3 Reasons Why Coconut Oil in Deodorant Can Be a Problem

Clean beauty industry maven Mary Futher founded kaia naturals® after spending 20 years working for global beauty companies. Mary now shares her weekly content series, delivering a quick fix, home remedy, or clean beauty product suggestion for a variety of human discomforts that some may find too embarrassing to discuss.

Coconut oil has become a controversial ingredient in the past few years. Many consider it the Holy Grail to beautiful skin and people even use it as a healthy alternative in recipes. However, I cannot recommend it for cooking after consulting an article published from Harvard Medical School. Coconut oil is also a highly questionable ingredient in beauty products, as it only works on certain skin types. Throughout developing and formulating kaia naturals’ line of natural deodorants, I’ve discovered the impact coconut oil has when included in a natural deodorant.

Today, I want to share my insights on coconut oil in natural deodorants, and what I have learned through formulating my products.

The Two Types of Coconut Oil

In skincare, formulators usually prefer fractionated coconut oil over virgin coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil is less processed and is often recommended in beauty due to its nourishing, long chain fatty acids such as lauric acid. Lauric acid makes up approximately 50% of the oil, making it one of its healthiest elements. Despite that, it can be challenging to formulate since it is a solid at room temperature and requires heat to liquefy. This is why you may find that natural deodorants formulated with coconut oil are harder to apply, and do not “glide” as smoothly. 

Fractionated coconut oil on the other hand, is better at staying in liquid form. The process of fractionation uses the fat’s different melting points to separate them and allows for a longer shelf life as a result. This process removes the lauric acid, which means its original benefits are lost.

coconut oil dana tentis

Why coconut oil shouldn’t be used in natural deodorants

Now that you understand how coconut oil is formed, here is why I don’t recommend coconut oil as an ingredient in natural deodorants:

1. It Causes Yellow Stains On Clothing

While there isn’t any scientific research on this matter, it is something that I have discovered after talking to many retailers and customers over the years. When I first started doing research on natural deodorants, I approached a couple of retailers to ask them what their consumers wanted.

One anecdote involved a white linen blouse that was ruined with yellow stains after its owner used a natural deodorant. One of the retailers even told me that they would not sell my product if it had coconut oil in it. It is a risky ingredient in general because when the oil emulsifies, it is more likely to transfer onto your clothes and the stains are almost impossible to get out. Because of this, I immediately opted for an alternative when putting together my formula for my natural deodorant. Click here to read more about why you need to deal with armpit stains within 24 hours.

2. Coconut Oil Is Not As Antibacterial As You May Think

There is a theory that because coconut oil is antibacterial, it will protect you from odor-causing bacteria. Since most natural deodorants use fractionated coconut oil, this process removes lauric acid and does not offer its original benefits. In fact, a cosmetic chemist named Randy Schueller said, “I couldn’t find any evidence that coconut oil has been tested against staphylococcus hominis, which is the bacteria of species primarily responsible for producing underarm odor. That means that even though it may work theoretically, it may not work very well.” There are many other ingredients that work on that type of bacteria and for the reasons above, coconut oil would not make the top ten list.

3. It May Contribute To Ingrown Hairs

Ingrown hairs occur when pores are clogged and hair gets trapped beneath the skin thanks to sebum, dead skin cells, or other debris. You are more likely to develop ingrown hairs if you have coarse, curly hair because it is more likely to grow back into the skin and lead to razor bumps. Since deodorants using coconut oil are high on the comedogenic scale, they are more likely to clog your pores and cause ingrown hairs to develop. This is especially true since coconut oil’s properties are sitting in a moist dark environment such as your underarms.

Coconut Oil Is Not a One-Size-Fits-All Product

For the above reasons I have listed, I do not recommend coconut oil in natural deodorants. I use what I call “The First 5 Method” to weed out certain products when I am shopping. This involves seeing if ingredients such as coconut oil are listed as the first five ingredients on the label. I find that if it is listed after the 5th ingredient, those ingredients tend to be more diluted and pose less of a problem. To read more about problematic ingredients, click here.

I hope this was helpful as there are a lot of concerns surrounding coconut oil. After much research, my objective was to simply distil the information to help clarify the effects of this ingredient and why I’ll continue to not formulate with it. If you have any personal experiences with coconut oil or any questions, please share them down below.


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