Unable to decide if coconut oil can be used to treat acne or not? Well, you are not alone. Even after being the most praised all-natural skincare ingredient, coconut oil often comes under the radar of uncertainty concerning acne breakouts.
This article will discuss whether coconut oil cures acne breakouts or worsens the condition. Read on to find out!
What Our Experts Say
“Coconut oil, in general, is good for application on the skin. But leaving it overnight or for a long time may cause acne breakout regardless of your skin type. Lauric acid in coconut oil acts as an antibacterial agent that kills acne bacteria. Massaging coconut oil may help reduce bacterial flora but keeping it for a longer time can clog your skin pores and make things worse. So, it is advised to cleanse the oil after massaging.”
Prajkta Sapre, (PG, Cosmetic Technology) Product Development Executive, SkinKraft
What Does Coconut Oil Do For Your Skin?
Coconut oil is one of the most multi-tasking ingredients of all. It can be used for skincare, wellness purposes and cooking. For skincare, coconut has always been considered to be the magic ingredient. The lauric acid in coconut oil is highly anti-microbial, which helps to fight against acne-causing bacteria.
According to research on the antimicrobial property of lauric acid, it was seen to be more effective in destroying Propionibacterium acne bacteria than benzoyl peroxide, which is considered to be the top treatment for acne. It has anti-inflammatory properties as well. Naturally, coconut oil helps with treating skin inflammation and other issues like redness and irritation.
In addition, coconut oil consists of 80% to 90% of saturated fats which help to reduce the water loss from your skin. The top layer of your skin often gets cracked and you lose water. But coconut oil has the capability to fill up those unwanted cracks with essential fatty acids. That’s how it keeps your skin hydrated and healthy. 
Along with saturated fats, coconut oil is enriched with a high amount of antioxidants. Thus, applying coconut oil to the skin will keep it firm and youthful. It also has a significant quantity of vitamin A and E which protects you from the damage caused by free radicals.
The benefits do not end here. A randomized double-blind clinical trial was conducted to understand the effect of topical coconut oil on skin conditions like eczema. The study showed that applying coconut oil topically can reduce skin inflammation and irritation among young eczema patients.
How To Use Coconut Oil To Cure Acne?
Acne is usually a result of stress, skin trauma, hormonal changes, underlying health issues and poor dietary habits. It can also be triggered by harsh chemical products, menstruation and genetics. These breakouts can be stopped with the use of coconut oil, which has beneficial properties. Dehydrated and dry skin is a tempting place for acne bacteria, thus moisturization is a great way to keep acne at bay.
Coconut oil has more than 85% of saturated fat and 15% of unsaturated fat. The majority of coconut oil’s fat content comes from Medium-chain fatty acids or MCFA. This contains antioxidants and is also high in anti-microbial properties. While the antioxidants can protect your skin, the antimicrobial properties can kill all the bacteria, fungi and microorganisms.
As mentioned above, lauric acid is one the most potent antimicrobial agents present in coconut oil which plays a huge role in killing acne bacteria. Also, the other fatty acids present in coconut oil are highly effective to destroy the P. acne bacteria. 
To have maximum benefit from coconut oil, the best way is to apply it directly to the skin. Here are the ways to use it for the skin -
1. Choosing The Best Type of Oil
While there are many types of coconut oil available in the market, the right oil for your skin is organic and virgin coconut oil. It is free of any chemicals and additives. Virgin coconut oil is easily available in beauty stores and multiple online platforms.
2. Use Liquified Oil
Coconut oil tends to solidify after some time, especially in winters. Try to avoid using solid coconut oil on your skin. Rather warm it a little to liquify it. That way, you will be able to obtain all of its oily goodness.
3. Oil Massage
Topical application of coconut oil requires you to massage it on your skin. Experts suggest you apply the oil directly to your skin and massage it gently for at least 30 seconds. Your skin will absorb the oil immediately and it will start healing.
Keep the oil on your skin for 10 to 15 minutes. Then wash it off with a mild cleanser. Apply a moisturizer afterward to lock in the hydration.
What To Mix With Coconut Oil For Better Results?
1. Coconut Oil & Baking Soda
This combination is amazing if you are looking for a face wash. Take 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil. Mix it properly and apply it directly to your face. Massage your face for a while and leave it on for five minutes. Later, wash your face with warm water.
2. Coconut Oil & Sugar
Coconut oil & sugar can be used together as a face scrub. It will remove the dead skin cells, dirt and extra sebum oil from your skin. Using this coconut and sugar scrub twice a week would give you great results against acne. That way the chances of acne breakout will be reduced.
3. Coconut Oil & Honey
Take 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and mix ½ tablespoon of honey. Apply the mixture to your face and let it stay for half an hour. After that, clean your face with a mild cleanser and pat it dry. This mixture helps to control acne breakouts. Like coconut, honey is also anti-microbial and helps in killing acne-causing bacteria.
4. Coconut Oil & Lemon Juice
Mix coconut oil and a few drops of lemon juice. Apply it to your face as a mask. Leave the mask on your face for at least 15 minutes. Then wash it off with lukewarm water and pat your skin dry.
Why Do Few People Experience Acne Breakout Due To Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is known to be highly comedogenic in nature. This means that it can clog your skin pores and cause acne breakouts. That’s why while few people get benefitted from coconut oil, others may experience acne issues because of it.
According to our Product Development Executive, Prajkta Sapre "Coconut oil, in general, is good to be applied on the skin. But leaving it overnight may cause acne breakout regardless of your skin type.Lauric acid in coconut oil acts as an antibacterial agent that kills acne bacteria.”
She adds, “Massaging coconut oil may help reduce bacterial flora but keeping it for a long time can clog your skin pores. Hence, it is advised to cleanse the oil after massaging.” Especially, people with sensitive skin, and extremely acne-prone skin should avoid using coconut oil.
Coconut oil for acne is a great choice only if it suits your skin. Most people with extremely acne-prone skin or sensitive skin face problems after using coconut oil for their skin. However, a lot of people have benefited by using coconut oil to get rid of acne. It solely depends on your skin type. If you have any prior experience of acne breakout due to coconut oil, avoid it completely.
1. Coconut oil and palm oil's role in nutrition, health and national development: A review, September 2016
2. Coconut Oil: The Nutrition Source
3. Effect of topical application of virgin coconut oil on skin components and antioxidant status during dermal wound healing in young rats, June 2010
4. Anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of capric acid against Propionibacterium acnes: a comparative study with lauric acid
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