Coconut oil is truly an amazing substance that has been utilised by humans for ages. There is a fair bit of research that has been done on coconut oil for the skin and hair. Here we present some of the scientific evidence behind the benefits of coconut oil.
Coconut oil moisturises the skin
Coconut oil has proven to be an effective moisturiser. It functions well as a daily moisturising oil for general skincare, and has proven to relieve several skin conditions.
Coconut oil as a treatment for xerosis has been found to be effective. Xerosis is a medical term for abnormally dry skin has is usually treated with moisturisers. In this study, coconut oil is shown to be more effective that mineral oil in the treatment of xerosis.
Coconut oil speeds up wound healing
A study has been conducted on rats that shows that coconut oil speeds up wound healing. In this study, wounded rats treated with Virgin Coconut Oil heal quicker than those without. The authors conclude that the effect is likely due to the various beneficial biologically active minor components present in coconut oil.
Coconut oil curbs acne bacteria
Lauric acid, a fatty acid that is found abundantly in coconut oil (50%), has strong anti-bacterial properties. Researchers have found that Lauric Acid is more effective at curbing acne bacteria that benzoyl peroxide, a commonly used acne medication. Not only that, it is much less toxic to human cells as well.
The researchers also found that applying Lauric Acid on mouse ears successfully reduces the swelling and inflammation caused by acne bacteria.
Coconut oil helps to cure eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
Eczema is a common skin condition that is treated with anti-bacterial compounds and moisturisers.
One double-blind research compares Virgin Coconut Oil with Virgin Olive Oil in the treatment of eczema. While both oils were effective at relieving the condition and curbing the eczema causing bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus), Virgin Coconut Oil is shown to have a much stronger effect.
Coconut oil protects against sun damage
This study compares the SPF (sun protection factor) of various natural oils. Among all the oils compared, it has been found that coconut oil and olive oil have the highest SPF values of 8.
While this doesn't mean you should replace your sunscreen with coconut oil, it does suggest that daily application of coconut oil protects significantly against day to day sun damage.
Coconut oil nourishes
Traditionally, people from India have been applying natural oils for new-born babies for hundreds of years. In this study, new-born term and preterm babies are massaged using coconut oil, mineral oil and baby powder. They are then compared by weight and height.
Amazingly, in term and preterm babies, coconut oil massage showed significantly faster weight gain than either mineral oil or powder massage. In addition, preterm babies also showed a gain in height. This means that somehow, nutrients in the coconut oil must have penetrated through the babies' skin and nourished them.
Coconut oil penetrates into hair and protects it
This study shows that coconut oil penetrates more deeply into human hair than mineral oil. In addition, hair swells little after 1 hour immersion in water after being treated with coconut oil, indicating that coconut oil protects hair against water damage.
Another study compares the protective effects of coconut oil, sunflower oil and mineral oil for hair. Again, it is shown that coconut oil penetrates deep when compared to sunflower and mineral oils. Not only that, coconut oil is the only oil shown to reduce protein loss in hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product. Sunflower oil and mineral oil, in contrast, does not reduce protein loss at all when used in the same manner.
The researchers think that coconut oil is able to penetrate the hair because the smaller molecules and high affinity to hair proteins. Mineral oil does not have such an affinity while sunflower oil has a bulky molecular structure that prevents it from penetrating.
Coconut oil truly cares. Like a "guardian angel" of skincare, there is significant evidence to show that coconut oil not only remedies problem skin, but also guards and nurtures it. We hope to educate the world about the wonders of this miraculous substance and help others appreciate it as well as integrate it into their skincare routine.