Coconut oil is a highly saturated oil that is known for its many health benefits. It is made up of 65% medium-chain fatty acids or MCFA, in which 48% of it is lauric acid. Other fatty acids that are present in coconut oil are myristic acid, caprylic acid, palmitic acid, capric acid, and oleic acid [R].
Benefits of Coconut Oil Against Acne and Acne Scars
1. It is antimicrobial.
The MCFAs present in coconut oil give it its antimicrobial properties. They help fight acne-causing bacteria. In fact, a study found that lauric acid and capric acid can kill Propionibacterium acnes, which is a gram-positive bacteria that is responsible for acne [R].
2. It is anti-inflammatory.
Coconut oil can help in reducing inflammation, which is one of the many symptoms that come with acne. Lauric and capric acid are two main MCFAs in coconut oil that helps reduce swelling and redness. Studies have also found that virgin coconut oil can also act as an analgesic in addition to reducing inflammation [R].
3. It promotes collagen production.
Collagen is important in wound healing. It also helps increase skin elasticity, thereby reducing acne scars, fine lines, and wrinkles.
According to Britt Brandon, author of the book “Coconut Oil for Health,” coconut oil has collagen-building nutrients that can provide anti-aging benefits, protecting your face from scars and wrinkles. There is no double-blind, placebo-controlled study that supports this claim, though.
4. It moisturizes.
When it comes to moisturizing, coconut oil is proven to be as effective as mineral oil, a moisturizer derived from petroleum [R]. It hydrates and increases the lipids in your skin. Making sure your skin is hydrated will help your skin function as a barrier against pathogen and bacteria. This helps prevent acne by clearing your skin of bacteria that can clog your pores. Additionally, coconut oil helps maintain the natural pH of the skin, keeping it healthy.
5. It improves antioxidant status.
Antioxidants are substances that stabilize free radicals. Research studies have proven that coconut oil improves antioxidant status, which helps reduce inflammation and oxidative stress [R]. This could be attributed to the phenolic compounds present in coconut oil. In relation to skin health, it helps prevent the oxidation of lipids that act as a skin barrier and helps with skin regeneration [R].
How to Use Coconut Oil
You can coconut oil as a topical solution, either by itself or mixed with other ingredients to really boost its effects. Just massage a small amount of coconut oil on your skin. If you want to use it with other ingredients, like turmeric, aloe vera, or honey [R], you can use these recipes:
1/2 cup of virgin coconut oil
1 tablespoon of honey
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 tablespoon of yogurt
a few drops of lavender oil
1 cup organic coconut oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
Combine these ingredients in a bowl and apply on your face every other day. If you have oily skin, you may use it daily. You can store this is an airtight jar away from sunlight for up to 2 weeks.
If you have very oily skin, coconut oil is not the best option for you. It may even worsen your acne by blocking your pores and causing blackheads. Also, if you have sensitive skin, consider doing a patch test first to make sure it doesn’t cause irritation.
Since the FDA considers coconut as a tree nut, you may be allergic to coconut oil if have a tree nut allergy, so it would be best to talk to your doctor beforehand [R].
In conclusion, although the studies available to prove the effects of coconut oil on your skin is limited to test-tube and animal testings, it is linked to potential skin benefits like reducing inflammation, healing wounds, and moisturizing the skin. However, if you have very oily or sensitive skin, you might want to consider adding coconut oil to your diet instead to take advantage of its benefits.