Coconut oil is lauded as a cure-all for everything from dry skin to scalp and hair problems, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s also a popular pantry staple. But, besides all that, what is it that sets coconut oil apart from other plant-based oils, and is it really as good for our skin and hair as social media has made us believe?

Here is a quick look at coconut oil, and the place it has in our beauty regimen.

Coconut Oil Benefits 

All of the plant oils in the beauty sphere have a different combination of omega fatty acids and other components, and the different ratios of these are what give each plant oil its specific benefits. Virgin coconut oil, in particular, is rich in lauric, myristic, and palmitic acids, and consists mainly of medium chain triglycerides. 

Coconut oil is also a great emulsifier, which basically means that it helps add moisture to smooth and soften the skin, thanks to its myristic and palmitic acids. Lauric acid is what makes it naturally antimicrobial, and allows it to minimise inflammation and promote wound healing. This is why It’s been found to be especially beneficial for eczema sufferers. Virgin coconut oil is also rich in polyphenols, which gives it protective antioxidant properties. 

How To Use Coconut Oil For Your Hair 

If you are going to use coconut oil, the first thing you should do is look for cold-pressed virgin or extra virgin coconut oil. This is because these pure forms contain more nutrients than versions that have been processed, and its high MCT content means it’s more resistant to oxidation, and will have a longer shelf life than other vegetable oils.

Coconut oil has been found to be beneficial for both your hair and scalp. When it comes to your strands, coconut oil is excellent at effectively penetrating into the hair shaft, thanks to its high content of lauric acid, which has high affinity for hair proteins, as well as the oil’s low molecular weight.

To use, simply massage one or two teaspoons of coconut oil (depending on the thickness and length of your hair) throughout the mid-lengths and ends, and let it sit for a few hours before washing it out.

Coconut oil can improve scalp health by restoring the moisture of dry, inflamed skin. One study

found that coconut oil improved the microbiome balance in the scalp in those with dandruff by increasing the ‘good’ bacteria as well as biotin and other B-vitamins secreted by these bacteria that reduce inflammation, improves skin barrier quality, scalp health, and can even help with hair growth.

To use it as a scalp treatment, massage a small amount onto your scalp and let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes before washing your hair. You could also try wearing a shower cap or warm towel around your head to enhance its penetration.

How To Use Coconut Oil For Your Skin 

Dermatologists have found that while coconut oil is a great option for those with dry or eczema-prone skin, and is safe for use on the body, it’s not the right option for those with acne. Acne-sufferers may find it too heavy and clog your pores, causing more breakouts.

But coconut oil is great to use as a makeup remover (even if you have acne), think of it as step one of your double-cleansing routine and be sure to follow it with a foaming facial wash after, to prevent any pore clogging.