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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Dry Winter Skin? 13 Ways to Beat the Dry without Breaking the Bank

Snowflakes, skiing, hot chocolate, Netflix marathons…what’s not to like about winter? Well, maybe the dry, flaky, itchy skin…

Dry Skin doesn’t have enough oil. Oily skin has plenty of oil. Dehydrated skin however, doesn’t have enough water. This is why you can have very oily skin, but still feel quite dry in the winter: its dehydration.

Whatever skin you have, keeping it soft and hydrated in the cold weather months doesn’t need to come with a big price tag. Here are some basic skin treats you can do yourself at home:

Externally:
1) Indulge yourself in a lush bath of warm water and a can of full-fat coconut milk! The natural fat helps to gently soften and hydrate dry itchy winter skin. Keep it to about 20 minutes though, more than that and your warm soak may have a reverse effect. Caution! The tub will be slippery!
2) Any bath or shower ritual will be enhanced with a little dry brushing beforehand. Simply take a stiff bristled body brush, and brush your skin in upward motions toward your heart. Not only is this a great way to exfoliate dead, dry skin, it also moves lymph, which reduces swelling, puffiness, and supports overall health. Start on your feet and move upward, continuing until the skin is slightly pink.
3) Follow up that dry brushing with a little self-massage! Raid your kitchen for some sesame or sunflower oil. Let it all soak in before ( yes, before) you hop in the shower. Use a gentle cleanser, and try washing just the “stinky parts”. (Applying oil to the skin after a shower is lovely, however the oils will soak into the fibers of your clothing and towels, turning rancid over time.) Follow up with your favorite lotion. Try to avoid lotion with fragrance, as it’s a common irritant, frequently causing dryness and itching. Dry winter skin doesn’t need more of that!
4) For your face, indulge in a weekly mask of full fat yogurt, mashed banana, avocado or honey. A classic “honey pat” helps to gently exfoliate and hydrate. Simply take 1-2 teaspoons of liquid honey, and with your fingers, “pat” it all over your face. After a few minutes of patting it will become runny, then you can leave it to continue working for 10-15 minutes if desired. Rinse well and follow-up with your favorite moisturizer.
5) Be sure to moisturize BOTH your face and body! If the body skin is dry, your face definitely will be too. Don’t skip one or the other, they are all part of the same organ. Treat your skin well❤️
6) A few items I would NOT recommend: olive oil. As delicious and healthy as it is to eat, studies have shown that it damages the barrier of the skin over time: makes the skin dry and chapped.
7) Also, contrary to popular media, coconut oil is NOT the best choice for people with acne-prone skin.  I know, I specialize in Acne…sunflower oil is a much better choice, it contains a high proportion of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid which studies have shown is deficient in acne and eczema prone skin. Coconut oil is fine for non-acne prone skin, but it doesn’t contain enough fatty acids for winter weather. It will absorb and disappear. Dry skin needs more. Shea, mango or cocoa butter is thicker and heavier, and rather inexpensive to obtain. Just warm it a little in your hands and apply. Again, not for acne!
8) Invest in a small bottle of organic pomegranate oil. A drop or two added to your regular moisturizer can give you the winterizing boost your skin needs. Again, sunflower or jojoba oils are good choices for acne -prone skin.

Internally:
9) Increase your intake of healthy fats: avocado, walnuts, grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, olive oil. These foods are required for healthy cellular membranes, and no matter how much lotion you put on the outside, if the inside is oil dry, you just can’t moisturize enough.
10) Drink enough water!! Healthy skin has a balance of oil and water, so someone who is very oily can often feel very dry in the winter: they are dehydrated! Drink up! A cup of hot tea both hydrates, and takes out the chill.

Environmental:
11) Use a humidifier. Dry, hot air from heating units will pull moisture right out of your skin by osmosis, so boost the relative humidity, and don’t blast the heat.
12) Wear a scarf and gloves! Keep your skin protected from the elements and reduce moisture loss by keeping it covered when you go outside.
13) Wear natural fibers like cotton, wool, bamboo and silk. These fabrics help prevent moisture loss, and preserve heat.

What are your go-to tips for keeping dry winter skin happy? Please share in the comments!

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