Fact Checked

This Dr. Axe content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure factually accurate information.

With strict editorial sourcing guidelines, we only link to academic research institutions, reputable media sites and, when research is available, medically peer-reviewed studies. Note that the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) are clickable links to these studies.

The information in our articles is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by our trained editorial staff. Note that the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) are clickable links to medically peer-reviewed studies.

Our team includes licensed nutritionists and dietitians, certified health education specialists, as well as certified strength and conditioning specialists, personal trainers and corrective exercise specialists. Our team aims to be not only thorough with its research, but also objective and unbiased.

The information in our articles is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.

Coconut Oil for Skin: 23 Uses

By

Coconut oil for skin - Dr. Axe

Coconut oil can be thought of as the do-everything oil with next-to-zero downside. Use it in your food, on your hair, skin, nails — you name it! It’s no wonder that many beauty care products on the market today are made with coconut oil. But guess what? Coconut oil for skin can be done easily at home too.

Coconut oil benefits come from its therapeutic compounds. It’s loaded with good fats that provide us with energy, has hydrating properties, and is able to fight microbes within and outside the body. It also smells amazing!

But did you know that coconut oil for skin is also a thing? That’s right, you can reap coconut oil’s benefits from the outside-in. Not only is using coconut oil on your skin an all-natural method to eliminate many of the toxic ingredients that are found on drugstore shelves, but it’s also a cost-effective way to care for your body.

Coconut oil also is able to penetrate your skin on a deeper level than your average product because of its low molecular weight and the way it bonds with proteins. So feel free to ditch those extra products in the medicine cabinet and try many, if not all, of these 23 ways to use coconut oil for healthy, radiant skin instead.

Benefits of Coconut Oil for the Skin

1. Has Antimicrobial Properties

Coconut oil contains three fatty acids —capric, caprylic and lauric acid — that possess both disinfectant and antimicrobial properties, helping to protect against as well as heal microbial infections. Studies indicate that it’s effective against bacteria-related issues like dental caries and skin infections.

This is why organic coconut oil for skin blemishes and infections is so popular. It keeps bacteria at bay and can help to fight infections that cause cold sores, diaper rash and body odor.

2. Works to Hydrate Skin and Hair

Why does coconut oil for skin work so well? In part, it’s due to the saturated fats that helps the skin stay moisturized, with the fat preventing moisture loss through the skin’s pores. These fats give the skin a healthy, smooth and even tone.

Research reveals that virgin coconut oil improves the symptoms of skin disorders by moisturizing and soothing the skin. It also protects the skin by enhancing skin barrier function.

3. Reduces Inflammation

Coconut oil benefits for skin include its ability to improve skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and other inflammatory skin issues.

In fact, a recent study found that 46 percent of patients with a chronic skin disease who used coconut oil had an excellent response in treating their condition. Meanwhile, only 19 percent of those who used mineral oil to treat their condition had an excellent response. 

4. Possesses Antioxidants

Studies show that coconut oil contains powerful antioxidants that work to reduce oxidative stress. This is why virgin coconut oil is commonly consumed to help fight diseases related to lipid and protein oxidation, but applying the oil to your skin can also reduce oxidation. This helps to promote healthy aging and reduce visible signs of stress.

Uses for Skin

1. Body Butter

Skip the chemicals and fake fragrances found in conventional lotions and whip up your own instead. This homemade body butter recipe uses shea butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil and essential oils of your choice for a butter that’s great for your skin. Slather it on after the shower to lock in moisture.

2. Body Scrub

Moisturize while getting rid of dead skin cells by making your own body (or facial) scrub. Just mix coconut oil with coconut sugar to reveal smoother skin. Try it a few times a week.

3. Body Oil

If your skin’s seriously dry, coconut oil for skin is one of the best remedies. Rub coconut oil in your hands to warm it up and then use it in lieu of body lotion. Focus on spots like elbows and knees that tend to get even drier than other spots.

4. Cold Sore Treatment

Prone to cold sores? Dabbing coconut oil on them can help speed up healing time, alleviate pain and reduce the risk of scarring or discoloration. This is due to its disinfectant and antimicrobial properties. 

5. Cuticle Oil

Use coconut oil in your next at-home manicure. Rubbing the oil into cuticles helps keep germs at bay and will loosen up cuticles, making them easier to push back or cut.

6. Detox Bath

A good detox bath is a great way to eliminate toxins while allowing your body and mind to unwind. Create a simple detox bath with coconut oil by adding ¼ cup of Epsom salts, which are great for detoxing, to ¼ cup of coconut oil into a hot bath. For added aromatherapy benefits, include a few drops of your favorite essential oils.

7. Diaper Rash Guard

Using coconut oil for skin eases the pain, itch and redness of diaper rash. Using it regularly can also help keep rashes at bay. Use about a tablespoon over affected areas.

8. Dry Hands

If washing dishes or tinkering around the tool shed is taking its toll on your hands, coconut oil is a great remedy. Keep a jar by the sink or in the garage to replenish hands.

Bonus: Rub coconut oil over hands and then cover them with gloves to get skin soft and supple even more quickly.

9. Face Wash

With its antimicrobial properties and moisturizing abilities, coconut oil for skin is perfect to clean your face. Try this homemade face wash recipe. It’ll kill any bacteria, fighting acne while hydrating skin to keep it looking and feeling vibrant.

10. Homemade Deodorant

If traditional deodorants irritate your skin, using coconut oil on skin everyday is a great alternative. Try this three-ingredient homemade deodorant recipe to make your own at home. It hardens into a natural, healthy alternative to store-bought brands that’ll keep you smelling fresh.

CoconutOilSkinGraphicv4

11. Insect Repellent

Put down the toxic chemicals and make your own bug spray to keep insects at bay. To make about eight ounces of repellent, simply mix eight ounces of coconut oil with 40 to 50 drops of essential oils; some favorites are citronella, clove, eucalyptus, mint and lemongrass.

While you’ll need to reapply throughout the day, you’ll avoid introducing harsh chemicals and toxins into your body. And you can also use coconut oil for dog’s skin to help repel insects. 

12. Lip Balm

The simplest products are often loaded with frightening ingredients. Instead of accidentally ingesting toxic chemicals through your lip balm, make your own instead. This homemade lavender mint lip balm gets rid of dry, cracked lips — and toxins — for a lip ice that you can feel safe about using.

13. Makeup Remover

Using coconut oil for skin around the eye area will allow you to remove makeup without fear of irritating your eyes. Plus, you’ll give extra hydration to that sensitive area — and reduce your wrinkles!

To use, gently rub coconut oil onto lids and dab off eye makeup with a cotton pad or warm washcloth.

14. Massage Oil

Why purchase expensive massage oils when it’s so easy to make your own? Combining coconut oil with several drops of your favorite essential oil does the job just as well; it’ll alleviate sore muscles while also tickling the senses and encouraging a mindful meditation.

15. Night Cream

Keep your skin hydrating and repairing itself while you sleep by applying coconut oil for face moisturizer. If you’re prone to acne or have very oily skin, try adding a few drops to your normal moisturizer instead to amp up hydration without adding too much extra oil.

You can use coconut oil on your face overnight, but if you’d like to use it as a daytime moisturizer as well, combine it with sunblock to reap the benefits throughout the day without risking sun damage.

16. Scalp Moisture

Dry, flaky scalp got you down? Using coconut oil for hair and scalp will keep the area moisturized, discouraging dandruff growth and keeping hair looking shiny. If you have dry ends as well, rub some oil on them to provide deep conditioning.

17. Shaving Gel

Get a close, smooth shave by using coconut oil instead of shaving creams or gels. Coconut oil will help prevent ingrown hairs and razor burn, plus add moisture — no extra products in the medicine cabinet necessary! Just rub onto skin, shave and pat dry.

18. Skin Conditions

If you suffer from an inflammatory skin condition, try using coconut oil regularly to alleviate symptoms. Simply keep the area hydrated with coconut oil by gently massaging it into the affected skin. 

19. Stretch Marks

Stretch marks occur as the skin’s elasticity changes, most frequently after weight gain/loss or pregnancy. Using coconut oil can help reduce the stretch marks that are left behind, helping them fade more quickly while keeping skin moisturized to allow quicker healing.

20. Sunburn Relief

Got a little too much sun? Coconut oil can help soothe inflamed skin, reduce redness and rehydrate skin. The caveat is that while coconut oil does provide minimal sun protection — about SPF 4 — adding red raspberry seed extract or zinc oxide would make a stronger sunscreen for when you’ll be in the sun for an extended period of time.

21. Wound Healing

You know that coconut oil for dry skin is popular, but what about using it to speed up wound healing? Because of its antimicrobial and hydrating properties, applying coconut oil to a cut, abrasion, rash or wound can help to fight infections and promote healing.

22. Teeth Whitening

Have you tried oil pulling yet? Coconut oil for skin whitening works because it acts as an oral detoxification, cleaning the mouth of toxins. Oil pulling leaves you with a clean, antiseptic oral environment.

Simply swish 1–2 tablespoons of coconut oil in your mouth for 10–20 minutes. Then spit it out and rinse.

23. Carrier Oil

Coconut oil is a beneficial carrier oil that can be combined with essential oils and then applied topically. Many essential oils are too strong to be applied directly to the skin, but using a carrier oil will dilute the essential oil and cover a larger surface area.

Try combining a ½ teaspoon of coconut oil with 2 drops of peppermint oil and applying the combination to your temples and back of neck. This is a great pre-workout or morning trick to boost energy levels.

Related: What Is Petroleum Jelly? Uses, Benefits, Dangers & More

Side Effects

Applying coconut oil to skin is considered safe when it’s used in normal amounts. But when it comes to using it for acne, it may not be for everyone. It’s considered highly comedogenic, which means that it can clog pores in people with very oily skin.

If you have naturally oil skin, you’re better off using jojoba oil as a face moisturizer, as it acts as natural serum and won’t clog pores.

If you’re unsure about whether or not coconut oil is good for your skin, give it a trial period where you apply a small amount at a time. This will help you to determine if coconut is the right oil for your skin type.

Final Thoughts

  • Due to its medium-chained fatty acids, hydrating and antibacterial properties, applying organic coconut oil to your skin and hair is extremely popular. In fact, it can really take the place of many body and beauty products in your bathroom!
  • There are several ways to use coconut oil for skin, like using it as a natural face wash, massage oil, teeth whitener, wound healer and bug repellant.
  • Virgin coconut oil is a beauty and body powerhouse, so start experimenting with it today.
Josh Axe

Get FREE Access!

Dr. Josh Axe is on a mission to provide you and your family with the highest quality nutrition tips and healthy recipes in the world...Sign up to get VIP access to his eBooks and valuable weekly health tips for FREE!

Free eBook to boost
metabolism & healing

30 Gluten-Free Recipes
& detox juicing guide

Shopping Guide &
premium newsletter

More Beauty