Coconut oil has been around for centuries, with evidence of coconut flesh being used for healing and consumption as far back as four thousand years ago. With the invention of the refinement process in the 1800s, coconut oil consumption grew and new uses for the product were discovered. In recent years, coconut oil has exploded in popularity as a sort of miracle ingredient with all sorts of use cases, from dental health to cooking, to skincare. While studies are continuing to determine the effectiveness of coconut oil in your diet, research has shown a definite link between coconut oil and improved skin health. So today, we want to discuss why coconut oil really is a miracle ingredient when it comes to your skin! Keep reading to learn more about the history and benefits of coconut oil when it comes to your skincare routine.
What Is Coconut Oil?
While it may seem like coconut oil has only risen in popularity in recent years, it has been used around the world for centuries. The use of coconut oil was first documented as early as 1500BC in Indian medicine, and later, European explorers would write about its use around the Asian Pacific region. Many communities in the region used coconut oil as an early form of skincare, protecting their skin from the harsh tropical sun. Once the refinement process was invented in 1877, the United States and Europe began importing this rich oil for use in soapmaking and as a cooking oil. However, World War II cut off this supply and demand shifted to other products, like corn, soy, and sunflower oils. Although this supply issue would eventually resolve with the end of WWII, the vegetable oil lobby began advertising campaigns designed to target coconut oil, and its unsaturated fats, as unhealthy. Soon, consumers were fearful of these fats as some people began to develop heart disease – and unsaturated, plant-based oils were touted as a healthier choice.
Despite today’s evidence that saturated fats don’t cause heart disease, and that coconut oil itself has many benefits, it took a long time for popular opinion to come back around. It wasn’t until the 2010s that coconut oil began to see a resurgence in popularity, and today, it can be found in anything from hair products to coffee.
The Benefits of Coconut Oil
While we can’t speak to ALL the proposed uses for coconut oil out there, when it comes to skincare, a significant body of research is available to back up the claims of those who love coconut oil! Read through the below list and associated studies, and you’ll be amazed at everything this miracle ingredient can do.
Coconut oil is high in naturally occurring lauric acid, which can help kill bacteria. Nearly 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are lauric acid, making it a powerful ingredient when it comes to fighting microorganisms. One study, which tested 30 types of fatty acids against various strains of bacteria, found lauric acid to be the most effective at stopping growth. This may positively contribute to your skin health as many types of skin issues, such as acne, can be caused by bacteria
It Could Reduce Inflammation
In early studies, coconut oil has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. In one study, coconut oil was applied to the inflamed ears of rats and was found to reduce inflammation and ease pain, while another in vitro study found that coconut oil suppressed inflammation and improved skin barrier function. While these results can’t be translated directly to adults just yet, research is ongoing, since chronic inflammation is a major component of many skin issues, including eczema. In fact, a 2013 study has already found that among children with eczema, the topical application of coconut oil resulted in a 68% decrease in eczema severity.
It's An Excellent Moisturizer
Coconut oil is perhaps most famous for its ability to keep your skin hydrated. Because it is rich in medium-chain fatty acids, coconut oil helps retain the moisture content of your skin, keeping it looking and feeling smooth. Retain is the key word here, because contrary to popular belief, coconut oil does not hydrate the skin in and of itself. Instead, it sits at the surface of the skin, trapping moisture underneath. This is just one of the many reasons we love the goat milk/coconut oil combination in our products – because as goat milk moisturizes, coconut oil can help “lock in” its amazing benefits.
Coconut oil also acts as an exfoliator, helping to remove the outermost layer of dead skin. Both the moisturizing and exfoliating aspects of coconut oil are essential for promoting and maintaining overall skin health. Many studies have found that healthy and moisturized skin is better able to act as a barrier for bacteria, preventing irritation in the first place.
A variety of other studies that have not yet advanced to human trials have discovered a multitude of other potential benefits from coconut oil use. For instance, a test tube study found lauric acid, a primary component of coconut oil, to be more effective than benzoyl peroxide at treating acne. Animal studies have had promising results using coconut oil on wounds. In one study using rats, coconut oil sped up wound healing, increased antioxidants, and increased collagen, an important protein that assists with wound healing.
When it comes to the care of your skin, you really can’t go wrong with coconut oil! There are so many benefits to be gained from incorporating it into your skincare routine, either raw or more conveniently, incorporated into your usual skincare products. If you’re suffering from dry or irritated skin, or just want to promote skin health, look for products that contain coconut oil. Importantly, especially if you suffer from sensitive skin, stick to unscented or naturally scented products whenever possible – artificial fragrances are the leading cause of skin irritation and may reduce the effectiveness of the coconut oil if your skin reacts to it.
If you’re interested in trying products made with coconut oil, check out our goat milk soap, lotion sticks, all-natural deodorant, or goat milk bath! At Madd House Hill, we use coconut oil as one of the base ingredients in the majority of our products, so everyone can experience the amazing benefits this powerful ingredient packs for your skin.
Until Next Time,
Madd House Hill