The health benefits of coconut oil are popping up everywhere. The newest trend for the coconut-oil obsessed is the reduction of cellulite. When applied to the skin, coconut oil may be effective at minimizing the appearance of cellulite in some people.

Cellulite refers to skin on the buttocks, hips, thighs, and abdomen that appears to have dimples or lumps. It has a similar appearance to an orange peel or cheese curds, and is most often found in women from adolescence into adulthood. It isn’t a serious health issue, but many people find it embarrassing for cosmetic reasons.

The goal of massaging coconut oil directly into the affected skin is to reduce the appearance of those lumps and dimples. It’s also easy to apply. Because coconut oil has a low melting point, it can be melted in the palm of your hand and massaged into the skin.

Let’s take a look at what the research says about coconut oil’s effects on the skin and on cellulite.

Scientists and researchers don’t know much about how and why cellulite occurs. It appears to be related to connective tissue that attaches the skin to the muscle beneath it. When fat builds between the skin and the muscle, this connective tissue can cause the surface of the skin to appear uneven or dimpled. Gaining weight can make your cellulite more prominent.

Cellulite appears to have a genetic component, so people who have it may inherit it from their family. A sedentary lifestyle can also contribute to weight gain and cellulite development. Preventing cellulite from forming or getting worse might involve eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding sedentary habits.

Coconut oil has been shown to play a role in hydrating and smoothing skin, which could help mask the dimples that are characteristic of cellulite. One study found virgin coconut oil to be as effective as mineral oil when used as a moisturizer.

Virgin coconut oil has also been shown to have healing effects on the skin. It works partly because it may boost collagen production in the skin. Collagen has a firming, tightening effect on skin tissue, which may reduce the appearance of cellulite. Collagen is a common ingredient in skin-firming creams and ointments.

There’s little medical evidence that coconut oil reduces or reverses cellulite. However, its moisturizing and collagen-producing properties may be helpful for some people.

Coconut oil could help to tighten, firm, and moisturize the skin in areas where cellulite is a problem. It can be applied by itself directly to the skin through gentle massage, much like lotion or skin cream. Coconut oil is known to enhance wound healing and dermatitis.

If you like, you can create your own skin care mixtures using coconut oil. You can find recipes online for many skin care treatments, including:

  • body butter
  • sugar scrubs
  • massage oils
  • facial treatments
  • stretch mark treatments

You can also use coconut oil as a base for your choice of essential oils. Essential oils like lavender, frankincense, and rose are popular in skin care regimens.

It’s possible to be allergic to coconut and its oil. Patch-test a small area of your skin before applying liberally. Watch for reactions like itching, redness, and hives. Stop use immediately and contact your doctor if you experience a skin reaction to coconut oil.

In some cases, coconut oil can cause acne (particularly if used on oily facial skin). Apply sparingly as you begin experimenting with coconut oil on your skin. You may find that it causes irritation, or that its texture feels unpleasant to you.

Although some health proponents encourage consumption of coconut oil as a health and weight loss supplement, this may not be a good idea. Coconut oil contains very high amounts of calories and saturated fat, which might go against your weight loss goals. Talk to your doctor before eating large amounts of coconut oil as a supplement.

Coconut oil is generally a safe oil to apply to your skin. It may be effective in moisturizing, tightening, and toning skin where cellulite is present. However, it might not be the right approach for everyone.

Unless you have an allergy to coconut or experience skin irritation, it won’t cause any harm if you want to see if it works for you. If nothing else, your skin will be better moisturized.

Remember, if you’re not sure whether or not you’re allergic to coconut oil, test it on a small patch of skin first.