Given that it is antibacterial, coconut oil has been used for years in different ways by people living in the tropics and is a popular skincare ingredient worldwide that people believe to be safely used for calming inflammation, promoting healing and slowing down ageing. It is a multifunctional oil with skin, hair, and overall health benefits and is best for dry skin as it helps repair the skin’s outer barrier.
It is believed to be a gentle natural moisturizer because it contains emollient properties and is also said to have anti-inflammatory properties. Many people also use it as an oil-based makeup remover, under-eye moisturiser, and even as a night cream. But can it act as a great body moisturizer when left on the face overnight?
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Teena Adarkar, Product Formulation Scientist at Plum Goodness, in an interview reveals, “Our grandmothers might have been onto something when they touted the benefits of coconut oil for our hair. However, you’ll be surprised to know that coconut oil does not have the same effect on the skin. Coconut oil forms a barrier layer on the skin and does not get absorbed easily, thus clogging your pores thanks to its high saturated fat and lipid content.”
“This makes the oil highly comedogenic. If you leave coconut oil on your face all night long, there is a good chance you might wake up to blackheads or whiteheads due to sebum and impurities getting trapped in your pores. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, coconut oil may even contribute to breakouts. While coconut oil does have a high comedogenic rating and is likely to cause a reaction when left on the skin, other factors like your skin type and pore size will ultimately affect how your skin reacts to it,” she added.
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Dr Hitasha Patil, a Consultant Dermatologist at Kaya in Pune’s Koregaon Park, elaborates, “The choice of coconut oil is important here. Virgin coconut oil that is cold-pressed gives the best results. Cold-pressed coconut oil was found to have more of the fatty acids which hydrate your skin. When applied overnight, it will trap the moisture into your skin, making it soft, supple and hydrated. Lauric acid in coconut oil helps boost collagen production. Coconut oil is said to reduce any signs of inflammation like redness or irritation but its anti-inflammatory properties are yet to be proven. A word of caution, coconut oil is comedogenic – it can cause whiteheads and blackheads or pimples in some people. If you have acne-prone skin or oily skin do not use coconut oil on your face.”
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Also according to other specialists, like Vipin Sharma, Senior Product and Research Manager at Fixderma India Pvt Ltd: “Coconut oil can act as a great body moisturiser. It repairs your skin barrier and traps in hydration. For dry and non-acne-prone skin, it can also act as a gentle moisturiser but it won’t nourish the skin deep within as oils have large molecule sizes which cannot penetrate the skin and can clog pores. It is highly comedogenic hence can lead to blocked pores and acne.”
“Although it is rare, coconut oil can cause allergies to highly sensitive skin. It has no anti-aging, skin lightening, collagen-boosting benefits as believed by many. So, for overnight skin repair and hydration, one should invest in a good night cream and sleeping mask according to their skin type,” Sharma said.