Coconut oil, what can’t it do? In the skincare realm, this natural oil is touted as a miracle cure for many skin concerns. Similarly, if you’ve got acne then coconut oil may be the way to go.
We’ve done some digging about the best ways to use coconut oil for acne and why it actually works, so you can understand all the background information and come equipped with knowledge to give yourself the best chance of curing your pesky pimples and pustules.
What is acne?
For a lot of people, acne is a four letter word. In fact, every 3 in 4 people will experience it at some times in their lives, making it the most common skin condition in the world. But this is also good news as it means there’s been a heap of research into its causes and cures.
Acne (acne vulgaris) generally occurs during puberty, but can still be experienced throughout or at random points in the sufferers life. When the male hormone, testosterone, overstimulates oil production in the body, this excess oil combines with dirt and hair in pores and hair follicles. This will create acne to varying degrees of severity. The kinds of spots you can experience are whiteheads, blackheads, pimples and blind pimples.
These are the different kinds of severities of acne:
- Mild – Non-inflammatory acne, generally not referred to as acne. Characterized by a few infrequent pimples, whiteheads or blackheads that will disappear quickly and without treatment. Leaves no scarring if not picked at or popped.
- Moderate – More spots of each kind, slightly inflamed and filled with pus, can usually be treated with over the counter acne products.
- Severe – Very inflamed and painful acne, usually lots of blind pimples. Will cause scarring and skin pigmentation issues if not treated correctly. Generally requires prescription medication and treatments.
- Cystic – Worst kind of acne, extremely inflamed and painful. Many large, swollen, pus-filled blind pimples deep under the skin that can burst. If burst, the infection will spread and the cysts can cause scarring, as specified in this medical publication. Must be treated with prescription medicine for best results.
The severity of your acne can be exacerbated by many other factors. If your diet is high in sugar, you don’t get enough exercise and/or are overweight this may make your spots worse. Similarly, some medications, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), pregnancy and stress are all triggers for acne.
To find out what’s causing your acne and how to treat it, the first step you should take is seeing a doctor or dermatologist. They will be able to examine your skin and tell you what severity you have and how to manage it or which medications/treatments you can try.
What is coconut oil?
In recent years, coconut oil has become increasingly popular. Not just within the health sphere but in the beauty and celebrity sphere as well.
Coconut oil is made from fresh, pressed, coconut meat and has antibacterial, antifungal and moisturizing superpowers. This has made it popular for everything from simple cooking to removing toxins from the body and whitening teeth (oil pulling). Here’s a few of the most popular uses:
- Hair care
- Olive oil substitute for cooking
- Makeup remover
- Weight loss
- Cardiovascular health
- Oil pulling (removes toxins and bacteria in the mouth whilst whitening teeth)
- Metabolism booster
It’s also been said to help deal with colds, prevent alzheimer’s and cancer and more, but there needs to be more research put into these claims before we take them as gospel. It’s most popular use, by far, has definitely been weight loss, with many people claiming it’s a miracle worker in that regard – especially because coconut oil is an energy booster that won’t be stored as fat so it’s a popular choice for athletes and gym-goers.
Coconut oil contains some great antioxidant properties, meaning that substances in the oil will fight off free radicals in your body that cause damage to your cells. It’s also a great cooking substitute for olive oil as it’s considered a healthy fat. It’s antibacterial and antifungal properties are what set it apart from the rest when it comes to skin care.
A good-sized jar of coconut oil will probably set you back around $10-$20 depending on the quality and where you buy it. Always go for the organic, extra virgin kinds as these are the best quality and will give you the best results for whatever you’re after.
How can coconut oil help with acne?
So now you know what coconut oil is and what it can do, it’s time to delve a little deeper into why coconut oil can be a great treatment for your mild to moderate acne. As always, make sure to consult a doctor or dermatologist before you begin use of coconut oil for your acne.
Here’s how it can help:
It’s got antioxidants
This is an important one, the antioxidants will reduce damage of your cells from free radicals meaning that your cells will have time to go forth and multiply. Because of this process, the cell turnover will increase, dead, unhealthy skin cells will be shed and more healthy ones will be produced. So if you’ve got acne scars, coconut oil is going to help them fade.
It’s easily absorbed
The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil are very similar to those in our skin’s sebum. So when you put it in your skin, it mimics the properties of your skin’s natural oils and is therefore absorbed efficiently and quickly. This is great because it means you can get the full benefits straight away instead of having to deal with a commercial product that may be less compatible with your skin and therefore not be absorbed as well.
It’s antibacterial and antifungal
On the skin level, coconut oil will fight off any acne-causing bacteria that’s sitting on the surface of your skin and waiting to get into your pores. Lauric acid is the main contributor to this and can be even more effective than benzoyl peroxide – one of the most popular acne treatments.
When ingested, coconut oil has the effect of boosting the abilities of your organs, including hormone secretion and regulation, your liver’s ability to get rid of toxins and your cells’ abilities to banish toxins through your skin. All of these things work together to help your body fight off the bacteria that causes acne. Healing you from the inside out.
It can help you internally and externally
As mentioned above, you can use coconut oil both internally and externally. This is great because if you use it both ways at the same time you’re not only healing your skin but also assisting in healing your gut, organs, bloodstream and more. Coconut oil can go in smoothies, in salads, in your cooking – it’s so versatile that it can suit every lifestyle!
This is an excellent point for those of you with dry skin, coconut oil is going to do wonders for you! Whilst fighting off your acne it’s also going to thoroughly moisturize your skin, meaning it will reduce the effects of any flaky skin from previous blemishes that may have burst or you have have been picking at (naughty). Keeping the skin moisturized will mean it will look healthier and more supple than it does when it’s suffering from dryness – like some other popular acne medications and treatments can cause.
Best ways to use coconut oil for acne?
For the best results, you’re going to want to use coconut oil internally and externally to fight your acne.
It’s important to note that if you do use them together, you may notice your breakouts are worse at the beginning of the treatment. This is because your body is flushing out the toxins in your organs and bloodstream, they will be expelled through the skin which can result in more acne. This will eventually calm down and clear up, your skin will thank you for it in the end – don’t give up!
When trying any new product, it’s best to test if you’re going to have an allergic or intolerant reaction. The risk factor with coconut oil is very low but test it anyway, just in case. Rub some coconut oil into a small spot behind your ear and on the inside of your elbow. Observe the area over 24 hours and if you have no negative reaction to it then it should be safe to use. If there’s any irritation, stinging or pain when you first start using the coconut oil properly, discontinue use.
We’ve listed a few different ways for both internal and external use so you can try them individually or together – it’s all about finding out what works best for you and your body.
Coconut oil is an excellent addition to your normal cooking routine. For most dishes, you can substitute olive oil for coconut oil and still get the same results, it may even taste better! Incorporating a tablespoon or two each day into your cooking will help to get the right amount ingested into your body without you noticing much of a difference to your daily routine.
However, if you want to get the best benefits from ingesting coconut oil, the best way to go about it is actually having it by the spoonful, on its own.
Start out by having a third of a tablespoon three times a day, so breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can split this up however you want depending on your tolerance to the taste of coconut oil. So, you might want to have half a tablespoon in the morning and the other half at night, or an entire tablespoon in the morning. It’s up to you!
Use this method for the first week or so and then slowly increase your dose up to 3 tablespoons a day – which is the minimum recommended amount to see great results. If you notice any diarrhea-like effects, decrease the dosage as this is a definite sign your body isn’t ready for that much coconut oil yet.
Using coconut oil on the skin is not recommended for those with oilier skin, this will work best on dry to normal skin and mild to moderate acne. There’s quite a few different ways coconut oil can be used externally, here’s some of the best methods:
- Use it as a moisturizer – All you need to do is swap out your normal moisturizer with coconut oil. When you’re moisturizing morning and night after you wash your face, apply a small amount of coconut oil so that there’s a thin layer across your face. You can also use it on your body. Don’t overdo it however, you don’t want a thick layer of oil on your skin as it can clog your pores, a small amount will work perfectly.
- Use it as a makeup remover – When you’re taking off your makeup, oil-based products usually work the best. Coconut oil is no exception. It’s gentle, natural and can remove the toughest of makeup. So use your clean fingers to massage it all over your face, then remove the excess oil and makeup with a cotton pad and wash your face thoroughly with water.
- Make a scrub – Mix ¼ a cup of both coconut oil and olive oil with ½ cup of raw, brown sugar. When you’re in the shower, gently apply the mixture to your face and massage it onto your skin for a couple minutes. Rinse thoroughly, you can do this a couple times a week to help with any dead skin. You can also add a couple drops of your favourite essential oil to this mix for extra acne-fighting effects. The most popular ones are lavender and tea tree oil but be do some research and pick one that works best for you!
- Use as a mask – If your breakouts are at their worst and you need a bit of an extra boost, you can mix a tablespoon of coconut oil with a teaspoon of baking soda. Then, using a cotton ball or pad, dab the mixture onto the worst parts of your breakout liberally. Leave for 10 minutes before washing with warm water, be sure to moisturize afterwards as baking soda works as an exfoliant and you’ll need to put a bit more moisture back into your skin.