BEAUTY CONTENT: Coconut oil extraction explained

Posted in Content Beauty

In this post we talk to Vicky Ewbank, homoepath, living foods coach and co-founder of Live Native Skincare, about the benefits of coconut oil. Many organic and natural skin care brands use coconut oil in theri formulations. Vicky explains that not all oils are made equal and describes the differences in extraction methods.


Raw Virgin Coconut oil has many advantages for health and beauty over its non-virgin counterpart. The difference in quality between raw-virgin and non-virgin is immediately apparent when you consider the preparation methods of the two.

To extract Virgin Coconut Oil the oil, which is naturally liquid at temperatures above 24C, is pressed from the soft young flesh of the freshly cracked coconut without the use of additional heat. This is the first pressing, and is therefore termed Virgin. With raw virgin coconut oil this is the end of the story – the oil is bottled and shipped for our enjoyment.

Non-raw virgin coconut oil is further processed by gently heating to temperatures of 60C to reduce the residual water content. This doesn’t damage the oil (composed as it is of saturated fats) and it has the advantage of extending the shelf life, but heating to this temperature will destroy the enzymes and reduce the vitamin content depleting the nutritional benefits for your skin.

Contrast this with the Non-virgin, or cheap coconut oil that has long been sold for frying, and cooking which indeed it is very suitable for! Being composed of saturated fats coconut oil is highly stable, so for shallow or deep frying it is an excellent choice. However, this white odourless fat is worlds apart from the delicate   virgin coconut oil. This oil is pressed from old coconut flesh known as Copra. The flesh is allowed to dry in the sun during which time it has a tendency to become contaminated with mould, giving it a yellow colour.  Heat is used in order to extract as much oil as possible from the Copra and the resultant poor quality and rather unpleasant oil is made palatable by being filtered, bleached and deodorised which leaves residues of noxious chemicals in the final oil.

Raw virgin coconut oil (VCO) contains naturally occurring enzymes, phytonutrients, vitamin E and tocotrienols, all of which remain undamaged and biologically active for the benefit of your skin. VCO does not require refining, bleaching or deodorising but instead it remains naturally fresh with a mild coconut flavour and pleasant aroma.

The wide range of therapeutic benefits that coconut oil confers is due in large part to the symbiotic relationship it has with the friendly bacteria that live upon our skin. These bacteria (lipophilic bacteria) digest the glycerine component of the Medium Chain Triglycerides present in VCO releasing the three Medium Chain Fatty Acids – Caprylic, Capric and Lauric. These 3 fatty acids are naturally acidic (pH5) and help to protect the skins’ acid mantle, they have powerful anti-fungal, anti-microbial and anti-viral properties. Your body also produces MCFA’s in the sebum, excreted onto the skin for the same protective purposes. Because the MCFA’s found in coconut oil are relatively small (unlike the long chain hydrocarbons found in other plant and mineral oils) coconut oil is absorbed easily into the skin and hair shaft providing important nutrition.

Historically Virgin Coconut Oil has been used to treat a wide range of conditions including acne, athlete’s foot, burns and sunburn, cradle cap, dry skin and eczema, dandruff, ringworm and speeding wound healing to name but a few. And for the reasons cited above using raw virgin coconut oil will confer greater benefit than its ‘cooked’ non-virgin counterpart.

Vicky Ewbank, homoeopath, living foods coach and co-founder of Live Native.

Handmade on the Isle of Skye, Live Native is a new and truly unique collection of living organic kin care products inspired by the life-loving ideals shared by all who enjoy vegan, organic and raw-food led lifestyles.