Does Coconut Oil Cause Acne?

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

Coconut oil is the latest big thing. It’s natural, packed with nutrients, and it can be used for everything from hair care to skincare. But if your skin is acne prone, how great is it for you really?

Does Coconut Oil Cause Acne?

Does Coconut Oil Cause Acne

Coconut oil is an oil, and therefore is comedogenic, which means that it can clog your pores. This does not mean that it will give you acne, it just means that it’s more likely your skin will break out. But its exact effects will be determined by the type of skin you have. For some people, coconut oil is amazing for the skin, but for others, it leaves it congested.

Coconut Oil Can Actually Treat Acne

In some people, the oil can treat acne. It contains many skin-loving components:

Lauric Acid

This makes up about 50% of coconut oil and it’s a potent antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral agent, and it has been shown in studies to be around 15 times more effective at killing acne-causing bacteria than benzoyl peroxide.

Caprylic Acid

This can fight bacteria and viruses, and it’s also a potent anti-inflammatory. It can also help to balance the good bacteria in your gut. The health of your gut can affect your overall health, and if the gut is able to prevent toxins from entering the bloodstream, it can make your skin much healthier too. Caprylic acid has been found in studies to be effective against skin infections.

Capric Acid

This acid is similar to lauric acid, but it’s not as potent. This acid, however, can have an effect on the production of insulin in the body. Insulin regulates your blood sugar, and if there’s excess sugar in the blood, this can encourage oil production in the skin and acne may develop.

Ferulic Acid

Ferulic acid is a common ingredient in skin care products, and it’s a potent antioxidant. It’s helpful in protecting the skin from the sun’s harmful rays. It can also regulate blood sugar and reduce inflammation in the body, both of which have implications for acne.

How Can Coconut Oil Treat Acne?

  • It can easily penetrate the skin’s pores to lift out dirt, dead skin cells, and excess oil
  • It can kill acne-causing bacteria and Candida that can make the skin break out
  • It improves gut health which prevents toxins from entering the bloodstream and affecting the skin
  • It can actually reduce the skin’s oil production
  • It keeps your skin hydrated by sealing in moisture
  • It protects the skin from free radical damage

How do you use coconut oil on acne prone skin?

Virgin coconut oil is less likely to clog the pores, so choose the purest oil you can get. Virgin coconut oil absorbs more easily, is a very potent antioxidant, and it helps to heal wounds. Standard coconut oil is not so good for treating acne, as many of the beneficial nutrients and compounds are stripped away during processing.
You can use coconut oil internally and externally for acne. If you use coconut oil on your skin, you might notice more breakouts initially, as it draws toxins out of the skin. Ingesting coconut oil does the same thing, maybe even more effectively. Don’t give up on it if this happens, it’s quite normal. If you are applying it topically to the skin, apply a thin layer and check for any reaction. If you are ingesting it, take 3 tablespoons every day.

Topical application of coconut oil is generally safe, though some people are mildly allergic to it, so they’ll notice mild redness and inflammation of the skin.



Acne is a common skin condition that presents as whiteheads and blackheads, and pus-filled spots on the skin. Acne usually develops in puberty and varies in severity from mild to severe. It usually occurs on the face, back, neck, and chest, because these areas of the skin have more oil glands. Most people will grow out of acne as they get older, but some people can have it for longer, and it can develop at any time in life.

What causes acne?

Usually, acne is caused by the overproduction of oil by the skin’s oil glands due to hormonal surges. The excess oil, along with dead skin cells and other debris clog the pores and this causes breakouts.
Another cause of acne is the multiplication of a bacteria that lives on everyone’s skin called P. acnes. This is normally harmless, but excess oil can make the bacteria multiply to harmful levels, leading to inflammation and the pus-filled spots.

Certain medications, contraceptives, or hormonal problems can cause acne too.

Does acne run in families?

It can run in families, but most cases occur as a result of hormonal surges at particular times of life.

What does acne look like?

If you have acne, you’ll have oily skin, blackheads and whiteheads, red spots, and pimples. Sometimes tender spots or cysts can develop. Your skin might feel tender, painful, and even hot due to inflammation.

How is acne diagnosed?

Acne is easily recognized by its appearance, but your doctor will tell you the type of acne you have as there are several types, and they may also discuss the severity of your condition.

Can acne be cured?

There is no cure for acne, but there are several effective treatments available that reduce spots and the severity of the condition. Most acne treatments take a while to work, but if you haven’t noticed any improvements after around 4 months, it might be time to see your doctor.

Acne Treatments

Acne Treatments

Topical Treatments

These are first line treatments for mild to moderate acne. These treatments are usually benzoyl peroxide, topical antibiotics like erythromycin, tetracycline or clindamycin, retinoids like tretinoin, isotretinoin and adapalene, azelaic acid or nicotinamide. They should be applied to the affected area of the skin and not just to spots, once or twice per day. These treatments can be irritating to the skin at least initially, so try a small amount on a small area of skin at first to test for a reaction. After this, gradually increase usage. If irritation persists, consult your doctor about an alternative treatment.

Oral Antibiotics

Your doctor may prescribe you a course of antibiotic tablets, which are usually erythromycin or tetracycline, combined with a topical treatment. These will need to be taken for about 2 months, though many people stay on them for 6 months to maintain the improvements they’ve noticed. Always read the instructions you get with antibiotics because some won’t be effective if they are taken with food.

Oral Contraceptives

Some oral contraceptive pills can help women who have acne. The most effective ones are pills which have a combination of estrogen and progesterone. The estrogen has the effect of blocking the excess testosterone, which is what causes the skin to produce excess oil. It may take around 3 months for you to notice any visible improvement, and the risks and benefits of taking the pill should be discussed with your doctor, as it can increase your risk of developing a blood clot.


This is a powerful and very effective treatment for acne and its effects last around 2 years after the commencement of treatment. It is known, however, for its potential to cause serious side effects, and it can only be used under specialist supervision. Anyone who is pregnant or planning to become pregnant should not use this drug as it can harm an unborn child. Women who use the treatment get a pregnancy test each month and 5 weeks treatment.

Isotretinoin may cause depression, though this has not been conclusively proven. Having severe acne can make someone feel depressed on its own. However, if you have ever experienced mental illness, or you have a family history of mental illness, this should be discussed with your doctor or specialist.

A course of isotretinoin will usually be taken for 4 months, and it can cause dry skin. Your acne may become worse before it gets better, so don’t give up on it too quickly and don’t be disappointed if it takes you a while to see results. Remember that everyone who takes a drug has a different experience, and you may get some of the side effects, or none at all.

Other Treatments for Acne

Other Treatments for Acne

There are other treatments including laser therapy and light therapy, but these treatments aren’t usually given for acne, they are more often used for conditions like eczema. Studies have shown mixed results, and they are unlikely to work if you have very severe acne. If you have acne scarring, a surgeon can use a laser to resurface your skin, but this should not be done until a year after you have finished taking isotretinoin. Skin camouflaging makeup can be used to hide pigmentation in the skin which can be caused by acne treatment, especially in darker skins.

Self-Care for Acne

  • Don’t pick or squeeze spots as this can cause further skin irritation and it may cause scarring.
  • Treat acne as soon as it appears. This reduces the risk of scarring and other issues. If your acne is mild, speak to a pharmacist and try an over the counter treatment before you visit your doctor.
    Give treatments up to 2 months to work and follow instructions for use exactly.
  • Some topical treatments can dry the skin or irritate it when you first start using them. If you experience irritation, stop the treatment for a few days, or reduce the frequency of use and build it up again gradually.
  • If you want to wear makeup, wear products that are oil-free, water-based or labeled non-comedogenic. This means that the product should not clog your pores.
  • Cleanse your skin using a gentle cleanser that is suitable for your skin type, and do this twice per day. Don’t scrub your face or use harsh cleansers, as this can worsen the irritation.
  • There is not much scientific evidence that diet can cause acne, however, eating a healthy balanced diet can get your skin, and overall health in much better shape.

The Many Amazing Benefits of Coconut Oil

The Many Amazing Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is well-known for its many hair and skin benefits, but did you know that it can also improve digestion and fight infections? It’s also a pretty good antiageing treatment. Coconut oil is used across the world for many different health and beauty applications. Here are some great uses and benefits of coconut oil.

Coconut Oil for Acne Face Mask

This face mask is so easy to use at home. Coconut oil will help to lift the oil and dirt out of your pores so it should help to reduce the appearance of your acne.

You’ll need:

  • 5 tablespoons fresh aloe juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil

How to make it:

Mix the coconut oil, honey and aloe juice in a bowl and apply a generous layer on your face. Leave it on for 20 minutes. Rinse the mask off your face with warm water. Repeat this at least twice per week. This mask will hydrate the skin and soothe any irritation. It can also help to clear your skin and what’s even better, it suits most skin types.

Coconut Oil Hair Mask

Coconut oil is solid at room temperature turns to liquid at high temperatures. After shampooing, apply a small amount of oil onto damp hair, and then put your hair in a bun and leave it for 5-10 minutes. Rinse the oil out completely and you should find that your hair is shiny and super moisturized.

Coconut Body Oil

The texture of coconut oil makes for a perfect body hydrator. Apply a small amount of the oil all over your body immediately after you shower and your skin will glow with health. It will also smell amazing! Add lavender oil or a few drops of peppermint oil to make your own homemade body oil treatment.

Coconut Oil Lip Balm

If your lips are dry, cracked, or chapped, coconut oil will restore them back to health. Put some oil in a small container (like an empty contact lens holder) and freeze the oil for around 30 minutes. It should look like a lip balm. Dip your finger into the balm and apply it to your lips as needed. Easy!

Coconut Oil Cuticle Treatment

Who doesn’t want beautiful nails? Apply a small amount of oil to the cuticle of each finger, and this will hydrate the skin and create the perfect base for growing strong, healthy nails. Hydrated hands look far more youthful too.

Coconut Under Eye Cream

The skin under your eyes is very delicate and thin. Applying coconut oil under the eyes is a fantastic treatment for puffy eyes or fine lines around the eyes, which are the first signs of aging. If you are starting to notice fine lines under the eyes, give them a little help with some coconut oil. It’s natural, safe, and costs barely anything compared to expensive eye creams that might not work. Dip your ring finger in the oil and dab some lightly under each eye.

Coconut Oil to Fight Frizzy Hair

Are you fed up of having to constantly fight the frizz? Is the frizz making your hair unruly and unmanageable? Coconut oil is just what you need. Take a pea-sized amount of oil and warm it in your hands. Apply the oil to the lengths and ends of your hair. You can also use the oil on damp hair while you’re in the shower for soft, shiny frizz-free hair.

Coconut Oil Skin Highlighter

If your skin looks dull and tired, coconut oil is just what you need. You can buy makeup to do the same, but coconut oil is safe and healthy, and costs next to nothing. The oil will add a sheen and natural glow to your skin. Add some oil above the upper lip, on top of the cheekbones, and on the brow bone to make your skin look healthy and youthful.

Coconut Oil Makeup Remover

If harsh makeup removers or even harsh cleansers and toners left your skin looking dull and dry? Coconut oil will help to restore your glow. Take a teaspoon of coconut oil and warm it. Massage the oil onto your face for 2 minutes, and the oil will lift your makeup off. You’ll have your best skin ever and it’s all natural, no chemicals.
Coconut oil is safe and effective, but the key to getting the best results from using coconut oil is to use a high-quality oil. Using a low-quality oil might result in skin irritation or another side effect you weren’t expecting. Here are some guidelines on how to choose a good quality oil.

Don’t buy oil that is yellow or brown in color, as this might mean that it’s past its best or it is a lower quality version.

Look for an oil that is transparent. This means it’s not tainted and at its best.

A good quality oil won’t have a pungent aroma, it will be a noticeable but soft scent.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.