Coconut oil and acne

by (4176) Updated July 15, 2014 at 6:21 PM Created May 15, 2012 at 12:51 PM

I have been using coconut oil as a moisturiser for the last week and I thought it was amazing, but now my skin has started to break out. I've always had a few spots now and again but acne has never really been an issue. This is definately way more spots than usual

I'm tempted to persist and see if it is a case of getting worse before getting better. Some people have said at the start it's worse because it's cleaning out your skin.

But does this sound possible? Could it be a case of skin getting worse before it gets better or is that unlikely?


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37 Replies

2048 · May 15, 2012 at 1:15 PM

I would stop using it. I've heard of many cases of people breaking out from using coconut oil topically. I don't really believe that the oil is capable of effectively purging your skin like that --- as it is comedogenic, it's more likely to be clogging your pores.

306 · May 15, 2012 at 4:06 PM

I've been using coconut oil for ages on my skin and face and never had any acne from it- apparently only the refined stuff is comedogenic. In unrefined surely the MCFAs are easily absorbed and healing, and as they're anti-microbial I would suggest that yes, it's drawing out of the skin. If you want a change though you could try jojoba oil, which is definitely not clogging, or pure vitamin A retinol oil which of course will help your acne.

148 · May 15, 2012 at 2:46 PM

I'd stop the coconut oil application to your skin and instead take a few tablespoons orally each morning. Your skin and body will thank you for the Omega-3's.

15380 · May 15, 2012 at 6:15 PM

I highly highly highly recommend shea butter. I am super sensitive (so sensitive, I can FEEL whether the garment is made out of wool or not) and I have tried numerous oils/butters/etc. as moisturizers. I had a reaction to most of them except for shea butter.

Caveat: There should be only one ingredient listed, shea butter - nothing else. No additives, perfumes, anything at all.

Now I use shea butter on my lips, face, hands, feet, hair - everything. This is the best hand cream ever - I swear by it!

I did have a reaction from coconut oil, but I stopped using it very quickly so I had no problems afterwards.

I know that coconut oil has some antimicrobial properties, but my skin just does not like it.

If you want to remove eye makeup - try sweet almond oil. It is not as good as shea butter, but it really works! I would not use it as a moisturizer though.

272 · May 15, 2012 at 1:31 PM

Coconut oil is liquid at temperatures greater than 76F degrees.

If your body is less than 76F degrees then you're dying.

If it's in your pores, then it's heated beyond 76F degrees and leaves your body.

It is not causing your acne.

Your diet, however, may be pushing out all the impurities stored all throughout your system. I recently had a small bout of acne when I added a new element to my diet (iodine, if you're curious). Iodine has the benefit of pushing impurities out of your body.

I use coconut oil frequently on my face. It's very cleansing and because it is liquid at such a low temperature, it mixes with the other oils in the skin and helps to bring them out, too.

As long as you're breaking out, however, you might consider adding Lugol's solution (look for it on Amazon) and taking about 20 drops a day. It'll help push all those impurities out once and for all. Might take 3-6 months. Don't expect overnight results.

Remember, this is a lifestyle and not a short-term solution.

867 · May 15, 2012 at 1:08 PM

Hi there! Coconut oil doesn't give me acne -- but it dramatically dries out my skin. I'm not saying it will do this to you, but what I am saying is although coconut oil might benefit a good portion of people's skin, there are those of us like you and me, who it doesn't work out so well for.

0 · July 15, 2014 at 6:18 PM


^^list of comedogenic ratings of oils, waxes, etc... Coconut oil rates pretty high! I personally use hemp seed oil on and off as a moisturizer. It can be messy, but it is a good skin soother.

0 · February 14, 2014 at 7:41 AM

I used coconut oil in the oil cleansing method. I persevered for 4-6 weeks and it just caused more and more acne and in places on my face I never normally get it. It was extra virgin organic cold pressed but my skin didn't recover until 2-3 weeks after I stopped.

My skin is better since stopping, but I still have more spots than before starting paleo (despite other benefits) and I'm trying to eliminate some of the foods which have dramatically increased in my diet. I have to say that for me early signs suggest removing coconut and tree nuts also seem to help my skin.

So yes if I were you I'd stop. I wish i had stopped earlier - it is the one thing i am utterly convinced was bad for my skin. I now use sunflower oil/castor oil in the deep oil cleansing method. This does not appear to cause spots and helps with blocked pores but I mau tinker further because I am not convinced it is nourishing my skin.


15 · February 09, 2014 at 7:33 PM

I'm sorry to hear about your skin flare ups. For me, when I initially started using coconut oil on my face, I also thought it was awesome. Unfortunately, after about a week, I got a double whammy of dry skin coupled with acne. Switching to using a high quality extra virgin olive oil as a moisturizer has done wonders for my skin. I still love eating coconut oil, and using it as a body moisturizer, but I definitely keep it away from my face! Good luck, I hope you see better results soon.

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0 · February 06, 2014 at 7:48 PM

The best oil for cleansing and maintaining skin moisture is jojoba oil - it's the closest to skin oil composition AND it has myristic acid which is bacteriostatic.

I use a mixture of organic jojoba, avocado and camellia oil (old Asian secret) for moisturising my face, under the sunscreen & m/u. It pretty much keeps your skin perfect and smooth.

Coconut oil must be too pore-clogging, it's like a plug.

I just wrote a post about paleo and acne. I love the related science, molecular biology, receptors, etc. http://www.paleocrush.com/does-the-paleo-diet-cure-acne/

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0 · February 05, 2014 at 4:29 PM

I had acne in my face for a long time, but after i tried coconut oil, i'm not worry any more, i just want to suggest you to use coconut oil it's really helps.


0 · January 29, 2014 at 4:36 PM

@HuntingBears I've had a strange situation with virgin coconut oil as well... I've been using it for 6-7 months now as a moisturizer and cleanser on my face and body, and it was amazing. I have rosacea on my cheeks with pretty dry flaky skin there, and an oily nose and chin.. classic combination skin with breakouts and redness from rosacea. The VCO cleared all of that up within days, although I will say I had the "worse before better" reaction for the first day or two, but then it was clear, glowing skin and any little breakouts I did get were gone within a day or two. My body reacted well also, with super soft skin and even my KP (the little red or white bumps on back of arms and thighs) got better with regular use of the VCO. I also get slight breakouts on my upper back, which goes away completely with VCO!! Now the weird part... I started oil pulling about 2 months ago, and since then my face (not my body) breaks out whenever I use the VCO!??! What is that? The good news is, oil pulling has pretty much completely gotten rid of the KP bumps everywhere, and my body's skin is much better, but my face is still dry and flaky and not exfoliating itself well without the coconut oil :((( My theory is that this is what VCO does, helps the skin exfoliate itself and breaks down the other clogging oils in the skin with its MCTs and lauric acid. What i can't figure out is why it worked so well for half a year and is only causing problems when I oil pull?? I don't want to stop oil pulling bc it has done wonders for my sinuses, my energy levels are great and I sleep like a baby at night, and as I said my KP is basically gone even without the VCO use. I'm still eating the VCO and use it on my body, and I try it every so often on my face just to see.. but every time i get a couple little red bumps :((( So not sure what to make of this, but I figured I'd throw it out there to help you figure out your problem. I'm going to try combining it with another oil like tea tree or something soon and see if that helps, will let you know.

993 · January 10, 2014 at 9:56 PM

Even though coconut oil is a great skin cream, I have acne prone skin and found it way too heavy to use on my face. As I said, coconut oil is good for the skin, but it's not for everyone. It's still an oil and it still might mix with dirt and sebum and clog the pores. If you're looking for a natural skin treatment, aloe vera juice is very hydrating and anti-acne and non greasy.

0 · January 09, 2014 at 9:10 AM

I've been using all-natural coconut oil for my acne for about three months now. It's amazing! It helps keep my skin moisturized without causing breakouts. I always avoided using lotions on my face because they made my acne worse, but now I use coconut oil as a moisturizer every morning and it helps keep my skin clear.

0 · January 08, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Coconut oil always makes my skin better you can check benefits of coconut oil

0 · January 08, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Coconut oil always makes my skin better you can check benefits of coconut oil

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0 · January 03, 2014 at 4:28 PM

spam spam spam spam

0 · September 07, 2013 at 12:44 AM

I have been used organic cold pressed coconut oil as moisturizer for two weeks and I've just in the last two days gotten two LARGE pimples.One on my shoulder and another behind my ear (which I do not moisturizer there). This oil is the only thing that I have changed in the past two weeks. My diet hasnt changed. I firmly believe its my bodies reaction to the coco oil. :(

0 · April 01, 2013 at 11:09 PM

Guys follow your instinct and if you feel it's right keep using it.it takes time And remember with a lot Of skin products yOu Break out first before it clears you up . Mainly because your skin is new to the products And it's getting used to it or because it's clearing Out all the dirt.after 4 months you have to see results And if yOu don't yOur skin might just Need tOne or it's not for you That's all.

0 · March 30, 2013 at 5:26 AM

Help, I have been using coconut oil on my face and back to treat my acne...I feel like it was great and then started to get worse...now I have inflammed red zits that don't really pop (sorry for the description). How long should I stick with the coconut oil to see if it is going to work? I am going on almost three weeks, but the first week was refined and I found out the unrefinded is better...please help.

0 · March 29, 2013 at 9:54 PM

Coconut oil is a 4 out of 5 for comedogenic oils. It is rated at high. What it does for people with hyper retention keratosis related acne is worsening to the condition. With bacterial related acne it can help, but not for those who have larger pores. For dry skinned individuals who have no acne and are not prone to getting blackheads, it will hydrate and protect without the side effects.

0 · March 18, 2013 at 3:09 AM

I have acne since teen time and now I am in Mid 20s. I have started using Coconut oil cleansing method. However, I had these small tiny bumps on my face with redness all over my cheeks.. It seems something is going on under my skin. I don't know if my skin is reacting to it or just the purging process. Can someone help understand what exactly is happening? Did you have such reactions after application? It does feel like my skin on fire..

817 · February 20, 2013 at 4:58 AM

HuntingBears, step awaaaay from the coconut oil! I've battled acne for years and it has never once gotten worse before getting better. It's only gotten worse before becoming completely horrific. I had an experience similar to yours with vitamin E oil about a year ago. My friend swore by it and I thought I'd give it a try. I've never seen zits like that...I didn't know they could get that big or that painful. I hope you're not suffering as badly as I was.

You're on the right track by eating paleo. I was paleo a little over two months before my skin cleared. In fact, it was the vitamin E incident that caused me to make the switch. I really should thank my friend for that...

Anyway, if you're still suffering from acne I recommend doing a little elimination diet. My main triggers for zits are dairy and fish (including and especially seaweed). I highly recommend removing both fish and dairy from your diet for at least 6 weeks and seeing what happens. If your skin clears up, one of those is your trigger. You can work them back in one at a time to see which one it was or if it was both. Try other foods too, like eggs and nuts. Even citrus fruit triggers some people.

Best of luck, HuntingBears!

5 · February 20, 2013 at 4:28 AM

i've never used coconut oil on my face, as i heard it can cause acne as well, but i would recommend castor oil.


once i started doing that, along with taking cod liver oil pills, my acne really cleared up and i've had trouble with acne my whole life.

481 · February 20, 2013 at 1:37 AM

I have had the exact same problem. I put coconut oil on my face instead on moisturizer once and the next day I brokeout so badly! Coconut oil is actually a really good makeup remover (and it's completely natural!) and probably cleanses the skin well - you just wash it off instead of leaving it sit.

0 · February 20, 2013 at 12:14 AM

im from the Caribbean and we use coconut oil for skin all the time i have since i was younger... since moving to the states i stopped and started up with the jergens, nivea, palmers and that stuff until my skin started doing just about every bad thing you could think of... dry, yes , bumps, yes, uneven yes. i did the try every brand out there, every issue has a different cream, even had the dermatologist, after 5 years i decided to go back to coconut oil, im using it now. for about 2 weeks it was going great then i started to notice bumos on my arms and back. ive had issues with these areas before, everywhere else is fine. so what ive decided to do is i stopped the coconut oil so the bumps would clear up. when they are gone then ill start up again, also ive tracked what ive been eating just incase.. give that a try.

0 · February 11, 2013 at 2:20 PM

While coconut oil improved some aspects of my skin (fine lines) it did cause me to break out. I normally have pretty clear skin with a small break out maybe once a month but since I started moisturizing with coconut oil I have had break outs solid for about 1.5 months. The coconut oil I use is organic, virgin, and cold pressed. Obviously everyone has different skin type and oils will not work the same way for every person. Please do not listen to the people that say it wont give you acne unless you are dead. Listen to your body and your skin and try a different oil that will maybe work for you. I found that jojoba oil works great for me and dose not cause break outs.

0 · February 09, 2013 at 9:42 PM

Coconut oil cleared up my acne . It also helped clear old dark acne marks left from previous acne. I use UnRefined Organic Coconut oil. Do Not use refined.

142 · February 02, 2013 at 2:48 AM

coconut oil helped my acne tremendously

0 · February 02, 2013 at 12:02 AM

I use coconut oil to wash my face. Yes, I said wash!! Oil removes other oils. I wipe my face with a warm washing cloth to loosen up some of the makeup then I smooth on a quarter size amount into my hands onto my face and rub all over. I stopped using makeup remover well over a year ago. I convinced those chemicals are far worse than they tell you not to mention expensive. Nonetheless, smooth it on and let it sit for a min. Then take a hot washcloth and rub it off, rinse the cloth and go over it one more time.

Long term effects?? My face is never greasy these days, its plump, soft and feels healthy.

I still use soap but I only use it 3-4x a week vs 2x a day. I have acne prone skin. getting them on my jaw line and upper cheek areas :/

I do not just apply it to my skin and leave it. That will make me break out.

Also I stopped using lotions a year ago as well. Coconut oil hands down far exceeds anything I have ever used. I slather it on right out of the shower when I'm still wet (it spreads on farther with the wetness)

0 · December 11, 2012 at 11:44 PM

Hi everybody,

It is great to read all your posts. I have been using coconut oil on my face for 3 months now. It was great since my skin got smooth and younger looking. I have a sensitive skin and I have always battled acne since my teens. 2 weeks ago, I have started ingested coconut oil (1 tbsp a day), I feel great and I have a lot more energy during the day. Though my skin condition has worsen, I have got acne! What should I do? Should I keep using coconut oil and Vitamin E oil or should I stop it or should I wait until it clears up? And for how long??


0 · September 22, 2012 at 3:12 AM

If anyone is looking for a cheap and great tasting coconut oil, buy a $10 bottle of Memory oil at http://memoryoils.com/ This stuff works great, have been using it for about a couple months on my face, and gets rid of blackheads/pimples immediately!

0 · August 11, 2012 at 1:19 PM

You definitely need unrefined. If that doesn't work you could use a blend of olive castor and vitamin e. (The e is healing, olive is non-comodegenic, and castor is a very cleansing oil.) You need just a tiny bit of the castor or your skin will be over-cleansed. Grapeseed oil could be used in place of the olive and e oils. You basically need to try around, but don't irritate your skin from using a bunch of different oils all at once. You may need to even use each oil or blend for at least two weeks to see if you get true results. Hope this helped :)

1452 · June 09, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Coconut oil helps clear my skin and when my eczema or acne is flaring up, coconut helps cool it down. Maybe shea butter, mango butter, or cocoa butter might work for you. Maybe not. There's also olive oil and sesame oil (the light one).

0 · June 09, 2012 at 9:02 PM

I have always had acne since my late teens. Now as and adult,in my thirties, I still battle with it from time to time. I've been using coconut oil on my face for about a month. Amazingly, it has cleared my skin up! Even the little fine bumps on the sides of my face have clered up and the skin is actually smooth. I use EfaGold Organic Coconut Oil. I love it! Most of all I'm loving the smoother skin, clearer skin. I wear less makeup now. But I will add that I am Afiran American and I have super oily skin. Maybe I haven't experienced the drying of the skin bc of how oily my skin is. I remove mu makeup daily with Noxema. Then I wash with Exuvience age reverse. I follow this up with a dab of EfaGold Organic Coconut Oil. I apply oil free sunscreen. And then I apply makeup.

11036 · May 15, 2012 at 3:11 PM

There are some excellent alternatives for face/body cleansing here: http://everydaypaleo.com/2011/10/16/natural-beauty-options/

1855 · May 15, 2012 at 1:13 PM

Coconut oil gives me acne. I don't know of any oil that won't clog your pores. I'd stop using it.

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