These days, coconut oil seems to be the solution to every problem, whether it's something with your skin, your diet, or even fighting off an infection. The trendy food can definitely be useful, but there are also times when you should never use coconut oil, not only because it won't work, but because it could potentially be unsafe. It may be in the spotlight right now as the ultimate it-food, but you should still proceed with caution before you use it for anything and everything under the sun.
"The most important thing to understand is that not all coconut oil is good — you need to make sure that when you are shopping around, to buy the organic virgin coconut oil," says Dr. Jill Waibel, owner of the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute, over email. "This is the natural oil, without it being refined or hydrogenated and containing GMOs. If the coconut oil that you purchase contains an abundance of sugar, this will cause clogged pores and potentially unwanted acne breakouts."
So how do you when it's okay to turn to coconut oil as your saving grace? Watch out for these eight times you should never use coconut oil, and try some other alternatives instead.
1As Lube With Condoms
Coconut oil can be a great natural lubricant, but it should never be used with a latex condom. "When you mix the latex of condoms and oil based lubricants, it breaks down the latex and leads to the condom no longer working correctly," says psychiatric nurse practitioner Brittany Sherwood over email. "This can cause unintended pregnancy and transmission of STDs."
2In Salad Dressings
"Although it may seem like a good idea at first, you will be greatly disappointed if you try to make salad dressing using coconut oil," says health coach Lindsey Smith over email. "Not only does it flavor your salad with a slight coconut taste, but if it gets cold or if you put it in the fridge, it will harden, and instead of Italian dressing, you'll end up with Italian flavored coconut ice cream!"
3In The Shower
If you're using coconut oil as soap in the shower, you might want to think again. "Since coconut oil is slippery by nature, it can lead to you or someone else slipping in the tub, as it will lubricate the shower floor and can make it slippery," says Smith. "Additionally, if the coconut oil goes down the pipes and the pipes get cold, the coconut oil can harden and cause blockages in your pipes."
"Coconut oil does have some protective benefits when you are out in the sun, but it should not be used as a sunscreen replacement," says Smith. "It can still cause your skin to burn, which can damage your skin long-term. Instead, use coconut oil as a post-sun moisturizer to keep your skin smooth and cool."
Oil pulling is super trendy right now, and although it may make your teeth look and feel fresh and clean, it doesn't do much to kill bacteria. Research published in the journal The International Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry found that unlike fluoride and herbal mouth rinses, oil pulling with coconut oil does not reduce bacteria in the mouth.
6Cooking On High Heat
Coconut oil is a great substitute for other oils when cooking, but be careful about when you choose to use it. Unrefined coconut oil has a smoke point of about 350 degrees Fahrenheit, so it's okay to use on low heat or for low-temperature baking, but you're best to avoid it when searing, deep frying, or roasting.
7If You Have Coarse Hair
For some, coconut oil works wonders, leaving their hair soft and rejuvenated. But unfortunately, that's not the case for all types of hair. "Some girls love coconut oil as a hair mask, but a lot of girls with coarse, more horse-like, or Asian hair report it drying their hair, as coconut oil has an astringent quality," says cosmetic chemist Shea Stamper over email. If you have dry, coarse hair, you might want to try Argan oil instead, according to Cosmopolitan.
8If You Have Sensitive Skin
Many people swear by coconut oil as a facial oil, moisturizer, or even face wash. Although it may not bother everyone's skin, people with sensitive skin should be wary. Coconut oil is moderately comedogenic, which means it's likely to clog your pores, which could lead to breakouts. Everyone's skin reacts differently, so use a little at a time to make sure you're not causing any unwanted acne.