Coconut Oil is Ruining Your Skin

Let me just start off on a different tangent for a second and say that Pinterest is one of the greatest things that has ever been invented. Seriously, I will spend hours upon hours pinning to various boards that I’ve spent arguably way too much time naming and organizing. HOWEVER, there is a huge downfall to the beauty side of Pinterest, and I’m sure anyone in the industry will agree with me. The people pinning their beauty remedies and DIYs are NOT (for the most part) beauty professionals. They have no license, they have no expertise in the field of beauty, and they have no business recommending remedies to the masses via Pinterest, because they have no idea what they’re talking about. That’s not to say everything you see on Pinterest is wrong or won’t work, but the fact of the matter is that not everything you see on the internet is a good idea. Weird, right?

Which brings me to the point of this blog post, coconut oil. How many pins have you seen floating around about coconut oil? Maybe a million by now? And hey, you may be a coconut oil lover. You might use 7 tubs of coconut oil in the span of two weeks and have no plans on stopping. Great for you. Fantastic. Lovely. But can we STOP RECOMMENDING COCONUT OIL TO EVERY PERSON FOR EVERY AILMENT THEY EXPERIENCE? Coconut oil is not for everyone and it is not for everything. I’m not referring to using coconut oil in foods, because I’m not a nutritionist and quite frankly I hate the taste of it and will avoid using it in cooking if I can. So before you come at me with the nutritional benefits, don’t, because you’re wasting your time.

I’m talking about using coconut oil on your face. I’m a licensed Aesthetician, Aesthetics Instructor, and I work for a company that uses ethically sourced and naturally derived ingredients. I’m not some rando on the street preaching about skincare with no experience. And as of late, I’ve been increasingly aware of how many people are coming to me with acneic skin conditions and they all have one common denominator: coconut oil.

Things I hear in response to my distaste for coconut oil consist of, but are not limited to: “but it’s natural!” “My friend uses it and her skin looks great!” “I saw a post on Pinterest about it”, etc. etc.

First and foremost, just because it’s natural does not mean it’s good for you. Do you know what else is natural? Sulfuric acid. Lead. Arsenic. While I’m being a bit dramatic with my references, they’re probably not things you want to put on your skin, right? Right. And while your friend might use it day and night and six times on Sunday, it does not mean it’s right for your skin. Let me tell you why.

Ingredients in the skincare world are measured on a scale of how comedogenic they are. If you don’t know what that term means, it’s basically a fancy way of saying “what’s the likelihood of this ingredient clogging your pores?” They are rated on a scale from 0-5, 0 being the least likely and 5 being a guaranteed breakout-prone ingredient for most (if not all) people. Coconut oil is rated as a 4. Which means, by and large, most people will break out when using this product on their face. It doesn’t even have to appear immediately as large, cystic acne lesions in the skin. It can cause microcomedones (small, non-inflammatory lesions that can make your skin’s texture bumpy), that can (and will) eventually develop into whiteheads/blackheads/painful acne.

Why does this happen? Due to its thickness, coconut oil inhibits our skin’s ability to properly shed skin cells, which is required for our pores to be oxygenated. It encourages P. acnes (the bacteria that causes acne) to grow, using built up sebum and debris that are stuck below the surface in our pores as its source of nutrients. To put it simply, coconut oil basically puts a blanket over our pores which smothers them, giving bacteria a better environment to grow. *cue dramatic screaming*

Now, coconut oil might be great for some people’s skin. Why? BECAUSE EVERYONE’S SKIN IS DIFFERENT! Genetics and other internal factors have a huge affect in how our skin reacts to things. But the fact of the matter is, it’s far too thick for most people’s skin. So stop recommending coconut oil with the mindset that it’s perfect for everyone because “it’s all natural.” It’s not going to cure psoriasis, it’s not going to get rid of grade IV cystic acne, and it’s not going to reverse your aging. Your best bet is to go to an actual Dermatologist or local Aesthetician and get a product recommendation/prescription from someone who actually works with skin for a living.

If you’re still dying to use it, the best way to incorporate this into your daily (facial) skin care routine would be to use it as a makeup remover. Coconut oil does work wonders taking off water proof mascara, helping lift foundation, and removing liquid lipstick. PLEASE use an additional cleanser afterwards to remove it, preferably of the gel variety, and exfoliate 2-3 times a week (which is something you should be doing anyways). There are still PLENTY of “natural” products that will benefit your skin greatly without the risk of breakouts.

As far as using coconut oil for your body care and cooking, knock yourself out. The skin on the rest of your body is much more resilient than on your face, so chances are coconut oil will work just fine for that purpose (unless you’re allergic). I’ve also heard it’s a great conditioner for your hair, but I would stick to using it on your ends and avoiding your scalp due to how greasy it can be. Don’t want to look like you dipped your scalp in a deep fryer now do we? Hard pass.

At the end of the day, I’m not a Dermatologist. I’m an Aethetician that gets a little (okay maybe a LOT) nerdy about ingredient knowledge and product usage. However, I went to school to help people with their skin ailments and beauty needs, and if I could give you any advice, it’s this: as a consumer, the internet is your oyster. Do your research, gather and use samples frequently, and find what’s right for your skin before giving into the hype. It could save you from disaster!

Healthy, clear skin to all, and to all a goodbye! (see what I did there?)

xoxo Shelby


18 thoughts on “Coconut Oil is Ruining Your Skin”

  1. This is good to know…but honestly, I never would have dreamed of using coconut oil on my face. I’ve seen youtubbers use it as a makeup remover and I was SO confused. After all….it’s oil. Duh.

    I do like using it in my cooking, I use it on bug bites and cat scratches to relieve the itch (it works and i won’t stop) but I absolutely will NOT put it on my face.


  2. I’ve tried organic Vit C serum on my face, that I SCOURED Amazon reviews to make sure even THE MOST pimple prone, fair skinned, large pored woman was not bothered by. I don’t even get pimples anymore UNLESS I use ANY product on my face. SO, I DON’T, but my face is rapidly aging and looks so dull, under-eye skin so papery. The Vit C serum I settled on, with confidence (believe me, I mean it when I say probably three days straight and hundreds upon hundreds of questions answered and reviews) was: “Eva Naturals Maximum Potency, Vitamin C 20% Anti-Aging Serum.” Felt kind of light, and I used only a tiny bit overnight. Pimple the next day around noon. Pimple number two by the afternoon. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can send you a picture of my face’s skin OFFLINE 🙂 I don’t want estrogenic or mimickers in my products or scent!!!!!!!!!!! I am so tired of paying even “low” around 35.00 prices for a little jar, bottle, tube, and it ends up wasted after a couple of tries!!!!!


    1. So you are trying to move towards anti-aging products? You might want to ask your dermatologist about your potential skin allergies because it sounds like you’re relatively sensitive. Let me know your specific goals regarding your skin’s condition and I can better help and recommend products 🙂

      xoxo, Shelby


  3. Coconut oil is great for a lot things but yes I would agree not for the face. But I do use it in my hair twice a week and I love how it makes my hair feel after I wash it out and I cover my whole head in it and it washes out fine and looks clean non greasy. But my hair looks more to life each time I use it and has helped with regrowth of my hair. 😊


  4. I’m not a coconut oil user but can you recommend a face wash regimen? I am 24 and my chin is constantly breaking out, other places occasionally but my chin is the problem area. My skin is not super dry or oily. I’m so tired of it, but I can’t afford to get a $200 regimen like rodan and fields. It’s so frustrating.


    1. What certain products are you using currently? This can be linked to why your skin is breaking out without the associated oil. Let me know and I can further help you find a regimen that would work well 🙂

      Also, each area of our face has a different part of the body it associates with when it’s broken out. When the chin area breaks out it’s likely linked to a hormonal imbalance. It would be a great idea to get that checked if you haven’t already, so you can combat this issue internally as well as externally with great products!


      1. I’m currently using clear proof facewash by Mary kay. And I often use Clinique face lotion


  5. I use coconut on my face and to take my makeup off and then rub a little deb through my hair at night my hair is getting healthier and my face is so great and clear .I put just a little tiny bit on my face before I put my makeup on and it’s gives my face a healthy little glow. It might not be right for everyone but I can’t live without mine. Oh by the way you really have to buy the the really good kind of coconut not all coconut are the same . I bought some at Wal-Mart that was cheap and it was like putting Wesson oil on my face .


  6. I am curious about your thoughts on 2 levels. 1. The majority of skins problems are related to the types of foods that we eat and our gut. The skin is the biggest organ and reflects the health of our organs inside. (I am a sports nutritionist.) So, if people are having lots of skin problems, do you ever refer them to a nutritionist and say hey your acne, etc… could be caused by the food you eat? 2. What are you feelings on the fact that the cosmetic industry uses lots of chemicals that have been outlawed in the EU and whose laws of regulation have not been updated since 1938?

    I personally use coconut oil as a make-up remover. It works well. I do not use it as a moisturizer. I also use very limited make-up because (another reason for why I don’t use coconut oil as a moisturizer) our skin needs to be able to “breathe.”


    1. Absolutely! There are only so many things an esthetician or dermatologist can do regarding the skin, and healthy skin always starts internally. I always let my clients know that, and while I’m not a nutritionist I do refer out to them. I also let them know consuming enough water, not eating processed foods, etc. is pertinent to their skin’s health.

      The US is extremely far behind in updating their current laws and protocols on cosmetic ingredients. I always try to use products that have naturally derived ingredients from companies that are extremely transparent regarding their production. The best (and really only) thing we can do as consumers is to be aware of what we’re putting on our skin and do research prior to using it!


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