Sunday, November 29, 2009

Coconut oil!

There are different types of coconut oil - today I'm writing about regular old coconut oil with a melting point of 76F. You can find coconut oil with a melting point of 92F, virgin coconut oil, and fractionated coconut oil - those are all posts to come!

Coconut oil is composed of medium chain fatty acids - MCFA - containing 6 to 12 carbon atoms. Most of the oils we've been looking at are long chain fatty acids containing 16 or more carbon atoms (hence the C16 for palmitic acid or C18 for stearic acid). It contains a lot of saturated fats - those fats without double bonds - with 47.5% lauric acid (C12), and some unsaturated fats with 18.1% myristic acid (C14), 8.8% palmitic acid (C16), and a titch of stearic, oleic, linoleic, and arachidic acids. Because of this saturation, this is a very long lasting oil.

Coconut oil offers a ton of wonderful polyphenols such as ferulic acid, which you might remember from rice bran oil and borage oil. Ferulic acid is a very effective anti-oxidant, more powerful than Vitamin E, that can prevent skin aging, reduce age spots, and help repair light and radiation induced damage. It penetrates skin to soften and moisturize, soothes wind chapped and sun burned skin, and reduces itching and inflammation. Like mango butter, coconut oil contains caffeic acid, which is also a good anti-oxidant.

Coconut oil contains very little Vitamin E (36 ppm), but you really don't need to add it for anti-oxidizing purposes as this isn't an oil that goes bad quickly - you've got up to a 2 year life span! - and you've got all that ferulic acid!

Coconut oil also contains catechins, a polyphenol found in tea and chocolate that can offer antibiotic properties as they disrupt a stage of bacterial DNA replication. You can't use this as a preservative in your lotions, but it's a great benefit to your skin! Lauric acid can also act as an anti-bacterial, but again, not enough to be a preservative!

Here's the bad news - it's not only considered comedogenic but acnegenic as well, meaning not only can it clog pores, but it can make acne pustules worse! So this probably isn't the best choice for someone with very sensitive facial skin.

I find coconut oil to be a great addition in a lip balm (click here for my lip shimmer stick recipe) at 25% of the recipe (so it replaces most of the shea butter and some of the mango butter) as per the MMS suggested starting point recipe.

Coconut oil is a fantastic moisturizer with an up to 2 year shelf life. It is a fantastic oil you can use where you might want to use a butter at a fraction of the cost! Sugar scrubs, solid scrub bars, and other less liquidy-more solid products works well with coconut oil. It will go liquid at 76F - about 23C - so you might want to consider the 92 F - about 31C - if you want to use your products in the summer!

Join me tomorrow for coconut oil in hair care products!


France said...

Ok, today I ask... how do you get the half and half lip balm? do you use acetate and pour on each side?
thanks :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Yes, we used transparency paper to separate the two sides! Isn't it adorable?

Christina Kessler said...

Hi Susan,
I was surprised to read in The Soapmaker's Companion that "A percentage of coconut oil in cosmetics is moisturizing. Too much of it can be drying." I had never heard that before! No other information on this drying phenomenon was provided. It made me wonder, because I recently made some lip balm with lots of coconut oil, and it seems like my lips are little dry (but it could also be the weather...?) But even when I when I get coconut oil on my hands when applying it at 100% to my hair, my hands don't get dry. So, I'm confused!

Have you heard anything about coconut oil being drying if used too much?

Also, I wanted to say that I am enjoying your cosmeticeuticals series, although I will wait until I am more experienced before attempting to use any of those ingredients in my products.

I was thinking a fun series or couple of posts could be about "mythbusting." Like, does henna really make your hair thicker? Can scalp massages or stimulating oils that increase bloodflow (like peppermint), make hair grow faster? Does eating excess of protein (more than the recommended amount for general nutrition, say) make hair thicker?

I don't mean to suggest that these things are necessarily false, just things I've wondered about. I'm most familiar with hair ideas, but I'm sure there are other myths about body care, too!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Christina. I don't know much about soap making, but my understanding is that this sentence relates to using coconut oil in soap, not to usage in our bath, body, or hair products. It has to do with the process of saponification, something that doesn't happen in other bath & body products.

I do try to do some myth busting in my posts, and you've made some great suggestions.

As a note, henna will make your hair feel thicker because it's coating the hair shaft, but that extra thickness can lead to extra friction, which can lead to damage. (Click here for the post on damaged hair in which I talk about henna and temporary dyes.)

Gracey Ross said...

Hi there, just read this comment and just wanted to say that I use solid coconut oil in a sugar scrub which I have found to be very moisturising, but very drying when used in a lip balm or used on the face. Don't know why that is - just found it to be so. Thank you also, for the info about the different degrees of coconut oil that can be bought. That's provided a solution to the problem of my sugar scrubs that separate on hot days. Thank you very much, that's a massive help. Viv

CodenameCocoa said...

Hi Susan, I like coconut oil in my body balms because I have a lot of candida related skin issues, I guess the lauric acid helps a lot, I used plain coconut oil for a while, I made a simple balm - coconut oil, beeswax, almond oil (it actually was a bit of a mistake, i misread the amounts). I made it during winter and now that it's summer I think the coconut oil has melted and its quite gloopy. I'm waiting for more of my ingredients to arrive so I can work on it, this balm helped me a lot- especially nails and stuff (I was quite dependent on Loceryl which I can buy OTC here). I have been off it for a while now thanks to the coconut oil.
To make it more stable I could use fractionated coconut oil, but I think it's the lauric acid which is working from me and fractionated I understand doesn't have as much. Just wanted to know what you think about it.
Thank You! - Sonal

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sonal! Sounds like a nice balm. If you want to stiffen it slightly, consider using a bit of cetyl alcohol or another, stiffer butter, like cocoa butter. Fractionated coconut oil won't make it less gloopy - in fact, it will make it more gloopy as it's thinner than water. You can find lauric acid in all kinds of butters, so check out the emollient section of the blog to see which ones might work for you.

CodenameCocoa said...

Thanks Susan, I've upped the beeswax a bit and waiting to order cetyl alcohol. Will definitely look into the butters.
Thank you!