From locking in moisture to fighting zits, here are all the ways you can use coconut oil for skin — and if you should give it a try.
Ever since coconut oil gained superfood status — thanks to its versatility, availability as a plant-based alternative to butter, and contested health benefits — coconut oil has held a spot in many kitchen cupboards.
But as it turns out, the oil is also worthy of its own place in your bathroom vanity, right next to your nourishing face masks and makeup-erasing products. Here’s what you need to know about using coconut oil for skin care, from its perks and uses to the drawbacks worth considering.
Here’s the gist: While everyone’s skin is different, for the most part, coconut oil can be a safe addition to your skin-care routine, says Lance H. Brown, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City and the Hamptons. The non-fragrant oil is rich in fatty acids, including linoleic acid and lauric acid, which may give it anti-bacterial properties, says Dr. Brown. And most significantly, coconut oil can act as a seal on your skin to lock in moisture and keep skin hydrated, says Jenny Liu, M.D., F.A.A.D., an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota.
But the ultra-hydrating barrier coconut oil creates is also what makes it problematic: The oil often feels greasy and is comedogenic, meaning it’s likely to clog pores and lead to acne, explains Dr. Liu. For that reason, Dr. Brown recommends avoiding using coconut oil as a body oil if you’re prone to getting acne on your chest or back, as it may have a greater tendency to clog pores in those areas. (Related: Are Boob Masks the Secret to a Glowing, Acne-Free Chest?)