Versatile Coconut Oil

By Aparna Mele MD

While the health benefits of eating and cooking with coconut oil are well understood–including improving digestion, fighting infection, and increasing metabolism—a growing body of scientific studies are starting to highlight its far-reaching topical benefits too.  Studies show that coconut oil—which is extracted from the meat of mature coconuts—may improve skin barrier function and repair, has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, fight signs of skin aging, and makes an effective moisturizer, in a 2018 review published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids and antioxidants that help prevent aging and damage to our skin and hair. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties that help keep skin healthy and fight skin allergies and yeast infections that may be responsible for rashes, dermatitis and thinning hair.  Coconut oil is the most abundant source of lauric acid, a fatty acid known for its antimicrobial, moisturizing, and hormone-balancing properties. Aside from its anti-aging and skin-healing abilities, it also stimulates the production of collagen, and its vitamin E content protects the skin from sun damage.  This is because its hydrating moisture directly treats dry skin and indirectly suppresses overactive oil-producing glands. Because coconut oil is naturally antibacterial, antifungal, and moisturizing, it is the perfect moisturizer for the face—affordable, smells amazing, and leaves your skin feeling nourished and smooth. It can even be used to shave your legs or nourish dry nail cuticles. Hair conditioners often contain coconut oil because it easily penetrates the strands, helps maintain moisture, and can even prevent protein loss. Coconut oil can help lower the levels of yeast on the skin that drive inflammation, flaking, and itching associated with dandruff.   Finally, don’t forget your pets! Paws can become cracked and raw from hiking and outdoor activities, and after checking with your veterinarian, try rubbing a little coconut oil on sore paws, as it can function as both an antiseptic and moisturizer to facilitate healing.

The bacteria-blocking effects of linoleic acid and the moisture boosting lauric acid, both abundant in coconut oil, make coconut a cure-all and a definite beauty basic that can work wonders on most skin and hair types.   Beyond kitchen counters, coconut oil certainly deserves a spot on bathroom shelves too. Try it this summer and keep your skin and hair moisturized and healthy in the heat!

Turmeric and Coconut Oil Healing Face Mask

Source: Sister & Co. 


  • ½ tbsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp raw manuka honey
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin coconut oil (gently melted)


  1. Grab a small bowl and mix the ingredients together, gently making a paste.
  2. Apply to your face (bare and clean!) and leave for 15-20 minutes. Make sure to focus on any problem areas.
  3. Rinse off with a warm dampened facecloth and feel the glow!
  4. Use 2-3 times a week for the best results.

Try this healing mask from the blog She Can’t Eat What?, which utilizes turmeric (known for its anti-inflammatory properties), lemon juice (to brighten with vitamin C), raw manuka honey (which can help treat acne), and melted virgin coconut oil for extra hydration. Apply to a clean face, leave on for at least 15 minutes, and relax

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