Virgin Coconut oil has become THE biggest thing in skincare and hair care. Beauty products use it as their top ingredient, and beauty influencers swear by it as they flaunt their enviable locks and complexion. So what exactly does virgin coconut oil do for your skin and hair? We found not one but seven amazing benefits, backed by studies and experts. Plus, read on for a ton of tips for using coconut oil in your hair care and skincare routine.
First, A Note:
Pick VCO Over Other Coconut Oils.
When we talk of coconut oil benefits for skin and hair, we really mean virgin coconut oil. VCO is pure and all-natural. By contrast, processed or “refined” coconut oil contains added chemicals that may not be gentle to your skin or hair. You could just be cancelling out all that coconut oil goodness with synthetic chemicals.
1. For glowing, supple skin, moisturize with virgin coconut oil.
That healthy dewy sheen we all want on our skin largely comes from moisturization. But before you fill your shopping cart with lotions made of unfamiliar (and potentially harsh) ingredients, try virgin coconut oil (VCO) as an all-natural body moisturizer. Dermatologists and research show that the fatty acids in coconut oil act as emollient: they seal in the skin’s hydration so it stays soft and supple. In one study, VCO was found to be more powerful than mineral oil in keeping water within the skin!
2. Virgin Coconut oil soothes and wounds and skin inflammation.
To help heal those itchy skin rashes, scratches, and rough patches, give them some coconut oil TLC. The antimicrobial properties of VCO promote faster healing by preventing microbes from multiplying. A 2019 study even found that VCO inhibited the growth of the staph bacteria that causes eczema a.k.a. atopic dermatitis (which is one of the peskiest and most common skin conditions). VCO also boosted the skin’s microbe-fighting cells, so much so that the paper suggested that VCO could be an alternative to antibiotics!
3. Get luscious lips with a coconut oil balm.
The moisturizing and disinfecting power of coconut oil helps heal dry, chapped, or cracked lips. It works two ways: the fatty components of the oil lock in moisture, while its bacteria-fighting properties prevent infection. Try dabbing VCO as a lip balm regularly, especially after stepping out of the shower. Smack those kissers and you’re good to go!
4. Virgin coconut oil helps skin bounce back from damage, restoring healthy smoothness.
There’s scientific evidence that coconut oil promotes the production of collagen, the main building block of our skin. Researchers studied VCO’s effect on skin lesions and found that “collagen showed a significant increase in VCO-treated wounds.” This suggests that VCO helped the skin rebuild with collagen after damage. With faster collagen regeneration, our skin can bounce back from lesions and become smooth and healthy again. This is especially important as we age past 30, when our natural collagen production slows down.
5. Virgin coconut oil keeps hair lush in the sun.
Got dry hair that looks lackluster? Coconut oil may be your new best friend. As we now know, coco oil is excellent in keeping hydration within the skin, and the same applies to hair. When you keep your strands moisturized, they’ll be shinier and less prone to damage from the elements. Even hairstylists recommend that you nourish your hair with VCO before you groom or step out in the sun.
6. Hair breakage and split ends? Protect hair with virgin coconut oil.
You’ve probably heard of people applying coconut oil to stop split ends or strengthen brittle hair. Turns out, there’s science to this! One study in the Journal of Cosmetic Science revealed that VCO was more effective than sunflower oil or mineral oil in keeping protein within hair strands. Good protein retention equals stronger locks that are more resistant to breaking or splitting.
7. Tame that frizz and smoothen those tangles with virgin coconut oil.
As virgin coconut oil coats hair strands with a nice emollient layer, it makes hair more manageable, less frizzy, and easier to detangle. It also acts as a “humidity cap” or a barrier that keeps external humidity out, helping prevent flyaways. And when you regularly nourish your hair with VCO, you’ll get softer, smoother locks that are easier to tame.
How to Use Coconut Oil
for Skin and Hair
Body moisturizer. After pat-drying from the shower, pour a dollop of VCO in the palm of your hand and massage throughout your body.
Lip balm. Dab lightly on lips until oil sets. Do this after showering and anytime your lips feel dry.
Anti-frizz conditioner. To tame frizzy, flyaway hair, rub a pea-sized amount of VCO between your palms then smooth over your hair, from mid-length to tip. Use any excess oil to relax stray baby hair at your roots.
Hair strengthening mask. Before shampooing, massage warm (not hot) VCO on hair, taking care to avoid your scalp. Cover with a shower cap for 20 minutes. Shampoo hair as usual. You can do this routine two or three times a week, but less if you have oily or fine hair.
Makeup remover. Take a pea-sized amount of VCO and rub gently across your face to wipe away makeup. Rinse with warm water and follow with your cleansing routine. Alternatively, you can dip a cotton ball in a bit of VCO and gently wipe off makeup with it.
Anti-split end conditioner. After showering, apply a small amount of VCO directly to the tips of your hair. Gently run a comb to remove excess oil.
Can Coconut Oil Treat Acne?
The honest answer is: it’s a hit or miss.
Some people find that virgin coconut oil helps heal their pimples a little faster, while many others say virgin coconut oil does nothing. Virgin coconut oil is comedogenic and not recommended for oily or acne-prone skin, but it can be a fantastic emollient to dry skin (like the oft-neglected neck and collarbone area).
Can you use VCO on the face for a dewy makeup look?
Yes -- even high-profile makeup artists use this trick! But here’s the rule of thumb: VCO must be applied on clean, exfoliated skin. And if you’re prone to acne, consult your dermatologist before using virgin coconut oil on your face.
Can I Moisturize My Scalp with Coco Oil?
VCO is a wonderful hydrating substance, so will it work for flaky, itchy scalp? It depends. If your scalp itch is caused by fungal dandruff or by dryness, hair experts say that massaging coconut oil can restore scalp health and reduce flaking. (Always shampoo after a VCO scalp massage!) But if your scalp or hair roots tend to be oily, adding more oil there would only make it greasier, and that grease can exacerbate scalp conditions.
So, VCO for dry scalp? Yes. VCO for oily scalp? Best not!