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Coconut oil is a tricky one. As someone suffering from long-term acne and massively enlarged pores, I wanted to find out whether coconut oil haters are actually right, or if we have a case of serious misunderstanding in our hands. Does coconut oil clog pores? As always, I wanted some hard, cold facts and not just opinions (although they are useful too). Let’s see!
My personal experience
After reading about the antibacterial and antioxidant properties of coconut oil I started using it on my face as a moisturizer before going to bed. Unfortunately, I stopped using it at some point and didn’t have a long enough experience to give a proper review. However, I didn’t have any problems with it during the time I did use it. And I break out EASILY. And my pores are HUGE.
I’ve recently started using coconut oil again together with some other oils in order to combat the extremely dry skin on my cheeks and temples (and guys, I’m still producing oil like a butter factory!).
So that’s my two cents, but what do studies say? Will coconut oil clog pores according to science?
What science says about using coconut oil on your skin
You’ve probably heard someone say that coconut oil is a horrible, horrible thing that’ll mess up your skin and turn your face into one big pimple. Or something like that. Why do they think that?
Studies have been done with results that define coconut oil as a comedogenic substance.
Different ingredients have been given so called comedogenicity ratings, which are numbers between 0 and 5, and supposedly describe the ability of that ingredient to clog your pores. The ratings may differ somewhat depending on the source but usually coconut oil rocks a whopping number 4 on the comedogenicity scale.
However, there is something to say about the reliability of the studies these numbers are taken from.
Testing methods – are they reliable?
Comedogenicity of skincare products have been mostly tested using rabbit ears.
According to one study the products were applied on the insides of the rabbits’ ears once a day, five days a week for 2 weeks. Rabbit ears are extremely sensitive and develop visible changes in this short period of time.
Those changes, including clogged pores and irritation were then evaluated and graded (–> comedogenicity scale!).
It is mentioned in the study that the extreme sensitivity of rabbit ears is a disadvantage, which is a good point because human skin is usually not nearly as sensitive.
We can’t tell just based on those results whether the highly rated ingredients will also irritate our skin (and many of those, for example coconut oil, have many other beneficial properties).
They also say that the reactions the rabbits are experiencing after two weeks can take up to 6 months for human skin to develop. That is a big difference.
So, does coconut oil clog pores?
Based on the limited research there is it looks like coconut oil does clog pores in certain cases (if you are a rabbit hands up and back away from that tub of coconut oil!).
However, the rabbit study results don’t necessarily apply to humans (as is often the case with animal testing), and telling people not to use coconut oil on their skin because of them is kind of like banning chocolate just because it’s harmful to dogs. We are all so different.
And people’s skins are different too.
Many people swear by coconut oil and use it every day to get a beautiful, glowing skin. Others are absolutely sure that it’s the cause for their acne flare-ups.
The thing is, it may clog your pores or it may not. This is the most annoying thing about skincare, imo. It depends on your skin.
Try it and see. It can make it glow like a newborn star or… give you mountainous zits. Or it might do nothing. I choose to risk it for now and see how it affects my skin in the long run, you do you. In any case you should know that it’s not something to fear, okay?
In case you’re into online shopping and need a recommendation, I like to use organic cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil, the more unrefined the better. Good options are NutriBioPlanet’s Raw Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil and also Coconut Country Living’s Organic Coconut Oil for example. Or you can check out your local grocery or health food stores, coconut oil is quite widely available in many places nowadays.
If you’re interested in minimizing your existing pores I’ve written a small guide about finding the perfect products for just that.
One of my absolute favorites that actually do something for your skin is the Alpha Beta Peel from Dr. Dennis Gross. It’s cruelty-free and vegan so no rabbits were harmed!
Even if coconut oil doesn’t clog your pores it’s nice to have something that makes them even smaller 🙂
What’s your experience? Will coconut oil clog pores for you?