Coconut Oil and Acne: Does it Work?
Many of us struggle with acne-prone skin and it can be can be extremely frustrating. We might also struggle to work out what products are right for our skin type, and if we have pimples on dry skin or acne breakouts on oily skin, it can be even more difficult to balance the differing needs of our stressed out skin.
Often, shop bought or over the counter acne treatments can make our skin become irritated if we overuse them or we have sensitive skin, with dryness, itching and redness all common side effects.
Some of us who experience acne breakouts on a regular basis will therefore look for more natural ways to get rid of acne. One such natural acne remedy is coconut oil.
A quick Google search will give you conflicting views on using coconut oil to fight acne. Some will give it the thumbs up, others will say to avoid using coconut oil to treat your skin as this oil may clog your pores and lead to even more excess oil on your face - the exact opposite of what you need to help your skin.
Can I Use Coconut Oil for Acne?
Our answer is that it isn't clear cut. Coconut oil has many benefits for the skin, but it's also true that coconut oil may clog pores, leading to more oil on the skin and potentially more acne spots.
The real benefits come from how you use it, and using products that contain coconut oil along with other nourishing ingredients, as opposed to using pure or virgin coconut oil.
So here's the definitive answer on whether or not coconut oil can be used to clear acne or by people with oily skin.
The Benefits of Coconut Oil on Your Skin
The lauric acid in coconut oil contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Since coconut oil has these properties, it's therefore used to treat acne by some people. This is because some types of acne are caused by an overgrowth of a natural skin bacteria called P. acnes that can colonise the pores, leading to inflammation and acne spots.
Oily skin and acne prone skin often go hand in hand, and if we have an excess of the natural oil secreted by the skin, called sebum, then this oil will trap the bacteria in the pores, along with dirt, stale makeup, dead skin cells and sweat, leading to pimples and spots.
The Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Coconut Oil
Because coconut oil contains lauric acid, it offers many anti-inflammatory advantages. Redness and inflammation are a common consequence of acne, therefore another benefit from coconut oil to the skin is to reduce the angriness of inflamed skin.
Coconut Oil and Collagen
Collagen is a protein that gives the skin elasticity, plumpness and a lifted, youthful appearance. As we age, our levels of collagen decline, leading to fine lines, wrinkles, skin sagging and other visible signs of ageing. Our collagen levels are also reduced by exposing our skin to the sun when the UV rays from the sun are at their strongest. (Hence why sun damage causes wrinkles.)
Studies (albeit animal studies) suggest that using coconut oil topically could be beneficial for promoting collagen production, particularly if the skin has light scarring, such as from acne spots.
Can Coconut Oil Help Acne Scars?
If we massage coconut oil directly onto acne scars, it may be beneficial in reducing their appearance. However, it may only work on very light scarring, and even then, the results may not be exceptional.
But as we'll come onto shortly, if we apply the oil directly to our skin, it acts as an effective moisturiser, which will help to reduce the appearance of light scarring and improve skin texture and tone over time.
Is Coconut Oil Good as an Acne Treatment?
Again, the jury is still out. Could coconut oil treat acne? It could beneficial because it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. But on the other hand, on it's own, coconut oil is comedogenic - that is, it can block the pores and lead to spots. It is an oil, after all.
If you have acne, it may be helpful to try a small amount of extra virgin coconut oil (as opposed to a processed, refined coconut oil) to see how your skin reacts. We'll go into more detail below on how to use coconut oil as part of a skincare routine.
Is it True that Coconut Oil Can Clog the Pores?
Yes, a comedogenic oil can clog pores, and coconut oil is no exception. That's why we suggest using skincare products that contain this nourishing oil in small amounts, along with other beneficial ingredients, but more on that shortly.
Can Coconut Oil Cause Acne and Oily Skin? Will it Make Acne Worse?
Again, yes, but only if used in the wrong way, and only if your skin can't tolerate it. If you have very oily skin that's likely to break out on a whim, we recommend being careful about using coconut oil on your face.
And again, we suggest using products containing coconut oil for better results.
Using Coconut Oil to Moisturise Your Face
All of that said, coconut oil is highly nourishing to the skin and using this oil as a moisturizer can help to keep the skin happy and hydrated. It also helps to support the levels of lipids (organic compounds known for their ability to maintain elasticity) in the skin.
Coincidentally, these very same lipids function as "barriers" and help to prevent dirt and bacteria from building up within the pores. As we all know, these materials are some of the primary causes of acne.
Our Overnight Replenishment Night Cream contains coconut oil along with other beneficial plant oils that help to strengthen the skin overnight. (We told you we'd give you a solution to using some kind of coconut oil on acne prone, oily skin without overloading it, didn't we?!)
This is a far better option to applying neat coconut oil directly onto your skin, that could potentially increase oil production and lead to blocked, inflamed pores and spots.
Apply Coconut Oil to Your Skin as a Cleanser
As well as it's moisturising effects, coconut oil can help during the cleansing stage, too. Warm a little coconut oil in your hands and apply it to dry skin in small circular motions to lift away dirt, makeup and impurities. Use warm water and a clean cloth to then remove everything from the skin. Used in this way, it's contact with the skin is minimal.
Try Coconut Oil to Treat Acne
As with most things when it comes to our skin, there are no clear cut answers to the questions of what are the best skincare products and ingredients. Often, it's a frustrating case of trial and error.
But if you have mild acne, with skin that's not overly oily, coconut oil is one of the ingredients that may help to calm your skin. We recommend using it in very small amounts to cleanse, and then using our night cream to moisturise and replenish before bed. Best of luck!
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.