Coconut oil is great for your hair, and some people use it on their skin, too. But it seems as though every time I see somebody singing the praises of moisturising with the stuff, their very next complaint is that they just need to figure out how to get rid of their stubborn acne.
Friends, coconut oil is comedogenic. That doesn’t guarantee you’ll get blackheads or pimples from it — some people’s skin is adaptable and doesn’t care. But if you’re having unexplained breakouts, and you’re smearing coconut oil on your face, maybe you should stop smearing coconut oil on your face.
“Comedogenic” means that a substance causes blackheads or whiteheads in lab tests.
These tests are done either on rabbits’ ears or on the backs of human volunteers, and in either case we should take the verdict with a grain of salt. (Lab Muffin has a great explanation of these tests here.) Rabbit ears are very sensitive, and will often react to things that our skin doesn’t. And even with the human tests, there’s a lot of difference between a substance applied under tape on a stranger’s back, versus massaged occasionally onto your own, acne-prone face.
A note about timing, too: It takes a month to test a substance for comedogenicity on a human’s back, or two weeks on the more sensitive rabbits’ skin. So if you start using coconut oil (or any new product) and it’s fine, but then you develop blackheads and whiteheads a month later in what seems like an unrelated incident, the problem may not be unrelated after all.
So if you’re sure the coconut oil is working for you, feel free to keep using it. But if you’re trying to track down the cause of your mystery acne, try switching to less comedogenic oils, such as argan or jojoba.