Dear Megan,

What can I use coconut oil for? Some people say you can use coconut oil for everything, others say it’s not good for your skin. What’s the truth?

– Adrian D.

Not to be dramatic, but coconuts are God’s gift to earth. Between coconut water, coconut milk, the meat, the oil..

Coconuts are just perfect.

There is a running joke on the internet that coconut oil is a cure for anything you could possibly be going through, and I think there may be a bit of truth to that. It’s that good!

Coconut oil, or copra oil, is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of mature coconuts harvested from the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). It has various applications. Because of its high saturated fat content, it is slow to oxidize and, thus, resistant to rancidification, lasting up to six months at 24 °C (75 °F) without spoiling. (source)

What is it that makes coconut oil so great? And what’s it actually good for versus… not so good for?


“Coconut oil solubilizes or breaks up water-resistant substances used in eye shadow and mascara, releasing them from the skin and lashes. It’s great for your skin, because it moisturizes and smooths” says cosmetic chemist Joseph Cincotta (source). Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so scoop out a little with a spoon or clean hands and rub it between your fingers to warm it up first. Once it becomes a liquid, smooth it over your skin with your fingers to break up the makeup. After all the makeup has been broken up, splash your face with water and wipe it off with a clean cloth. This will ensure that all of the coconut oil is removed, too.  Just be careful to “avoid getting oil in your eyes, since it will temporarily blur your vision,” warns Cincotta. After you have removed the coconut oil, go back in with a gel or cream based cleanser and wash your face like normal.


Just don’t rely on it to kill all of the bacteria that’s on your face. That’s why it’s important to use a traditional cleanser after using coconut oil. For some reason, a lot of people believe that coconut oil contains antimicrobial and antifungal agents (like monocaprin and monolaurin) when acted upon by certain enzymes. But this has not been verified by any peer-reviewed research using sound scientific methods!

Because coconut oil is NOT an antibacterial agent, and it doesn’t contain preservatives, if you repeatedly reach into your jar with wet or bacteria-laden hands, it can cause bacteria or fungi to grow in your jar. Gross!

Dark spots at the top or bottom of your container are the telltale signs that your coconut oil is growing bacteria or fungi. Sometimes it will also smell differently. If this is the case, DON’T use it on your face and DO throw it away immediately! (source)


Unless you just never get a pimple, don’t rub coconut oil all over your face. It’s rated 4 out of 5 on the comedogenic scale.. meaning it carries a moderate risk of causing acne (see here).

I don’t like comedones. You won’t either. Comedones turn rapidly into pimples. Just.. choose a more comedogenic oil, like argan oil, for moisurizing your face or oil cleansing it.


Yeah, you really can find a better mix of fatty acids for lash growth. You can see the full article on why coconut oil is not great at growing lashes here.


Coconut oil is a great (and seriously good smelling) natural conditioner. Packed full of saturated fatty acids, with some EFAs to boot, it can moisturize and coat hair just like it can skin. The real kicker, though, is in the lauric acid.

Lauric acid is a saturated fatty acid – a 12 carbon chain that’s fully saturated, meaning no double bonds / every carbon has 2 hydrogens in the chain or 3 on the end (TMI?)

What makes it great is that as a shorter chain fatty acid with no double bonds, it not kinky, making it prety lithe in terms of its stearic chemistry. AKA: this baby can move. It also has a lower molecular weight than most fatty acids, making it light. With good stearic chemistry and an affinity for protein, it can move so well that it can enter and penetrate the hair shaft, making for stronger hair overall (source).

If that all sounded too wonky to make sense, just believe me (and Scientists Rele and Mohile): Coconut oil makes for stronger hair.


And that’s what’s really important here right?

I love putting it in my DIY vegan bullet coffee (see how + why here).

Don’t tell anyone.. but I also eat it by the spoonful.. ITS SO DELICIOUS!!!


So while coconut oil can do some really awesome things – be wary that it’s not antibacterial, it won’t cure your acne (and will probably make it worse) and it’s not that great at growing eyelashes.

It is a great way to take off your makeup (don’t rub it all over your face, though) but it won’t kill all the nasty stuff that’s been left behind. As a bonus you can also use coconut oil as a hair mask, shaving cream, and body oil.

Seriously, is there anything coconut oil can’t fix?

Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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