To use coconut oil effectively for acne treatment, you must first understand what exactly causes your acne – why you're getting it. If you don't have the faintest idea what actually causes your acne, you'll unwittingly do something foolish that offset coconut oil's healing effect on acne. And when that occurs, using coconut oil may trigger more breakouts on your face and make your acne worse than before.
I just want to make absolutely sure you're able to clear your acne nicely with the use of coconut oil. Let's get started.
1. Why do you get acne?
You get acne on your face and skin because your liver fails to timely deactivate androgens. Androgens are sex hormones produced by your adrenal gland and sex gland (ovary in females, testis in males).
What have these hormones got to do with acne?
Good question. These hormones can stimulate your sebaceous glands (under your skin pores where hair follicles are) to secrete an oily substance called sebum. Sebum helps to lubricate your skin and hair, and hence, prevent them from drying and cracking / breaking.
Actually, there's nothing wrong with the presence of androgens (androgenic hormones) since we need them to help regulate oil production for our hair and skin care, and perform other functions as well.
But problems arise when some of them are not properly deactivated by your liver after they have accomplished their jobs. These "remain-active" hormones then continue to circulate in your bloodstream and stimulate your sebaceous glands to keep producing sebum, resulting in an oily skin or face.
In fact, excessive sebum production doesn't necessarily cause acne on your skin or face. Which is why you can see some people having oily skin but not a single pimple on their face.
But that's just a matter of time before a pimple starts popping up. This is because if you don't do something to reduce the over secretion of sebum, the local acne bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes or simply P. acnes) in your skin will soon multiply. Sebum is their primary source of food.
As acne bacteria multiply, they need more space for their fast growth. And so, they produce proteins and enzymes to break down the surrounding tissues. This causes a large number of skin cells to "peel off" and die prematurely.
More dead skin cells means your pores are highly likely to get clogged easily.
In the meantime, bacterial infection prompts your immune system to inflame the comedones (clogged pores) and surrounding tissue in order for your body to fight the infection and heal the red, swollen tissue.
Did you know that overgrowth of Candida (yeast) in your gut can cause acne too?
Candida normally gets out of hand due to lack of friendly gut bacteria to keep them in check. What happens next is that the yeast may run riot and spread throughout your body via your bloodstream and eat almost anything in sight and then poop out mycotoxins (adding on to blood toxins), which your liver has to deal with. This again, weakens your liver function to deactivate androgenic hormones.
So, to treat your acne effectively, you need to strengthen your liver, regulate your hormones, expel your toxic buildups, unclog your pores, stop the growth of acne bacteria (P. acnes may also be found in your gut besides on your skin) and Candida by maintaining friendly bacteria in your gut. Using coconut oil can help you achieve these.
2. How does coconut oil help your acne treatment?
Coconut oil helps your acne treatment by:
- boosting your liver's ability to filter out toxins (another vital function of liver) and deactivate used androgenic hormones. Your skin will become less acne-prone due to lesser buildup of blood toxins and sebum.
- energizing your cells to help expel toxins through your skin to relieve your liver of detoxification load. Your liver will have more capability to timely and properly deactivate used androgenic hormones. This in turn regulates your sebum production and reduces your oily skin.
- stimulating your bowel movements to quickly clear the toxic waste in colon to prevent toxic substances from resorbing into your bloodstream and burdening your liver.
- sloughing off dead skin cells to help prevent more clogging of pores that can lead to a more severe breakout.
- calming down your sebum secretion.
- killing excess acne bacteria and Candida to restore their balance on your skin and in your gut respectively with its antimicrobial fatty acids. Restoring balance helps to hamper growth of bacteria and yeast, and stop bacterial infection, and thus, reduce inflammation and stop hyperproliferation of dead skin cells.
But that's only provided you use virgin coconut oil for acne treatment. Why? Because virgin coconut oil:
- contains 55% medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) and less than 1% short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which can quickly convert into energy. This extra energy can help to boost the metabolism of your cells, tissues and organs, and strengthen their abilities to regulate hormones and detoxify.
- comprises potent antimicrobial fatty acids (such as lauric, caprylic and capric acids etc) that can effectively fight off the overgrowing acne bacteria, Candida, disease-causing germs and other harmful microbes whether on or in your skin, or inside your body.
- doesn't clog pores (non-comedogenic) easily. This attributes to its 90% saturated fats that are good against oxidation. (Oxidized oil can worsen the clog by acting as glue to dead skin cells.)
- "communicates" well with your skin as its MCFAs are similar to (and very much more than) those contained in the sebum. Because of this, virgin coconut oil gets easily absorbed into your skin and moisturizes your skin very well. And when your skin gets well moisturized, it reacts by producing less sebum.
- prevents free radicals from attacking your skin with its antioxidative property (its predominant saturated fats are antioxidants by themselves, hence they can stop free-radical reactions). Now, your skin can focus better on making new cells to replace dead cells and thus, fading off and healing acne scars.
In short, virgin coconut oil benefits acne by empowering your cells, fighting acne bacteria and yeast, expelling toxins, impeding oxidation and speeding up healing of acne and acne scars.
If you turn to refined coconut oil, you might not get the full healing benefits that virgin coconut oil can offer for your acne treatment. This is because the refining process would have stripped some of its intrinsic antimicrobials off and decreased its detoxifying, antioxidative and skin-penetrating prowess.
What's even worse is that some refining process may include hydrogenation which causes the harmful trans-fatty acids to infiltrate into the oil. Your body and skin will suffer if you use this type of coconut oil.
Hence, make sure you choose ONLY virgin coconut oil for acne treatment. And get organic one if you can afford. It is more natural and free of pesticides, parasites, bacteria, viruses and other harmful microbes, so your skin won't get further intoxicated with these tiny creepy crawlers.
In fact, there's one type of refined coconut oil that you can use if you don't like the fresh coconut scent that virgin coconut oil gives off. It's called RBD coconut oil. It works essentially like virgin coconut oil. This is because the refining process for RBD coconut oil only removes lactones that cause coconut oil to smell like fresh coconut.
In other words, except for the odor, almost everything else is the same. Of course, choose organic RBD coconut oil for better acne healing and skin repair.
3. How to treat your acne with virgin coconut oil
You can use virgin coconut oil topically for acne. But the healing effect won't be as strong as when you eat it as well. By doing so, you can tackle the acne-causing factors not just from the outside, but from the inside as well.
However, I got to warn you about treating your acne with virgin coconut oil. That is, you may suffer a breakout before your acne clears. And the breakout can appear worse than before you use the oil. Sounds scary?
Well, not all acne sufferers will experience the breakout with virgin coconut oil. That largely depends on how much toxins you have built up in your body and beneath your skin over the years.
For example, let's say you ingest plenty of toxins from a meat-laden diet. Now, your liver needs to perform 400 over functions every single day. And filtering out toxins from blood is one of its most critical functions.
But the problem is, your liver can only handle blood toxins to a certain capacity at any one time. Which means you can easily overload your liver with a gush of nasty toxins entering your body with that toxic diet.
So, when it gets overloaded and fails to eliminate all toxins from your blood, your body will start to mobilize your skin to help expel the unfiltered toxins.
Why skin? Because it is the largest organ of your body and thus provides the largest surface area for quick removal of excess toxins to help clean up your blood.
While your skin provides a good alternative route for clearing away blood toxins, not all cells beneath your skin are good at purging them.
Think of each cell as a human being. It may "fall sick" or become weak due to an attack by toxic substances, free radicals, bacteria, fungi and viruses etc. So when its health deteriorates, it won't be able to perform as good as when it's healthy and strong.
Don't forget that each cell has its own waste to clear too (like us, they eat and poop). So, imagine it has to help with expelling toxins from the blood and if the toxins come in huge quantity, it can easily get overwhelmed and wind up storing the toxins instead.
Things get worse when you have more fat cells under your skin since fat cells can store fat-soluble toxins.
Imagine you have 0.001% of cells underneath your skin storing toxins... this "very small percentage" (i.e. millions of them) is sufficient to cause an acne breakout as coconut oil enters topically and penetrates deep into and underneath your skin to stimulate the cells to expel toxins and kill local bacteria that attack cells.
Actually, when you only use coconut oil topically for acne treatment, the breakout on your skin or face may appear more severe (even in places where they never had acne before) than when you eat it as well. That's because eating coconut oil can help to clear up more toxins through bowel movement, reducing the amount of toxic buildups that are transported to your skin for purging.
So, if your want your acne treatment with coconut oil to be more effective without getting too severe a breakout, it's best to eat the oil as well to help with the detox.
There are acne sufferers who got freaked out by the breakout caused by sole topical application of virgin coconut oil on their face. Unaware of such healing crisis (Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction), they run back to commercial, over-the-counter drugs, creams, lotions or ointments. Bad move.
Commercial products may on the surface "clear" their pimples but actually continue to store, bury and build up more toxins underneath their skin, making their skin even more acne-prone. What a shame!
Don't let the flare-ups scare you out of your wits. Continue to use virgin coconut oil for your acne treatment until the pimples or whiteheads eventually clear up and heal.
A simple workaround to minimize the breakout is to go slow on your acne treatment with coconut oil. Instead of smearing a lot on your acne-affected area, apply just a thin layer each time. Instead of 3 or more applications per day, do it just once per day.
You can even apply virgin coconut oil just twice or thrice a week at first and then use the oil more often when you feel more confident and comfortable with it.
Because you're putting on just that much, it should not appear too severe on your face even if there is a flare-up. Continue the regimen until your pimples and whiteheads clear up. But your skin will take longer to heal since you only apply once a day.
However, if you don't mind the breakout and you're willing to go through the fire to get an acne-free skin, then apply virgin coconut oil to your skin 2 or 3 times a day. But same thing, a thin layer will do.
If you apply too much at one time, the excess will sit on the surface of your skin for some time before it gets absorbed. That's because our skin can only absorb coconut oil up to a certain degree at one time even if the oil is easily penetrable. So, no point slathering it on too liberally. A small amount goes a long way.
You may feel a little greasy right after each application, but after a few minutes the greasy feeling will disappear as coconut oil gets absorbed into your skin, leaving behind a super thin protective layer on the surface of your skin to keep off bacteria and other germs.
Some acne sufferers use a hot or warm washcloth or towel to cover their face or wash their face with warm water to open up their skin pores. This helps their skin to absorb coconut oil more quickly.
You may need to do that particularly during cold weather. Under normal temperature condition, the gentle rub with your finger tips or palms in circular motions for a couple of minutes should create sufficient warmth to open the pores for good absorption.
Also, do not apply over an already oily skin or makeup as this can affect coconut oil's absorption.
Make sure you cleanse your face or skin thoroughly before applying virgin coconut oil. And use only natural products for cleansing and removing makeup to prevent more chemicals from clogging the pores and intoxicating your skin.
I've read a lot about people using coconut oil to cleanse and remove their makeup before they apply the oil the second time for acne treatment and overall skin care. It works great for them. You might like to try that.
So, that's how you should use virgin coconut oil for acne treatment, topically. And I said early on that you should eat coconut oil as well to help treat your acne more effectively, right?
Here's how: Start out slow with 1 tablespoon (or 3 teaspoons) of virgin coconut oil spreading over a day first (add one tsp to your breakfast, one to your lunch and one to dinner). Or to make your life easier, split 1 tablespoon into half and take half tablespoon at breakfast while the other half at dinner.
Do not take too much at first because virgin coconut oil may cause diarrhea. It is highly detoxifying.
But once your body gets used to this natural oil after 7 days or so, you can then gradually increase the dose up to 3 tablespoons a day. Again, spread throughout the day. The detox effect should taper off over time.
When using virgin coconut oil both internally and externally for acne treatment, you may experience 2–5 weeks of toxin-purging via your skin and bowel movements.
Like I said earlier, your breakout should not be too severe if you're eating coconut oil as well besides applying it to your skin.
But if your entire body and skin have accumulated tons of toxic stuff over the past years. Plus, you have lots of toxins flowing in your bloodstream all day long. Or, you're being attacked by pathogens like Candida or other health-detrimental viruses and bacteria that release huge amount of toxins when they're killed by coconut oil. Then, I can't promise that your breakout will not be severe. It all really depends on your body's toxic levels.
Of course, if you have only little amount of toxins lurking under your skin and inside your body, and your liver is able to effectively remove toxins from your blood, you should experience immediate improvement. And your acne will probably clear nicely and acne scars healed after few days of applying and eating virgin coconut oil, with little or no breakout.
4. Virgin coconut oil's limitation on acne treatment
Despite its healing benefits on acne, virgin coconut oil cannot permanently stop your acne from breaking out. Why? That's because you have yet to fix the root cause of acne.
If you're with me all along, you would've realized that acne actually begins with overloading your liver with the gunky toxins that weaken your liver's ability to shut off androgenic hormones. And when these hormones are not deactivated in time, your skin gets oily easily and hence, acne-prone. Remember?
So, once you stop the overload, your sebum production will normalize. You'll have less food for acne bacteria to multiply like crazy. Your dead skin cells will shed at normal rate. And your pores will always be unclogged and clear.
In other words, the environment that breeds acne will completely disintegrate.
Relying solely on virgin coconut oil for acne treatment can help prevent the formation of such acne environment to a certain extent only. That's because you can only apply that much virgin coconut oil to your skin and consume a max of 3–4 tablespoons per day (too much virgin coconut oil may give you the runs due to its bowel-stimulating effect, remember?).
Hence, if you don't take further steps beyond using virgin coconut oil, your acne will most likely return with a "vengeance".
So, what else do you need to do to cure your acne once and for all?
STOP INTOXICATING YOUR BODY!
Yup, that's the answer. You know why? Because if you don't stop that stupid act, no matter how good virgin coconut oil benefits acne, how much you put it on your skin and how much you eat it, the oil's detoxifying effect will always get diluted, neutralized or even overridden.
You're wasting virgin coconut oil (it's not cheap though).
Think of virgin coconut oil as a gunk remover. Imagine you hire this "gunk remover" to clean up the nasty gunk sticking around inside your body and under your skin. While he's cleaning up, you dump more garbage into your body. How effective do you think this gunk remover can perform?
It won't be long before your liver gets choked and overburdened, and acne flares up on your skin and face again. Make sense?
I know what you're thinking. True, we can't possibly keep all toxic substances and chemicals away from us since we're living in a modern world fraught with toxic pollutants and contaminants, and unscrupulous money-minded farmers and food corporations. But when you watch your diet and improve your lifestyle, you can remarkably decrease the amount of toxins gaining access into your body.
Less toxic intake means your liver will have enough ability to shut down androgens besides purifying your blood of toxins and thus, effectively cure your acne.
So, how to reduce your intake of toxins?
Let's take a look at your diet first since you can easily introduce toxins through a poor diet, which alone can cause severe acne breakout.
5. What foods to avoid for acne?
Do you take lots of animal proteins such as meat, fish, dairy (e.g. milk, cheese, yogurt) and/or eggs every day?
Animal proteins are in fact very toxic by themselves. That's because they'll leave tons of acidic ash behind after digestion, increasing your blood acidity level.
When your blood has too much acidic components in it, your liver will try to remove these components (deacidify) to restore the pH (acid-alkaline) balance of your blood. Deacidification is another vital function of liver.
If you ingest too much acidic foods like animal proteins or animal-based food, the regulation of pH by your liver can weaken your liver's abilities to remove other toxic wastes and "switch off" androgens.
Besides disrupting your pH balance, animal fat tissues store dioxins, which are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage your immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer. So, these toxic dioxins will add more stress to your liver.
On top of that, extreme stress, fear and anger struck in the animals when they're slaughtered elevate their steroid hormones to an all-time high. So, these over-excessive hormones will pass on to you when you eat them, and they'll overburden your liver.
End result? Acne flares.
What's even worse is that you'll ingest other growth hormones, antibiotics and pesticides as well via your meat (and dairy) consumption, straining your liver even more. And if you think that's not toxic enough, mercury from fish will fit the bill.
So, organic meat is better? Says who? Whether organic or non-organic, the dioxins, huge amount of steroid hormones when the animals get slaughtered and the "natural" acidic ash they leave behind are the same. It's just that organic meat may not contain antibiotics, pesticides and other growth hormones.
"Hey, my friend is eating a lot more meat than me every day, why does her skin still look so great?"
Well, we're all born and raised differently. What we eat, the way we eat, as well as sedentary or active lifestyle we lead, and the quality of our sleep etc. All these can cause the tolerance levels of our liver to vary extensively.
If you find that someone takes more junk food than you but her skin looks just as great, I can tell you, wait and see. It's just a matter of time before she breaks out with acne or other form of liver disease, which could be worse than your case.
Acne is a good indicator to tell you to fix your liver before it takes a turn for the worse and goes beyond repair. Some people just do not have breakout when their liver degenerates. And by the time they realize how severe they have inflicted damage on their liver, they're only left with a few months or even couple of weeks to live. So, appreciate your breakout so that you can fix it before it's too late.
Having said all that, cut back on animal proteins, dairy or any animal-based foods as much as you can or your acne treatment with virgin coconut oil will be nullified. Or best, quit them totally since you can easily obtain various nutrients you need from plant sources and whole food.
So, does that mean vegetarians and vegans are spared from acne?
Not when they eat too much processed foods containing unsaturated fats and refined carbohydrates.
Unsaturated fats from vegetable oils encourage oxidation and promote inflammation. These can hamper skin tissue repair and worsen your acne and acne-prone skin. They also produce body fats which can store fat-soluble toxins.
That explains why your body can store so much toxic crap underneath your skin. And when coconut oil gets into your fat tissues and expel those toxins, you get a breakout.
As for refined carbs that come mainly from white flour (e.g. bread), white sugar and white rice etc, they can rapidly spike up your blood sugar. High blood sugar will trigger the production of insulin and other hormones to regulate your blood sugar levels. This again, can weigh down and weaken your liver functions, resulting in an oily skin that promotes acne.
Imagine your diet contains lots of animal proteins plus refined carbs and unsaturated vegetable oils, and you use virgin coconut oil to treat your acne, how strong do you think virgin coconut oil can help with your acne treatment?
6. What else to avoid or do for acne?
Do you smoke, drink alcohol, consume caffeinated beverages like coffee or tea, overeat and undergo frequent mood swings such as stress, fear, anger, frustration or depression etc?
If you say 'Yes' to any or all of them, do yourself a favor – change these bad habits. If you stick to them, not only they'll continue to strain your liver with toxic chemicals and excessive hormonal production that worsens your acne, but they can ruin your overall health in the long run as well.
Wolfing down loads of food in one sitting can cause your liver and other digestive systems to overwork too. So, take small meals several times a day in intervals of 2–3 hours.
Not forgetting that a good quality sleep will improve your acne problem dramatically, particularly if you're in deep, restorative sleep between 1 and 3 AM. This is the specific period for liver to perform (in the context of acne, deactivating androgens) at its optimum.
Speaking of sleep. You should also try to change your pillowcase as often as you can, like once a week.
Or to save you the trouble and energy, place a clean towel over your pillow and sleep on it every night especially during the breakout period because the oily dirt (mixture of your skin oil, dust and other micro-particles) accumulated on the pillowcase may clog your pores and hence, aggravate the flare or delay the healing of acne on your face.
Oh, putting on makeup can intoxicate your body too. That's because toxic chemicals can enter your bloodstream through your skin or even get stored in the tissues under your skin.
So, try to use more natural products for your skin. Or best, learn to appreciate your natural look so that you can save money on cosmetics and invest in the natural virgin coconut oil for your acne treatment.
7. How to guarantee a skin without acne and acne scars for good
Besides avoiding acne-provoking food, improving your lifestyle and using virgin coconut oil for acne treatment, include in your diet more dark green leafy vegetables and vitamin-loaded fruits. These whole foods provide tons of super nutrients that benefit your skin and thus, help with your acne treatment and heal your acne scars.
A plant-based diet that embraces natural and fiber-rich whole foods can also help you prevent constipation. Constipation increases your liver's detoxification load when the wastes get stuck inside your gut for too long and the toxins get resorbed into your bloodstream and delivered to every cell in your body.
Also, engage yourself in exercises because working out helps you relax and improves your lymphatic circulation that delivers nutrients to your cells and carries waste products away from your cells effectively.
If you can't do strenuous workouts, gentle tai chi or yoga moves are good for acne treatment too because they can help regulate your mood and balance your hormones, and improve your body's detoxification systems.
If you have difficulty making changes to your lifestyle and diet, and you need a highly effective program to guide you step-by-step towards achieving long-term acne-free skin from the inside out, I strongly recommend Mike Walden's Acne No More™ Home Remedy Program.
This program shows you how to eliminate literally all types of acne such as acne rosacea, acne vulgaris, acne conglobata, cystic acne or nodules, whiteheads or blackheads etc. It includes an effective combination of plant foods plus some easy-to-follow holistic protocols that you can seamlessly incorporate into your everyday routine, regardless of whether you're a teen or adult, on puberty, menstruation or menopause.
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