It seems that anything marketed as plant-based is automatically deemed good and healthy, but there are always two sides to the story. Just because a product contains only plant oils and is touted as “natural” and “organic” does not necessarily make it safe or effective.
One ingredient in particular is ubiquitous in the natural skin and hair care world: coconut oil.
The following is an anecdotal summary of its effect on my skin and hair but, with just a little research, I’m finding more and more people aren’t able to tolerate it in their body care as well.
It’s not common knowledge that oils can be classified based on their comedogenicity, meaning their propensity to clog pores. You might have seen this word on a few labels, usually to specify that it is “non-comedogenic”, meaning less likely to clog pores.
This scale runs from 0-5 with a 4-5 rating indicating a very high chance of breakout or reaction to the oil. (Obviously there is room for individual skin types, conditions and environmental influence as well as the quality of the specific oil itself.)
In summary, based on how the oil reacts with the sebum the skin naturally produces, the consumer has a higher chance of congestion using higher comedogenic products leading to clogged pores in the form of blackheads and breakouts.
Coconut oil specifically has a comedogenicity rating of 4, meaning it has a fairly high likelihood of causing clogged pores.
I’ve used coconut oil on and off for at least the last 6-7 years. I never had any overt issues with it as it seemed to help my dry, curly hair and since I was (and still am!) a very low maintenance body care gal I just smeared some on my face as a moisturizer and called it good. My skin is also not super sensitive nor have I ever had much acne, especially cystic acne.
Fast-forward to postpartum and a different environment (moving from a drier area to a more humid area) and my hair and skin took a turn for the worse. Although I’ve always had fairly dry hair (3a curly hair!), it has never completely turned to straw as I was experiencing then. Also, as I mentioned before, I had never had cystic acne, but all of the sudden I was having numerous cysts, especially along my hair-line.
It took me months of trial and error, but I was finally able to narrow it down to coconut oil. In fact, in my curly hair Facebook group, there is a whole file dedicated to coconut oil-free products since there are a growing number of fellow-curly haired friends who cannot use it in their hair. (There are only a SMALL handful of natural products that do not contain coconut oil!) It was a day-and-night difference!
As soon as it was out my hair and skin returned to their normal state and I have not had a cyst at all since then. Of note, yes my hormones had certainly changed with a pregnancy and my environment had changed as well which could have definitely triggered this reaction, but it is definitely worth assessing to see if this ingredient is causing you breakouts or drier hair as well.
Jojoba and tallow both have a comedogenicity rating of 2 making them highly unlikely to clog pores and therefore a great combination for virtually all skin types! We obviously always recommend a patch test to ensure you don’t have any type of reaction to the herbs we use in our tallow and cannot guarantee our product will never cause breakouts.
What's your experience with coconut oil? Do you still use it in your skin and hair care? Tell us in the comments!
How interesting, and good to know! Thank you for sharing!
Thoughts on using coconut oil as a personal lubricant? It’s the only thing that works for me and my husband as I’m sensitive to anything with a scent!
I used to make a body scrub and my daughter and I loved it. It never dried out our skin or felt bad. My son hated it..Mafe his skin dried out. Baked his skin so to speak. Now I use your tallow. Wow!! What a difference. This is the best stuff ever!!! Love my Skin.. My face!! I use on feet too. I do use a homemade salve. I make it with olive oil. Only for my feet and knees. Hands. I do like it. I don’t know if olive oil is bad for your skin. I will continue to buy your product. I love it!!!! My face loves it. Sending you love from small town Fabens. Texas ❤