BENEFITS OR MYTHS? What experts think of coconut and olive oil on the skin

Applied well, they hydrate and have antioxidant properties, but forget about panaceas: they are not suitable for all skin types, nor are they the panacea for all skin problems.

Influencers, celebrities and models are enthusiastic about the supposed properties of coconut and olive oil to care for the skin. They attribute to it the responsibility of a glowy and healthy appearance.

Miranda Kerr, the Kardashian sisters and Gwyneth Paltrow swear by using coconut oil daily in their cosmetic routines. At the same time, Jennifer Lopez proclaims to the four winds that it is olive oil (and not Botox, she says) applied directly to the skin and hair, making him look younger daily.

The green beauty trend also encourages using cosmetic products with highly natural ingredients. The same goes for the skin minimalism trend, which proposes using a minimum number of cosmetic products (as opposed to the Korean movement, which is committed to excess ) and applauds the benefits of these oils as elixirs for everything. What is true? We asked several experts who observe properties but with the appropriate indication.

Skin type has the last word.

Eduardo Senate is a pharmacist at Farmacia Senate and explains that “among the benefits of coconut oil at the cutaneous level, I highlight its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, softening, and moisture retention properties, in addition to its recognized uses as a make-up remover, since it emulsifies well, it has detergent capacity while moisturizing and is antibacterial and antifungal”. If we talk about olive oil, the expert highlights its high antioxidant power that allows us to fight against free radicals, the leading causes of skin ageing. As he explains, it also has anti-inflammatory virtues (it helps us heal wounds), maintains hydration for preventing transepidermal water loss, and can be used as a facial cleanser. “It is also rich in vitamins A, D, K and E, as well as squalene, all of which are active ingredients that help prevent premature ageing.”

Dr Mar Mira, an expert in aesthetic medicine at the Mira+Cueto clinic, points out that several studies have shown the effectiveness of coconut oil for the treatment of xerosis or extreme dryness and contact dermatitis, replenishing the natural barrier of protection cutaneous. “Regarding the hair, it is a great ally for its restructuring, and it protects it from the loss of keratin. Olive oil is a good protector of cell membranes and a natural repairer that also helps heal wounds or as a mask for curly or very dry hair.” But not everything is good because both, as oils, are occlusive, which can have disadvantages for oily skin.

As explained by Eduardo Senate, both are potentially comedogenic. That is, they can produce pimples. A cosmetic ingredient is assigned a comedogenicity index from 0 to 5. Olive is two and coconut is 4, and “although there are oily or acne-prone skins that use these oils and have not shown the appearance of pimples, I prefer other less heavy vegetable oils that do not clog the pore, such as jojoba, neem, hemp or tamanu”. On the other hand, in dehydrated skin with more closed pores, Dr Mira shares, the olive oil could be a good option, always sporadically, to protect the skin barrier; in that case, it is applied by previously moistening the skin, and we would do the same on the body. But, except for these cases, it is not recommended to use it directly to the face. “It would be more convenient in areas such as elbows, knees and heels with severe dryness.” From the coconut, Senate Pharmacy advises us, in case of the absence of oily skin and pimples, to extend it as the last step of the cosmetic routine, before the sunscreen and as an occlusive method to retain moisture and show off a luminous skin or mix it with the daily moisturizing cream, something that we can also do on the body.

Better formulated than pure

And it is that the oil in its pure version is still occlusive since it is usually heavy on the face, that is why the formulation of specific cosmetics that cover each need is preferable. “For example, in our beloved edible olive oil there are often various impurities present that give it its rich aroma and flavor, but it does not adapt cosmetically to the skin and often leaves a sticky feeling. In some complexions these impurities can irritate and cause rashes or even eczema. In addition, some untreated vegetable oils oxidize easily and this gives rise to a different smell or texture”, adds Senate, who favours these oils if they are indicated for the skin type and adequately filtered. And another important point: they are not magical elixirs, so in an attempt to curb ageing, it would be advisable to add vitamin C, which has shown greater efficacy for this effect, and retinoids at night, adds the pharmacist.

Filmed lip balm (€4.90 on Amazon). Based on olive oil is 100% natural and free of parabens and petroleum derivatives. Deeply nourishes the lips.

Herbal Essences coconut milk conditioner (3.99 euros at Drunk). It has 90% ingredients of natural origin and helps tame and hydrate curly or very dry hair.

Natural soap based on coconut and olive oil from Boí Thermal (6.50 euros). Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and rich in antioxidants and repairing oils, it cleanses and moisturizes simultaneously.

Body Natur coconut and argan oil mist (3.99 euros). It has a biphasic technology of water and oil that refreshes and hydrates without leaving a greasy residue. It is perfect for skin and hair.

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