When it comes to fabulous misconceptions, there’s nothing quite like beauty fads to get them going hot and strong.

As soon as some ingredient gets slapped with a “superfood” label, many of us (me!) are guilty of believing it to be the next best thing since sliced bread. After nutritionists began touting coconut oil as being a superfood, it was only a matter of time before it made the leap from the health food aisle to the makeup display/beauty products corner.

But, when it comes to coconut oil, skincare and beauty experts want you to know a couple of things…

Stop putting it on your face.

The skin on our face is thinner than the skin pretty much anywhere else on our bodies, as well as more sensitive. Combine that with coconut oil being comedogenic, and you have a recipe for potential pore clogging and related breakouts in your future. Of course, everyone’s skin is different. And if your skin is very dry, then you’re among the lucky few who never have to battle with clogged pores and acne.

Long story short: For those with oily skin or combination skin, most dermatologists don’t recommend it as a facial moisturizer in your skincare routine.

It won’t cure eczema.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for eczema, at least not any that Mayo Clinic believes in. And all our wishing will not make coconut oil the magic cure for atopic dermatitis.

What is true, however, is that coconut oil is high in Vitamin E, which is known to soothe and calm the skin, relieve outbreaks, and keep skin aggravation to a minimum. Additionally, it has antifungal effects that can help treat insect bites and keep various infections at bay. But simply putting it on an eczema flare-up will not cure you.

It’s not effective as a hair mask.

What about your hair? Is there a case for haircare involving coconut oil? Dry hair can tend toward breakages, and certain hair types need hair product to get frizziness under control. Can coconut oil help? It depends. 

If your hair is dry or coarse, putting coconut oil on your hair could lead to hair loss or make it even more brittle than before! And since it is often those with dry hair who are trying out oil-based hair masks, you might be in for not-so-fun times. Even if you aren’t putting it directly on your scalp, which interferes with the body’s natural production of scalp oils, putting it on the ends or the strands is also no-good. Oil reacts to the warmth of the sun’s rays by heating up, which will cause your hair to lose moisture.

When combined with other ingredients, coconut oil is likely very beneficial to hair. So don’t run screaming if you see it listed as an ingredient in a hair product. But be cautious if your Mom tells you to use it on your tresses. Test it out before going headfirst into the stuff. 

Coconut oil is not all equal.

Studies on coconut oil are still sparse. Wait 10 years and a lot of the thinking on this oil might change to adapt to new evidence. For now, nutritionists and dermatologists want you to know the difference between refined and unrefined. Refined coconut oil goes through a bleaching process that kills off microbes and any unwanted particles, which likely lessens its nutritional content. Unrefined coconut oil undergoes a different process that does not include any bleaching and keeps the fatty acids and polyphenols in coconut oil intact. Want to get all the benefits of coconut oil? Choose the one labeled “unrefined.”

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