Tag

coconut oil

Featured, Skin

Why Virgin Coconut Oil Is So Great for EczemaFeatured

Marcie Mom from EczemaBlues.com interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to find out more about product claims and why they’re important when choosing your skin care…particularly if you and/or your child have eczema.
I read with interest that your products contain certified organic virgin coconut oil and monolaurin (derived from coconut oil) as, among other things, a substitute for parabens. Do all products containing coconut oil have the same antibacterial, antiviral and disinfectant properties that your products have? Could the “wrong” coconut oil be bad for your skin?
A:  Let me tackle all that one by one…

Yes, most of our products contain certified organic virgin coconut oil (VCO) and coconut-derived monolaurin…

Yes, in part as a substitute for preservatives, not just parabens. I should also point out that our proprietary preservative system that replaces preservatives is not just monolaurin. It’s a delicately balanced mix of a few ingredients. It’s a lot of work, I won’t lie — saving the world’s skin isn’t easy but it’s what we do, and we love the challenge 🙂
And you’re right, some of the other reasons they’re there is because they provide clinically-proven antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal benefits without the common side effects like increased tolerance to treatment or dryness. Yet other reasons they’re there include as anti-inflammatories because eczema is an inflammatory condition, and to protect the skin’s important barrier layer (which tends to be damaged in conditions like eczema). They also feel phenomenal on the skin and are wonderful moisturizers.

Does Any Product With Coconut Oil Provide Antimicrobial Protection?

Coconut oil in any product should provide some antimicrobial benefits, but how much depends on the type of coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil is definitely better but not the end game. Many “VCOs” are extracted or processed with heat (one used to be able to tell this quickly by smelling the oil…but now masking fragrances are added to mimic the purer oil which has less of an odor), which can lessen these benefits. Which brings us to the answer to your last question…

The Type of VCO Matters

Not all VCOs are created equal. VCOs are sometimes extracted with heat or allergenic chemicals, or stored in containers also used to store or move other products with allergens. This explains why the only reactions to coconut oil reported medical literature are to RBD (Refined, Bleached, Deodorized) coconut oil. Certified organic VCO is a better bet, for sure, as it is not an allergen and will have been checked to confirm organicity and lack of additives. But we of course can only vouch for the one we produce because we control it from seed to bottle, and it is the oil with which all our published clinical studies are done.
In summary, we use virgin coconut oil so much for skin with eczema because the skin’s barrier layer becomes compromised in eczematous skin. VCO provides barrier repair like virgin coconut oil. Daily use of VCO can help prevent flare-ups. VCO can also help skin quickly after a flare. Early on, apply virgin coconut oil (VCO) to soften the crust as it forms (the crust makes the skin dry, hard and itchy). Keep applying the oil for occlusion, giving skin a secondary barrier against water loss. We have an allergen-free collection of multitasking Mom & Baby care that can help. This post on a regimen for kids with eczema is a great read, as is Top Recommendations For Patients With Eczema. And don’t forget to follow your doctor’s advice!


This article was originally published in eczemablues.com as one of a multi-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skinInspired by her daughter Marcie who had eczema from two weeks old, Mei (aka MarcieMom) started EczemaBlues.com with the mission to turn eczema blues to bliss. In this series of interviews, MarcieMom interviews Laura, CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics, to learn more about product claims when choosing products to care for skin with eczema.

Featured, Healthy Living, Skin

Study Review: Coconut Oil, Monolaurin & Other Derivatives As AntiviralsFeatured

Study Review: Coconut Oil, Monolaurin & Other Derivatives As Antivirals

The quick summary:

There are multiple published clinical studies on the antimicrobial properties of virgin coconut oil (VCO) and its derivatives, and they’ve been around longer than you may think.
We asked a leading dermatologist and dermatopathologist, Dr. Vermén Verallo-Rowell, who is a specialist in contact dermatitis, psoriasis, and its secondary infections — and whose regularly-cited studies on virgin coconut oil and monolaurin have helped us understand their clinical, nutritional, and cosmetic applications — for a review of these studies to help us better understand how virgin coconut oil and its derivatives really hold up against some of the most common microbes.
Her review spanned laboratory and clinical disinfection studies on VCO and derivatives compared with alcohol since the 1970s.

It seems that VCO and its derivatives are as effective as alcohol in typical hand sanitizers but with some important differences.

Her detailed review follows below but this simple summary shares the highlights of how coconut derivatives compare against alcohol, the all-time classic against viruses.

1. Alcohol, at very high concentrations, kills viruses

Alcohol is virucidal, significantly so at 85%, less so at 70-80%. Check your hand sanitizer to make sure it that it contains alcohol at these concentrations.

2. VCO and its derivatives are as effective as 85% alcohol, but at much lower concentrations due to how they work

Alcohol works by denaturing the virus’s protein materials. VCO and its derivatives are as effective but they act in a different way: they act on lipids so they directly disintegrate the viral envelope, which destroys the rest of the virus.
Lauric acid monoglyceride as 2% monolaurin has been shown to kill not just viruses but also fungi as well as gram (+) and (-) bacteria, and some of their resistant strains.

3. Pros and cons of alcohol versus VCO and its derivatives

VCO, its derivatives, and alcohol all have immediate effects but alcohol evaporates quickly (is transient). VCO and its derivatives are lipids (fats). They stay longer on surface skin and mucosa, so their antimicrobial effects last longer.
VCO can also be used to gargle with, and our clinic and research center regularly prescribes monolaurin pellets to be taken orally as daily supplements.
A virtually-pure monolaurin (96%) in hand sanitizers and other leave-on products is an excellent alternative. Its studies are so consistent that VMV Hypoallergenics uses monolaurin in the majority of our products as part of our proprietary self-preserving system and to protect skins with compromised barrier functions (such as in psoriasis and eczema) from microbial colonization.
These products are more expensive than alcohol-based ones but their antiviral action on the breakdown of enveloped viruses and other microbes, combined with their moisturizing and longer-lasting effects, are desirable, especially with frequent use. These can be applied to hands and nostrils, including the inside mucosa that can be easily reached.

4. What about price?

If 80-85% alcohol is available, that’s great and usually very affordable. If not, and if clean water is available, a hand or body wash with sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laurel sulfate (SLES), is better to use than diluted alcohol. SLS and SLES are relatively cheap coconut oil derivatives made with lauric acid. They are often found as a saponifier in bar soaps (read ingredient labels for its presence) and in some hair and body washes. Just make sure to choose products with lower concentrations of SLS or SLES and with no allergens or irritants in the formulation. While not an allergen, SLS and SLES, just like alcohol, can be irritating (more so SLS than SLES) as their concentration increases.
As an alternative, VCO can be used. When we do medical outreaches, the doctors we work with teach patients to make their own coconut oil, if coconuts are more readily available than other options. We then instruct them to massage the VCO well — rubbing it into the skin — to help the lipases in non-/pathogenic microbes in the skin break down the VCO into its monoglycerides and fatty acids, especially into lauric acid and monolaurin. The slippery feel of the oil disappears quickly because 65% of its fatty acids are short to medium chain.

What about on 2019-nCoV (coronavirus)?

In January, 2020, The Potential of Coconut Oil and its Derivatives as Effective and Safe Antiviral Agents Against the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV-2019), a study by Professor Emeritus Dr. Fabian Antonio Dayrit and Dr. Mary Newport, explored “the potential use of coconut oil as a safe antiviral agent against the novel coronavirus.” It posed the question…

“Several researchers have been designing drugs to specifically target protease enzymes in coronavirus, but testing for these drugs is many months away. What if there is a treatment candidate against the coronavirus that might already be available and whose safety is already established?”

They continue: “Lauric acid (C12) and monolaurin, its derivative, have been known for many years to have significant antiviral activity. Lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid which makes up about 50% of coconut oil; monolaurin is a metabolite that is naturally produced by the body’s own enzymes upon ingestion of coconut oil and is also available in pure form as a supplement. Sodium lauryl sulfate, a common surfactant that is made from lauric acid, has been shown to have potent antiviral properties. Lauric acid, monolaurin, and sodium lauryl sulfate (which is also known as sodium dodecyl sulfate) are used in a wide range of products for their antiviral properties.”

How is monolaurin a compelling candidate for novel coronavirus?

Doctors Dayrit and Newport explain lauric acid and monolaurin’s antiviral mechanisms: “first, they cause disintegration of the virus envelope; second, they can inhibit late maturation stage in the virus replicative cycle; and third, they can prevent the binding of viral proteins to the host cell membrane.”

Monolaurin works by disintegrating the virus membrane.

Both the 2020 study and Dr. Verallo-Rowell’s review point to the antiviral studies of lauric acid and monolaurin from as early as 1979. A 1982 study by Hierholzer & Kabara “showed that monolaurin was able to reduce infectivity of 14 human RNA and DNA enveloped viruses in cell culture by >99.9%” with monolaurin working specifically by disintegrating the virus envelope (later validated by further studies; see review).

Because monolaurin works by preventing maturation, it prevents replication.

A 2001 study on fatty acids against the Junin virus (JUNV; the cause of Argentine hemorrhagic fever) showed that lauric acid was the most effective at inhibiting “a late maturation stage in the replicative cycle of JUNV.”
As a result, this may slow down the increase in viral load in the body.

Monolaurin prevents the virus from binding to our cells.

Instead of influencing protein synthesis in the viral membrane, lauric acid prevents binding to the host cell.
Doctors Dayrit and Newport cite a 1994 study showing that lauric acid prevented infectious vesicular stomatitis by preventing the viral proteins from binding to the healthy host’s cells’ membranes. Furthermore, removing the lauric acid removed the antiviral effect.

It is important to emphasize that, to our knowledge as of this writing, monolaurin has not been tested on nCoV-2019 specifically (neither has alcohol). This information is compelling but needs validation on this particular virus. The available evidence seems to suggest similar efficacy to alcohol in destroying enveloped viruses and some coronaviruses. Follow your doctor’s instructions, and rely on trusted sources such as the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and your country’s department of health. For the study review of VCO, monolaurin and other coconut oil derivatives as antivirals, antibacterials and antifungals, continue reading. 

Study Review: Broad Spectrum Anti-Virals, -Bacterials, -Fungals From Coconut Oil And Its Derivatives by Vermén M. Verallo-Rowell, MD, FPDS, FAAD, FASDP, FADA

Since 2007, Dr. Verallo-Rowell has treated, disinfected, and prevented recurrences on H. simplex Virus 1 and 2, Verrucae, Molluscum contagiosum, and various other skin infections using 96% monolaurin in oral pellets, 2-4% monolaurin in topical preparations, and 1% monocaprin topical preparations, with high efficacy and very rare adverse reactions.
She often combines the use of these monolaurin products with the daily application of cold-pressed, organic virgin coconut oil (VCO) which, in addition to its broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties, has humectant, occlusive, lipid cell membrane and skin barrier repair capabilities, from its unique fatty acids and glycerin.
She also regularly uses 2-4% monolaurin in hand gels and in petrolatum for antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal antisepsis.
The summary of her study review states: “Virgin coconut oil and its derivatives are shown in laboratory and translational clinical studies to have a broad-spectrum, antimicrobial effectivity on viruses, bacteria and fungi. Most of the studies are published in international, a few in regional journals. Still fewer are pilot trials that similarly show these antimicrobial effects against various organism types.”

Introduction to virgin coconut oil and its derivatives

“Like all vegetable oils, coconut oil (CO) is made up of triglycerides which have three fatty acids (FAs) linked to the three carbons in its core glycerin molecule.
Lipase enzymes of non-pathogenic microbes present normally in the skin, and pathogens that may invade it, break down the links, first to a di- then a mono-glyceride, and lastly, into its glycerin and three-fatty acid components.
VCO has about 50% Lauric acid, and 7% Capric acid. The monoglycerides of these two fatty acids have broad-spectrum antimicrobial effects as seen in a few pilot studies; and in laboratory studies and clinical trials published in international and regional journals since the 1970s.
In our studies, we use virgin coconut oil (VCO) that is cold pressed with no heat, certified organic, and freshly harvested to ensure purity, maximum content of important fatty acids, its monoglycerides, fatty acids, and its anti-oxidants .”

Monolaurin, Monocaprin and VCO Anti-Viral Laboratory and Clinical Studies

The antiviral activities of Lauric acid and monolaurin were first noted by Sands and co-worker in 1979. In 1982, monolaurin was shown to be highly antiviral, at times, at 10 times less concentration, than its Lauric Fatty acid. Five years later in 1987, monolaurin is confirmed as highly anti-viral at concentrations 10 times less than Lauric acid. This study also showed that both monolaurin and Lauric acid inactivate viruses by cell membrane disintegration. A 1994 study showed that Lauric acid had a dose-dependent, reversible inhibition of infectious vesicular stomatitis virus production. When Lauric acid was absent, this antiviral effect disappeared. Lauric acid did not influence viral membrane (M) protein synthesis, but prevented binding to the host cell membrane. In 1999, monocaprin was shown to be a feasible mucosal microbicide to prevent sexually transmitted infections such as Neisseria gonorrhea, Chlamydia and HIV.
In the 2000s, studies were published on coconut oil for HIV-AIDS (repeated in 2016 with forty HIV subjects with CD4+ T lymphocyte counts divided into a VCO group and control group (no VCO). The VCO group showed significantly higher average age CD4+ T lymphocyte counts versus control after 6 weeks. Monolaurin for Molluscum contagiosum (a skin virus), and monolaurin in a gel is highly active on repeated high viral loads of Simean immunodeficiency virus in macaques. A study in 2001 on saturated C10 to C18 fatty acids against JUNV (an enveloped virus and the causative agent of Argentine hemorrhagic fever) infection showed Lauric acid as the most active inhibitor. Mechanistic studies from transmission electron microscopic images from 2012 concluded that Lauric acid inhibited a late maturation stage in the replicative cycle of JUNV.
In 2007, monoglycerides were tested on respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human parainfluenza virus type 2 (HPIV2) at different concentrations, times, and pH levels, with monocaprin (even as low as 0.06-0.12%) showing the most activity against influenza A virus.
From 2015 onwards, studies show monolaurin’s efficacy in a wider range of viruses, from avian influenza virus in chickens, to the female genital tract in Rhesus macaques. Further studies show coconut oil and its derivatives as safe and effective antiviral compounds in both humans and animals against envelope viruses, causing complete envelopes, plasma membranes, and viral particles to disintegrate, lyse, and cause the death of cultured cells. Because of the antiviral and antibacterial protection that it provides to animals, coconut oil, as well as lauric acid and monolaurin, are used in farm animals and pets as veterinary feed supplements in chicken, swine and dogs.

Studies Reviewed:
  1. Sands JA, Auperin LD, Reinhardt A. Enveloped virus inactivation by fatty acid derivatives. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1979;15(1):134–136. doi:10.1128/aac.15.1.134.
  2. Hierholzer JC, Kabara JJ. In vitro effects of monolaurin compounds on enveloped RNA and DNA viruses. J Food Safety 1982;4:1–12.
  3. Thormar H et al. Inactivation of enveloped viruses and killing of cells by fatty acids and monoglycerides. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1987 Jan;31(1):27-31.
  4. Thormar H, Isaacs CE, Brown HR, Barshatzky MR, Pessolano T. Inactivation of Enveloped Viruses and Killing of Cells by Fatty Acids and Monoglycerides. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 1987; 31(1): 27-31.
  5. Hornung B, Amtmann E, Sauer G. Lauric acid inhibits the maturation of vesicular stomatitis virus. Journal of General Virology, 1994; 75: 353-361.
  6. Thormar H, Bergsson G, Gunnarsson E, et al. Hydrogels containing monocaprin have potent microbicidal activities against sexually transmitted viruses and bacteria in vitro. Sex Transm Infect. 1999;75(3):181–185. doi:10.1136/sti.75.3.181
  7. Kristmundsdóttir T, Arnadóttir SG, Bergsson G, Thormar H. Development and evaluation of microbicidal hydrogels containing monoglyceride as the active ingredient. Journal of Pharmaceutical Science, 1999; 88(10): 1011-1015.
  8. Dayrit CS. Coconut Oil in Health and Disease: Its and Monolaurin’s Potential as Cure for FOR HIV/AIDS. XXXVII Cocotech Meeting. Chennai, India. July 25, 2000.
  9. Bartolotta S, Garcí CC, Candurra NA, Damonte EB. Effect of fatty acids on arenavirus replication: inhibition of virus production by lauric acid. Archives of Virology, 2001; 146(4): 777-790.
  10. Chua EO, Verallo-Rowell VM. Coconut oil extract 2% Monolaurin cream in the treatment of Molluscum contagiosum. A randomized double-blind vehicle-controlled trial. Scientific Poster presentation Semi-Finalist. In Abstracts, World Congress of Dermatology October 1-5 2007, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  11. Hilmarsson H, Traustason BS, Kristmundsdóttir T, Thormar H. Virucidal activities of medium- and long-chain fatty alcohols and lipids against respiratory syncytial virus and parainfluenza virus type 2: comparison at different pH levels. Archives of Virology 2007: 152(12):2225-36.
  12. Li Q, Estes JD, Schlievert PM, et al. Glycerol monolaurate prevents mucosal SIV transmission. Nature. 2009;458(7241):1034–1038. doi:10.1038/nature07831.
  13. Grant A, Seregin A, Huang C, Kolokoltsova O, Brasier A, Peters C, Paessler S. Junín Virus Pathogenesis and Virus Replication. Viruses, 2012; 4: 2317-2339.
  14. van der Sluis W. Potential antiviral properties of alpha-monolaurin. Poultry World. Downloaded from https://www.poultryworld.net/Nutrition/Articles/2015/12/Potential-antiviral-properties-of-alpha-monolaurin-2709142W/.
  15. Widhiarta KD. Virgin Coconut Oil for HIV – Positive People. Cord, 2016; 32 (1): 50-57.
  16. Kirtane AR, Rothenberger MK, Frieberg A, et al. Evaluation of vaginal drug levels and safety of a locally administered glycerol monolaurate cream in Rhesus macaques. Journal of Pharmaceutical Science 2017; 106(7):1821-1827.
  17. Baltić B, Starčević M, Đorđević J, Mrdović B, Marković R. Importance of medium chain fatty acids in animal nutrition. IOP Conf. Series: Earth and Environmental Science 2017; 85: 012048.
  18. Verallo-Rowell V.M., Katalbas S.S., Evangelista M.T., Dayrit J.F. Curr. Dermatol. Rep., 2018, 7: 24.
  19. Yan B, Chu H, Yang D, et al. Characterization of the Lipidomic Profile of Human Coronavirus-Infected Cells: Implications for Lipid Metabolism Remodeling upon Coronavirus Replication. Viruses. 2019;11(1):73. Published 2019 Jan 16. doi:10.3390/v11010073
  20. De Sousa ALM, Pinheiro RR, Araújo JF, et al. Sodium dodecyl sulfate as a viral inactivator and future perspectives in the control of small ruminant lentiviruses. Arquivos do Instituto Biológico, 2019; 86. Epub Nov 28, 2019.
Featured, Healthy Living, Skin

Another Disinfection Technique: Wash Your Hands, Use Monolaurin…and Virgin Coconut Oil Your Nose!Featured

Another Disinfection Technique

With new bugs and superbugs, we’re looking for more ways to prevent infection. Improving our nutrition and overall well being is important (which includes lessening stress and getting enough sleep). Another is increasing our probiotic intake. Some classic best practices include frequent and proper hand washing, upping your use of hand sanitizer, and wiping down surfaces with alcohol or bleach. But while alcohol isn’t an allergen, it is drying and all that sanitation can cause skin problems, particularly on your hands. Virgin coconut oil (VCO) and its derivatives like monolaurin could be just what you need to stay safer while keeping your skin comfortable and healthy.

Why VCO and Monolaurin?

Lauric acid monoglyceride as 2% monolaurin and virgin coconut oil (VCO) have studies going as far back as the 1970s showing their efficacy against viruses (including enveloped viruses) and comparably so with 85% alcohol.

VCO and its derivatives, even at lower concentrations, directly disintegrate the viral envelope which destroys the rest of the virus (alcohol denatures the virus’s protein materials). While both act immediately, alcohol evaporates quickly (is transient) while VCO and its derivatives, being fats, stay longer on surface skin and mucosa, so that their antimicrobial effects last longer. And, unlike alcohol, VCO and monolaurin do all this while moisturizing the skin instead of drying it out.

Furthermore, VCO and its derivatives kill not just viruses but fungi as well as gram (+) and (-) bacteria — and some of their resistant strains — so you get broad-spectrum protection that feels yummy on the skin.

That yummy feeling isn’t just for pleasure, either. VCO and monolaurin have important anti-inflammatory effects.

Try This Technique

As with all things related to health and infection, consult your doctor and refer to trusted sources like the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

1) Wash Your Hands

Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Ideally, use a wash that contains sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laurel sulfate (SLES) which are made with lauric acid from coconut oil. Just make sure to choose a product like Superwash that has lower concentrations of SLES (less irritating than SLS) and that has no allergens or irritants in the formulation. While not an allergen, SLES and SLS, just like alcohol, can be irritating (SLS is more so) as their concentration increases. If you do not have an SLES or SLS-cleanser handy, soap is fine. Wash your hands well, covering all surfaces and scrubbing under your nails. If you’ve been commuting or out in a crowd, wash until your elbows.

2) Wash Your Face

This isn’t always necessary but if you’re concerned about contagion, are immune-compromised, or are feeling vulnerable, get a gentle SLS facial cleanser like any SuperSkin Care Cleanser and wash your face, too. Besides your face being almost as exposed as your hands, we tend to touch our faces a lot more than we think.

End of the day?

If you’re home and staying put, go ahead and take a full shower. Use Superwash and your SLS-cleanser.

3) Snort Your Coconut Oil

Ok, while you could, in fact, snort it, it’s more comfortable (and less messy) to rub it in there instead. Pour some VCO onto a cotton swab or tissue. If your tissue or swab is new and real clean, you can also dip one end of it into the oil. Swipe the oil all around the insides of your nostrils. Massage well: this helps the lipases in the skin break down the VCO into its monoglycerides and fatty acids, including the awesome antimicrobials lauric acid and monolaurin. Throw the swab or tissue away properly.

Pro Tip 1: Want extra protection?

Try Oil’s Well which has only those two magical ingredients: virgin coconut oil and monolaurin.

Pro Tip 2: Dry, painful nostrils?

If you’ve been blowing your nose a lot, or they’re raw from allergies or cold weather, use Boo-Boo Balm in your nostrils instead. It contains virgin coconut oil and monolaurin but in a balm for quicker healing.

4) Hand Sanitize with Monolaurin

Rub monolaurin hand sanitizer all over your hands, including under your nails. Don’t wipe it off: let it air dry (it takes just a few seconds).

Pro Tip 1: We love multitaskers

Both Id Monolaurin Gel and Kid Gloves Make-It-Cleaner Hand Gel are multipurpose, with lots of great skin benefits from sweat acne to mattifying skin, and keeping you feeling cool and fresh (you can even apply them on your underarms to control odor or if the stress of the day has made things extra sweaty).

Pro Tip 2: You’re spoiled with a choice

You’ve run out? Not a problem! Use virgin coconut oil alone or a product that contains VCO and/or the right percentage of pure monolaurin — like any of our moisturizers and hand lotions. They’re great stand-ins!

It is important to emphasize that, to our knowledge as of this writing, monolaurin has not been tested on nCoV-2019 specifically (neither has alcohol). This information is compelling but needs validation on this particular virus. The available evidence seems to suggest similar efficacy to alcohol in destroying enveloped viruses and some coronaviruses. Follow your doctor’s instructions, and rely on trusted sources such as the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and your country’s department of health. For a study review of VCO, monolaurin and other coconut oil derivatives as antivirals, antibacterials and antifungals, click here.


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Featured, Skin

Fall "Skin" Love In 4 StepsFeatured

As the leaves turn and fall, do your own shedding and renewal:

Our post-summer skinfest begins with a royal residue-ridding to wash away summer’s big sweat soirée and flush out the greasy flotsam that strikes fear in every pore. In other words: here’s how to transition your skincare from summer to fall.
Treat yourself to some serious skin love and it won’t be just the autumn leaves looking so fine this fall!

Skin

The Best Virgin Coconut Oil Should Smell Like…Nothing?Featured

For many people, part of the allure of coconut oil is its characteristic odor, reminiscent of a tropical paradise and festive, delicious food. But as a general rule, the stronger the scent of a coconut oil, the less pure it is. This is not necessarily a bad thing: coconut oil is so good for you that even impure oils are better than most! But for skin and hair care — particularly for very sensitive or atopic skins, or medically-managed skin conditions — organic, first-cold-pressed virgin coconut oil is the most hypoallergenic.

The Nose Knows.

When virgin coconut oil is harvested quickly, using no heat or chemicals, there is hardly any odor. This method, however, is more expensive as it is slower and less efficient. Heating, the addition of chemicals, and/or other methods of processing, are faster and get more of the oil…but do result in a less-pure oil with a strong scent.
Getting into the chemistry a bit (a very tiny bit, we promise): the natural scent of VCO is due to the presence of lactones. Not all lactones are allergens, and the lactones in VCO are not among those in the sesquiterpene lactone mix (a common allergen and a standard in patch test trays). Still, heating results in an increase in lactones, which is why unheated VCO is safer.

Still…Not All Odorless Coconut Oils Are For Skin

Another type of coconut oil that has little to no scent is RBD (Refined, Bleached, Deodorized) — which, while scentless, is not recommended for skin.
In RBD coconut oil, deodorization is done by vaporization: high heat and pressure to steam off the smell. This completely masks the inherent odor of the raw material, as well as the smell from the outdoor sun or smoke-drying of the older meat. This is because RBD is made from copra or coconut meat that is dried via sun exposure (such as on the sides of roads and highways). The resulting scent is quite strong and can affect cooking, which is a primary purpose of RBD coconut oils. Hence the need to Refine, Bleach and Deodorize copra oil by both pressure and with chemicals: RBD makes the taste of coconut cooking oils more bland/generic, which allows it to be used for a wider range of dishes.
While less ideal than virgin coconut oil, RBD oil is still healthier than corn and other vegetable oils for cooking. Still, while without scent, this treated RBD oil is an irritant and should not be used on the skin.

So, As Long As the Label Says “Virgin Coconut Oil” and The Oil Doesn’t Have a Strong Smell, It’s The Right Oil for Skin, Yes?

Maybe…maybe not. Like so many substances (including honey and wine), when the market learns that a particular quality or certain characteristics fetch a higher price, some manufacturers take advantage and try to fake the desired quality or characteristics using other methods.
Some manufacturers pack and label RBD oils as “virgin coconut oil” for application on skin and/or as an ingredient for topical products. Being scentless and labeled “virgin” is not, therefore, a guarantee that you are actually getting virgin coconut oil.
On the other hand, some VCOs are heat-treated. Heat-treated VCO is, strictly speaking, still “virgin” but it does have a stronger smell. Therefore, a mild scent is not a guarantee either.
Furthermore, adulteration does occur, such as when other oils are mixed into coconut oil or virgin coconut oil to try to recreate the scentless cold-manual product without the costlier cold-manual processing. Because it is now more known that the mildest smell is one sign of no heat and less processing, and because of the higher price that this increasingly popular oil in its purest/least processed form fetches, there now are manufacturers who adulterate VCO with cheaper oils that are refined and have no smell (such as corn or soybean) to lessen the heated coconut oil’s inherent scent.
A better guarantee of purity is if the product is certified organic. The USDA and other country’s organic certifiers have clear regulations regarding organicity and manufacturers/farms are regularly, physically audited by the certifier.

How Hypoallergenic Is Coconut Oil?

A review of medical literature has yet to show reactions reported to organic, unheated, cold-and-first pressed virgin coconut oil.
There are some reports of reactions to RBD coconut oils and some coconut oils processed with allergens (such as with added flavoring or fragrance, or stored in vats with such allergens), but not to pure VCO.
Some reported reactions to RBD coconut oil may also be due to how the oil might be mixed or heated or otherwise processed or stored in vats which are also used for storing or mixing other oils that are allergenic (such as lavender) or other ingredients that are allergens (such as fragrance mixes).
VMV’s virgin coconut oil is certified-organic (important to confirm the absence of fertilizers, insecticides, antibiotics, additives, etc. used in inorganic farming methods), as well as cold-and-first-pressed (why there is no smell). It is prepared within hours of optimum age (the longer a coconut stays out in the sun and heat, the more important antioxidants and phytochemicals are lost, and the more lactones are released). It is pressed entirely manually, without centrifuge, heat or additives, and is stored in vats exclusively used by VMV. As we own the farm, oversee its organic certification, and control the unheated-manual processing, as well as its storage and transport, we can confirm that our VCO never comes into contact with allergens. One of our published studies on it was specifically on its use for atopic skin, and we have since received no reported reactions since its introduction.
 

REFERENCES

1. Santos JER, Villain BJ, Soza AR, Dayrit FM. Analysis of Volatile Organic Compounds in Virgin Coconut Oil and their Sensory Atrtibutes. December 2011. Philippine Journal of Science 140(2).
2. J. S. PaiS. S. Lomanno W. W. Nawar. Effect of heat treatments on the volatile composition of coconut oil. J Americ Oil Chemists’ Society April 1979, 56(4):494-497.

Beauty, Skin

Why Is Coconut Oil So Great at Removing Makeup?Featured

We already know that virgin coconut oil — specifically pure, organic (not RBD, or Refined, Bleached, Deodorized) VCO — is a godsend for very sensitive or reacting skin. But why is it so good at removing makeup?

First, Less Removes More:

You need less of it to remove a lot of makeup…even heavy performance makeup intended to survive dance and other physical exertions under hot stage lights. The oil’s molecules bond to dirt and makeup very well, which explains why it’s so good at clearing so quickly. This is important for sensitive skin because repetitive rubbing or excessive cleansing can increase the risk of a reaction.

Second, Organic VCO is Non-Allergenic:

While there have been some reports of reactions to RBD coconut oil, or oils with allergens and additives, there are no reports of reactions to pure, organic, cold-pressed VCO.

Third, It’s Non-Comedogenic:

Old reports of coconut oil causing acne were from rabbit-ear tests, that have since been repeatedly repudiated by newer clinical studies on people and with actual use.

Fourth, It Heals As It Cleans:

As it cleans your face, VCO gifts your skin with so much goodness, chief among them, soothing, deep, intensive moisturization and anti-inflammatory care.

Featured, Healthy Living, Skin

How To Safely Exfoliate Your Lips

Try This Healthy, Exfoliating At-Home Lip Mask for Silky-Smooth Lips!

LipExfoliationRecipe-Ingredients-FromInstagram-20150316

WHAT YOU NEED:

1 PART RAW HONEY. If you’re allergic to propolis or beeswax (or as a matter of preference) substitute coconut jam or The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm.
1 PART OIL’S WELL virgin coconut oil with monolaurin.
1 DASH ORGANIC BROWN SUGAR or coconut sugar for softer exfoliation.

WHAT TO DO:

Combine Oil’s Well with raw honey (or coconut jam or Boo-Boo Balm). Add a dash of brown sugar. Mix until all parts are well blended.
Buff onto lips in gentle circular motions.
Leave on for 10 minutes. Remove with a warm damp cloth.

LIP SERVICE:

Honey (coconut jam or Boo-Boo Balm) acts as a humectant, binding water to the skin and locking in vital moisture. The sugar exfoliates and increases cell turnover, revealing new radiant skin. Oil’s Well (virgin coconut oil with coconut-derived monolaurin) is specifically designed to heal micro-fissures — especially beneficial for chapped and cracked lips due to very dry weather, sun damage or contact dermatitis.

Featured, Skin

A Fresh Start With Spring In Japan!

Sakura, or the cherry blossom, is Japan’s national flower. Celebrated by Japanese people of all ages, sakura are found in everything from textile patterns to a curious dessert flavor. Sakura blooms in March or April, and is even part of the daily weather forecast as the reporter announces where the “Cherry Blossom Front” has started. The Japanese business and school year starts in the spring, so Sakura also represents “graduation, “commencement,” “blessing,” and “joyous.” 

FreshStart-SakuraSpringInJapan

This joyous abundance signals that it’s time for a fresh start, a spring cleaning of the things that do not, as Marie Kondo would call it, “spark joy.” Take your skin care routine. Your skin, like the rest of our bodies, evolves over time. Take the cue from the blossoms — perhaps it’s time to transition back to the essentials. Re-evaluate what your skin needs (maybe even ask your doctor for a patch test if you’ve had a nagging skin issue for years), what your skin goals are, and redesign your targeted skincare regimen. 

Start with a Skin “Detox” to help your skin get back to its most non-irritated state. Then, choose from among our most popular regimens, or ask us to help customize a regimen for you! Give us a call at (212) 217 2762 or drop us a private message on Facebook, Ask VMV, or if you’re in Japan, shop at vmvhypoallergenics.jp.

Beauty, Featured, Skin

Trash & Re-Stash: Hypoallergenic Alternatives For Your Entire Medicine Cabinet!Featured

Start from scratch — with hypoallergenic alternatives — to end the scratching!

You Just Got A Patch Test?
Great! Now you know exactly what you need to avoid and are on the road to skin health, clarity, and comfort. But…what’s that? Your patch test shows you’re allergic to ingredients in pretty much everything you use now? You have to throw it all away — all of it…shampoo, cleanser, lotions, makeup — and start from scratch with hypoallergenic alternatives? That can be scary. So can that “naked” feeling of not using anything at all until you find products without your allergens.
Think about it: you have to go without using anything (including, in many cases, antiperspirant and toothpaste) until you find products you can use…and it may have taken you weeks or months to find all the stuff you use now!
Before you resign yourself to Walking Dead chic, try this: ask your doctor about our Allergen-Free Starter Set or pick up our Skin “Detox” Kit. Either covers all your basic needs so you needn’t panic when beginning your hypoallergenic lifestyle. Each formulation has zero of all 76 of the most common allergens (based on over 28,000 patch tests), making them ideal for the majority of allergic, irritated, or hyperreactive skins. Then, use this chart for an easy guide to hypoallergenic alternatives for your medicine cabinet staples. Still reeling from ingredient lists? Contact us for customized recommendations based on your patch test results!
 

TRASH & RE-STASH CHART

Match what you need to trash with its hypoallergenic alternative. When in doubt, select products with the highest VH-rating (VH-76/76) — which means they have none of all common allergens.
Still unsure? For customized recommendations based on your patch test results, contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook. To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com.

Allergen, Not An Allergen, Featured, Skin

COCONUT JAM: Allergen or Not An Allergen?Featured

COCONUT JAM: Allergen or Not An Allergen?

Not An Allergen.

Coconut Jam

The relatively healthier spread coconut jam is not a published common allergen. To make sure you lower the risk of a skin reaction around the mouth or elsewhere, choose pure coconut jam with only coconut sugar and coconut oil or coconut milk as the ingredients. A coconut jam that contains flavors, dyes or other additives may be riskier, as several of these additives contain, or are themselves, common allergens. For even more assurance that a coconut jam does not have (or was not extracted or processed using) allergens such as bleach, deodorizers, or other chemicals, look for a certified organic seal.

If you have a history of sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about a patch test.

To shop our selection of validated hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Leave a comment below, contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

For more:

On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

References: 

Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.

1. Warshaw, E.M., Maibach, H.I., Taylor, J.S., et al. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis. 2015; 26: 49-59
2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009
3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.
4. Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97
5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.
6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.
7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.
8. Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38. 
9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.
10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.
11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.

12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.
13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99.