-comedogenic, which makes it easier to identify the right products for sensitive skin.
Is Coconut Oil Comedogenic?
Coconut oil contains fatty acids that are considered comedogenic, including lauric acid and oleic acid. On the comedogenic scale, which measures the pore-clogging potential of an ingredient, coconut oil is a 4 out of 5. So, the short answer to ‘is coconut oil comedogenic?’ is yes!
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad for your skin, especially when it’s an ingredient in your soap bar. That’s because during the soap making process, a chemical reaction changes coconut oil into a soap molecule. This molecule is different from the raw oil and is not considered bad for your skin. Of course, not every bit of coconut oil is converted into soap. Some of it stays as an oil and is often called a superfat by soapmakers. But the amount of free-floating raw coconut oil in your soap bar is minimal (typically less than 5%). So it’s great for moisturizing but unlikely to clog your pores.
Does Coconut Oil Cause Acne?
Just because something is comedogenic, it doesn’t mean it will cause breakouts for everyone. Many factors contribute to acne, including family history, stress, and diet. The lauric acid in coconut oil has antibacterial properties which may actually help kill acne-causing bacteria and soothe inflammation.
If you have oily skin that is already prone to breakouts, then you may want to avoid applying coconut oil directly to your skin. However, if you have dry, flaky skin, coconut oil may be very helpful for hydrating and nourishing your skin.
Pros and Cons of Coconut Oil
As with everything coconut oil has its pros and cons. One of the pros of coconut oil is that it keeps for up to two years without spoiling thanks to the high saturated fat content. It is also a great ingredient for making soap, offering a more sustainable alternative to palm oil and yielding a nice hard bar with moisturizing properties. And it gives natural soap a rich, bubbly lather that enhances your shower experience. Plus, as we’ll discuss shortly, it’s got some specific benefits for your skin.
A con of coconut oil is that its high saturated fat content means it is not the healthiest oil from a dietary perspective. But, of course, not many folks eat soap! Another disadvantage is that coconuts only grow in tropical climates, which means coconut oil must be imported rather than locally sourced in many parts of the world.
Benefits of Coconut Oil for the Skin
Now that we’ve looked at some pros and cons in general, let’s look at the benefits of coconut oil for the skin:
The high fat content helps break down dirt and makeup, which makes it a good first step before cleaning your skin.
As a natural emollient, coconut oil creates a protective film over the skin which helps keep moisture in and improves flexibility and smoothness.
- Coconut oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
The high lauric acid content compared to other plant oils makes coconut oil antibacterial and helps soothe inflammation.
Final Thoughts on Coconut Oil and Whether its Bad for Your Skin
Coconut oil may block your pores, and whether you decide to use it for your skin should depend on your skin type. If you have oily, acne-prone skin, you should probably skip it as a direct treatment for your skin.
Coconut Oil FAQs
Which oil is not bad for your skin?
Several types of oil are not are not likely to block your pores. Some of these include grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, neem oil, castor oil, and sweet almond oil.
Is it okay to use coconut oil on your face?
Coconut oil has fantastic moisturizing properties for dry, flaky skin. It is safe to use on the skin, but you may want to avoid it if you have oily skin. You can always try it on a small patch of skin first and see how it reacts before using it on your full face.
How do you use coconut oil without clogging your pores?
If you’d like to experience the benefits of coconut oil without clogging your pores, don’t apply raw coconut oil to your face. Instead, you can use a product that contains coconut oil as an ingredient. Using an emulsion that combines coconut oil with water-based ingredients will help you reap the benefits without clogging your pores.