Uses of Coconut Oil

by Jan Annigan

About Jan Annigan

A writer since 1985, Jan Annigan is published in "Plant Physiology," "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences," "Journal of Biological Chemistry" and on various websites. She holds a sports medicine and human performance certificate from the University of Washington, as well as a Bachelor of Science in animal sciences from Purdue University.



Coconut oil, extracted from fresh or dried coconut meat, is a versatile and widely used emollient and lubricant. Unprocessed, virgin coconut oil retains its coconut flavor and scent and, due to its high saturated fat content, becomes solid at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Gently heat the coconut oil before use if it has solidified. As with any topical product, conduct a skin patch test prior to use to make sure you are not allergic to the oil.

Dry Skin

Dry skin is caused by a disruption in the skin’s moisture barrier, leaving you with rough, dry, itchy patches of skin. Coconut oil not only enhances your skin’s moisture retention, it also provides a topical antiseptic effect, as noted by Dr. A. Agero in the September 2004 volume of “Dermatitis.” Dr. Agero’s study demonstrates that coconut oil is effective in treating dry skin without adverse effects, with patients preferring coconut oil to mineral oil as a skin moisturizer. Liberally apply warmed coconut oil to soothe and protect your skin as often as needed, particularly after you bathe or shower.


Coconut oil’s antiseptic effect offers benefits to people with atopic dermatitis, a type of inflammatory skin eczema. In the November to December 2008 volume of “Dermatitis,” Dr. V.M. Verallo-Rowell explains that Staph infections (staphylococcus aureus) are common in people with atopic dermatitis and recommends coconut oil as both an emollient and an antibacterial preventative treatment. Choose a skin moisturizer containing coconut oil, or apply pure coconut oil directly to your affected skin several times a day, to relieve dermatitis symptoms and help protect your skin from possible infection.

Damaged Hair

Lauric acid is a linear, medium-chain fatty acid with a high affinity for proteins, explains Dr. A.S. Rele in the March to April 2003 volume of the “Journal of Cosmetic Science.” The predominant fat in coconut oil, lauric acid penetrates the hair shaft, binds to hair protein and allows the coconut oil to moisturize and replenish both damaged and undamaged hair. Condition your hair with coconut oil after shampooing to benefit from its moisturizing and nourishing properties.

Sexual Lubricant

Coconut oil may be used as a sexual lubricant. If you don’t like the taste or fragrance of coconut, choose refined, bleached and deodorized (RBD) coconut oil. Warm the oil in your hands prior to use. However, avoid applying any oil-based product, including coconut oil, when using latex condoms, as Johns Hopkins University cautions. Oils can weaken the condoms and cause breakage.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or