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Coconut oil — made from the fat in the coconut's flesh — has been a internet-powered fad for quite a while now, used by people seeking anything from weight loss to better heart health. Some of the claims make coconut oil sound more like "snake oil", but it seems rather obvious that it would indeed give you naturally moisturized skin. Coconut oil contains a lot of fatty acids that are also already present in your skin, and has antiseptic properties, after all. It's also hardly a new skincare product; people have been using it for centuries. 

This is where things get surprising. Alongside glowing reviews, you'll also definitely come across folks who claim that coconut oil dries their skin out rather than making it better. You may even be one of them. Why could that be happening?

Research Shows Coconut Oil To Be An Effective Moisturizer Among People With Conditions That Lead To Dry Skin

One study of people with dry skin (xerosis) found that coconut oil led to improved symptoms in 81 percent of study subjects, and this included less itching, scaling, and roughness for many. Fifty-six percent of participants, all of whom were previously found not to be allergic to coconut oil, reported that the oil made their skin less dry. Coconut oil came out better than mineral oil in the study, and among those who didn't find that coconut oil improved their dry skin, none were said to have complained that it actually actively dried their skin out. 

Another study showed coconut oil to be an effective treatment of eczema, of which dry skin is, of course, a feature, both because of its action as a moisturizer and because it works as an antiseptic. 

So, Why Is Coconut Oil Drying Your Skin Out?

There are a few possibilities;

  • You could be allergic to coconut oil, especially if you have allergies to tree nuts.
  • The coconut oil may be absorbing into your skin so well that it feels dry on the surface compared to other oils or moisturizers, something that may improve over time if you decide to stick with it for a while.
  • Another possibility is that coconut oil's fatty character means your skin gets the message that it doesn't need to produce as much sebum as before, thereby effectively canceling out the moisturization you were getting from the oil. 

If It Doesn't Work, Move On!

Whether coconut is drying your skin out, just not making it any better, or you simply don't like it, one thing is clear — you don't need to keep using something that doesn't work for you just because almost everyone else seems to say it's awesome.

There's plenty more natural oils and butters you can use as moisturizers. 

If you have dry skin, you may like to try shea butter, almond oil, or even lanolin instead. Argan oil, rosehip seed oil, and jojoba oil are good choices for more mature skin, and avocado oil rocks for sensitive, irritated skin. If you have acne, meanwhile, you may prefer hemp seed oil.

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