Coconut oil – ever heard of it?
Considering how much hype this natural oil receives, I’m guessing you have.
Many people have come to associate coconut oil with healthy eating. However, in recent years, coconut oil has dominated the world of beauty. It has become an essential component of any beauty enthusiast’s skincare routine, and brands everywhere are finding ways to incorporate it into their products.
Seriously though, coconut oil is pretty much the Beyonce of skincare- the competition won’t ever be able to touch it because it’s just that good.
Who run the world? Coconut Oil. Duh. #dropmic
WTF Makes Coconut Oil So Great?
Coconut oil isn’t some new invention, we’re just late to the party.
Truth is, this sh*t has been around for thousands of years. Extracted from coconut flesh, coconut oil is PACKED with beauty benefits and contains TONS of powerful anti-aging properties.
Composition of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is comprised mostly of saturated fatty acids (approximately 92%), a majority of which (over 62%) are in the form of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). The remaining 8% is made up of monounsaturated fatty acids (6%) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (2%).
Saturated fats, specifically medium chain fatty acids, are what make coconut oil so amazing.
Medium chain fatty acids are packed with health benefits and coconut oil is not only the BEST, but one of the ONLY natural sources them.
Coconut oil contains eleven essential fatty acids in total, but only eight of them are medium chain fatty acids.
7 Reasons to Seriously Start Putting Coconut Oil On Your Skin If You Don’t Want Wrinkles
1. Coconut Oil Moisturizes Skin
Coconut oil is one of the absolute BEST skin moisturizers out there.
If you recall from my blog post, How Our Skin Ages, the skin is made up of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and subcutaneous tissue. The primary role of the epidermis is to act as a protective, waterproof barrier. It locks moisture and nutrients inside, and is also responsible for giving the skin its color, or pigment, by producing melanin.
As we age, the epidermal layer of our skin thins, which allows moisture to be released. Our cells’ abilities to retain moisture also decreases, causing dry skin.
Given that cell membranes are made up of three key fatty acids: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated, the best way to combat dry skin is to increase fatty acids. And guess what? Coconut oil is PACKED with them.
When applied topically, coconut oil has a very high absorption rate. The MCFAs found in coconut oil quickly and easily permeate the cell membranes. They replace moisture in the cells, resulting in more hydrated, smooth, plump, and supple skin.
Coconut oil also has exceptional emollient properties. The MCFAs help to keep the skin hydrated, eliminating moisture loss through the pores and providing a moisture retaining barrier on the skin’s surface.
2. Coconut Oil Heals Acne & Infection
Acne occurs when pores becomes blocked, or clogged, by bacteria, dead skin cells, dirt, and sebum, the skin’s natural oil.
Coconut oil’s ability to heal acne and infection comes from its rich fatty acid content. It contains more than ten different fatty acids, but only three of them are powerful antimicrobial agents against bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa. These three MCFAs include: Lauric Acid, Capric Acid, and Caprylic Acid.
Lauric acid, which makes up over 50% of the total fatty acid content found in coconut oil, has been proven to be the most effective.
Lauric acid is rarely found in nature, and coconut oil contains more of it than anything else on the planet. It is similar to the human body’s natural oil, sebum. When lauric acid comes into contact with sebum, it transforms into monolaurin, a monoglyceride that can destroy lipid coated viruses such as herpes, measles, acne, and other pathogenic bacteria.
When applied topically, coconut oil helps to heal and prevent infection, rash, acne, candida (yeast), dermatitis, and other skin conditions.
Fun Fact: Lauric acid is found naturally in breast milk to protect babies from infection.
Side Note: For those with very oily skin, coconut oil may be problematic and is not recommended. It’s comedogenic, which means that when applied topically, coconut oil may clog pores and make acne worse. Also, the caprylic acid found in coconut oil is a major acne trigger for some. It’s best to check with your dermatologist first.
3. Coconut Oil is a Powerful Free Radical Fighter
Coconut oil has exceptional antioxidant properties that protect the skin from oxidative
damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are highly reactive, unstable, unpaired atoms, and the primary cause of aging and over 60 different degenerative diseases. They are byproducts of normal biochemical reactions within the body.
Free radicals are formed naturally from metabolic processes, and externally from exposure to environmental factors, such as UV rays, smoke, pollutants, toxins, etc. The face is constantly being exposed to these environmental factors, which are one of the main causes of extrinsic aging. Over time, constant exposure can lead to oxidative stress and premature aging.
Antioxidants are the only effective way to combat free radicals. The antioxidant properties of coconut oil are similar to that of vitamin E, which is one of the most powerful antioxidants. Coconut oil contains important phytonutrients, such as polyphenols, which all have powerful antioxidant properties. It has also been proven to boost the body’s enzymatic antioxidant defense system by increasing the activity of glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase, three very powerful enzymatic antioxidants.
Coconut oil is also very stable. When dealing with fats in relation to antioxidants, a general rule of thumb is that the more unsaturated the fatty acids, the more susceptible they are to oxidation and rancidity. Most plant based oils contain unsaturated fatty acids, except for coconut oil. The high saturated fatty acid content found in coconut oil allows it to be more stable than almost any other vegetable oil. Coconut oil is highly resistant to oxidation and is not prone to lipid oxidation.
4. Coconut Oil Is A Natural SPF
Coconut oil won’t provide you with a full day’s worth of sun protection, but it’s definitely better than nothing.
Research has proven that, when applied topically, coconut oil blocks out about 20% of the sun’s harmful UV rays. With an SPF of 7.119, coconut oil maintains and protects skin tissues by offering mild protection against harmful UV rays. When tested against 16 other plant based oils, coconut oil ranked #2 on the list for highest SPF value (right behind olive oil).
Also, if you’ve been out in the sun without sun protection, applying coconut oil
immediately after will soothe sunburned skin and greatly reduce the damaging effects of UV rays.
The potent antioxidant properties of coconut oil, in addition to its high stability, help to reduce inflammation and combat oxidative damage caused by harmful UV rays by fighting free radicals.
5. Coconut Oil Is An Exceptional Anti-Inflammatory
Coconut oil fights inflammation, both internally and externally.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to stress and/or injury response; it’s the body’s healing process. Inflammation can be either acute, or chronic, and is one of the leading causes of aging.
Coconut oil’s exceptional anti-inflammatory properties stem from its high medium chain fatty acid content. Most notably, lauric acid, which makes up over 50% of the total fatty acid content found in coconut oil.
As previously mentioned, the body converts lauric acid into monolaurin. Monolaurin inhibits the growth of infectious pathogens and bacteria. Coconut oil also decreases the expression of inflammatory genes, such as COX-2, iNOS, and IL-6.
The antioxidant properties found in coconut oil further help to reduce inflammation. Coconut oil increases enzymatic antioxidant activity, helping to fight free radicals and combat oxidative damage caused by chronic inflammation.
6. Coconut Oil Reduces the Appearance of Fine Lines & Wrinkles
When it comes to fighting wrinkles and smoothing skin, coconut oil is the #1 weapon.
Aside from it’s amazing antioxidant properties (as I mentioned earlier), coconut oil also promotes collagen production.
Why is this a big deal?
Because collagen is pretty much the holy grail when it comes to maintaining a youthful appearance.
Collagen is the most abundant protein and primary connective tissue found in the human body. The main functions of collagen are to provide strength, structure, and foundation to the skin. It’s what keeps the skin smooth, firm, and most importantly, wrinkle-free.
As part of normal, intrinsic aging, after age 20, the skin naturally produces 1% less collagen each year. When you add that to all the oxidative damage and protein cross-linking due to free radical exposure over the years, it’s a recipe for disaster- or rather, a face full of fine lines and wrinkles. Eeek, kill me!
Side Note: Collagen molecules are located in the dermis layer of the skin and make up about 80% of it. Any skincare product that contains collagen is a total waste of your time, energy, and money. Why? Because collagen molecules are too big to penetrate deeply into the dermis layer of the skin, which is where they need to go in order to be effective.
Anyways, coconut oil has been proven to be an effective, natural collagen booster. When applied topically, coconut oil is quickly absorbed and penetrates deep into the skin’s dermis layer. Once there, the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil attract protein molecules, which stimulate collagen production and help to repair and regenerate damaged collagen, keeping skin strong, smooth and supple. #winning
7. Coconut Oil Is An Excellent Cleanser, Makeup Remove & Exfoliant
Cleansing is an imperative part of a good daily skincare routine. The face is constantly being exposed to all sorts of chemicals, toxins and pollutants. Dust, dirt, and makeup residue can clog pores and cause breakouts, while environmental toxins can cause oxidative damage. For these reasons, it’s very important to cleanse your face each and every day.
A great cleanser should have antibacterial properties, remove residues from pores, and clear away chemicals that our skin is constantly being exposed to. Coconut oil achieves all of these things without all the harsh chemicals, so you can say goodbye to makeup wipes.
Coconut oil’s light texture allows it to easily pass through hair follicles and seep into pores.
Start by gentling massaging a thin layer of coconut oil into the skin on your face. Next, run a clean washcloth under hot water. Ring it out and place it over your entire face. This hot washcloth will create steam, which causes the pores on your face to open, allowing the coconut oil to seep in. Leave the hot washcloth over your face for 30 seconds to one minute, then remove.
Now, think back to grade school chemistry. Do you remember the basic principle that “like dissolves like?”
I didn’t either, whatever.
Anyways, it pretty much means that the only way to dissolve a nonpolar solvent is by use of another nonpolar solvent of similar composition. For example, oil dissolves oil.
Sebum is a natural oil produced by everybody. It’s inevitable. When the face isn’t being properly cleansed regularly, sebum, dirt, bacteria, makeup, dead skin cells, etc. build up inside pores, which causes acne and other skin issues.
Okay, now let’s go back to the whole oil dissolves oil thing.
Coconut oil is… an oil, obviously. Sebum is, too.
When steaming your face, coconut oil seeps into the open pores. It then naturally, gently, and effectively cleanses the pores by binding to the sebum and removing the dirty oil. This process also aids in exfoliation by helping to remove dead skin cells.
After removing the washcloth, a thin layer of nutrient dense coconut oil will remain on the skin. This will be absorbed to help promote a youthful, flawless complexion. Skin will appear smooth, soft, supple, and clean.
Side Note: The beauty industry refers to this process as “oil cleansing,” which in recent years, has become very popular among skincare enthusiasts.
What Type of Coconut Oil Should You Buy?
To Sum Things Up: Do your wallet and your skin a HUGE favor and go get yourself some coconut oil!
There are literally like, a million different commercial coconut oils available. You can’t buy just any coconut oil, though, because not all of them are created equally.
Here are some key things to keep in mind when purchasing coconut oil:
ALWAYS Buy Organic
Look for the “USDA Certified Organic” label. This means that the coconuts used were grown WITHOUT the use of pesticides.
ALWAYS Buy Virgin Unrefined
Here’s where things can get a little bit tricky.
When you go to the store, you’ll notice there are two main types of coconut oil: unrefined and refined.
The word refined pretty much just means processed. So, unprocessed coconut oil, and unprocessed coconut oil.
Since coconut oil doesn’t grow on trees, but coconuts do, coconut oil is actually a refined product by nature. So, technically, there really isn’t any true unrefined coconut oil.
In the world of coconut oil, unrefined just means less processed.
Side Note: Brands often use the word unrefined interchangeably, or in combination with, virgin.
Virgin coconut oil is as close to unrefined, or raw, coconut oil as you can get. It’s made from fresh coconut “meat” and contains no added chemicals.
Refined coconut oil, on the other hand, is made from copra, or dried coconut meat. It is much more processed than unrefined coconut oil and does not contain nearly the amount of phytonutrients as virgin coconut oil does. This means less free radical fighting antioxidants. The refining process removes the strong coconut flavor (and unfortunately a lot of anti-aging nutrients), which makes it more palatable, and also gives the oil a higher smoke point. This allows refined coconut oil to be ideal for cooking.
So, pretty much, virgin unrefined coconut oil is the play. You’re wasting your time with refined coconut oil.
ALWAYS Buy Cold-Pressed
Cold-pressed coconut oil is made by pressing the fresh, raw coconut meat through a machine. In order to help the coconut oil retain all of it’s beneficial nutrients, this process does not use any high temperatures.