Emollient effects of coconut oil have already been experienced in clinical settings and hence a safe topical product to use for people with eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and dermatitis. This summary will address specific pathways beneficial to the skin which have been regulated using virgin coconut oil.
Coconut oil is filled with fatty acids that are excellent in maintaining the health of the skin. Studies with the aim of elucidating the effects of virgin coconut oil, among other characteristics showed a decrease in inflammatory cytokine measurements and increase in the expression of filaggrin and aquaporin protein (Varma, et al. 2018).
Filaggrin deficiencies have been observed in people with eczema. Filaggrin has been shown to be a key protein in healthy skin and the lack of it results in an impaired barrier function of the skin. This defect allows microbial infection and allergen penetration (Su and Scott-Lang 2017). Therefore, the upregulation of the protein could allow some protection against a filaggrin impaired barrier function.
Aquaporins are channels which transport glycerol, water and other molecules to the upper layers of the skin. Clinical trials have shown that these channels improve barrier function by maintaining the appropriate osmotic gradient across the various layers of skin (Varma, et al. 2018).
Shea butter is also filled with various fatty acids attached to glycerol. It has been used in skin care over the years, but the research that is pertinent this blog are the results of various clinical studies which have been shown to maintain moisturisation of the skin for approximately 8 hours by preventing water loss (trans-epithelial water loss) and another one which showed the recovery from water loss due to ethanol use (usually in sanitisers) within two hours (Israel 2014).
Sunflower Oil is high in linoleic acid and low in oleic acid. Linoleic acid is used by the keratinocytes to form a well-functioning epidermal layer. Whereas oleic acid (found in high amounts in olive and apricot seed oils) have been shown to disrupt the epidermal layer which increases water loss through the skin (Kuller 2016). Linoleic acid is and essential fatty acid that our body cannot build and therefore has to get it from a premade source.
Kawakawa extract -Kawakawa has been used for centuries in Maori medicine for its plethora of pharmaceutical properties. Myristicin is the primary active ingredient which is responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of the Kawakawa tree. This anti-inflammatory ingredient aids in diminishing the inflammatory response intrinsic to the eczema cycle.
Glycerol is humectant which means that it draws water from the deeper layers of skin to the keep the exposed outer skin moisturised. This allows the top layer to function as it should. Glycerol is a naturally occurring compound found in plants.
Vitamin E is used to stop the oxidation of the oils we use. We do not need preservatives in our balms as there is no water content in it to facilitate the growth of micro-organisms.
Israel, Malachi Oluwaseyi. 2014. "Effects of topical and dietary use of shea butter on animals." American Journal of Life Sciences.
Kuller, Joanne McManus. 2016. "Infant Skin Care Products, What are the Issues." Advances in Neonatal Care S3-S12.
Su, John, and Victoria Scott-Lang. 2017. Moisturisation in the Management of Paediatric Atopic Dermatitis. Review, Research Review.
Varma, Sandeep R, Thiyagarajan O Sivaprakasm, Ilavarasu Arumugam, N Dilip, M Raghuraman, K Pavan, Mohammed Rafiq, and Rangesh Paramesh. 2018. "In vitro anti-inflammatory and skin protective properties of Virgin coconut oil." Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine (Elsevier).