Sensitive Skin Product Series – Understanding Coconut Oil


Table to explain processing of coconut types and of other oils (provided by Dr Verallo-Rowell)

This is a 13-part series focused on understanding and using products for sensitive skin, an important topic given the generous amount of moisturizers that go onto the skin of a child with eczema. Marcie Mom met Laura Verallo Rowell Bertotto, the CEO of VMVGroup, on twitter and learnt that her company is the only hypoallergenic brand that validates its hypoallergenicity. VMV Hypoallergenics is founded in 1979 by Dr. Vermén Verallo-Rowell who is a world renowned dermatologist. Dr. Vermén created the VH Rating System which is the only validated hypoallergenic rating system in the world and is used across all the products at VMV. In this interview, Dr. Verallo-Rowell and Laura answer Marcie Mom’s questions on coconut oil.

Marcie Mom: I read with interest that your products contain USDA-certified organic virgin coconut oil and monolaurin (derived from coconut oil) that is a substitute for paraben. Do all products containing coconut oil have the same antibacterial, antiviral and disinfectant properties that your product have? Could the ‘wrong’ coconut oil actually be an allergen?

Laura: There are currently no reports of reactions to coconut oil but yes, there are different types of coconut oils. Ours is USDA-certified organic because the entire farm is organic…no fertilizers, nothing…and because the method of extracting the oil is organic…nothing is added; we use first and cold-pressed oil…not even heat is used and no chemicals. Some other coconuts are grown on non-organic farms or the oils/other extracts are processed using other chemicals that could be allergenic. Others still are sold with additives like preservatives or flavor or stabilizers or fragrance. Those would definitely increase the likelihood of a reaction.

Virgin coconut oil is well studied to have anti-viral properties and has even shown some success in managing herpetic flareups that are resistant to valacyclovir. Virgin coconut oil should have these properties, but we 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 clinical studies were done.

Monolaurin has a slew of studies as well proving its similarity in efficacy to several broad-spectrum antibiotics, antivirals, disinfectants (even 70% isopropyl alcohol) and antifungals, but without the side effects like increased tolerance to treatment or dryness. I should also point out that our proprietary preservative system that replaces parabens is not just monolaurin…it’s a delicate balance between this and several other ingredients…it’s a big headache, if I’m to be frank 🙂 But such is our mandate 🙂

Dr. Verallo-Rowell: Yes. No matter how processed, the composition of all fatty acids in the oil removed from the coconut meat is about the same: myristic (15%), lauric acid (46-50%), Capric (6-8%), Caprylic ( 6%). These are all medium chain and saturated.

Could the ‘wrong’ coconut oil actually be an allergen? Yes, because of processing. RBD (primarily a cooking and/or industrial oil) vs. virgin coconut oil. See table above that explains processing of coconut types and of other oils.

Marcie Mom: Thanks! Coconut oil is increasing popular as an ingredient and your information on it is precious to parents when evaluating what product to buy. We’ll learn more about cross-reaction in our next interview.


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  1. Anyone can have an allergy to anything really. My son reacts to quite a lot – especially topically. Virgin, cold processed coconut oil being one of them. It’s a shame as I know there are so many beneficial properties to coconut oil and it can be wonderful for eczema skin.


  2. I use Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil as an all over skin moisturizer and for my hair. You will smell of coconuts at first, but then the smell goes away. It’s done wonders for my skin and hair.

  3. Coconut oil is the best essential environmental product that provides a great satisfaction to all of us, especially when it comes to skin care… I love it…

  4. Interesting indeed Mei!

    Glad to know that coconut oil can really do wonders! However, I have heard that the virgin coconut oil is more beneficial than the normal ones we find at the stores. Guess may be it serves a different kind of purpose.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂