Does coconut oil help acne? Yes, it does. Although the idea of using coconut oil for acne scars and breakouts treatment sounds scary given the fact that experts advise against applying greasy products on the face if you have acne-prone skin, coconut oil is an excellent natural remedy for even the most severe acne (cystic acne). So, what is the best coconut oil for acne scars and spots? You will find out in just a moment.
Why Use Coconut Oil for Acne Scars?The next question is “how does coconut oil help acne scars and breakouts? Well, for a long time, coconut oil was viewed negatively for its high levels of saturated fats, but this has changed considerably in the recent past.
Numerous scientific studies have found it to have positive benefits to a number of health conditions and concerns ranging from acne to arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease (delays the appearance of the symptoms) and weight loss.
To better understand the principles underlying the use of coconut oil for acne scars, cysts, and pimples, it is important first of all understand what acne is and how it develops.
How Acne Scars and Lesions DevelopAcne starts when excess sebum – the oily substance produced by sebaceous glands to keep the skin hydrated – mixes with dead skin cells and clog the hair follicles. This sebum-dead skin cells mixture then mixes with bacteria and trigger an infection. This culminates in the symptoms associated with acne such as inflammation, redness, and pain, and ultimately scars. Scars form as the body tries to heal itself and close the skin.
Acne is most commonly a problem of teenage years which are characterized by a lot of hormonal changes in the body which then triggers an increase in the production of sebum. This gives the face and skin an oily appearance. It may however carry on to adulthood.
There are many options available to get rid of acne ranging from over-the-counter topical treatments to prescription medications and topical preparations, but if you are a fan of - or are open to the idea of - natural remedies, then using coconut oil for acne scars treatment is as well an option worth trying.
How Coconut Oil Works For Acne Scars, Pimples, and SpotsCoconut oil is increasingly popular among skin care experts. There are numerous studies available to support the use of coconut oil for acne scars and cysts treatment. Below are some of the ways in which coconut can help acne scars and spots as shown in some of these studies.
Coconut oil helps in wound healing: Coconut oil has a long history of use as a treatment for minor cuts and injuries. Recent studies have also shown that virgin coconut oil enhances wound healing rate when applied topically to rats’ skin. In the same way, it may be beneficial to acne lesions resulting from severe acne (including cystic acne).
Coconut oil is rich in vitamin E: Vitamin E is essential for optimum skin integrity. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that coconut oil is one of the best vegetable oil and fat sources of vitamin E.
Vitamin E not only restores proper functioning of sebaceous glands, but also aids in exfoliation and unclogging of the pores. It also helps in the healing of acne scars. This is, in my opinion, the most important principle underpinning the use of coconut oil for acne scars treatment specifically.
Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties: Coconut oil has traditionally been used to soothe skin inflammation. Its use in this perspective involved massaging inflamed areas of the body with the oil. The hair follicle inflammation associated with acne breakouts may also benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties of coconut oil. This in turn reduces the swelling, soreness, and redness in the area of the skin affected by acne and also makes scars less noticeable.
The fact that the oil is absorbed by the skin pretty fast – not to mention that it is highly penetrating - makes it an especially great natural remedy for acne inflammation.
Coconut oil has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties: Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids. Lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid, is the main component in the oil. Lauric acid has both antibacterial and antiviral properties which helps to fight off the bacteria in skin pores – the culprits for acne breakouts.
A study published in the International Food Research Journal found that lauric acid is the main fatty acid in virgin coconut oil, constituting as high as 48.42%.
Another study of 30 straight-chain fatty acids conducted in 1972 and published in the Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy Journal found that lauric acid has the highest anti-microbial activity among saturated fatty acids.
Virgin coconut oil also contains capric acid. On metabolism, capric acid is broken down into Monocaprin which has also been found to have antimicrobial and antiviral activity.
Now where does the antibacterial properties of lauric and capric acids come in to your rescue with regards to the use of coconut oil for acne scars, you ask? Well, by promoting faster healing of acne pimples and cysts, coconut oil reduces the risk of, and the degree of scarring.
Coconut oil boosts liver function: Taking coconut oil helps to boost your liver’s potential to flush out toxins and deactivate the androgenic hormones that trigger increased sebum production in sebaceous glands. This makes your skin less susceptible to acne breakouts and thus the formation of new scars.
Other Benefits and Uses of Coconut Oil for Skin ImprovementThe list above constitutes the main benefits of coconut oil for acne scars and breakouts, but that is not all that this gift from Mother Nature has to offer. Even people without acne breakouts or scars can reap the following skin benefits from using coconut oil.
It is a fabulous natural moisturizer: Because “pimples”, and ultimately the scars, are caused by excessive oil in the pores, maintaining dryness definitely sounds like the best remedial measure. In reality, though, acne coupled with dry skin make an even worse combination since dry skin may trigger even more sebum production. You therefore still need to keep the skin moisturized and coconut oil is a great choice, even for those with acne prone skin.
It is rich in antioxidants: Antioxidants help to get rid of free radicals in the skin. This leaves your skin with increased capacity to produce new cells and repair worn-out cells while getting rid of the dead ones. This helps your skin to recover from acne and also improves wrinkles and fine lines. Some skin care experts believe that the antioxidants play a significant role when you use coconut oil for acne scars healing.
With all the above benefits of coconut oil for acne and the skin in general, it is hardly surprising that even some Hollywood, fashion, and TV sensational figures reportedly use coconut oil for their skin care and improvement. Here we are talking about the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow (who follows her Epsom salt baths with a dab of coconut oil and also consumes the oil orally), Miranda Kerr, Emma Stone, Kourtney Kardashian, and Gisele Bundchen.
The use of coconut oil for skin care dates back to as far back as ancient times during which it was reportedly used by emperors for skin moisturizing, but the use of coconut oil for acne scars and pimples treatment is just catching up with people reporting great results for pimples and scars healing in reviews sections of websites and in forums.
Coconut oil is safe enough to be used to get rid of hormonal acne that usually occurs during pregnancy.
Coconut Oil for Cystic Acne TreatmentAlso referred to as “nodulocystic” acne, cystic acne is the most severe form of acne, usually characterized by large, painful cysts and nodules. It forms the same way as other forms of acne (whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples), that is, when sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria cause clogging of pores coupled with inflammation, redness, and infection.
Cystic acne however causes more severe symptoms compared to the other forms of acne. Cysts are also deeper and are more likely to cause scarring.
The question then is, will coconut oil help cystic acne?
Although research studies have shown that lauric acid (the main fatty acid in virgin coconut oil) is effective action against the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria, there is still no study to support the effectiveness of coconut oil for cystic acne.
There is nevertheless extensive anecdotal evidence to support coconut oil cystic acne treatment. Rather than use coconut oil alone, it is perhaps a better idea to use in one of the combination treatments outlined in the next section. Tea tree oil and Aloe Vera are especially good remedies to use alongside coconut oil.
How to Use Coconut Oil for Acne Scars and Pimples TreatmentYou can use coconut oil for acne scars and lesions treatment in two main ways; internally and topically. In other words, you can either consume it orally (by using it in your cooking) or apply it to the skin. Some skin care experts recommend using the oil both topically and orally for the best results.
Eating Coconut Oil for AcneIn his book The Coconut Oil Miracle, Bruce Fife recommends taking 3 tablespoons of coconut daily, but you can take as much as 5 tablespoons each day if you like. You can either add the oil to food, or take it raw without cooking, of course assuming you can stand the oily taste that is nauseating to some people.
Dailysuperfoodlove.com on the other hand suggests starting with about 1 tablespoon daily, broken into small amounts at breakfast, lunch and dinner until you get used to it (about a week or so). After that, you may then work your way up to 2 tablespoons and ultimately 3 tablespoons a day.
Virgin coconut oil is especially wonderful. You will discover why in the best coconut oil for acne section below.
As previously explained, coconut oil is rich in medium chain fatty acid such as lauric acid and capric acid, the two components mainly responsible for antibacterial activity of coconut oil when taken internally.
They as such help to address the underlying factors for acne pimples, scars and spots, key among these being autoimmunity, overgrowth of candida in your gut, and skin pore inflammation.
According to FussyBody.com, the greatest benefits of coconut oil acne treatment are achieved from taking it internally which gives the body the chance to fight the acne problem from inside out.
How to Apply Coconut Oil for Acne Scars TreatmentTopical coconut oil for acne treatment??? Well, I get you…I know that sounds confusing and questionable. You are probably thinking that this will only cause more acne breakout and thus scars. That is what every good book about acne say about greasy products. But coconut oil is an exception.
It is not only a great skin moisturizer, even for those people with acne breakouts and scars, but also helps to fight the bacteria and other microorganisms in the skin. And since coconut oil is mainly comprised of medium chain fatty acids, it is easily absorbed through the skin and won’t make your skin get clogged or feel as greasy.
How to Treat Face Acne with Coconut Oil
- Wash your face with warm water and gentle cleanser
- Next, apply a hot compress on your face to open up the pores. Simply take a clean towel or washcloth, dip it in hot water, squeeze out excess water and place in on your face.
- Pour about a teaspoon of coconut oil into the palm of your left hand and then use your right hand to apply it on your face in gentle, circular motions, just like you do with your normal moisturizer.
- Allow the oil time to absorb into your skin, occasionally massaging your face gently in circular motion in order to aid the absorption of the oil, and finish off by patting your face gently with a washcloth. If you feel very oily, you can rinse your face with warm water to get rid of excess oil.
- Repeat this process once or twice daily, preferably before in the morning and before bedtime.
In addition to using coconut oil as a moisturizer, the onegreenplanet.org website also suggests using coconut oil to remove make up from your face.
Coconut Oil Face Wash for AcneThe concept of Oil Pulling (or Oil Cleansing) is increasingly making rounds on the internet. The idea is to use oils such as coconut oil to unclog the pores and “pull” the impurities and dirt trapped in them. Here is an acne face wash that uses coconut oil, courtesy of coconutsandkettlebells.com:
- Pour 1 teaspoon of coconut oil into the palm of your hands and spread it out by moving your palms around gently in circular motions.
- Massage the oil onto your face gently in circular motions.
- Now place a washcloth that is damp with warm water (wring out the excess water first) onto your face. This will help to unclog the pores and open them up for effective coconut oil healing action.
- Finally, wipe the oil from your face after a minute or so.
- Reapply the oil and this time leave it on (don’t wash or wipe it off).
- Repeat 2 times daily and you could soon be thanking coconut oil for acne scars and pimples well cleared.
Coconut Oil and Tea Tree Oil for AcneTea tree oil can also add to the benefits of coconut oil for acne scars and pimples. Extracted from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia which is native to Australia, the oil has been shown to be effective in treatment of acne.
One research study conducted by the Department of Dermatology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Australia, for example, showed that tea tree oil is just as effective as benzoyl peroxide in acne treatment. Although it took longer for tea tree oil healing action to start, it caused fewer of the side-effects associated with benzoyl peroxide including itching, dryness, and burning sensation.
Here is how to use tea tree oil and coconut oil for acne scars and lesions treatment:
- To 1½ Tablespoons of coconut oil, add ½ teaspoon of tea tree oil and mix well until well blended.
- Now soak a clean washcloth in warm water and wring out the excess water before placing it on your face. The steam will help to open up the pores and boost the acne scar and pimples healing action of the oil mixture.
- Apply the mixture to your face in gentle, circular motions, paying close attention to the areas of the skin most affected by acne lesions and scars. Don’t wash the oil mixture out.
- Repeat the treatment 2 times daily. The oil mixture is especially powerful when left on overnight.
Turmeric and Coconut Oil for Acne Scars and MarksTurmeric has long history in treatment of skin ailments in India. It is rich in Curcumin, a natural antibiotic that has been demonstrated to be particularly effective in fighting the Propionibacterium spp. bacteria that is often to blame for inflammatory acne.
In a study conducted at Chang Gung University, Taiwan, lauric acid was found to be the most effective lipid carrier for Curcumin when treating acne through Propionibacterium acnes inhibition. Lauric was found to enter the skin very effectively and accumulate there, and with it, the curcumin.
Now coconut oil is rich in lauric acid (just as is breast milk), meaning that turmeric and coconut oil make for a great acne treatment combination.
To prepare a simple turmeric and coconut oil face mask for acne treatment, mix some turmeric powder with virgin coconut oil and then apply it to the skin. Apply the mixture to your face and then leave it on for 30 minutes before washing it off with warm water. Finish off by splashing some cold water to your face.
This turmeric-coconut oil acne face mask may leave a tinge of yellow afterwards, but that will go away in a couple days.
Caution: Turmeric is notorious for staining clothes, bedding, etc. so exercise caution while using it. Alternatively, look for non-edible turmeric called “kasturi” which has less staining action, so to speak, but is just as effective.
Coconut Oil and Aloe Vera for Acne Marks and Pimples TreatmentAloe Vera is also known to have powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that help in clearing acne pimples and whiteheads. Aloe Vera can be used together with coconut oil to make an acne face mask as outlined below:
- To 2 tablespoons of fresh Aloe Vera juice, add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. If you like, you could add in 2 teaspoons of raw organic honey.
- Stir the ingredients well until well blended, then apply them as a face mask all over your face.
- Wash the mask off with warm water after 20 minutes.
- Repeat the process 2-3 times a week.
Baking Soda and Coconut Oil for Acne ScarsBaking soda granules are also known to have gentle, yet very effective exfoliating action. Together with coconut oil, they make an especially great natural remedy for acne scars:
- To 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
- Blend the ingredients thoroughly and then apply the mixture to the acne scars affected area. Scrub gently in circular motions.
- Finally, rinse the paste off after 15-20 minutes using cold water.
- Repeat 2- times each week and those acne scars, pimples and spots will soon be cleared.
Sugar and Coconut Oil Scrub for Acne ScarsThe healing power of coconut oil can be combined with the exfoliating action of brown sugar to create an effective acne scars treatment. Here is a recipe you may want to try:
- To 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, add ½ teaspoon of brown sugar. Mix the two ingredients thoroughly to form a fine paste.
- Wet your finger and then scoop some paste before applying it to your face in gentle circular motions.
- Rinse the skin with cold water after 20 minutes.
- Use this acne scrub two times each week.
If Coconut Oil Makes Acne WorseSo far we have focused on using coconut oil for acne scars, pimples and marks treatment, but there are some people on the other side of the divide who claim that coconut oil actually makes their acne breakouts worse. Why is it so?
According to Fussybody.com, this happens as coconut oil aids in flushing out of toxins from the skin. The liver is the main detoxification organ in the body (kidneys, lungs, and skin also play a role).
If your diet is laden with toxic substances, e.g. a refined foods or meat-laden diet, the liver may get overwhelmed and fail to eliminate all the toxins. The skin then takes over, helping to purge the remaining toxins. However, not all cells beneath the skin are effective in purging the toxic substances which means that some of them gets trapped beneath the skin. Having more fat beneath the skin can make this worse as it can hold fat-soluble toxins.
When coconut oil is applied topically and enters the skin, it helps the skin to flush out the toxins from beneath the skin, leading to worse acne breakout – usually whiteheads and pimples- at the beginning. Also, when the fatty acids in coconut oil kill bacteria (mainly lauric acid), they [bacteria] release exotoxins – the toxin they use to attack skin cell – and endotoxins which add to the amount of toxin that has to be purged from your skin.
Coconut oil is more likely to make acne worse at the beginning if applied topically than when taken internally. This is because eating coconut oil also helps to detox the body, but this time the toxins are flushed out through bowel movement as opposed to skin purging.
Coconut oil toxin purging during acne treatment is an example of a scenario referred to as Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction where the condition being treated (acne in this case) gets worse before healing. Not all people though suffer from this effect when they use coconut oil for acne scars or pimples treatment. It all depends on the amount of toxins built up in your skin.
Coconut Oil for Baby AcneMany newborns suffer from baby acne which is characterized by small red-colored pimples and rash on the cheeks, nose, and forehead. They sometimes also appear on the back. Baby acne is normal and not a cause for concern. It clear away on its own without treatment and doesn’t leave behind any scars.
All in all, some moms are just so averse to the idea of seeing ugly red blotches and bumps on their Angel’s skin while waiting for them to go at their own pace and would do anything to help them go away fast.
Coconut oil is one safe option that you can use to treat baby acne. Using coconut oil for baby acne is rather straightforward. Simply slather on a small amount of unrefined coconut oil onto your baby’s face and skin and massage it into her skin gently in circular motions.
Coconut Oil for Back AcneAcne tends to occur more commonly on the face but it can also occur on any other part of the skin where there is an abundance of sebaceous glands. The chest, back, and shoulder are other common trouble spots.
Then comes the question, is coconut oil good for back acne scars and marks? Well, the answer to that is an emphatic yes. Back acne can benefit from coconut oil acne treatment. All you have to is slather some coconut oil onto the affected area after shower and that back acne will soon be cleared. Eating coconut oil can also help to heal back acne.
For acne scars on the back, you may want to use a combination treatment that encompasses either baking soda or brown sugar. The gritty texture of these ingredients will help to fade the scars away while coconut oil works its magic on the active breakout.
Coconut Oil for Acne Scars ReviewsReviews offer great insights into typical results that people get from using a certain treatment of home remedy. In the spirit of that, I went ahead to look for reviews about using coconut oil for acne treatment. Here are some parts of the most striking reviews that I came across on the internet:
“I've had scars from teenager years n [and] my occasional hormonal breakouts. I use [sic] pure coconut oil for a week now n [and] my scars have vanished tremendously n [and] I get very few breakouts now.”
This user left a negative review for coconut oil acne treatment. She however says that eating coconut oil is pretty okay for her as opposed to topical application that gave her the bad results:
Coconut Oil Acne Treatment Before and After PicturesBefore and after pictures also speak volumes with regards to the effectiveness of acne remedies. To demonstrate the kind of result that you may be able to achieve with coconut oil acne treatment, here are a couple before and after pictures. Each shows the results achieved by the subject after using coconut oil for acne scars and/or pimples:
The Best Coconut Oil for Acne Scars and Spots TreatmentAs for the best choice of coconut oil for acne treatment - whether for spots or scars - you should always go for high quality products. Virgin coconut oil make for an especially great choice and an organic variety is even better.
Virgin coconut oil (often abbreviated as VCO) is one whose extraction procedure is deliberately structured to ensure that the resulting oil is not altered or transformed. That is to mean that the oil’s natural structure is retained 100%. That way the natural antioxidants and vitamins that are beneficial to pimples and cysts breakouts, and scars are retained.
Virgin coconut oil also doesn’t oxidize easily and is as such non-comedogenic, a term used to describe products that don’t clog the pores. When oxidized, comedogenic oils become sticky and may hold even more dead skin cells inside the pore, adding to the ones that have already triggered acne.
Virgin coconut oil is obtained from coconut milk (the white liquid obtained from squeezing grated coconut kernel) using one of various methods that include:
- Fermentation: A mixture of coconut milk and distilled water is fermented and coconut oil decanted progressively as it separates with water.
- Chilling and thawing: Coconut milk is centrifuged and the top cream is then collected, chilled, and finally thawed gradually in water bath to obtain the oil).
- Enzymatic extraction: An enzyme such as papain is added to coconut milk and centrifuged after a certain amount of time to obtain coconut oil.
- Dry method: Coconut kernel is heated under controlled conditions to dry the moisture in it, after which the oil is squeezed out mechanically and then filtered to remove impurities.
Whatever brand you choose for coconut oil acne scars, pimples, and/or blemishes treatment, make sure it is 100% pure virgin coconut oil (unrefined) since the refined version is not as effective. The refining process wears away some of the anti-microbial, anti-oxidative, and skin penetration power of coconut oil, not to mention that the refined oil may have some trans-fatty acids.
Here are some of the best organic virgin coconut oil products:
Trader Joe's Organic Coconut Oil
Nature's Way Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil
Viva Labs Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Have you tried using coconut oil for acne scars, breakouts, and marks treatment? Did you achieve any improvement in the scars? Share your experience, thoughts, and any tips you may have by leaving a comment below. And if you have not tried it, would you consider trying it?