Coconut oil, derived from the coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, contains vitamin E, an antioxidant beneficial to the skin. Its healing reputation comes in part from the antimicrobial properties of its medium-chain fatty acids. It improves many skin problems, according to the Coconut Research Center website. Some pigment disorders involve hyperpigmentation, areas of excess pigment, often on the face, and hypopigmentation, areas lacking in skin pigment, Dermnet NZ reports. A common form of uneven pigmentation, age spots, result from sun damage.
Coconut oil soothes the skin, smooths roughness, treats dryness and may relieve skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Applying coconut oil may help to fade scars and other skin discolorations such as stretch marks, freckles, age spots, birth marks and uneven pigmentation. Coconut oil helps to regenerate the skin, Bruce Fife, N.D., reports in his book, "The Healing Miracle of Coconut Oil." There isn't yet sufficient evidence to support all the claims for coconut oil's use on pigmentation.
Many cosmetics include coconut oil for its emollient properties. Coconut oil's characteristics include a pleasant, natural coconut scent and smooth texture. It's colorless when applied, non-toxic and it penetrates the skin, absorbing fully for a non-greasy feel. These characteristics make it convenient to apply on skin pigmentation. Health food stores carry organic oil. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature. Virgin coconut oil refers to unprocessed coconut oil. Traditionally, coconut oil treats sunburns and other burns, reports the Coconut Research Center.
In addition to its reputation for healing burns, coconut oil lubricates and protects the skin. Various types of burn cause pigmentation. According to DermNet NZ, after the inflammation from the burn subsides, the pigmentation often persists. Coconut oil moisturizes and smooths dry areas. Polishing your skin's texture by moisturizing it regularly with coconut oil gives your skin a more even tone. Although it requires time and daily application, coconut oil may promote skin regeneration. By helping to slough off dead skin cells to reveal fresh skin, you assist the skin's healing process. This process helps to diminish pigmentation over time, in a similar, though more gentle manner, as dry brush exfoliation and acid peels.
Treating your skin with coconut oil strengthens the underlying tissue, according to Bruce Fife, N.D. The layers under the skin's surface break down from age, sun damage and free radical damage. Regenerating the skin's surface and underlying tissue has the potential to fade pigmentation and restore your skin. Further research is required to support these claims. Though not a cure-all, coconut oil offers a potential natural remedy for skin conditions, sun damage and pigmentation disorders.
Consult a doctor or dermatologist about skin changes or medical conditions.
Testing a quarter-sized dab of coconut oil on an unobtrusive area of skin for 24 hours before applying the oil to your face or more visible areas will help you avoid the risk of a negative reaction, such as a rash.
Many moisturizers contain chemicals that can irritate your skin, the DermNet NZ website reports. The website advises moisturizing the skin while the skin is damp from bathing. Coconut oil provides a natural alternative to commercial products for improving the appearance of pigmented skin.
- "The Healing Miracles of Coconut Oil"; Bruce Fife N.D.; 2003
- DermNet NZ: Pigmentation Disorders
- Coconut Research Center: Things You Probably Didn't Know About Coconut Oil
- American Academy of Dermatology: Mature Skin