PSA: Stop Using Coconut Oil in Your Skincare Routine
We’re facing an alarming epidemic and it’s time we said something. Many people are using pure coconut oil in place of other skincare products like moisturizer and makeup remover. We’ve seen a few celebrities do this in our skincare reaction series – looking at you Catriona Gray and Hennessey Carolina – and many viewers have told us it’s all they use. So we’re taking a stance right here and now: stop it.
Pure coconut oil is praised for being a one-step, do-it-all skincare products. But here’s the problem: “It’s highly comedogenic and can clog pores,” says Redondo Beach, CA dermatologist Annie Chiu, MD. So it’s especially a no-no for acne-prone skin.
Sure, it coconut oil does help your skin retain moisture, but when you use at as your only moisturizer, you’re missing out on essential skincare components like humectants and hydrators, says cosmetic formulator Annalisa Branca.
Another factor to consider is where your coconut oil comes from. “Not all coconut oils are equally formulated,” says esthetician and formulator Bella Schneider. “They can be heavy and not suitable for all skin types. It just can’t be used as a universal everything! You need to know what lab it comes from, how it’s extracted, and what it’s combined with for penetration.”
Using it as a makeup remover isn’t as bad as using it as a moisturizer. However, “even as a cleanser, it can clog pores because it leaves a film,” says Dr. Chiu. So if you absolutely had to use it, we’d recommend using it as the first step in a double cleanse and follow it with another cleanser to remove the film.
That said, there are so many other oils and makeup removers out there that can do a better job without the risk of clogging your pores. We’re all obsessed with the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm ($64) at the Mixed Makeup office. For a more affordable option, try Banila Co Clean it Zero ($17).
The one place where our experts agree coconut oil is okay to use is on the scalp and hair. “One of my favorite uses for coconut oil is in my patients with dry scalp and dandruff,” says Manhattan Beach, CA dermatologist Nina Desai, MD. “I will have them massage coconut oil into the scalp several times a week before bed, sleep with a shower cap on, and rinse out in the morning. This leaves your scalp hydrated and smelling great.”
It’s also a great treatment for your hair because “it’s the only oil that has proven to penetrate into hair shaft,” says cosmetic product developer Ginger King.
The verdict? Skip it. It’s not going to kill you, but there are better products out there you can use on your skin.