ABCs of Skin Care ~ C is for Coconut Oil

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

Coconut oil 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!

It made me lose 20 pounds!

It cured my cancer!

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

BULLSH*T

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.

But it is NOT, I repeat 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 one, or not enough of the others, 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.

Used alone, coconut oil can damage the skin barrier over time.

Pro tip: mature skin needs more cholesterol, but there isn’t any 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. 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. So sure, your red pimples may look better, but they will come back with a vengeance in 3-6 months. 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 possible that they didn’t actually have ACNE, they may have had a look alike such as rosacea or folliculitis. The lauric acid in coconut oil may have been helpful for them, because there is a strong microbial component to these 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 IT IF YOU ARE ACNE PRONE.

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.

Oh look! Another cute kitty 🙂

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10 Tips to Help You Stop Wasting Your Skin Care Products!

The average woman spends $15,000 on beauty products in her lifetime according to In Style. Some sources peg that number at $2000 per year.

Maybe those numbers aren’t in your budget, but chances are, you have put a few dollars here and there toward your looks. Make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck by following these product usage guidelines.

As a licensed Esthetician, my general mantra to clients is “move the product, not your face!”  In other words, you should be applying enough product, whether its cleanser, serum, moisturizer or sunscreen, so that it can be spread across the desired surface without pulling or tugging on the skin.

How much product exactly, well that depends on the product, your skin, and the purpose.

Prepping your skin properly has a huge effect as well. Trying to apply moisturizer to skin that still has leftover makeup on it (and lots of ladies do this!) won’t cut it. Literally: makeup is designed to sit on the surface, by nature it is a little bit occlusive. Think BB cream. Cleanse your skin well! Moisturizer, no matter how much you apply, won’t fully penetrate dirty skin. WASTE!

Soap, when mixed with water is usually quite alkaline, and alkalinity disrupts the barrier function of skin. Your skins’ job is to keep bad stuff (think bacteria and environmental toxins) out, and moisture in. An alkaline skin will desperately absorb more product to repair that barrier! WASTE! Use a gentle cleanser instead of soap. Over cleansing and over exfoliating will do that too. Cleanse no more than 2x day, and reach for a gentle scrub no more than 2-3x per week. Using a scrub 1x per week in the winter months is plenty. Your esthetician can help you choose the perfect cleanser or exfoliant.
soap
How much skin care product to use? Keep in mind that when applying product to your face, you should include the face, front and back of the neck, and décolleté all the way to the bra line. These areas will age!  Most women (and men!) forget to address these spots, and wind up wearing high cut shirts and scarves as they get older. Now that’s a waste. Why spend money on good skin care, and not put it on all of your skin? WASTE!

How you apply product can make or break your beauty budget. Pumping a dollop of moisturizer on your fingertips, and trying to spread that over your target area will result in a lot of unnecessary pulling, tugging, and uneven application, not to mention more product. Skin care should be applied directly to clean damp hands, spread briefly over the palms, and press, press, press!  Press on the forehead, cheeks, chin, neck, décolleté, THEN spread. This ensures even distribution, and less waste. Start with damp hands please, or your hands will absorb it before your face. WASTE!

Cleanser: depending on how concentrated it is, usually a quarter sized amount will do. Spend some time actually cleansing the skin; give the product time to work. 1-2 minutes is good to shoot for.

Toner / hydrating mist: Today’s “toners” are not the alcohol laden dry-bombs of the 1980s and 90s. But you might want to check your product labels! Lots of popular brands are still using way too much drying alcohol. Its a cheap ingredient. Not all alcohol is bad, its used to keep ingredients dissolved and sometimes preserved. Cetearyl alcohol is actually moisturizing, but SD or “denatured” alcohol, especially if its one of the first 3 ingredients, not so much…

Many excellent product lines today have taken advantage of the “toning” step to incorporate serious hydrating ingredients like sodium lactate and hyaluronic acid to pre-saturate the skin.Think of the skin like a sponge: a wet sponge picks up more moisture faster than a dry sponge. Translation: you can use less product, and it will spread more easily. Use your hydrating mist / toner, and use less product! No WASTE!

Serum: is it a gel based serum, or a lipid (oil) base? A dime sized amount of a gel serum should do the trick. A lipid based serum however, usually only requires a few drops, spread quickly over the palms, and pressed gently onto the skin. Lipid serums are usually not intended to be “massaged”.

Eye cream: aim for a pea sized amount, applied only to the middle fingertips. Again, press between the fingertips first, then press around the eye area, then gently spread. Eye creams are super concentrated and often spendy, so don’t WASTE it! But do use enough to see the benefits. (Pun intended)

Moisturizer: generally go for a quarter sized amount, now applied to freshly cleansed, pre-hydrated skin, and press press press! Follow up with gently spreading all over the face, front and back of neck, and décolleté.

Sunscreen: usually the same as moisturizer, and apply to all the same areas. Some formulations differ based on the micron size of the active ingredients (I prefer zinc and titanium dioxide) so check the label for specific instructions.

What ever product you may have left on your palms, apply to the back of your hands! This area (along with eyes and neck) is one of the first to show age. It only takes a few moments, and you don’t want to WASTE the opportunity to protect your skin…

The most important thing you can do to avoid WASTE, is to see your friendly neighborhood esthetician, who is a licensed skin care professional! S/he can analyze your skin and condition, and make product recommendations that are best suited to your skin. There is no need to WASTE good money on bad or unsuitable skin care products.  What are you going to do with all that $$$$ you’ll save?

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#smartskinrules'Move the product, not