Skip To Content

    Here's What You Want To Know Before Putting Coconut Oil On Your Skin


    For some people, coconut oil is the beauty fluid of the gods.

    Alison Caporimo

    Coconut oil is usually used as part of the oil cleansing method — or the practice of applying nutrient-rich oils to dissolve the sometimes pore-clogging oil produced by your face — or as an overall moisturizer. And people SWEAR by it.

    There are even people with oily skin who swear by using coconut oil on their faces.

    "People with oily or acne-prone skin tend to dry out their skin with aggressive cleansers, which can cause the skin to overcompensate by producing more oil," dermatologist Dr. David E. Bank, director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, tells BuzzFeed Life. "A coconut oil might do a better job of sealing and protecting the skin, but it varies from person to person."

    And coconut oil also has a lot of other skin-loving properties...

    "Coconut oil contains skin soothers like vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and lauric acid, which is a fatty acid that has been shown in a study to have anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties," dermatologist Dr. Sejal Shah of Smarter Skin Dermatology tells BuzzFeed Life. For ultimate absorption, massage it between between yours hands to take it from a harder form to a liquid consistency.

    But it can be pore-blocking.

    "Coconut oil is considered a 4 on the 0–5 comedogenicity scale, which is a list of pore-blocking ingredients with 0 being non-pore-blocking and 5 being incredibly pore-blocking," says Shah. In short: You could definitely break out from it.

    More than just clogging your pores, it can actually make you break out something god-awful.

    We're talking cystic-acne bad.

    To give it a test run, try it out as a makeup remover.

    "Coconut oil can be a great makeup remover because it has anti-bacterial properties," Bank says. "And it can't hurt to start using it near the eye areas, which is less likely to break out." If you like how it feels, try broadening the use to larger swatches of your face.

    Or mix it with a carrier oil to make a face cleanser.

    Since coconut oil is very thick, try mixing it with a milder, less greasy oil known as a "carrier oil" before massaging it into a dry face. For normal to dry skin, try argan, shea, or jojoba oil. For oilier skin, try castor oil with a little bit of tea tree and peppermint oils mixed in. Since everyone's skin is different, experiment to find out what the perfect mixture and ingredient ratio looks like for you.

    If it makes you break out, you might not be removing it properly...

    "Since it's thicker than other oils, you may want to use less of it on the face," Bank says. Start off using an almond-size amount for your entire face and neck. "It could be helpful to use a washcloth to gently wipe it off, but make sure you use a fresh one every time. Washcloths can be tremendous breeding grounds for bacteria."

    Or you could have a tree nut allergy.

    Though an allergy to coconut oil is uncommon, there have been a few reported cases by people who have tree nut allergies. If you do have a tree nut allergy, talk to a dermatologist before using coconut oil on your skin.

    So if coconut oil is not living up to the hype, it's not your fault!

    You'll have to follow your skin's lead on this one. Plus, there are a lot of thinner oils that you can experiment with if oil cleansing is something you really want to try.