How Coconut Became a Staple Skincare Ingredient

Here's why coconuts are good for the skin // Photo credit: virtustudio/iStock/Getty Images

There was a time not long ago when coconut oil was considered a cure-all for anything and everything. It was even rumored to be a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. At the height of its popularity in 2015, it was thought to improve immunity, boost the metabolism, and help fight tooth decay. Remember when oil pulling (rinsing the mouth with coconut oil) was all the rage? Unfortunately, it fell from favor when the American Heart Association denounced coconut oil for having too much saturated fat. According to market research firm SPINS, which tracks the health and wellness sector, sales of coconut oil plummeted in 2017. However, coconut still provides a host of beauty benefits. In fact, when it comes to the skin, its high saturated fat content actually works as an advantage.

“Coconut oil, being high in saturated fats, can help trap water within skin and improve the skin barrier,” says Shannon McLinden, founder and president of FarmHouse Fresh. “It’s a fabulous natural emollient.” The same can be said for coconut milk. “Coconut oil and coconut milk have been used for skincare by the indigenous population in countries such as the Philippines and in Southeast Asia where coconuts are the staple crop,” says Vivian Valenty, Ph.D., president of VB Cosmetics. “It is from this history of use that coconut oil has been found to be an excellent moisturizer and a natural sunscreen with anti-aging properties.”

The ingredient is so beloved by Kiana Cabell and Gigi Goldman, cofounders of Kopari, that it became the basis of their skincare brand. “As a family, my husband and I had been using coconut oil for everything,” says Goldman. “It’s truly a miracle product, and I was taking my jar of coconut oil from the kitchen to the bathroom to the kids’ rooms. It slowly dawned on us that there was a huge opportunity to build off the natural beauty benefits of coconut oil.”

With its refreshing and tropical scent, it's no surprise coconut has long been a coveted ingredient in lip balms, face and body washes, moisturizers, sunscreens, and more. Discover what has spa-goers going cuckoo for coconuts in our June issue.



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