I decided to explore the benefits of coconut oil on the skin because of my husband, we always have a huge jar of it at home thanks to his love of the stuff. I’ve learned it has some amazing qualities that can improve your health, you may want to consider using it yourself.
My Coco-Health-Nut of a Husband
My husband has always been a huge fan of coconut oil, he first started using it with cooking, specifically with frying breaded chicken. I thought it was a nice change of taste, but then after one or two meals, I decided I was not willing to replace it for all of my other favorite cooking oils because of its distinctive taste. I’ve used it myself in baking some gluten-free recipes and had great results. But I never (ever) considered the benefits of coconut oil on the skin. It sounds just a little crazy, doesn’t it?
Did I mention that my husband is into health, even more so than me? Wait. Let me rephrase that…he’s a downright hard core, card carrying health nut. So guess which one of us was the first to try using coconut oil on the skin? Uh, yeah, not me. He doesn’t just use coconut oil on his skin or cook with it, sometimes he eats a spoonful right out of the jar! Like I said, hard core.
Coconut Oil as a Health Supplement – Inside and Out
My husband looks at coconut oil as a health supplement. Being a nurse (and a true skeptic), I cannot simply take his word, I have to check things out for myself. I reviewed several different studies on PubMed showing the results of research on coconut oil consumption…very interesting. I guess I have to give the guy some credit. Some of the studies I read show that adding coconut oil to your diet can reduce hunger, help to burn more calories, and even improve cognitive functions in Alzheimer’s patients; and there are studies showing cardiovascular benefits, too.
Before you start consuming large amounts of coconut oil for its health benefits, I think it is important to say that a lot of the people who participated in these different research trials were tested under a controlled set of circumstances that included very healthy diets low in sugar and high in fiber.
Now that you know including coconut oil as part of a healthy diet is something worth considering, what about the benefits of coconut oil on the skin?
In the winter, my husband has very dry skin, so he likes to use coconut oil because he swears it is better than any lotion he has used before. He also believes in its healing properties. I thought he was just exaggerating. So when I researched studies on coconut oil (besides learning the advantages of adding it to a healthy diet), I found articles showing the benefits of coconut oil on the skin.
Your skin acts as a barrier between the external environment and the inside of your body, like a living, breathing protective shield. If the surface of your skin is disrupted—such as scratches, scrapes, cuts, inflammation, dry skin—then diseases and/or harmful bacteria have a way to enter your body and potentially wreak havoc. The most superficial part of your skin, the epidermis, contains different kinds of cells that play important roles in forming a barrier to these toxins and in helping your skin to heal. When these cells are not functioning at top capacity, then using the right skin care product can help them get back to their super hero roles.
The Great Protector and Healer
Research has shown that coconut oil on the skin works in a lot of different ways to help the epidermis protect and heal your skin:
- It helps one type of cell in the epidermis, the stratum corneum, to increase its rigidity, so it enhances the protective barrier of the skin (a tougher shield).
- It is effective in treating dry skin, which if left untreated, leads to a breakdown of the skin barrier.
- It can help heal atopic dermatitis—when your skin is red and itchy, possibly in response to a new soap or laundry detergent—again, if left untreated leads to a breakdown of the skin barrier.
- It promotes wound healing because it has been shown to help with epithelization, when new cells are formed to close up a wound.
- It displays antimicrobial activity, which means it can destroy bacteria that are trying to break through the skin barrier, specifically certain staph infections; in higher concentrations it can work against other harmful bacteria like E. coli.
- It displays antiviral and antifungal activities—both of which can be transmitted through the skin if the barrier is broken.
- It protects the skin from UV radiation.
You know, there is part of me that wanted my husband to be wrong about the benefits of using coconut oil on the skin because I thought he was being (more than) a little bit crazy slathering it all over his body – most especially because he does not always wait for it to absorb before he touches things (ugh!!). But darn it if he wasn’t right, I hate it when that happens. That means, to be fair, I had to try it for myself. Why was I so apprehensive, evening knowing the long list of attributes? I guess it was the “greasy factor”.
One Slippery Coconut
I’m not going to lie, it was not my favorite experience. I am quite familiar with using oils, I used to practice as a Licensed Massage Therapist. I would have no problem using coconut oil as a massage oil, it glides very nicely and does not absorb right away, allowing for less friction when working on muscles. And one of my favorite lotions is a little heavy and does not sink in instantly, but that is mostly on the palms of the hands. The difference is that with other heavier lotions and creams, they seem to absorb into the skin relatively quickly, and coconut oil takes a while longer…to the point that I was sort of afraid to touch or lean on anything…I was one slippery coconut!
My Final Thoughts
If you decide to try it, I recommend using a small amount applied to moist skin, such as when you first step out of the shower. I tried it on damp skin first, it spread evenly but my skin felt a little oily for several minutes. Later, I used a little more directly on dry skin and it just sat there for a while. I will say that once my skin drank in all the oil, it felt velvety soft. I can understand why people would want to apply coconut oil on their skin, there are too many advantages to ignore. I think I would be more inclined to look for coconut oil as an ingredient in a lotion or cream, however, I would consider using it when I do not have to get dressed for a little while so it has a chance to absorb. What do you think? Leave a comment below, I’d love to know your opinion. Thanks!