Using Coconut Oil for Skin Conditions

Last Update: June 22, 2023

It’s winter again, and along with it comes rough winds and unfavorable weather conditions. Dry, cold air is enough to drive anyone crazy, but the unwanted gift of painful, tight, and chapped skin makes winter feel so much worse.

But, you don’t have to suffer through the whole season wondering how to get that summer glow back. A little coconut oil is all skin needs to replenish itself and fight back against winter’s onslaught.

What skin needs to stay healthy

Healthy skin is happy skin, so knowing what it needs to stay in tip-top shape is important. Antioxidants—like vitamins E, A, and C—and beta-carotene help moisturize and work even harder to reduce the signs of aging by fighting damage inflicted by free radicals. These unstable molecules can damage cells and lead to signs of “wear and tear.” Instead, antioxidants help to keep skin strong.

Finding products rich in these antioxidants is a good start to keeping skin healthy—and looking its best!

What’s in coconut oil that makes it so good for skin?

Coconut oil is the antioxidant-rich serum that skin craves because it contains a highly sought-after compound known as lauric acid.

Lauric acid is attributed to the very high fat content found in virgin (i.e. unprocessed) coconut oil; it’s comprised of medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, which are basically good-for-you saturated fats.

While coconut oil was often shunned for this fat concentration, in recent years more has been understood about how beneficial it can be, such as increasing levels of good and decreasing levels bad cholesterol when consumed.

And it’s these same fatty acids that also make coconut oil so great for skin. MCTs are both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, so they have a combined cleansing and moisturizing effect when applied to the skin.

Because MCTs are easily digested by the cells, they’re absorbed by the skin quickly and that means they get to work almost immediately, resulting in near instant moisture for the skin. This will result in less flakiness and dryness in the short-term and preventing wrinkles and sagging over the long-term.

The free radical protection from coconut oil’s concentration of vitamin E is also important. Free radicals happen when oxygen molecules lose an electron, which makes them unstable. Free radicals are a normal part of aging, but they’re also caused by:

  • Air pollution
  • Alcohol use
  • Cigarette smoke, either direct or secondhand
  • Exposure to UVB rays

Vitamin E fights this environmental damage by replacing the lost electron, re-stabilizing molecules, and promoting healing and regeneration.

Coconut oil for chapped lips and dry skin

As a beauty product, coconut oil is most commonly used to treat dry skin and chapped lips, so you’ll probably want to stock up this winter. Lips are especially vulnerable, since they don’t have any oil glands to help with self-moisturizing, and can dry out due to:

  • Dehydration
  • Repeatedly licking or biting
  • The effects of cold, dry weather
  • Too much sun exposure
  • Medications like retinoids, chemotherapy drugs, and lithium

Cold weather also does a number on hands, since the skin here is much thinner, and also has fewer oil glands. That’s where coconut oil comes in with MCTs and fatty acids effectively helping heal, cleanse, and protect the skin all at once.

  • Softens and soothes skin quickly
  • Provides fast relief for itching and dryness
  • Keeps infections at bay with added antibacterial and antifungal properties

So, by using lotions and creams with coconut oil, you can help soothe the tight and itchy feeling that comes with dry skin and lips.

Coconut oil for sunburn

Winter effects aren’t the only target—and coconut oil isn’t just a one-season wonder. Summertime sunburns also lead to itchy and painful conditions that can be relieved with coconut oil. Here’s why you should also keep it on-hand for the summer:

  • MCTs help cells rejuvenate themselves, leading to faster healing time
  • Vitamin E prevents any lasting damage of sun exposure by preventing wrinkling, cracking, and the darkening of skin
  • Fatty lauric acid reduces inflammation caused by a burn
  • The oil also moisturizes and soothes the skin, reducing discomfort as it heals

So, don’t put the coconut oil away with the gloves, scarves, and hats once winter’s over. All the healing and soothing properties that make this oil great for dry skin also make it a great ointment for burns. So keep it handy to keep skin healthy all year-round.

Coconut oil for acne

Think acne goes away once the teenage years are over? If only that were true! Acne can persist well into adulthood for many people, and still more will deal with occasional breakouts. Luckily, coconut oil can come to the rescue once again.

At the heart of acne is infection. Glands in the skin normally produce an oil called sebum to keep skin moisturized. But, with acne, the glands get clogged with dirt and bacteria, which can result in redness, swelling, inflammation, pain, and itching.

Coconut oil’s concentration of lauric acid (with its fatty acids and antimicrobial properties) make it an extraordinary solution. Lauric acid cleanses the skin of the infection, thereby reducing pain and inflammation—just like with sunburns and dry skin.

Vitamin E also helps too in encouraging the skin to heal and improve itself. Not only does the vitamin undo the damage caused by acne, it also clears the sebum gland of free radicals, so the gland gets back to producing normal amounts of oil while clearing dirt and debris. It can also help reduce the appearance of acne scars, as the skin restores its natural cellular structure.

Coconut oil for dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a skin condition where dry, scaly rashes appear on the skin. The rashes are incredibly itchy and prone to infection when scratched. Studies show that the antibacterial and moisturizing properties in coconut oil might be able to help ward off infection and re-hydrate cells, making skin feel and look softer and healthier. Of course, you’ll always want to check with your doctor first before using coconut oil as a topical treatment for this condition.

Shopping for coconut oil products

Ready to get started with a coconut oil beauty regimen? Try some of these products with coconut oil to really see and feel the difference they make.

Simply Fair Pit Balm Fair Trade Coconut Oil Deodorant

Using only all-natural ingredients, this deodorant goes a step beyond the rest. Coconut oil keeps skin healthy and free from any redness or irritation that may be caused by shaving or friction from rough clothing material. It also smells great and lasts all day.

Everyday Coconut Fair Trade Coconut Cleansing Face Wash

Put those antimicrobial properties in coconut oil to good use! This face wash keeps skin clean by removing dirt, pollutants, makeup, and impurities—all while keeping skin nourished and moisturized.

Acure Organics Coconut & Argan Oil Towelettes

No time to wash up? Coconut & Argan Oil Towelettes come to the rescue. These wipes are a quick way to remove makeup or give the face a cleanup after a workout. They’re also super-hydrating and delightfully scented, and biodegradable—so they’re great for skin and for the planet.

DIY coconut oil lip treatments

Also check out these special tutorials to keep your lips smiling all winter.

DIY Peppermint Lip Balm with Coconut Oil

Skip the petroleum and mineral oil, and instead hydrate lips all winter with this easy and aromatic lip balm made with coconut oil and peppermint oil. You can also add in some shavings from a favorite lipstick to give this soothing balm a bright hue.

DIY Kylie Lip Kit with Coconut Oil

Want lips that are both healthy and look great? This at-home lip kit swaps out chemicals like nylon-12 and synthetic fluorphlogopite for coconut oil and vegetable glycerin, which naturally give the same feel and consistency of liquid lipstick. Keep a favorite essential oil handy (like a little vanilla or peppermint) to add a touch of irresistible flavor, too.

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