Updated: Jan 8
Coconut oil comes from the nut (fruit) of the coconut palm. In asian countries, coconut oil has been popular as a food ingredient since time immemorial.
As a health product, all scientific studies on the benefits of consuming coconut oil have been inconclusive, with nutritionists warning that coconut oil can increase cholesterol levels. Delicious as it may be, it should be consumed in moderation.
In terms of benefits for the skin, coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids, including capric acid, caprylic acid, and lauric acid which have a moisturizing effect when applied to the skin. People commonly use coconut oil for eczema. It is also used for other conditions including psoriasis, obesity and breast cancer, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
Nevertheless, these days, coconut oil is a widely used ingredient in beauty and skincare products. In my medical practice, coconut oil is one of the ingredients in this Skin Glow Pro Original sunscreen.
Coconut oil is naturally derived from mature coconuts which contains a large blend of nutrients including vitamin E and fatty acids, which purportedly have potential bleaching and skin whitening properties. Although some people have endorsed pure coconut oil for skin whitening purposes, as a medical practitioner, I would not recommend it to my patients who come to me for skin pigmentation at least not in his natural form.
However, for those who like all-things natural, there is no harm giving it a try.
Unlike other oils, coconut oil is said to easily penetrate into the skin, to get absorbed quickly. Its high-fat content supposedly helps heal wounds, reduce inflammation, and prevent breakouts. Proponents of natural remedies recommend coconut oil for skin whitening. There is no clinical evidence as yet to support all these uses though there is potential for further studies for some of these purposes.
How Might Coconut Oil Work for Skin Whitening?
Coconut Oil has a combination of acids, including lauric acid, dodecanoic acid, and caprylic acid. These acids are said to help minimize skin inflammation and enhance skin complexion. With the help of vitamin A and E, some say it may even help to heal dark skin patches, sunburns, and other scars. Although it could help to improve the texture, the concentration of vitamin A and E in pure coconut oil is very low. As such I hesitate to say it would lighten the overall skin tone significantly if at all.
Using Coconut Oil Overnight for Skin Whitening?
Even if it doesn't whiten, coconut oil on its own could help moisturise your skin.
After your skincare routine, spread a small amount of coconut oil over your face, neck and body, then remove excess oil with tissue paper. Leave on through the night and rinse off in the morning. Overnight coconut oil could help dry, chafed and flaky skin. However, it is not suitable for oily or acne-prone skin, as it can cause breakouts.
Ways to Try Using Coconut Oil for Skin Whitening
Pure coconut oil can be used in different ways. You could try to introduce coconut oil to your skincare routine through the following ways:
First Step of Make-up Removal
Some people use coconut oil to remove make-up. Being a natural oil, it softens the make-up and pollution that might stick to your skin. When you wash your face afterwards, it would support the cleansing process. Try it and let us know if it helps whiten. :)
How to Do it? Take coconut oil in your palms and rub it between your hands. Apply it to your face. Rub your fingers gently in circular motion. Use facial cotton pad to wipe off. Rinse with water. Follow on with a good quality makeup remover before cleansing and toning.
Some people use coconut oil lip balm and say that it helps moisturize dry lips, giving a more smooth appearance. Rub some coconut oil on your lips. Follow on with a good quality lip product to keep it luscious and youthful.
Combining crystal solid particles like sugar with coconut oil will make an exfoliator. You can scrub your body with this natural homemade exfoliator. Although in my practice, I find physical scrubs abrasive and uncomfortable, it is said to help eradicate dead skin cells, to give a brighter and healthier look.
How to Do It? Open the mask pack. Before taking out the mask, add a bit of coconut oil. Massage the pack to mix the contents. Apply the mask. Massage the rest of the serum to neck and arms.
Enhance your Body Moisturiser
You may not want to use coconut oil on your face either because you don't like that oily feeling on your face, or you are prone to acne-breakouts. You could use it on your body. Every night, add a few drops to Nourishing Hand and Body Cream or Skin Protect Lotion. Smooth on all over your body.
Interestingly, coconut oil is found to have some benefit in protecting against UVB radiation; it has also been found to help protect your skin and improving skin barrier function.
How to use it? Before going out, apply a layer of coconut oil to your face (if you are not acne-prone) and body. Follow on with sunscreen such as KMC Limelight.
FAQs – Coconut Oil for Skin Whitening
Is Coconut Oil Good for Your Skin?
Coconut oil is a source of fatty acids, oils, and Vitamin E. It has potential to serve as a remedy to treat skin issues such as inflammation. Researchers say that there with further studies, coconut oil may in the future have be used for various purposes on the skin.
Are there different types of Coconut Oil?
While the benefits seem plentiful, so is the confusion behind different types, labels, and brand packaging. If you want to give coconut oil a go, should you choose refined or unrefined, virgin or extra-virgin, whole kernel or white kernel? When it comes the extraction methods, would you go for centrifuge or cold-pressed or expeller-pressed? The answers can be found online, such as here.
Which type of coconut oil should you choose?
Coconut oil proponents say you should pick a high quality product, and to focus on coconut oil that is virgin, organic, and processed in the least invasive way.
Does Coconut Oil Lighten Skin?
Coconut oil has multiple fatty acids that are hostile against bacteria, fungi, viruses. These microbes are said to be responsible for darkening the skin complexion. However, other than moisturising the skin, medical experts remain cynical about its ability to do much else for the skin at the moment including lightening it.
Coconut oil on its own, has been said by some to be a natural coolant with therapeutic properties. It supposedly calms you mentally, physically, as well as emotionally. In addition, it is rich in oils and is easy to apply to the skin with no potential risks especially when applied to the body.
Limited but consistent evidence supports the topical use for prevention and treatment of atopic dermatitis. Coconut oil products may also be useful in preventing hair damage due to protein loss during grooming processes and ultraviolet (UV) exposure; however, more studies are needed to confirm this effect. Anecdotal good outcomes of using pure coconut oil for skin whitening suggest that perhaps there may be some use in this area for coconut oil in the future, but current scientific studies do not support its use for brightening, at least not in its pure natural form as yet.
In my practice, I welcome it as an ingredient in my anti-aging, antioxidant-rich products such as sunscreens, serums and moisturisers, especially for dry skin.