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  • Is Coconut Oil Good For Your Skin?

    Is Coconut Oil Good For Your Skin?

    Coconut oil is a go-to oil for many reasons. The humble oil is widely used not only for cooking but also for its numerous skin and hair benefits. Loaded with antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, it would not be wrong to consider it among the healthiest oils. Ancient Indian texts suggest that the oil has been used for centuries for its positive effects on the body and mind for its healing properties, and now it has become a global favorite. Let us now understand the different types of coconut oils, their properties, their Ayurvedic benefits, and ways of using them.

    Types and composition

    In recent years, the popularity of coconut oil has soared because of its potential health benefits. Coconut oil is a tropical oil derived from the flesh of coconuts. 

    Cold-pressed coconut oil is extracted from dry coconut kernels after drying them in the sun. However, virgin coconut oil is extracted from fresh coconut milk. Fresh coconut is first finely grated and then passed through a machine to extract the coconut milk. The milk is kept aside for a day to separate to form different layers. The middle layer consists of oil. The oil so extracted is then removed and allowed to settle to let the moisture in the mixture evaporate.

    Both cold-pressed and virgin coconut oils have the same energy content. A tablespoon of each contains 104 calories and 12 gms of fat, 0 gms of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, sugar, etc. Most of the coconut oil fats are medium-chain triglycerides. In addition to this, it is full of nutrients like sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamins C and E, etc.

    Ayurveda’s take on coconut oil

    According to Ayurveda, coconut oil has snigdha (oily), ropan (healing), and keshya (promotes hair growth) properties. According to ancient records, including Sushruta Samhita, coconut oil has been used for over 2000 years. Coconut is widely used for its potential ability to manage skin problems like dryness, itchiness, scars, eczema, etc. According to Ayurveda, massaging coconut oil on the skin helps in wound healing. Similarly, massaging the scalp with it helps promote hair growth and prevents dandruff. 

    What Ayurveda says about putting coconut oil on the skin?

    A modern scientific approach to coconut oil

    Coconut oil is rich in saturated fats and lauric acid. It also contains a small amount of vitamins E and K that help provide various benefits to the skin. Modern-day research has also established that coconut oil has strong anti-inflammatory properties, which along with the fatty acids and lauric acid present in it, can keep the skin feeling moisturized and help protect it from acne-causing bacteria. Additionally, applying coconut oil may help in making the skin soft and glowing and protect it against UV-B radiation damage.

    Benefits of coconut oil

    Helps deal with dry skin: Many people use coconut oil for cosmetic purposes and to improve the health and appearance of their skin. This is often attributed to the presence of Vitamin E and Vitamin K, which help provides potential benefits to the skin. Studies indicate that coconut oil can boost the moisture content of dry skin. Coconut oil with shweta kutaja is useful in psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that causes dry, red, scaly patches and flakes on the skin due to its snigdha (oily) and ropan (healing) properties. 

    A recent study suggested that applying 6–8 drops of virgin coconut oil on our hands and leaving it overnight can be effective in preventing dry skin caused by frequent use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. 

    Cold-pressed coconut oil makes for an excellent moisturizer for your skin as it is high in saturated fat. 

    The fatty acids present in it can penetrate deep into our skin and replenish dry cells. Gently applying coconut oil on the affected area and leaving it overnight can get rid of dry skin.

    Reduces fine lines and wrinkles: Applying coconut oil may help in making the skin soft and glowing. When applied on the skin on a daily basis, coconut oil, with its snigdha (oily) properties and rasayana (rejuvenating) nature, can help control fine lines and wrinkles, remove dead skin, and helps in skin regeneration. By hydrating and softening the skin, coconut oil can help make those little lines and wrinkles appear far less obvious. 

    With antioxidant components, coconut oil can help boost the fight against environmental stressors that accelerate signs of aging. Using coconut oil 2-3 times a week can help get younger-looking skin.

    Anti-inflammatory benefits: Modern-day research has also established that coconut oil has strong anti-inflammatory properties, which along with the fatty acids present in it, can protect the skin from infections and reduce rashes. Due to its snigdha (oily) and ropan (healing) properties, coconut oil can help control excessive itching and promote the healing process. If you are prone to irritations or sensitivity, cold-pressed coconut oil can help alleviate discomfort and provide relief. According to a 2019 study, it was highlighted that virgin coconut oil was effective in suppressing inflammatory markers and protecting the skin by enhancing skin barrier function.

    Gently applying coconut oil on the affected area and leaving it overnight can help ease the dry skin feeling.

    Antimicrobial properties: The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil can help protect against harmful microorganisms. This is especially important for skin health, as our skin is prone to infections, acne, cellulitis, folliculitis, etc., which are caused by bacteria or fungi. It is the lauric acid content in coconut oil that helps fight harmful microorganisms. Furthermore, capric acid, found in coconut oil, has also been shown to hold powerful antimicrobial properties.

    Promoting wound healing: Several studies have demonstrated that coconut oil may aid wound healing. Treating a wound with virgin coconut oil could speed up healing and improve collagen levels, which are important in aiding wound healing. Gently applying coconut oil on the affected area and leaving it overnight can get rid of dry skin. Using coconut oil 2-3 times a week can help heal the wound.

    READ MORE: Coconut Oil Benefits, Coconut Oil Uses, Coconut Oil Quotes

    Who should avoid coconut oil?

    Should I use coconut oil on the face? Is coconut oil good for face?

    While research shows coconut oil can offer many skin benefits, applying it to the skin may not be suitable for everyone. For example, people with oily skin should avoid it, as it may block pores, causing acne and blackheads. Since coconut oil is a thick oil and takes time to get absorbed by the skin, therefore, excessive application of coconut oil will result in the oil sitting on this skin, trapping moisture and forming a film over the pore and clogging it. If bacteria and dead skin cells get trapped, it will cause excess sebum production, which could result in acne.

    Additionally, if a person has sensitive skin, they must use a small amount to make sure it does not cause irritation or clogged pores. Even though coconut oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, people with acne-prone skin must avoid using it as it can cause breakouts.

    Conclusion

    Coconut oil is praised for its potential benefits. It has been used by people across the globe to keep their skin moisturized, reduce inflammation, heal wounds, for its potential anti-microbial properties, and much more. However, it is important to use it in a regulated manner and as required by our bodies. We hope now you understand and appreciate the wonders of the oil extracted from the humble coconut hanging from beautiful idyllic trees.

    Try Ajara's Coconut Rose Softening Cleanser!

    References

    • https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Chemical-composition-of-coconut-oil_tbl1_286066222
    • Lockyer S, Stanner S. Coconut oil – a nutty idea? British Nutrition Foundation Nutrition Bulletin.2016;41:42–54.
    • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6335493/
    • WebMD.Coconut: Uses, Side effects, Doses, Interactions [Internet].Atlanta [last updated in 2016].
    • Varma SR, Sivaprakasam TO, Arumugam I, et al. In vitro anti-inflammatory and skin protective properties of Virgin coconut oil. J Tradit Complement Med. 2019;9(1):5-14. doi:10.1016/j.jtcme.2017.06.012‌
    • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2223320
    • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34121304/
    • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK8301/
    • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20523108

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