When navigating the sometimes arduous waters of the beauty world, more specifically the do-it-yourself-at-home-with-three-supplies-from-your-kitchen world, it can be hard to distinguish fad from fact.
Like, I remember one time my friend put salt on her eyebrows to “stimulate their growth” and I was just like cool, okay, yeah.
But when something is universally loved (like Oreo cookies, or Ellen DeGeneres) it’s usually a pretty safe bet, right?
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Now as far as beauty trends go, coconut oil is one that I couldn’t escape, and neither could you, even if you tried. If nutritionists and YouTube gurus share any common ground, it’s that which praises coconut oil. Even to the most amateur of wellness connoisseurs, coconut oil is seductively accessible. You can literally walk up into any Trader Joe’s or Walmart and grab a bottle for like $8 (which is kind of expensive, but still less expensive than Laura Mercier okur) and go.
If you’re unfamiliar with the alleged health and beauty benefits coconut oil allegedly has to offer, I’m jealous. I wish I could be so lucky so as not to have dealt with the slippery, weird, itchy messiness of it all. but…alas. I digress. First, let us revisit what the (many, many) benefits of this substance are supposed to be (and have been for many people, I might add):
Coconut oil can be used for cooking, home, and beauty. But with regard to skincare, here are but a few of the suggested uses:
- Coconut oil as a natural moisturizer
- Healing skin injuries
- Getting rid of cellulite
- Part of an oil cleansing remedy
- Eye-makeup remover
- Used to lighten sun spots
- Probably 100 more things
Basically, coconut oil does anything and everything you want it to on any part of your body. Pretty sure I read once that if you put coconut oil in your wallet, it doubles your cash (just kidding, don’t write that down).
I can’t speak to the effectiveness of all of coconut oil’s skin uses, but I can talk about my experience in using it as a quote on quote “natural moisturizer” as well as a sort of “skin cleanser.” Now I should probably preface this by saying that given my shitty results, I most likely did something wrong along the way, but to be fair, they’re probably mistakes that a lot of people could have made, and I want you to learn from my weird experience.
Naturally, I have oily skin. I go back and forth on whether this is a good or bad thing, but it’s basically just a thing. Because of this, I was skeptical to use coconut oil considering it’s…well…oil. But I read somewhere that sometimes firemen use fire to put out fire and I figured this was more or less the same thing. I was wrong.
When using coconut oil as a moisturizer, I pretty much went about it the same way I would with normal moisturizer. Perhaps this was my first mistake. I’d wash my face with my Cetaphil skin cleanser, dry it and then just sort of…go for the coconut oil. I’d take a teeny tiny bit and apply it two fingers at a time across my face. In retrospect, this did kind of seem too easy, but it’s how I’d seen others do it so I figured I was fine. I wouldn’t just leave the coconut oil there or anything, I’d rub it into my skin and what not. Then, I went about my day.
Then, my skin said “fuck you.” As I went about my day, I literally could not ignore the weird, filmy, dirty sheen on my face no matter how hard I tried. It felt like something was on my skin the entire time, which of course it was but you’re not supposed to notice it.
I figured this was just a normal feeling of discomfort. But it lasted all day. Then, when I got home, I realized my skin was itchy and my pores seemed more noticeable. Which makes sense, on paper, if you put oil on your face. I get that there’s something about how putting oil on oily skin makes your body produce natural oil making it, incidentally, less oily. But all I felt was my clogged pores, and my irritated and visibly oily skin.
I tried vigorously to wash off the oil with my trusty aforementioned face wash, but even then it took multiple rounds of washing to make my skin feel not-gross.
The next morning, I woke up with…you guessed it. Four to five new pimples that I had not invited to my barbecue, not to mention a small breakout rash on my chin. Now at this point, I know what you’re thinking. “Might it be possible that you’re allergic to coconut oil?” And the answer is…maybe. It’s possible. But also, oily skin = breakouts. It’s called arithmetic sweetie, look it up.
Fast forward a week, and all is forgiven. I decided to give coconut oil another try, considering everyone in the world seemed to be having a good experience except myself. My breakouts hadn’t entirely gone away from the week before, but I wrongfully figured…hey, maybe coconut oil can help fix the problems it created in the first place. So, I went for a different approach: using it as a facial cleanser. The best part is, this method was rendered “especially beneficial” to oily skin.
But if there’s one thing I know, it’s that oil and water aren’t exactly compatible. I guess they can be, in theory, but the thought makes me uncomfortable given just a basic level of scientific conventional wisdom. The instructions I read online were to warm up coconut oil in my hands, lather it onto my face, and let it sit. Then, I read to heat up a wet towel and place it over my face for one minute, until finally gently wiping the oil off of my face. But again, I never felt like I could quite get all of the oil off. I kept wiping and wiping until it got a bit ridiculous, and figured I’d done it right. Then, I applied my usual Aveeno moisturizer and went about my day.
Lol, de ja vu. Breakouts, except even worse than the ones before. I saw some warning signs right after using it, in that when I put the moisturizer on my face it seemed a bit shinier and slicker than it usually does. I’m assuming that the combination of the Aveeno and the coconut oil didn’t bode well with my skin. When I got home I proceeded to wash my face several times as I had before, but was already scratching at my problem areas. This time, not only were the areas from before bumpy, but they were also red. I wish I had photographic evidence to supplement this claim but, on the other hand, it’s probably better that I don’t.
I don’t know. As someone with oily skin that seems to reject certain things, I honestly still don’t see how applying thick oil to the surface of my face is beneficial in any major way. Hopefully if you’ve dabbled with coconut oil experimentation the outcome was a lot less shitty for you. Maybe it was just me and my skin, but my thing is: if you can’t use something as a moisturizer or a skin cleanser without amplifying preexisting skin problems (or in my case, creating problems that weren’t really there to begin with) then should you put it on your skin at all?
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