At Sole Toscana, we love coconut oil. It's rich in penetrating fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. That's why we have it in our Rosehip & Calendula Triple Cream and our Espresso Bright Eyes products.
If you look closely at product ingredient lists, you'll notice that not all kinds of coconut oil are the same. Sometimes you'll see extra virgin coconut oil, and other times you'll come across fractionated coconut oil.
You might be wondering why there are different types of the same oil in various skincare products. Well, here's why.
Oils have different production processes. The main difference lies in the extraction from the nut, vegetable, fruit, or seed.
There are three extraction methods.
Manufacturers apply heat to the source material, and the oil separates over time.
The fruits or nuts are crushed or rolled up, then washed with a chemical solution that releases the oil. This method includes heat- the oil is heated to separate it from the chemical solution.
A mechanical press squeezes the oil from the source material.
After extraction, the oil is then refined to get rid of impurities. Though mass-produced coconut oil may go through several processes, there are two main alternatives:
Refined: The oil is exposed to heat, or chemicals to remove impurities.
Unrefined: Oil is filtered to eliminate large particles, but it doesn't undergo additional refining.
For our products, we prefer to keep processing to a minimum. Virgin and extra virgin oils are unrefined, meaning they haven't been exposed to chemicals that potentially linger behind and get on your skin.
Note: Refined oil doesn't necessarily mean its exposed to chemicals. Some may be treated with only clays or heat to filter the oil. However, virgin oils are the least processed of all, maintain more of their natural components, and contain more antioxidants and nutrients.
In a 2009 study, researchers compared the antioxidant capacity of virgin coconut oil with oil that had been bleached, refined, and deodorized. They found that pure coconut oil had higher antioxidant levels than highly processed oil.
Extra virgin coconut oil is solid at room temperature. Fractionated coconut oil is a form that has had the long-chain fatty acids removed via hydrolysis and steam distillation. This process makes the oil remain liquid at room temperature and extends the product's shelf life.
There are three types of fatty acids—short-chain, medium-chain, and long-chain. Long-chain fatty acids contain more carbon atoms, that's why they require higher temperatures to melt.
For our facial moisturizers, we needed a type of coconut oil that would do three things:
Extra virgin coconut oil isn't suitable for this. But since coconut oil is such a superior moisturizer, we didn't want to exclude it from our formulas. So we used an alternative.
The fractionation process removes the lauric fatty acid—a type of healthy saturated fat found in high quantities in coconut oil. It's beneficial for skin care because of its moisturizing and cleansing properties. Removing it results in the liquid product we need to include in items like our body cream.
Once you remove lauric acid and other long-chain fatty acids, other moisturizing agents remain, such as myristic, capric, caprylic, and palmitic medium-chain fatty acids. Also, antioxidants and nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E, remain in the resulting oil.
Fractionated coconut oil mixes well with other oils. This makes it the perfect carrier oil, pulling other oils into the skin. Also, it's incredibly light and absorbs quickly into the skin without clogging pores.
The Sole Toscana Beauty Team