Whether we’re talking about benefits for your hair, skin or gut, coconut oil has many more than you’d expect. For example, coconut oil uses for skin include improving moisture and healing chapped lips, while coconut oil for hair can help with fly aways, dandruff and split ends.
If you’ve ever read the ingredient labels on some beauty and personal care products that claim to include coconut oil, you may have come across what’s called “fractionated coconut oil.”
What’s the difference between coconut oil and fractionated coconut oil? It all comes down to the exact methods used to extract oil from coconut “meat”. As explained more below, fractionated coconut oil has some pros and cons because the way it’s created affects the chemical composition of the oil.
What Is Fractionated Coconut Oil?
Fractionated coconut oil, also called “liquid coconut oil,” is just that: a type of coconut oil that remains liquid even at room temperature and cooler temps.
Creating a coconut oil that remains liquid at room temperature is useful because this helps with uses such as making creamy skincare products (including facial serums, moisturizers, etc.).
Another perk of fractionated coconut oil is that it’s odorless (some people don’t enjoy the smell of coconut), clear and does not have a greasy feeling. It absorbs into the skin very easily, even more so than unrefined coconut oil, and it won’t stain clothes and easily washes out of clothing and sheets. Fractioning coconut oil also helps extend the product’s shelf life.
In addition to being used on the skin and hair, fractionated coconut oil can also be taken by mouth, just like MCT oil.
What is the difference between fractionated and unfractionated coconut oil?
What does “fractionated” mean in coconut oil? The definition of fractionated is “divided into fractions or components.”
Compared to regular coconut oil, the fractionated type is different because the oil’s long-chain fatty acids have been removed.
Fats that are solid at room temperature have longer chain of fatty acids. Long-chain fatty acids are the type that have more carbon atoms, which causes the oil to solidify at cooler temps. This is why regular coconut oil needs to be warmed or heated to melt.
How is fractionated coconut oil made?
It’s made by removing long-chain fatty acids, usually through a process known as hydrolysis and via steam distillation.
One way in which long chain fats are removed is help from heating; long chain fats have a higher melting point than medium-chain fatty acids, so they turn from liquid to solid at a quicker rate. The solid portion of the oil can be removed, which leaves behind the liquid oil that contains lots of MCTs.
The best types to buy are those that use clean, solvent-free cold-extraction centrifuge processes. When looking for coconut oil products, check out how the product was made and look for those that are free of solvents or additives.
Is fractionated coconut oil the same as MCT oil?
Because this oil has its long chain triglycerides removed, what’s left is a product that’s high in medium chain triglycerides (or MCTs).
In many cases, MCT oil and fractionated oil are basically the same thing, but with two different names.
Most often the term MCT oil is used on supplements that are intended to be taken by mouth, while fractionated coconut oil is used on products that are intended to be used on the skin. However, you can use both types of products internally and topically.
If you’re unsure which type of product you’re buying, always read the ingredients and description carefully.
What is fractionated coconut oil good for? Here are some of its main benefits:
1. Good Source of Medium Chain Fatty Acids
Fractionated coconut oil, like MCT oil, is high in healthy medium chain fatty acids. It’s an especially good source of the MCTs called capric acid and caprylic acid. These fats are easily digested and known to have energizing properties, plus they help with moisturizing and protecting the skin.
MCTs have also been found to benefit people with metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and epilepsy — especially if it’s consumed as part of a healthy diet, such as the ketogenic diet.
2. High In Antioxidants
Although this product is refined to remove some of its healthy fats, it still contains natural antioxidants which help protect skin from things like free radical damage, environmental effects and UV damage. Using antioxidant-rich products on your skin can help to maintain a brighter, more even tone and texture.
3. Great At Moisturizing Skin and Hair
This type of coconut oil is considered a great lightweight emollient and carrier oil, meaning it helps to hydrate dry skin, sooth irritated skin, and can be used with essential oil for a variety of purposes, such as cleansing and treating rashes.
It’s also known to have a non-greasy feel but is still capable of increasing smoothness and skin’s texture.
Additionally, fractionated coconut oil helps with healing chapped lips and can be applied to the body and hair too.
4. Has A Long Shelf Life, Plus Odorless and Colorless
Due to the way it’s refined, this product is more stable compared to other types of unrefined coconut oils, so it will last longer and it’s unlikely to become rancid. It also won’t cause a change in smell or color to DIY skincare or haircare recipes, such as homemade serums, conditioners and so on.
No Lauric Acid
While there’s pros associated with fractionated oil being liquid at all temps, one major drawback of this kind of oil is that the beneficial long-chain fatty acids called lauric acid is removed.
Lauric acid is a long-chain saturated fat that is responsible for some of coconut oil’s many health benefits, such as providing antibacterial properties and moisturizing the skin. It’s present in high amounts in coconuts and coconut oil, so removing it changes the properties of this oil quite a bit.
If you’re looking to consume coconut oil by mouth for its benefits, a better option is to purchase virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil that hasn’t been refined and still contains all its healthy fats.
Uses for Skin and Hair
Coconut oil one of the most versatile oils, considering you can consume it and use it on your body, hair and so on.
Here are some of the uses of fractioned coconut oil for your skin and hair:
- Moisturizes dry skin without causing breakouts or greasiness.
- Can be used in homemade tooth pastes and lip balms.
- Can be used to make homemade coconut conditioners and hair masks.
- Key ingredient in natural or homemade deodorants.
- Helps take off makeup gently without stripping skin.
- Makes a great shaving cream and after shave oil to reduce bumps or irritation.
- Can be applied to sunburns to help reduce dryness and peeling.
- Reduces hair frizz and helps with smoothing and protecting hair.
- Can be used to clean makeup brushes.
- Makes a great soluble carrier oil for blending with essential oils, including for skincare, massages and aromatherapy. It helps to form a protective barrier on the skin without clogging pores before essential oils are applied. This can reduce irritation, and also preserves the smell and benefits of essential oils. To use it with essential oils, dilute one part essential oil to five parts or more of fractionated coconut oil.
- It’s light, absorbs quickly and doesn’t stain clothes.
Precautions and Side Effects
Is fractionated coconut oil bad for you in any ways? If you’re allergic to coconut oil and have had bad reactions to it, do not use fractioned coconut oil. Check beauty and skincare products to make sure it’s not included if you have a known allergy.
Some people may experience an upset stomach when taking this product internally, so always start with a small amount (about 1 to 2 teaspoons per day at first) and increase once you’ve tested your reaction.
Overall, however, this product is gentle and often safe for people with sensitive skin. In fact, because it’s free of dyes, fragrances and irritating ingredients, fractionated coconut oil is recommended for those with allergies and other issues. Additionally, it’s a good way to reduce the risk for irritation caused by applying essential oils directly to the skin.
- What is fractionated coconut oil? It’s a type of coconut oil that has its long chain fatty acids removed, which allows it to remain liquid at all temperatures.
- It has light moisturizing properties and can help keep skin hydrated, smooth and free from irritation. It typically doesn’t cause greasiness or clogged pores and has no smell or color.
- In addition to being used on the skin and hair, fractionated coconut oil can also be taken by mouth just like MCT oil.
- With its high concentration of MCTs, such as capric acid and caprylic acid, plus antioxidant properties, it’s great for soothing skin rashes, irritations, chapped lips, dry hair and more.
- It also has a longer shelf life and is more stable than other types of coconut oil.