Let me just start off on a different tangent for a second and say that Pinterest is one of the greatest things that has ever been invented. Seriously, I will spend hours upon hours pinning to various boards that I’ve spent arguably way too much time naming and organizing. HOWEVER, there is a huge downfall to the beauty side of Pinterest, and I’m sure anyone in the industry will agree with me. The people pinning their beauty remedies and DIYs are NOT (for the most part) beauty professionals. They have no license, they have no expertise in the field of beauty, and they have no business recommending remedies to the masses via Pinterest, because they have no idea what they’re talking about. That’s not to say everything you see on Pinterest is wrong or won’t work, but the fact of the matter is that not everything you see on the internet is a good idea. Weird, right?
Which brings me to the point of this blog post, coconut oil. How many pins have you seen floating around about coconut oil? Maybe a million by now? And hey, you may be a coconut oil lover. You might use 7 tubs of coconut oil in the span of two weeks and have no plans on stopping. Great for you. Fantastic. Lovely. But can we STOP RECOMMENDING COCONUT OIL TO EVERY PERSON FOR EVERY AILMENT THEY EXPERIENCE? Coconut oil is not for everyone and it is not for everything. I’m not referring to using coconut oil in foods, because I’m not a nutritionist and quite frankly I hate the taste of it and will avoid using it in cooking if I can. So before you come at me with the nutritional benefits, don’t, because you’re wasting your time.
I’m talking about using coconut oil on your face. I’m a licensed Aesthetician, Aesthetics Instructor, and I work for a company that uses ethically sourced and naturally derived ingredients. I’m not some rando on the street preaching about skincare with no experience. And as of late, I’ve been increasingly aware of how many people are coming to me with acneic skin conditions and they all have one common denominator: coconut oil.
Things I hear in response to my distaste for coconut oil consist of, but are not limited to: “but it’s natural!” “My friend uses it and her skin looks great!” “I saw a post on Pinterest about it”, etc. etc.
First and foremost, just because it’s natural does not mean it’s good for you. Do you know what else is natural? Sulfuric acid. Lead. Arsenic. While I’m being a bit dramatic with my references, they’re probably not things you want to put on your skin, right? Right. And while your friend might use it day and night and six times on Sunday, it does not mean it’s right for your skin. Let me tell you why.
Ingredients in the skincare world are measured on a scale of how comedogenic they are. If you don’t know what that term means, it’s basically a fancy way of saying “what’s the likelihood of this ingredient clogging your pores?” They are rated on a scale from 0-5, 0 being the least likely and 5 being a guaranteed breakout-prone ingredient for most (if not all) people. Coconut oil is rated as a 4. Which means, by and large, most people will break out when using this product on their face. It doesn’t even have to appear immediately as large, cystic acne lesions in the skin. It can cause microcomedones (small, non-inflammatory lesions that can make your skin’s texture bumpy), that can (and will) eventually develop into whiteheads/blackheads/painful acne.
Why does this happen? Due to its thickness, coconut oil inhibits our skin’s ability to properly shed skin cells, which is required for our pores to be oxygenated. It encourages P. acnes (the bacteria that causes acne) to grow, using built up sebum and debris that are stuck below the surface in our pores as its source of nutrients. To put it simply, coconut oil basically puts a blanket over our pores which smothers them, giving bacteria a better environment to grow. *cue dramatic screaming*
Now, coconut oil might be great for some people’s skin. Why? BECAUSE EVERYONE’S SKIN IS DIFFERENT! Genetics and other internal factors have a huge affect in how our skin reacts to things. But the fact of the matter is, it’s far too thick for most people’s skin. So stop recommending coconut oil with the mindset that it’s perfect for everyone because “it’s all natural.” It’s not going to cure psoriasis, it’s not going to get rid of grade IV cystic acne, and it’s not going to reverse your aging. Your best bet is to go to an actual Dermatologist or local Aesthetician and get a product recommendation/prescription from someone who actually works with skin for a living.
If you’re still dying to use it, the best way to incorporate this into your daily (facial) skin care routine would be to use it as a makeup remover. Coconut oil does work wonders taking off water proof mascara, helping lift foundation, and removing liquid lipstick. PLEASE use an additional cleanser afterwards to remove it, preferably of the gel variety, and exfoliate 2-3 times a week (which is something you should be doing anyways). There are still PLENTY of “natural” products that will benefit your skin greatly without the risk of breakouts.
As far as using coconut oil for your body care and cooking, knock yourself out. The skin on the rest of your body is much more resilient than on your face, so chances are coconut oil will work just fine for that purpose (unless you’re allergic). I’ve also heard it’s a great conditioner for your hair, but I would stick to using it on your ends and avoiding your scalp due to how greasy it can be. Don’t want to look like you dipped your scalp in a deep fryer now do we? Hard pass.
At the end of the day, I’m not a Dermatologist. I’m an Aethetician that gets a little (okay maybe a LOT) nerdy about ingredient knowledge and product usage. However, I went to school to help people with their skin ailments and beauty needs, and if I could give you any advice, it’s this: as a consumer, the internet is your oyster. Do your research, gather and use samples frequently, and find what’s right for your skin before giving into the hype. It could save you from disaster!
Healthy, clear skin to all, and to all a goodbye! (see what I did there?)