There are many folk remedies for acne. One of the ones we’ve heard about is using jojoba oil or coconut oil for acne. People who use jojoba oil for acne recommend putting it on acne lesions and skin whereas people who recommend coconut oil for acne recommend consuming it orally or putting it on acne lesions and on the skin. Let’s take a look at the research to determine which oil, if any, is better for acne.
Topical Jojoba Oil for Acne
When comparing the two oils side by side you will notice that jojoba oil is a liquid whereas coconut is a solid. This is because coconut oil is rich in saturated fats. For topical use jojoba oil’s advantage is that it more closely mimics the oils normally produced by your skin. Applying a saturated fat to your skin can clog pores and worsen acne.
Topical Jojoba Oil for Acne Study
Only 1 study was found where topical jojoba was used.1 The oil was not applied directly but was infused into a clay mask. It was not blinded and followed 194 individuals (192 females and 2 males) with acne through a self-survey as they used a clay mask with jojoba oil on their faces two to three times weekly for six weeks. By the end of the study the subjects documented an average 50 percent reduction in the number of skin lesions, with actual pustules (whiteheads) reduced from an average of seven per patient when treatment began to three when the study concluded.
Topical Jojoba Oil for Acne Critique
While the study shows some promising results for the topical use of jojoba oil for acne, it is prone to bias. The subjects were not blinded meaning they all knew they were using a treatment. The lesion counts were performed by the patients instead of an impartial third party or medical expert. Furthermore, there was no control group so it is also difficult to attribute the acne-fighting effects to either:
- The use of a clay mask
- The act of washing the face after using a clay mask
- The jojoba oil in the clay mask
It is likely that some combination of the three contributed to the observed decline in acne. Clay works for acne because it helps remove oil from the skin. Clay also interacts with bacteria and the use of a clay mask may help remove acne causing bacteria from the skin.2
Topical Coconut Oil for Acne
As mentioned before coconut oil may not be the best oil to apply topically for acne because it is a saturated oil that is solid at room temperature which may clog pores and cause more acne. However, half of coconut oil’s fatty acids contain medium-chain lauric acid, which may kill harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Lauric acid itself can kill P. acnes, the bacteria that contributes to acne—in fact, a study in mice published in the October, 2009 edition of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology shows that lauric acid is even more effective in destroying P. acnes than benzoyl peroxide, a popular over-the-counter acne treatment.3 Unfortunately, the lauric acid in coconut oil is not effective if consumed orally as it is metabolized by the body.
Coconut’s Role in the Anti-Acne Diet
Coconut does have other benefits when consumed orally as part of an anti-acne diet. Acne has been characterized as a “disease of western civilization” and its roots are found in diet and lifestyle. The Kitavans, a hunter-gatherer group living on an island, have a diet that consists only of tubers, fruit, fish, and coconut. Despite analyzing the adolescent population of the island, the researchers were unable to find a single case of acne.4
The researchers attributed this to the Kitavan diet which has a low-glycemic index compared to Western diets. Low glycemic index diets do not cause a drastic spike in insulin and insulin-like-growth-factor 1 (IGF-1) levels that have been implicated in the cause of acne. Western diets tend to consist of highly processed foods that cause blood sugar spikes.
Is Jojoba Oil or Coconut Oil Better for Acne?
The bottom line is that jojoba oil and coconut oil both have their roles in the treatment of acne. Jojoba oil may be utilized as part of a daily skin care regiment and coconut oil can be used as part of a low-glycemic index diet for acne in addition to taking supplements for acne.
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