Coconut oil can’t replace your entire body care routine: Here’s why

Coconut oil is all the rage. Despite the fantastic claims about this oil (and widespread misinformation), I think most of us have begun to see through the unrealistic claims. Unfortunately, coconut oil doesn't have half of the health benefits people think it does.

In the eco-friendly, natural beauty, and zero waste world, coconut oil has been suggested as a replacement for eye makeup remover, moisturizer, hair conditioner, toothpaste, toothpaste ingredient, deodorant, lip balm and more. Having tried all of these, I can safely say that coconut oil can’t (or shouldn’t) fulfill all of these roles:

ON YOUR SKIN

Unless you have resilient, perfect skin, coconut oil should not go anywhere near your face. If you have acne prone skin, it’s even more important. Coconut oil is very comedogenic, meaning it is very likely to clog your pores. Products can be rated from 0-5 (least to most likely to clog your pores). Coconut oil has a rating of 5 on this scale, meaning it will definitely clog your pores. If you must put it on your skin, be mindful.

AS A MOISTURIZER

Since it’s will clog your pores, it’s not worth using coconut oil to moisturize your face. If you’re trying to green up your skincare, give it a few weeks before seeking out a moisturizer because you may find you don’t need one. Remember, soap is very drying, so overuse on your face might be part of the problem. If you want to try an oil, I recommend something with a score of 0 on the comedogenic scale such as sunflower oil, or almond oil which is popular although it does not score a 0.

I have incredibly dry skin. As in, my face used to peel if I missed a moisturizer application. I was a heavy moisturizer user and benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid junkie who needed to apply lotion twice a day or suffer consequences. Once I stopped using those, I really didn’t even need the moisturizer as it is.

Deodorant

You guessed it-I don’t suggest using coconut oil in deodorant. There are bacteria that interact with the fats, acids and proteins secreted by your skin when you sweat, causing body odor. Deodorants work through two main processes; they mask body odor and reduce or stop body odor with chemicals like triclosan that help slow down and prevent bacterial growth. Antiperspirants often rely on aluminum salts to plug up sweat glands to prevent sweating or make the armpit too salty for bacteria to grow.

Triclosan is not naturally occurring and aluminum salts can be found at times in nature, but neither of these substances can be found in coconut oil. Coconut oil does, in fact, contain fatty acids that are thought to have antimicrobial properties, such as lauric acid. These antimicrobial acids are most effective against gram positive bacteria; one of the worst offenders in making us smelly (Staphylococcus homini) just happens to be gram positive and would likely react with the antimicrobial properties. As for me, coconut oil still won’t be making it anywhere near my pits.

I have been using nothing but baking soda as deodorant for almost a year now. It’s the only zero waste deodorant you’ll ever need, and I wish I tried it when I first started out. I was skeptical at first, but let me tell you as someone who’s on the sweaty side and who also loves to hike, that this works. The way that baking soda neutralizes odors is by neutralizing acids. We can conclude that the acids produced when we sweat are neutralized by the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and the biproduct of this (salt) acts to inhibit bacterial growth, so baking soda works two-fold to combat sweat by neutralizing the acids produced when you sweat and making the environment too salty for bacteria to grow.

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FABRIC

When you put coconut oil on your face before bed or under your arms, it rubs off, so let’s be practical. It’s an oil, folks. What happens when you get grease on your clothes? Stains. And if you’re applying coconut oil to your armpits on the daily, imagine what’s going to happen to the underarms of your shirts. I see it now—crusty, weird, saturated with coconut oil, clothes.

DRAINS

Coconut oil is also solid below 74 degrees, meaning it might go down your drain a liquid and solidify once it travels further or you run cold water. I used coconut oil in DIY toothpaste for few months, and my sink has never drained quickly since. I don’t use coconut oil and baking soda to brush my teeth anymore; there isn’t enough evidence for me that it’s going to prevent cavities. There are plenty of tooth powders available in glass containers, and Colgate has a recycling program for their containers. Coconut oil is not going to be good for your washer with clothes, or your sinks.

What about you? Are you convinced? Will you cut the coconut oil or does it work for you?

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