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How coconut oil could be Pinoys’ answer to Korea’s billion-dollar beauty industry

Kathleen A. Llemit (Philstar.com) – February 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — For over a decade now, South Korea has been known not only for its K-pop and K-dramas, but also for its beauty industry that has been expected to grow to more than $379 billion, according to an IBISWorld report cited by CNBC. 

In the Philippines, while many are into multi-step Korean beauty regimen, Dr. Jayvee Lalusis is not one of them. 

According to Dr. Jayvee, she has been using only one beauty product on her face since college: the Philippines’ own homegrown coconut oil.

Coconut oil, said Lalusis, helps her save on bottles of expensive sunscreen or moisturizer as it is a cheaper and affordable way to protect one’s skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays as well as to keep it moisturized for a healthy and youthful skin.

Dr. Mari-Ann Bringas, chair of chemistry and bio-nutrition at the Far Eastern University-NMRF and executive board officer at the Philippine Association of Academic Biochemists, cited some instances when the vaunted oil from the tree of life have been known to give the skin’s sheen and protection.

“In Polynesia, they put coconut oil on their skin every day because they believe it protects them sun the sun’s radiation. Coconut oil is a common ingredient in commercial sunscreens,” she said during a recent virtual press conference.

She also cited an in-vitro study on the anti-inflammatory and skin protective properties of virgin coconut oil (VCO) by Sandeep R. Varma, Thiyagarajan O. Sivaprakasam, Ilavarasu Arumugam, N. Dilip, M. Raghuraman, KB Pavan, Mohammed Rafiq, and Ragnesh Paramesh published on the Journal of Traditional Complementary MEdicine. It said that VCO has been traditionally used as a moisturizer since centuries by people in the tropical region. She said that clinical studies revealed that VCO improves the symptoms of skin disorders by moisturizing and soothing the skin. The study demonstrated the anti-inflammatory activity of VCO by suppressing inflammatory markers and protecting the skin by enhancing skin barrier function.

While coconut oil is taken from “kopra” or dried coconut flesh, VCO is obtained from fresh, matured kernel of the coconut by mechanical means with or without undergoing chemical refining, bleaching or deodorization.

Lalusis, Chief Executive Officer of GrowRich, the manufacturer of the first patented VCO hard gel capsule in the country, agreed.  

“Aside from taking it orally, my personal way of VCO is using it as a moisturizer and makeup remover. I open a capsule, sometimes two, and then massaage a small amount on the face for it to absorb. Then wash it off with a facial wash. You will immediately feel the difference,” she shared, adding that she has been awed at its efficacy since she discovered its uses when she was in college.

It was her parents, Dr. Edmundo Lalusis and Purisima, a chemist, who formulated GrowRich’s patented hard gel capsule form.

She continued: “Some friends use it for their scalp for dandruff. They find it more convenient to apply than the liquid form. Thrice-a-week application on the scalp can give noticeable improvement; daily application would achieve even better results.”

While the liquid form of VCO is often available in bottles, Dr. Lalusis shared that she prefers to extract the oil from a capsule.

“I want to use good quality oil. It is important to  note that the oil that is frequently exposed due to opening and closing of bottles makes it prone to contamination. Oxidation hastens rancidity. Such oil is not good because it can contain free radicals,” she explained.

With all these talks about coconut oil or VCO as the skin’s protector and nourisher, Dr. Bringas stressed a key point.

“VCO is all fats. We all know that anything oily you put on the skin will protect the skin. If you put another layer of protection that is not easily penetrable by water, that will give the sun protection you need. Apart from melanin, adding an additional layer of oil, which is the healthy oil, can block off the UV rays from the sun and definitely moisturize the cells. Your skin should be oily so that dirt will not go into your pores,” she said.

Patronizing our own coconut oil as a product, said Dr. Bringas, helps not only improve one’s beauty and well-being, but also our local farmers and the development of more studies that would strengthen the case of VCO as a COVID-19 treatment.

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