Can You Use Coconut Oil on Acne-Prone Skin? Heres The Truth

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

  • Can Coconut Oil Clear Acne? The Truth As Per Scientific Research
  • What Can Coconut Oil Do For Your Skin?
  • Your Guide To Using Coconut Oil For Acne
  • Alternatives For Coconut Oil

Can Coconut Oil Clear Acne? The Truth As Per Scientific Research

No. Coconut oil cannot treat or minimize acne. Instead, it may worsen acne.

While it may have other skin benefits, researchers found that coconut oil is comedogenic. The test evaluated commercially available coconut oils and virgin coconut oil and concluded that although coconut oil has emollient properties, it is not suitable for acne-prone skin. In other words, coconut oil can block the skin pores and trap dirt, sebum, and bacteria. This can aggravate existing acne or cause new breakouts.

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Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it is often used in many skin care products, including products for acne-prone skin. It is an emollient and helps hydrate the skin, which is crucial for acne-prone skin.

Virgin coconut oil contains lauric acid. In a separate study, lauric acid, a middle-chain free fatty acid, showed antibacterial properties against P. acnes bacteria and inhibited its growth.

Does that mean applying virgin coconut oil can minimize acne?

No. This is because the lauric acid used in laboratory settings is isolated from the actual ingredient. Coconut oil may contain lauric acid, but it also contains other fatty acids like palmitic, oleic, linoleic, capric, and other acids, and its chemical composition is complex.

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Despite these skin benefits, its comedogenicity makes coconut oil unsuitable for acne and acne-prone skin. Does that mean people with oily and acne-prone skin should shun coconut oil from their routines?

The answer is – not really. You can still use coconut oil as a makeup remover or part of the double cleansing process. However, there is a trick to use it the right way. We will tell you how, but before that, understand how coconut oil may help your skin.

What Can Coconut Oil Do For Your Skin?

Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids and has the following benefits:

  • Has emollient properties to keep the skin hydrated, plump, and minimize trans-epidermal water loss (TWEL), thus minimizing signs of aging.Has anti- inflammatory properties to minimize and soothe inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis. It reduces the expression of many inflammatory mediators to keep your skin healthy.
  • Maintains the skin barrier function by inhibiting the cytokines that can influence the skin cells and hamper the protective natural barrier. It also facilitates the proper distribution of glycerol esters and water (contained in sebum) to maintain skin hydration and barrier.
  • Prevents oxidative stress and protects the skin from reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by UV exposure. This property helps minimize signs of photodamage like fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation, dark spots, and patches.

Despite having many benefits, we would not suggest coconut oil for acne-prone skin. If it hurts to throw out the bottle of virgin coconut oil you treasure, here are a few tips for using it safely without aggravating your acne.

Your Guide To Using Coconut Oil For Acne

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It is essential to keep your skin clean for acne-prone skin, especially if you use makeup products. You can use coconut oil as

A Cleansing Oil

  1. Massage your face with a few drops of virgin coconut oil.
  2. Lift all traces of makeup with the oil and wash your face with warm water.
  3. Follow up with a gentle or medicated cleanser.
  4. Ensure there is no trace of coconut oil on your face.
  5. Proceed with your next skin care steps.

This is the best way to use coconut oil on acne-prone skin – as a makeup remover. But you have to ensure that the oil does not stay on your skin for long, and you wipe out all its traces from your face. Also, make sure you are using virgin coconut oil and not any other commercial products. If you do not want to use coconut oil, here are some alternatives.

Alternatives For Coconut Oil

Jojoba oil contains wax esters that may help repair the altered skin barrier and skin issues like acne, atopic dermatitis, and eczema.

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You can use it as a cleansing oil to remove makeup. However, ensure to not leave it on for longer and wash your face thoroughly with a medicated cleanser.

Hemp seed extract is effective against P. acnes bacteria. This oil may help soothe acne. Since it is an essential oil, mix 2-3 drops of hemp seed oil with a tablespoon of jojoba or any other carrier oil and use it as a spot treatment.

A study found 5% topical tea tree oil to be effective against mild to moderate acne vulgaris. You can use pure tea tree oil (diluted with a carrier oil) as a spot treatment or use products that contain 5% tea tree oil (gels, face wash, creams, etc.).

Cosmeceuticals containing sweet basil extract can minimize acne. Sweet basil extract contains flavonoids, terpinol, and other compounds, making it a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. You can use products containing sweet basil extract or use pure essential oil (diluted with a carrier oil) as a spot treatment.

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This oil has anti-inflammatory properties and can help minimize acne inflammation and redness.

Our Verdict

Coconut oil is a skin-loving oil and helps maintain its barrier, hydration, and overall health. However, for acne-prone skin, topical coconut oil is a strict no-no. If you are determined to include it in your routine, try using it as a cleansing oil. However, make sure you wipe out all traces of coconut oil from your skin. Otherwise, it may aggravate your condition and cause breakouts.

Read more on: coconut, treat, acne, skin


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