The world seems to be obsessed with coconut oil, whether that be in the kitchen, as a breath freshener and tooth cleaner, or in skin care and hair care. Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties, makes a great natural moisturiser, and can kill bacteria. But aside from its countless benefits, people are divided when it comes to using coconut oil in skin care. You either swear by it, or hate the stuff for giving you a full face of congestion and blemishes. That's because coconut oil is said to be comedogenic.
In simple terms, this means it can clog pores. However, there is split opinion on whether coconut oil is actually comedogenic or not. We reached out to Rachael Dunseath, founder of natural skincare brand Myroo, to set us straight on whether coconut oil really is comedogenic or whether we're all making it up!
Rachael began telling me that I've "opened a can of worms" when it comes to coconut oil, an indication of how much the beauty world is divided on whether or not it's a skin-clogging ingredient. She began by saying, "ask 10 people if coconut oil is comedogenic, five will say yes and five no." Clearly we're not in for a simple discussion here. She went on to explain that "perhaps counter-intuitively, coconut oil may be beneficial for some acned skin. It can calm the redness, kill bacteria, and moisturise without irritation." But of course there is another side as "there is no doubt that it does cause breakouts in some people. If you suffer from blemishes, you might want to proceed with caution."
Some people suggest that extra virgin coconut oil and fractionated coconut oil might work differently depending on the skin type. Extra virgin coconut oil is the raw material that hasn't been modified and comes in a solid form. It is said this can be too dense and heavy for someone with an oily skin type, so despite the limited processing it has gone through, fractionated coconut oil may work better. Fractionated coconut oil has gone through a process of having the fatty acids and some antioxidants removed, which obviously means some of the benefits have been removed but also means that the oil is less clogging. In this case, it is used more as a carrier oil rather than in its pure form. There's some food for thought.
Rachael suggests patch testing "for those with tricky skin" and that steering clear of coconut oil if you have "oily skin that's prone to breakouts" is a good idea. However "if your skin is normal to dry and you have acne, then coconut oil might be worth a go." For those with oily skin, her advice is try try a natural alternative that can have the same great healing benefits. "Jojoba oil is a great alternative to coconut oil. It's chemically nearly identical to our skin's natural sebum, so it's wonderfully balancing. If you have dry skin it will encourage sebum production and will calm sebum production in oilier skin. It's also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory." Myroo Jojoba Skin Boost Serum (£30) is a perfect place to start, suitable for all skin types, and is even available fragrance-free for those who aren't a fan of scent.
The short answer is this: if you have oily and acne-prone skin, it is wise to find a natural alternative to coconut oil because, let's be honest, there is too much else in life to worry about than getting unnecessary breakouts. But if you have dry skin and are prone to a breakout, it's actually worth giving a shot; just be sure you don't trial it before a big event!