Healthy oils are making a comeback in our diets. New evidence shows their anti-aging benefits in our skin.But oil and skin can bring to mind excessive shine and acne. There is cause for concern: many oils can clog pores or—true mostly of natural fragrance, essential and massage oils—they can be highly allergenic and cause rashes. But let’s say you manage to find an oil that doesn’t cause skin problems. Arguably, you’d think of it as something safe, soothing and pleasant to apply on the skin but not much more; probably not as an active treatment ingredient in the way, say, we think of alpha-hydroxy
acids. A growing body of research1
into how some oils work on and in the skin is changing this perception.
Clinical studies on virgin coconut oil (VCO)2 are showing that besides being a very safe, non-pore-clogging oil (inert enough even for highly sensitive skins), VCO can provide active skin care benefits. How? First, as it is one of the most common obstacles to efficacy—even proven active ingredients can fail if they don’t penetrate the skin well enough—let’s talk about absorption.
Our cell membranes are made up of fatty acids, which are also the basic component of oil. “Virgin coconut oil contains the same fatty acids as those in skin”.3 There is, therefore, a remarkable compatibility between VCO’s inherent structure and that of our skin. Virgin coconut oil is absorbed better and faster, and “replaces moisture … better than olive oil or other hydrators do”4 without leaving a sticky film on the skin.
How else does virgin coconut oil work to prevent skin damage and aging?
Virgin coconut oil replenishes skin cells’ fatty acids with its more stable ones. This results in a healthier balance of saturated-to-unsaturated fatty acids which more effectively heals and repairs damage from aging and exposure to the sun and other environmental factors.
VCO’s fatty acids are mostly (92%) saturated, giving firmness to the cell wall. Other oils (especially those that we eat) are mostly unsaturated, giving fluidity to the cell wall. For our cells to be in the best shape for accepting and sending intra- and extra-cellular signals (which our whole body depends on for its complex functions), cell walls should be neither too fluid nor too firm.
Whereas pro-inflammatory cell hormones are formed from polyunsaturated oils, VCO enables skin to form more anti-inflammatory cell hormones which are derived from saturated oils. As the name suggests, anti-inflammatory cell hormones reduce inflammation which is one of the most important causes of aging, as well as other damage to skin cells and other cells of the body.
By improving saturation at the cellular level, cells have a lower tendency for lipid peroxidation (oxidation). By lessening oxidation, the aging of cells is lessened. Also VCO contains “abundant medium-chain triglycerides” that “serve as a replacement for lipids lost to aging and dehydration in the skin’s barrier.”5
Finally, “Coconuts are rich in growth factors, including kinetin “ a plant hormone that promotes cell division and that has been shown to slow age-related changes in human skin cells in vitro and in vivo.”6
VCO also has a valuable monoglyceride which is an antiseptic and helps minimize bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
Why is this important? These infections are believed to be a core reason for why cellular inflammation occurs, which can bring about various inflammatory problems such as aging, acne, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and systemic diseases.
Virgin coconut oil (ours is USDA-certified organic, pure, first-and-cold-pressed, medical grade and clinically-validated with published and awarded studies in medical journals and conventions) is in many VMV HYPOALLERGENICS® products. It is an anti-aging cell rebuilder in our Re-Everything line and a soothing, protective ingredient in our Grandma Minnie’s Mom & Baby Care.
For clinically-validated (with published and awarded clinical studies), 100% pure, USDA-certified organic virgin coconut oil, see Know-It-Oil.
For the same VCO with added monolaurin, see Grandma Minnie’s Oil’s Well Nurturing Do-It-Oil.
1 Gareth S Denyer. The renaissance of fat: roles in membrane structure, signal transduction and gene expression. MJA Vol 176 3 June 2002
2 Verallo-Rowell, VM. Rx: Coconuts (The Perfect Health Nut). USA, XLibris, 2005; Dillague K, Verallo-Rowell VM, et al. Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of virgin coconut oil versus virgin olive oil in atopic dermatitis: a double blind randomized controlled trial. Poster Presentation/Abstracts American Contact Dermatitis Meeting. 2007. San Antonio, TX, USA. Dermatitis. 2008;19(6):308-315; Verallo-Rowell, VM, Agero, ALC. A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra-virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis. Poster Presentation: Annual Contact Dermatitis Society Meeting. 2004. Washington DC, USA; Agero Liza C, Verallo Rowell VM. A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis. 2004 J Contact Dermatitis 15; (3) September 109-116
3 and 4 Verallo-Rowell, VM in “Beauty Flash.” Self Jul. 2009.
5 and 6 Verallo-Rowell, VM in Long, April. “Natural Born Thrillers.” Elle Jan. 2010.
Click here for more information on skin and your diet and overall health.
Click here for more on virgin coconut oil.