Great skin might be just a coconut away. Virgin coconut oil isn’t just making a comeback , it’s spreading to the skin care aisle, too— and for good reason. Research suggests the tropical tonic, typically extracted from fresh coconuts in a or wet-milling process, may help preserve skin’s youthful appearance and treat a host of pesky skin problems . Marina, AM., Man, YB., Nazimah, SA., et al. Department of Food Technology, Faculty of Food Science and Technology, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Selangor, D.E., Malaysia. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 2009; 60 Suppl 2:114-23..

Cookoo for Coconuts — The Takeaway

Pure, unrefined coconut oil is generally cheaper than a trip to the cosmetics counter (many cost as little as $10 a jar), and offers many of the same age-defying benefits, due to its high level of skin-penetrating antioxidants . Marina, AM., Man, YB., Nazimah, SA., et al. Department of Food Technology, Faculty of Food Science and Technology, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Selangor, D.E., Malaysia. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 2009; 60 Suppl 2:114-23. . Nevin, KG., Rajamohan, T. Department of Biochemistry, University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, India. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 2010; 23(6): 290-7.. These have been shown to help slow skin aging and reduce the harmful effects of sun damage . Lademann, J., Patzelt, A., Schanzer, S., et al. Center of Experimental and Applied Cutaneous Physiology, Department of Dermatology and Allergology, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 2011 Jun 1; 24(5): 269-273.. Conventional skin care products, made with refined vegetable oils, generally lose a large percentage of their antioxidants in the .

But there's more to this oil than its antioxidant boost. The small molecular structure of coconut oil allows for easy absorption through the skin and hair, delivering a soft, smooth texture while relieving dryness . Agero AL., Verallo-Rowell VM. Department of Dermatology, Makati Medical Center, Makati City, Philippines. Dermatitis. 2004 Sep;15(3):109-16. . Rele AS., Mohile RB. Research and Development Department, Nature Care Division, Marico Industries Ltd., Mumbai, India. Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2003 Mar-Apr;54(2):175-92.. And with strong , anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties, research suggests this natural oil may have the potential to help fight conditions like acne, eczema, diaper rash, psoriasis, and fungal infections (fun stuff, we know) . Intahphuak, S., Khonsung, P., Panthong, A. McCormick Faculty of Nursing, Payap University, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Pharmaceutical Biology. 2010 Feb; 48(2): 151-7. . Verallo-Rowell VM., Dillague KM., Syah-Tjundawan BS. Skin and Cancer Foundation, Pasig, Philippines. Dermatitis. 2008 Nov-Dec;19(6):308-15..

Ready to shake down some coconut oil? Though the substance is gaining popularity as a skincare product, it may still require a special trip to a health food or specialty store. Both and liquid forms are equally effective— just be sure to go for virgin or extra virgin coconut oil to ensure the most nutrient-packed products. Keep in mind that that coconut oil isn’t for everybody, and some cases of have been reported as a result of use. For everyone else, remember that a little coconut oil goes a long way (just a dab is enough to cover the entire face). While it tends to be a little greasy (it’s oil after all), it absorbs fairly quickly, so dot it, smear it, and/or smudge it, but don’t forget to say Mahalo to the coconut.

The Tip

Crack open some unrefined coconut oil to help heal and rejuvenate the skin.