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Cocos Nucifera Oil

goodie
Also-called-like-this: Coconut Oil
What-it-does: emollient, perfuming
Irritancy: 0
Comedogenicity: 4

Details

There is definitely some craze going on for coconut oil both in the healthy eating space (often claimed to be the healthiest oil to cook with but this is a topic for another site) and in the skin and hair care space. 

We will talk here about the latter two and see why we might want to smear it all over ourselves. Chemically speaking, coconut oil has a unique fatty acid profile. Unlike many plant oils that mostly contain unsaturated fatty acids (fatty acids with double bonds and kinky structure such as linoleic or oleic), coconut oil is mostly saturated (fatty acids with single bonds only) and its most important fatty acid is Lauric Acid (about 50%).  Saturated fatty acids have a linear structure that can stack nice and tight and hence they are normally solid at room temperature. Coconut oil melts around 25 °C so it is solid in the tub but melts on contact with the skin. 

The saturated nature of coconut oil also means that it is a heavy-duty-oil ideal for dry skin types. A double-blind research confirmed that extra virgin coconut oil is as effective in treating xerosis (aka very dry skin) as mineral oil. Another study found that coconut oil is more effective than mineral oil in treating mild to moderate atopic dermatitis (aka eczema) in children.

So when it comes to dry skin, coconut oil is a goodie, no question there. The question is if it is good or bad for acne-prone skin. Its main fatty acid, Lauric Acid has some research showing that it is a promising ingredient against evil acne-causing bacteria, P. acnes but at the same time, both Lauric Acid and coconut oil have a very high comedogenic rating (4 out of 5). Though comedogenic ratings are not very reliable, anecdotal evidence (i.e. people commenting in forums) shows that people have mixed experiences. While some claim that it worked wonders on their acne others say that it gave them serious blackheads and zits. Try it at your own risk. 

As for hair care, coconut oil has pretty solid research showing that it can penetrate into the hair very well (better than mineral oil and sunflower oil) and it can prevent hair protein loss as well as combing damage.  If you have problems with damaged hair, split ends, coconut oil is worth trying as a pre- or/and post-wash treatment.  Labmuffin has an awesome blogpost explaining in more detail why coconut oil is good for your hair.

A couple of other things worth mentioning: coconut oil might help with wound healing (promising animal study), it has some antifungal activity (against dermatophytes that cause the thing known as ringworm) and it also works as an insect repellent against black flies. 

Overall, coconut oil is definitely a goodie for the hair and dry skin. If that warrants for the magic oil status it enjoys, we don't know. 

Show me some proof

  • Agero, Anna Liza, and Vermén M. Verallo-Rowell. "A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis." Dermatitis 15.3 (2004): 109-116.
  • Evangelista, Mara Therese Padilla, Flordeliz Abad‐Casintahan, and Lillian Lopez‐Villafuerte. "The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double‐blind, clinical trial." International journal of dermatology 53.1 (2014): 100-108.
  • Rele, Aarti S., and R. B. Mohile. "Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage." Journal of cosmetic science 54.2 (2003): 175-192.
  • Keis, K., et al. "Investigation of penetration abilities of various oils into human hair fibers." Journal of cosmetic science 56.5 (2005): 283-295.
  • Nevin, K. G., and T. Rajamohan. "Effect of topical application of virgin coconut oil on skin components and antioxidant status during dermal wound healing in young rats." Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 23.6 (2010): 290-297.

Products with Cocos Nucifera Oil

Agent Nateur Holi (Rose) N4 Deodorant Agent Nateur Holi(Stick) No.3 Deodorant Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Shower & Bath Oil Avalon Organics Intense Defense Lip Balm Axiology Attitude Ayumi Coconut Hair Oil Bali Balance Lip Love Lip Balm Bali Balm Bergamot & Grapefruit Lip Balm Bali Balm Cinnamon & Burnt Orange Lip Balm Bali Balm Lemon & Black Pepper Lip Balm Bali Balm Sandalwood & Ginger Lip Balm Bathing Culture Mind And Body Wash Bathing Culture Mind And Body Wash Belo Intensive Whitening Bar Classic Belo Essentials Belo Acne-pro Pimple Fighting Bar Benton Dear My Best Friend Bar Soap Bliss Oh, That's Rich Body Lotion For Dry Skin Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm Burt's Bees Ultra Conditioning Moisturizing Lip Balm CRISAN Truage Moisturizing Facial Oil CRYSTAL Magnesium Enriched Deodorant Lavender + Rosemary Camille Rose Turmeric Bar - The Beauty Leaf "Camille's Garden" Clarity Rx Glimmer Of Hope™ Shimmering Facial Oil Cloud Island Fragrance Free All Purpose Balm Cocokind Mymatcha All Over Moisture Stick Cocokind Organic Fair Trade Facial Cleansing Oil Cocokind one-for-all balm Coconutoil Cosmetics Bio Cleansing & Nutritious Oil Cocosolis Aloha Country Kitchen Wild Flower And Sea Buckthorn Cream Crate 61 Organics By Night Lip Balm DR. SOUL Dark Spot Eraser Whitening Soap Defensil Pimple Defense Soap Dermskin Lemon Soap Dr Botanicals "Bio-Vitality" Dr Botanicals Lm Lemon Superfood Rescuing Remedy Balm Dr Bronner Lavender Soap Bar Dr. Bronner's Organic Eucalyptus Soap Bar Dr. Bronner's Organic Green Tea Soap Bar Dr. Bronner's Organic Tea Tree Pure-Castile Soap Bar Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Bar Soap Dr. Jackson's Coconut Melt Dr. Sheth Moringa & Vitamin C Cleansing Oil Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm ESPA Pulse Point Positivity Earth Rhythm Silk Protein Shampoo Bar Elemis Frangipani Monoi Body Oil Ethique Eco-Friendly Face Cleansing Bar, In Your Face FUKU Activated Charcoal Brightening Soap Bar FUKU Brightening Soap Bar With Collagen, Vitamin A & C