ABCs of Skin Care ~ C is for Coconut Oil (not for acne!)

coconut in skin care
Photo by Tijana Drndarski on Unsplash

Coconut oil, especially for acne, is one of the darlings of the skin care world. If you believe everything you read on the internet, you would think the following is true:

Coconut oil cures acne!

It cured my dry skin!

I lost 20 lbs just by eating coconut oil!

It cured my cancer!

Coconut oil brought my dog back from the dead! Here’s how I did it…

Oh dear, don’t get me started. A little up front warning, there may be a bit of a rant coming…


Now don’t get me wrong, I love coconut oil for cooking. Its a healthy saturated fat, has a nice mild flavor, and I adore putting a dab in my roasted carrots, and its not bad in a bulletproof coffee either. When it comes to coconut oil and acne though…

coconut oil is NOT the most wonderful substance since sliced bread for your skin. Especially if you are acne prone.

See, all oils are made up of fatty acids. There are lots of different kinds of fatty acids like linoleic acid, alpha linoleic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid(EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), oleic, myristic, lauric etc.

To maintain a healthy barrier, which is job #1 for the skin, it must have a balance of 3 things:

  • Cholesterol
  • Ceramides
  • Fatty Acids

Its complicated, but suffice it to say that if you have too much of or not enough, the barrier breaks down and the skin can’t do its job. Chaos ensues in the form of redness, itching, irritation, stinging, dermatitis… you get the point.

Here’s the problem: Coconut oil is made up of ALL FATTY ACIDS. All vegetable oils are made of fatty acids.

Ultimately, used alone, coconut oil can also damage the skin barrier over time.

Pro tip: mature skin needs more cholesterol, but there isn’t any cholesterol in coconut oil!

It gets worse.

Coconut oil is made up of 46-50% Lauric acid, and 17-19% Myristic acid.

Lauric acid is HUGELY comedogenic but it also has some pretty strong antimicrobial properties, which is why people use it for acne.

Myristic acid is comedogenic as well. The catch is, it takes 3-6 months for a comedone (blackhead) to form. Yes, your red pimples may look better in that time, but they will come back with a vengeance in 3-6 months.

COCONUT OIL WILL CAUSE ACNE. Trust me on this, as an Acne Specialist I’ve seen it happen soooo many times.

When people say that coconut oil “cleared” their acne, its more likely that they didn’t actually have ACNE.

They may have had an acne look alike such as rosacea or folliculitis. The lauric acid in coconut oil may have been helpful for them, because it reduced the microbial component to these other skin issues.

It blows my mind that bloggers, Health Coaches, skin care professionals, and even doctors are still saying that coconut oil is great for the skin.

It’s just not true. Its what I call Blogger BS.

Bottom line is don’t use coconut oil by itself to moisturize your skin, and most definitely do not use coconut oil if you have acne.

For more info or to get your very own skin care specialist, visit us at Viriditas Beautiful Skin Therapies in Providence RI or give us a call 401-632-4444.



  1. on August 6, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    What a your thoughts on coconut oil for eczema?Im guessing no seeing as irritated skin is a compromised skin barrier. And to get a healthy skin barrier you need the three ingredients

    • laurieneronha333 on August 6, 2019 at 5:48 pm

      right, coconut oil is not my favorite for eczema. It ~can~ be helpful but not used alone. It may help keep levels of Malassezia yeast under control, which can get a little overabundant in eczema.

      Most people with eczema have a deficiency of gamma linoleic acid, an EFA necessary for healthy cell membranes and healthy skin. Its also deficient in acneic skin. I usually suggest clients look into taking evening primrose or borage oil supplements at 1300IU daily. It will take at least 6 weeks to see an improvement, but it can really help. Avoid inflammatory foods too!

      • on August 6, 2019 at 5:57 pm

        Thanks for that. There is so much mixed information out there.

  2. […] A few other examples include the 20 year old blogger taking about her favorite coconut oil serum and how it makes her skin so beautiful and glowy. She’s glowy because SHE’S 20!!! It doesn’t have diddly squat to do with the serum she uses! Did I mention that she probably is being paid by the company to promote their products? Yea, paid promotion is a thing. Don’t get me started on coconut oil again… […]

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