A. Does Coconut Oil Clog Your Pores?
Sharing one of the biggest questions about skin care and other important tips about using coconut oil for the skin Skin care gurus and holistic doctors have made many exaggerated claims about coconut oil for years. It is presented as a skin-friendly and health-friendly superfood with unsurpassed abilities to cure external and internal illnesses. However, some recent headlines explain that coconut oil is not as wonderful as we had hoped.
The confusing (and often contradictory) advice surrounding coconut oil is also spreading in the skin care world. Some advice will tell you that coconut oil protects your skin, while other sources warn you to stay away. Things can get very confusing, especially when we talk about acne and pore health, and frankly, we’re ready for some answers!
1. Does coconut oil clog pores?
We always follow the “your best skin” approach, which means that skin type tolerance takes precedence for all ingredients. As with any skin care product, coconut oil works differently for each skin type. That said, it has some serious beauty benefits. Let’s skip the controversy and arm ourselves with knowledge by learning about the ins and outs of coconut oil.
2. The type of coconut oil is important
First, it is important to note that there are two main categories of coconut oil: refined and unrefined. Refined oils are cheaper to produce and are made from dried coconut rather than fresh. They are exposed to high temperatures and chemical solvents to remove the natural coconut flavor and aroma. This means that refined coconut oils survive with less nutrients and a smooth fragrance profile.
Unrefined virgin coconut oil is made from fresh coconuts that are mechanically pressed under high pressure or cold. The oil is extracted from seeds and nuts, with the chemical structure of coconut oil intact. Look for cold-pressed varieties as this means processing heat is kept low for maximum nutritional integrity. We encourage you to choose raw, organic and unrefined coconut oil for your DIY skin care treatments. And to avoid pesticides and genetic changes, which compromise nutritional properties, choose organic whenever possible.
3. Can you apply coconut oil on your face?
If you suffer from clogged pores or blemishes, this oil can be an innovative antidote. The essential fatty acids contained in coconut oil are unique. They are known as medium chain fatty acids and are an essential part of energy production and promoting cell metabolism. This means that topically applied MCFAs can contribute to healthy skin cell renewal and the development of strong new tissue. Coconut oil also contains large amounts of lauric acid and capric acid, which are naturally antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral. They are particularly effective in minimizing acne-associated bacteria (P. acnes). Studies have shown that lauric acid is more effective than benzoyl peroxide in killing acne bacteria.
For those who suffer from post-acne blemishes and scars, coconut oil can be effective in smoothing out the discoloration. Topical application promotes collagen production and helps the skin eliminate dead cells to be replaced with new, healthy tissue. For skin types that struggle with bacterial acne, the topical application of coconut oil can be extremely helpful and healing. It is also less aggressive than traditional acne treatments.
PRO TIP: Before applying coconut as a facial oil, try it as a spot treatment to see how your skin reacts.
4. Coconut oil for the skin
You might be surprised to learn that coconut oil can help with acne. Not so much hormonal or cystic acne, but mostly bacterial acne – and also scarring after acne, clogged pores and overproduction of oil.
a. Soothing oat and lavender milk cleanser
This powdered cleanser combines moisturizing and emollient coconut milk with finely ground oats for a smooth texture and soothing feel. Pink and lavender reduce the risk of scarring, relieve irritation and balance sebum levels. For those dealing with oil overproduction, coconut oil can work the epidermal barrier to produce less natural lipids. Using too many acne removal agents can trigger excessive oil production. A light application of coconut oil can replenish your lipid barrier and send a message to your pores that your skin is hydrated.
b. Blood Orange Cleansing Balm
This balm does quick makeup and dirt work on your pores. It uses a blend of avocado, olive and coconut oils. Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and retains dirt while massaging and then removing the balm. Beeswax gives the balm a firm to smooth texture and helps to strengthen the skin’s protective barrier. Blood Orange Essential Oil fights inflammation, lightens and gently cleanses the skin to remove excess stubborn sebum. Coconut oil does the heavy lifting and cleanses the skin thoroughly without leaving any greasy residue. This silky formula is gentle enough, even for sensitive skin.
5. How Coconut Oil Works For Your Skin Type
While coconut oil has many undeniable benefits, it may not work for all skin types or conditions. People with mixed skin, severe oil overproduction, or dehydrated skin: Use coconut oil sparingly. That means enough to reap the benefits, but not enough to exacerbate existing problems.
Being somewhat comedogenic (meaning it can clog pores), coconut oil can be tricky for mixed skin types. Combination refers to those who suffer from naturally oily skin, dryness and dandruff. Exfoliation on mixed skin can also clash with coconut oil, especially if the skin is not regularly peeled. When coconut oil is applied to dead skin cells, lipids and dead skin cells can mix. This leads to clogging of pores and the appearance of a comedo.
Oily or acne-prone skin types are more cautious with coconut oil. While some people experience oil overproduction in response to product peeling, others have naturally oily skin regardless of the products. In this case, it’s not about retraining your lipid barrier. Instead, it is necessary to use non-comedogenic oils. Great examples are jojoba oil or grapeseed oil, which are rich in vitamin E but don’t clog pores.
Tip from the expert: We have developed a mask for normal, oily and combination skin: the Matcha Oat Milk Nourishing Mask. Contains finely ground oats with anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties, with matcha for acne and redness relief.
c. Dry / dehydrated
Combining coconut oil with dry or dehydrated skin does not go well together. With its waxy substance and rich lipid profile, coconut oil acts as a barrier to the outermost layers of the skin. Applying an oil to your skin before moisturizing it will leave your skin high in lipids and not enough water. Dehydrated skin can actually contribute to clogging pores with flaking and dead skin cells.
Tip from the expert: One of our best dry skin formulas contains coconut oil along with hawthorn moisturizing water. Sage, chamomile and cedar wood extracts in Marine Culture Restoring Cream ensure the skin’s calmness and at the same time protect against acne-causing bacteria.
To sum up our research, coconut is antibacterial, moisturizing and lighter than comparable oils. With its anti-inflammatory properties, it can heal itchy blemishes, eczema, rough skin and recent scars. Coconut oil also offers a long list of benefits for the body, hair, nails and internal digestion. Using coconut oil on skin and hair is simple and can be done using DIY or store-bought formulas.
B. Could Coconut Oil Be Clogging Your Pores?
Coconut oil has always been touted as a natural beauty remedy. When it comes to beauty, many enthusiasts rely on coconut oil as their first choice: it’s a hair care, do-it-yourself foundation, facial cleanser, facial moisturizer, tonic oil and moisturizer all in one.
So there are many reasons to love the benefits of coconut oil for your skin and hair, for sure. But like all good things, it’s not good for everyone – or for everything. In the field of beauty, we tend to think that if something works, it has to work universally and start giving advice that presents itself as such. But since hair and skin are very complex and individual things, what works for you may not work for me. This is OK!
Case in point: coconut oil and strange cases of clogged pores. One problem that some have complained about with using the oil is that you may see more blackheads and pimples with regular use. This brings us to the question: Oh, does coconut oil clog my pores? We spoke with some experts and dived into the research to find out.
1. Here’s the problem: it’s high on the comedogenic scale
Comedogenic refers to the clogged nature of the pores of a substance. The common practice of looking for non-comedogenic ingredients in skin care products is because they are less likely to cause breakouts or skin problems. Certified dermatologist Cybele Fishman, MD, notes that this is an anecdotal phenomenon she observes in her practice: “Although the improved barrier function and antibacterial properties of virgin coconut oil (VCO) make it a great choice for cleaning or looking make a moisturizer for acne patients, in my daily dealings with many acne sufferers, this leads to rashes in some, not all patients,” she said. She postulates it could be lauric acid.
Lauric acid alone has been shown to help with acne because it is antimicrobial and can be prone to acne-causing bacteria. But when it accumulates in the top layer of skin without penetrating – which is problematic for those who already have oily or acne-prone skin. Once in the pore, bacteria, dirt and dead skin cells can accumulate under the pus to trigger an inflammatory response. That’s when you see breakups.
2. Another problem: oils don’t give away moisture.
Oils are naturally occlusive, meaning they wrap around the skin and form a seal. This seal holds water (a good thing!) and helps protect your skin from outside influences (a good thing too!), but you mostly need water to contain it. And depending on your usage, you may not retain water under the oil, leaving your skin dry – which can lead to increased sebum production in response.
You see, according to skin care expert Sarah Villafranco, M.D., oils don’t actually hydrate the skin. “Anything that moisturizes needs to have a water component – which is the ‘hydra’ part – which means that lotions (70% water) keep your skin hydrated but oils don’t,” she explained. Therefore, to properly assess whether coconut oil is causing breakouts, you need to make sure you are using it effectively. We recommend using it as an occlusive product on wet skin or even over a moisturizing serum or lotion (such as one based on hyaluronic acid or glycerin). Here’s the layer: right after washing your face or right after showering if your skin is still damp, apply the moisturizing serum and pat on top.
3. Who should and shouldn’t use: pros and cons
So how do you know if coconut oil is right for you? “The only way to find out if virgin coconut oil will work for your skin is to experiment,” says beautician Tami Blake, founder of Free + True. However, if you’re looking for guidance, here’s our checklist of pros and cons.
- Pro: Good for eczema and weakened skin barriers. As an antimicrobial, coconut oil protects the skin from staph, which has been linked to eczema, agree Villafranco and Fishman. It also helps with transepidermal water loss (TEWL) in patients, as eczema (sometimes called atopic dermatitis) is a chronic condition primarily characterized by the skin’s inability to properly retain and store moisture.
- Pro: Can cause leakage. Listen, for the reasons above, there’s a good chance that using coconut oil can be risky for you if your pores clog easily – since any oil with a high comedogenic scale can contribute to rashes.
- Pros: Anyone can use it as a makeup remover. When used as a makeup remover, the oil becomes a washable product, making it a safer choice for most – even if you have acne, as the oil doesn’t last long. If this happens, make sure you always clean twice using a water-based facial soap afterwards.
- Disadvantage: It is thick and can be solid at room temperature. From a texture standpoint, many who prefer lighter and more airy products can stay away from the oil from a sensory point of view. This is simply a personal choice.
- Pros: It’s a solid moisturizer for the body. Your face has a higher concentration of pores and sebaceous glands, which makes it more prone to breakouts. Even though it is not tolerated on the face, you can use it on other parts of the body, such as hands, arms, legs, feet, stomach. Therefore, be more careful with the torso, shoulders and chest, as these areas are often associated with body acne.
4. If you burst, try fractionated coconut oil or jojoba oil
Fractionated coconut oil (when obtained as an alternative) has been minimally processed – it is steamed and longer-chain fatty acids, including lauric acid that irritates part of the skin, are removed, leaving medium-chain fats behind. Therefore, it remains liquid at room temperature. “Compared to raw coconut oil, which can feel strangely greasy and dry on the skin, fractionated coconut oil is quickly absorbed and doesn’t leave an oily feeling on the skin’s surface,” says Villafranco. Wait two weeks for your skin to get used to something new.
If it fails, jojoba oil. Jojoba oil is widely considered to be one of the best oil choices for people with acne or easily clogged pores. Experts believe it is the oil most structurally similar to sebum, the oily substance that the sebaceous glands secrete to naturally moisturize the skin and hair. See, it can reduce skin oils by modulating the skin’s natural sebum production. Not to mention the oil is rich in beauty-promoting ingredients such as vitamin E, vitamin B complex, copper and zinc and has shown impressive anti-inflammatory effects.
Other options are grape seed oil and pumpkin seed oil, both of which are very well tolerated in the skin. Pumpkin seed oil, which is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, has been shown to be helpful for acne in reducing redness and inflammation.
Coconut oil, due to its occlusive character, can cause outbreaks in people predisposed to the disease. If it works for you, don’t worry and get on with your daily routine. However, if you see clogged pores, reconsider the product.