What Are the Benefits of Coconut Oil Moisturizer?

Nicole F.

Coconut oil has long been used as a moisturizer, and in general the biggest benefits are deep skin penetration, which can help the effects last longer; the potential to provide lasting relief from dry skin conditions and other topical irritations; and antioxidant absorption, which can help strengthen the skin’s natural defenses against environmental elements. Some studies have also shown that the moisturizer can also improve the skin’s own natural bacterial layer and, as such, might help ward off infections faster and better, too. The oil is generally thought to be suitable for skin, lips, and hair, and can be used by people of all skin types. Children and even infants can usually use it without incident. People with sensitive skin are usually advised to start slowly, though, and to test-run the oil on a small patch of skin before slathering the body in it. If there’s no reaction or irritation, it can then be used more widely.

Coconut oil may be useful in treating dandruff.
Coconut oil may be useful in treating dandruff.

Structural Basics and Why it Works

The benefits of this moisturizer are usually related to the structure of the oil, which has strong antioxidant properties and is made mostly from fatty acids. It has a number of uses in cooking and cosmetics generally, but it is this fatty acid structure that makes it a valuable skin and hair moisturizer all on its own. Additionally, it has a high proportion of lauric acid, which may be antimicrobial and naturally beneficial to the body’s protective antibacterial defenses.

Coconut oil can be used for skin or hair treatments.
Coconut oil can be used for skin or hair treatments.

Coconut oil is nearly 50% lauric acid, which is one of the components of breast milk that protects babies from infections. This fatty acid is believed by some to be antibacterial and antiviral. In addition to providing intense moisture, then, it may also be able to provide some protection, and may be able to form something of a seal or perimeter around the application area that prevents other elements from entering and reintroducing dryness.

Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids and a natural conditioner, making it a good moisturizer for dry skin.
Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids and a natural conditioner, making it a good moisturizer for dry skin.

Long-Lasting Moisture

One of the first things most people notice when using coconut oil as a moisturizer is the increased suppleness, elasticity, and general feelings of moisture and richness in their skin, their hair, or their lips. The oil is typically able to penetrate very deeply into the layers of either the skin or the hair follicle, which can help it provide moisture that persists for hours if not days at a time. Most other lotions and creams sit on the top of the skin or hair, and while they can provide some immediate relief, the results don’t typically last.

Coconut oil is a moisturizing lip treatment.
Coconut oil is a moisturizing lip treatment.

Looking for unrefined coconut oil moisturizer without a high water content may be more beneficial. A high water content plumps the skin tissues, making it appear that wrinkles have disappeared but the results are very temporary; reapplication must usually be constant, every hour or so, to keep the benefits coming. Coconut oil, on the other hand, has actual nutrients that have the possibility of making real repair to the skin. Lotions may be more beneficial if they contain more coconut oil than water, and extra-virgin coconut oil may be of higher quality than other grades.

Coconut is nearly 50% laurel acid, which is a component found in breast milk.
Coconut is nearly 50% laurel acid, which is a component found in breast milk.

Skin Condition Healing and Relief

Long-term use of coconut oil moisturizers may also help relieve symptoms of certain common skin problems, such as eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, and acne. The molecules of coconut oil are small enough to penetrate the skin and break down bacteria that may be causing an issue. When used on the hair as a conditioner, it can soften the hair and can also be effective when used to reduce dandruff.

Coconut oil moisturizers help repair damaged skin.
Coconut oil moisturizers help repair damaged skin.

Antioxidant Protection

The antioxidants in coconut oil moisturizer are nutrients and enzymes that are capable of counteracting oxidation in human tissue. Oxidation is when stress produces free radicals, or harmful molecules that can damage cells, proteins and even DNA. The antioxidants protect by blocking the oxidation process and neutralizing the free radicals. Coconut oil is especially high in Vitamin E, an antioxidant that is especially good at protecting cell membranes. Vitamin E can also help repair visible skin damage such as scars, stretch marks, wrinkles and age spots.

Protection Against Infection

Healthy skin has an acid layer protecting it from infection, with sweat and body oils also promoting healthy bacteria. This healthy bacteria helps convert acids into antimicrobials that fight infections. When coconut oil is present on the skin, the friendly bacteria breaks it down the same way it does the natural body oils, creating an even stronger protective layer against infection.

Coconut oil is rich in vitamin E, which may help counter wrinkles and sun damage.
Coconut oil is rich in vitamin E, which may help counter wrinkles and sun damage.

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Discussion Comments


@ysmina – I like to leave coconut oil on my hair for a full hour. I tried doing it for just half an hour, but the results weren't as dramatic.

I always wash my hair and let it air dry partially first. Then, I rub the virgin coconut oil between my hands and put it all over my hair. When I have it totally covered, I put on a shower cap to lock in the moisture and heat from my scalp.

I've heard that heat helps the oil work better, so having the cap on for an hour provides plenty of heat to my hair. The oil has made my formerly dry hair much softer and shinier.


My best friend used coconut oil to treat her two-year-old's skin problem. She suffered from severe eczema, and nothing else seemed to be working.

Her doctor actually recommended coconut oil as a treatment. She told my friend to put her toddler in the bathtub without water and slather virgin coconut oil onto her skin, letting it soak in fully before rinsing it off.

The girl stopped crying soon after her mother applied the coconut oil. Apparently, it starts working pretty quickly. After a few treatments, the eczema disappeared and hasn't resurfaced.


@wavy58 – Coconut oil helped me recover from my sunburn. It made my tight skin feel more relaxed, because it added so much moisture to it.

Since it has healing abilities, I believe that it kept things from being as bad as they could have been. Normally, when I get a bad sunburn, I will peel for days. The coconut oil seemed to keep me from peeling as badly, and I didn't itch as much, either.

I suppose that some people might be sensitive to it, so it is best to try it on a small area before putting it on all over. However, since you have used sunscreens with coconut oil in them before, you will probably not be bothered by it at all.


@feruze – Coconut oil makes me think of a tropical place, so I love it, too. It is ironic that many sunscreens contain coconut oil, but so do many products developed to make you bake faster in the sun! My sister used to use a coconut tanning oil that was designed to help her get a faster, deeper tan out in the sun, but I always associate the fragrance with my favorite sunscreen.

Does anyone know if coconut oil is good to use on sunburned skin? Since it is supposed to be so moisturizing, I would think it would make red skin feel better. Is it safe for this purpose?


I have a self-tanning moisturizer with coconut oil in it, it's awesome! I'm not sure how it works, but it lists coconut oil in the ingredients and smells very coconut-like.

I don't have to do anything to get a light tan when I use this. No tanning beds or direct sunlight that can lead to skin cancer! I apply this coconut oil tanning moisturizer and get a brownish glowing tone in a few hours! People think I went to the beach, it's great! And I love the scent. Coconut always reminds me of summer, I think it uplifts my mood too.

Has anyone used coconut oil facial moisturizer? I'm interested in trying this too but I heard that it causes breakouts in some people. Is this true?


@ysmina-- I agree that it's better to mix coconut oil and moisturizer at home. Or do a lot of research and read ingredients lists before investing in one.

I bought a coconut oil skin moisturizer one time because it was winter and I had really dry, flaky skin and nothing seemed to improve it. I thought that a coconut oil moisturizer would work but it actually made it worse! My skin dried out even more.

I only thought of checking the ingredients list after this and I realized that there was actually no coconut oil in it! It was basically water, glycerin and coconut scent! Can you believe it?!

Companies seem to be able to title their products any way they like. So just because there is "coconut oil" in the title of a moisturizer, don't jump to conclusions that it has any! Check the ingredients to make sure. Also make sure that it's in the beginning of the ingredients list, either first or second. Because the ingredients that are found the most in a product, are listed in the beginning of the list.


I discovered coconut oil a short time ago. I was looking for something that would treat and strengthen my fragile thin hair and help it grow longer. A friend of mine recommended coconut oil to me. I bought 100% natural coconut oil and used it like a hair mask. Every 2-3 days, I applied the oil to my hair, let it sit for at least half hour and then washed it.

The change was miraculous. My hair became healthier, stronger and has grown to a length that I've never had before. It's way below my shoulders now and I would have never thought that to be possible.

After discovering the benefits of coconut oil on hair, I also tried using it on my face and body. It definitely moisturized my skin and made it really soft and smooth. But I didn't like the greasy look of it. To make it less greasy, I added some coconut oil to my face and body cream and that worked perfect!

I know there are also coconut oil moisturizers for sale at stores. But I like mixing my own because I can control how much I add and always add more if I want. I think coconut oil is the best natural moisturizer out there, for skin and for hair.

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