Coconut Oil vs. Almond vs. Jojoba | Best For Very Dry Itchy Skin (Eczema)?

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Coconut Oil (Photo Credit: Marco Verch)

If you suffer from eczema or just generally have dry skin, you have probably tried a whole assortment of creams, lotions, and oils.

The skincare industry is a multi-billion global behemoth and it seems like every day there is some new product being endorsed by a celebrity or getting glowing write-ups in beauty magazines.

Currently, the big trend is oils. Coconut oil has been popular for decades, but almond and jojoba oils are gaining in popularity (and market share).

You’ve probably found yourself looking at an aisle of oils and wondering which is the right one for you.

Well, today you’re in luck: we’re going to examine these three oils and help you figure out what’s best for you.

The basics of coconut oil

Anjou Organic Coconut Oil from Sri Lanka, USDA-Certified Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, BPA-Free Bottle, for Clean Cooking & Baking, Nourishes Skin & Hair, Oil Pulling, Oil Makeup Remover, 1480ml / 50oz
Organic Coconut Oil (Image Souce: Amazon)

Of the three oils we’re looking at today, coconut oil is probably the most well-known and familiar.

That popularity is a two-edged sword, though, because for every article citing the health benefits of coconut oil, there’s another one telling you to run from it. Coconut oil has a lot of uses, but right now we’re only concerned with its use for dry skin.

In multiple studies, coconut oil has been found to benefit people with dry skin and eczema by boosting the skin’s natural moisture.

Though coconut oil is rich in fatty acids and, thus, used in cooking and as a diet food, if you want its skin rejuvenating effects, it needs to be applied topically.

The basics of almond oil

Sweet Almond Oil - For Skin, Hair and Face - 16oz Bottle with PUMP + FREE Recipe eBook! - All Natural Sensual Massage Oil - Use with Essential Oils and Aromatherapy as a Carrier and Base oil
Sweet Almond Oil (Image Source: Amazon)

Almonds are delicious and, like coconuts, have been the focus of numerous studies that have sought to determine their benefits and disadvantages, if any. You’ll usually find almonds grouped with nuts, but they aren’t nuts, they’re the seeds of a fruit also called almond. They are rich in vitamin E and unsaturated fats, so they have long been considered a health food.

Almonds and almond oil have been food staples forever, but the benefits for the skin have only been the focus of research more recently.

At least one recent study has found that, again, like coconut oil, almond oil can help hydrate the skin. Furthermore, it’s believed to help with the reduction of stretchmarks and scarring after surgery.

The basics of jojoba oil

Jojoba Oil (2 oz), USDA Certified Organic, 100% Pure, Cold Pressed, Unrefined. Revitalizes Hair and Gives Skin a Radiant, Youthful Look. Great treatment for Face, Lips, Cuticles, Stretch Marks, Beard
Jojoba Oil (Image Source: Amazon)

It’s possible you’re unfamiliar with jojoba oil. It doesn’t have the benefit of being the byproduct of a popular food like coconut and almond oil.

The jojoba is a plant that grows in desert regions, particular in Mexico and the southwestern United States.

Extracted from the plant’s seeds, “jojoba oil” is actually a misnomer: it isn’t an oil but liquid wax.

Jojoba oil is used in numerous beauty products like shampoos and makeups, but it can also be used on its own as a balm for acne and sunburn.

It’s also used to treat psoriasis and is believed to potentially help regrow hair and fight dandruff. Unlike coconut and almond oils, which boost natural hydration, jojoba oil is believed to work by increasing or decreasing the body’s natural oils.

Scientifically comparing coconut, almond, and jojoba oils:

Websites that tout the health and beauty benefits of these respective products tend to rely heavily on hearsay instead of science. It can be difficult to offer insightful comparisons of all three oils because, although they are all purported to offer similar benefits, no direct scientific research has been done comparing them head-to-head.

Furthermore, studies done on these types of oils tend to be smaller and of limited scope. Essentially, any article that discusses the actual medical benefits of oils inevitably has to end with the caveat that more research is needed.

Still, with the research that does exist, we can attempt to make some useful comparisons. Luckily, there is one literature review that has helpfully put the scientific studies of various oils next to each other in one easy to read table. The table has multiple categories, including four related directly to our topic: “Skin Barrier Repair”, “Wound Healing”, “Skin Aging”, and “Skin Cancer.”

In all the categories but “Skin Cancer”, coconut oil was found to have an effect (a “?” placed under the “Skin Cancer” category indicates no concrete evidence one way or the other is available). In the same table, jojoba oil received all the same positive results as coconut oil, meaning they are both effective for treating all the same conditions (with skin cancer still being a question).

Interestingly, almond oil is mostly question marks. The table states an unequivocal effect in the category of “Skin Aging” but can only say “Possible effect” for “Skin Barrier Repair” and gives no definitive answer for all the rest of the categories. It’s important to point out that this doesn’t mean almond oil doesn’t have those benefits, they just haven’t been shown scientifically.

Using oils for skin conditions

We may never have a complete understanding of all the benefits (or ills) of any of these three oils, but the evidence we have so far makes a strong case for giving them a shot, especially if you are suffering from dry skin or eczema. At the very least, you won’t be making the problem any worse.

Coconut Oil:

The science indicates that coconut oil is beneficial in moisturizers. Furthermore, it has been shown to have wound healing properties. Coconut is quite abundant in the skincare industry, so finding related products should be easy. Coconut oil works like any other skin moisturizer and can be rubbed on your body whenever you would normally moisturize; for instance, after a shower or before going to bed.

I use quite a bit of coconut oil in the house since I use it a lot for cooking and baking also so I stock up on the Kirkland brand oil when I make it to Costo they also sell it now on Amazon (click link to check price) but I’ll warn you- the jar is HUGE and a little unwieldy (although for a long time it was the best price/ounce that I could find).

If you really want to stock upo that’s a good option but you could go with something more manageable like this one from Vita Coco (I like their coconut water). They also sell single use wet wipes which is a convenient way to use coconut oil on your skin.

If you don’t like the texture of spreading solid coconut oil (texture of solid butter) you might want to try a fractionated coconut oil  (has been processed to stay liquid at room temperature) like this one by Lantique. It’s the consistency of other bath or massage oils and can be pumped out of the bottle – but you’ll pay a lot more per ounce. 

Almond Oil:

Scientifically speaking, almond oil has probably the thinnest case for claiming skincare benefits, but that isn’t to say that you shouldn’t consider it. For one, it has been found to reduce pregnancy stretchmarks, and for another, it appears to be able to repair UV damage. Almond oil can be applied directly to problem areas, though it’s also an effective makeup remover. For an extra sensual touch, it also makes for an excellent massage oil. This is really all I use it for, I like this unscented almond oil by Viva Naturals. 

Jojoba oil:

Jojoba Oil by Leven Rose, Pure Cold Pressed Natural Unrefined Moisturizer for Skin Hair and Nails 4 oz
Jojoba Oil usually comes in small bottles (4 oz) and an eye dropper. The cost is much higher than coconut or almond oil (click photo to check price on Amazon)

Finally, there is jojoba oil, which is so common in cosmetic products that there is a good chance you’ve been using it all along. As a direct, topical oil, there is strong evidence that jojoba can help with dandruff, eczema, and acne.

It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Due to its unique characteristics, it’s not recommended that jojoba oil be applied like a moisturizer. Instead, only a few drops should be administered directly to the skin or scalp. Rub the drops in and you should start to notice the benefits.

Although I do have some bath and body products that do contain jojoba oil, while I do buy coconut and almond oil, I generally do not buy pure jojoba oil to use on its own- mostly because of the price and because I get good results with the other kinds of oil. 

Hopefully, this information can help you out the next time you’re in the cosmetic aisle. For now, figuring out which oil is right for you may just have to be a case of trial and error. As the saying goes, more research is needed.