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Coconut oil as a beauty product: How does it compare with other oils?

Coconut oil is rapidly growing in popularity as an all-round cosmetic and beauty product that's inexpensive and chemical-free. There are also claims that it has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Other oils, such as sesame oil, are also claimed to have antibacterial properties.

While more scientific evidence is needed to support such claims, coconut oil appears to be as good a beauty product as other oils commonly found in the kitchen. Being semi-solid at room temperature, it can be easier to apply and is less likely to leave a greasy residue.

Coconut oil, and other natural oils, such as sesame oil and olive oil, that are commonly used for cooking can be used as beauty/cosmetic products for the skin, hair and scalp, and nails in particular. They can help moisturise your skin, for example. High-quality virgin coconut oil is recommended as most refined (non-virgin) oils may have chemical residues.


  • Cleanser/make-up remover. Rub a small amount of oil into your face and neck with your fingers in a circular motion. The oil can also be used to remove eye make-up. Rinse off with warm water.
  • Exfoliator/scrub. Mix the oil with an equal amount of sugar (coconut oil should be melted at a low heat first). Rub gently on the face and neck then rinse with warm water. Larger quantities can be used to exfoliate the body.
  • Moisturiser. For the face, use as little of the oil as possible. Coconut oil in particular is thick and may clog pores. It's best not to use it if your skin has a tendency to break-out or you get blocked pores/ blackheads. You can rub more generous amounts on the legs, elbows, knees and heels to help counteract dryness.
  • Chapped lips. Any of these oils rubbed into the lips will help hydrate and keep moisture in. Coconut oil tastes good too.

Hair and scalp

Use coconut oil as a mask or leave-in conditioner. If you have a dry, itchy scalp, coconut oil may help. To make a mask, put 3 to 5 tablespoons of coconut oil in a small bowl. The amount of oil will depend on the length of your hair. Microwave the oil for 30 seconds, stir well, and heat a few seconds more until the oil has melted fully. Let the oil cool a bit, then massage it into your scalp and the roots of your hair. Wrap your hair in a towel and let the oil soak in for a couple of hours. Finish by shampooing as usual. Olive oil can also be combed through your hair to give moisture and shine.


Coconut oil, sesame oil, or olive oil can be smoothed on to the base of your nails to moisturise cuticles.

Shaving cream

Coconut oil makes a good shaving cream that doubles up as a moisturiser, but keep the razor rinsed out so that it doesn't clog up.

No sun protection

Neither coconut oil nor any of the other oils will protect your skin from the sun's ultraviolet rays so you will need to apply sunscreen when going outdoors, particularly in sunny weather.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 20, 2017

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