Difference between organic coconut oil and fractionated coconut oil*

What’s the Difference Between Extra Virgin and Fractionated Coconut Oil?

We love our coconut oil Rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and penetrating fatty acids, it’s one of the most hydrating and plumping oils we can use That’s why we have it in five of our products, including both our Herbal Facial Oils, our Coconut Honey Mask, and our Coconut Body & Face Oil

If you look closely at the ingredient list, though, you may have noticed that not all of these coconut oils are the same

  • In our Coconut Body Oil and Coconut Honey Mask, we use extra virgin coconut oil
  • In both our Herbal Facial Oils, we use fractionated coconut oil

We imagine some of our more curious customers may be wondering why we have two kinds Here’s your answer!

A Little Bit About How Oils are Extracted

You may already know that not oils are created the same way The main difference lies in how they are extracted from the nut, fruit, vegetable, or seed (For coconut oil, it’s extracted from the meat of the coconut)

In general, we have three basic ways this is done:

Once the oil is extracted, it is then usually refined in some way to get rid of impurities Though mass produced coconut oil may go through a number of processes, we have two main alternatives to choose from:

  • Unrefined: The oil is filtered to remove large particles, but is subject to no additional refining
  • Refined: The oil is exposed to chemicals, heat, or other materials to remove impurities

What is Extra Virgin Oil?

For our products, we prefer as little processing as possible, as we want an oil that’s as close to the original source material as we can get Oils labeled “virgin” or “extra virgin” are typically unrefined, meaning they haven’t been exposed to chemicals that can potentially linger behind to get on your skin, or that may damage some of the natural components of the oil

To be clear: Refined oils aren’t necessarily exposed to chemicals—some may be treated with only heat or clays to filter and purify the oil But on the whole, virgin oils are the least processed of all available oils, maintain more of the natural components, and usually test higher for things like antioxidants and nutrients

In a 2009 study, for example, researchers compared the antioxidant capacity of virgin coconut oil with oil that had been refined, bleached, and deodorized They found that the virgin coconut oil had a higher antioxidant capacity than oil that had been significantly processed

What is Fractionated Oil?

One thing about extra virgin coconut oil: it’s solid at room temperature That’s why we warn you that our Coconut Body & Face Oil may solidify at cooler temperatures, and why our Coconut Honey Mask is more like butter than cream It’s easy to soften it—a few minutes in hot water or warmed between your hands or fingers will do the trickI was told that it is the greatest thing for softening summer sandal feet.

For our facial oils, though, we needed a type of coconut oil that would do three things:

  1. Mix well with the other oils in the product
  2. Easily and quickly penetrate the skin
  3. Moisturize without clogging pores

The extra virgin oil, because of its natural composition, doesn’t fit the bill Since coconut oil is such a superior moisturizer, we didn’t want to leave it out of our facial oil formulas So we needed an alternative

Fractionated coconut oil, also called “liquid coconut oil,” fit our requirements Basically, it is a form of the oil that has had the long-chain fatty acids removed via hydrolysis and steam distillation Just this one change makes the oil liquid at room temperature, and extends the product’s shelf life

There are three basic types of fatty acids—short-chain, medium-chain, and long-chain Long-chain fatty acids have more carbon atoms, which means they require higher temperatures to melt Fats that are solid at room temperature have longer chain lengths—thus, coconut oil

One of the fatty acids that’s mostly removed in fractionation is lauric acid—a type of “healthy” saturated fat found in high quantities in coconut and palm kernel oils It’s a great fat to have in skin care because it’s so moisturizing and cleansing Removing it, though, gives us the liquid product we need to use in items like our Herbal Facial Oils

Once the lauric acid and other long-chain fatty acids are gone, you’re still left with a lot of good stuff, including medium chain fatty acids like capric, caprylic, myristic and palmitic, all of which retain their super-moisturizing capabilities You also still have the natural antioxidants, which protect from environmental stressors, and nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E, which help maintain a tighter, firmer look

Fractionated coconut oil is completely soluble with other oils, which makes it the perfect carrier oil, capable of ushering other oils into the skin It’s also extremely light, and absorbs quickly into the skin without clogging pores You’re left with a soft, smooth feeling that won’t exacerbate oiliness or leave you feeling greasy

Enjoy the Moisturizing Benefits Either Way

You can get the full benefits of extra virgin coconut oil in our Coconut Honey Mask and in our Coconut Body Oil, where the buttery consistency is desired

Then you can enjoy the light moisturizing and deeply penetrating benefits of the coconut oil in our Herbal Facial Oils, without having to worry about greasiness or clogged pores

In other words, we’ve got the benefits of coconut oil here for all skin types, so no one has to go without!

Did you wonder about the different types of coconut oil in our products? Please share your thoughts

Nazimah Hamid, “Antioxidant capacity of phenolic acids of virgin coconut oil,” International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, January 2009; 60(Suppl 2):114-23, http://wwwresearchgatenet/publication/23712333_Antioxidant_capacity_and_phenolic_acids_of_virgin_coconut_oil

comments (25 and counting)

Reader Interactions

Alexender pop says

My friend Jo got me hooked on cooking eggs in coconut oil They do taste a little bit like coconut, but that’s a good thing to me I also add a tablespoon to my green smoothies and sauté vegetables with itOccasionally,time to time i use coconut oil for daily routine for getting benefits

Thanks for the article It explains really well the differences between the different oils, including processing and application!

Alexender pop says

I like this information about the difference extra virgin and fractional coconut oil Because I also use the extra virgin coconut oil So I found the its benefits article Your article is very helpful to meThanks for sharing this information

Annmarie Skin Care says

We have had to edit our content to be compliant with the FDA so some thing aren’t listed in full

We don’t suggest Extra Virgin Coconut Oil for people that experience oily skin and clogged pores, but fractionated coconut oil is great

I’d like to know how is subtracted the fatty acid from the virgin coconut oil for your products?

Annmarie Skin Care says

Typically, fractionated coconut oil is created by using a centrifuge This isn’t something that we create, but we do extensive vetting and trust our ingredient vendors to make sure that they are using safe methods to process and create our ingredients

So let me be clear You are saying if someone has acne prone or oily skin, they should use Fractionated oil and those with dry skin can use Extra Virgin coconut oil?

How are we going to pick and know which one is Fractionated and Non Franctionated coconut oils in the market?

Annmarie Skin Care says

The label will say whether the coconut oil you’re purchasing is Extra Virgin or fractionated

I really appreciate reading this It gives me all the information I need to use the oil for everything I planned on using it for

Nice article, although one thing was not quite correct- the tendency of oils to be solid at room temperature is derived more from the “saturation” (number of hydrogens) on their carbon chains than the actual length of the chains themselves Unsaturated fatty acids are more likely to be liquid at room temp than saturated fatty acids, regardless of chain length As an example, olive oil is full of long chain fatty acids but remains liquid because they are largely unsaturated

I wanted to make a liquid hand soapbut the recipe calls for fractionated coconut oil

Can I just melt the coconut oil for the recipe?

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