Class is in session! Part of a healthy skin care journey involves understanding which cosmetic ingredients will actually help your skin.
Cocos nucifera, more commonly known as coconut oil, is a plant oil high in saturated fat. It is considered quite the super star in the beauty industry and is used in many hair and skin care formulations.
What are the Benefits of Coconut Oil?
- Coconut oil is a great hair conditioner. It is one of the few oils that has the right molecular size, shape and chemical structure for the triglycerides it contains to easily be absorbed into the hair shaft; strengthening the hair.
- It is a gentle emollient that can be used on sensitive, delicate skin.
- Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, which has anti microbial properties. This could be one of the reasons why coconut oil has anti inflammatory, anti bacterial and anti septic qualities which may help in treating damaged skin i.e. wounds, burns, dermatitis. Update: read this article by Vicki of Futurederm on why coconut oil is not really antibacterial.
How to Include Coconut Oil in your Skincare
There is no shortage of skin care products that have coconut oil as an ingredient. However, before you use coconut oil, it would be wise to note that it ranks high in comedogenicity– the ability to clog pores. Make sure to use it on clean skin.
If you have oily or combination skin, then coconut oil may not be for you. “Oily, acne prone skin has been shown to have high oleic acid and low levels of linoleic acid. This deficiency in linoleic acid causes the skin’s sebum to thicken, clogging pores and causing acne. To create a balance in the skin which results in less breakouts, oils high in linoleic acid could be applied to the skin.” Source.
Coconut oil is higher in oleic acid which makes it more suited for drier skin.
How to Include Coconut Oil in your Hair Care
Growing up at the East African coast (shout out to Mombasa!) I learnt quite quickly that coconut oil is amazing as a hair treatment.
As I mentioned before, coconut oil is one of the few oils that can actually penetrate the hair shaft to the cortex and strengthen hair from within. According to the Beauty Brains, in 2002, researchers in India found that coconut oil reduces hair damage both as a pre-wash and post grooming treatment. If you want good penetration, you have to allow pure coconut oil to soak into your hair for a while, preferably overnight, before washing it out.