Does Coconut Oil Help Sunburn?
It’s known and loved for its moisturizing properties but does coconut oil help sunburn? Using coconut oil for sunburn relief does have its fair share of benefits. Being the powerhouse hydrator that it is, coconut oil can be just what you need to heal sunburned skin. That being said, it’s all about the timing. If you time it right, coconut oil can be an excellent sunburn remedy. Time it wrong and you could end up making your sore, blistering skin even worse.
Can you use coconut oil on a sunburn? Here’s everything you should know about using coconut oil as a treatment for sunburn.
Does Coconut Oil Help Sunburn?
Yes, coconut oil can help to relieve sunburn—as long as you apply it at the right time. Since oil traps heat, coconut oil can make a sunburn worse if you apply it too quickly. And because it’s an occlusive, it can smother the skin and make your sunburn feel worse. For that reason, you want to avoid applying coconut oil to newly-burned skin or blisters from sun exposure.
Once your skin has cooled, using organic coconut oil can soothe sunburn and stimulate the healing process. It will nourish, hydrate, and soothe the skin while energizing the skin cells to repair damage.
Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can quell irritation and itchy skin. Rich in antioxidants and fatty acids, it can help strengthen the skin barrier and protect it against irritants for healthy, glowing skin.
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Benefits of Coconut Oil for Sunburn
There’s been little research or evidence on the benefits of using coconut oil for sunburn. A 2020 animal study researched the effects of using virgin coconut oil on mice with sunburn from UV exposure. While researchers found that coconut oil possessed anti-inflammatory properties and reduced UV-damage-induced skin thickening, the study did not examine whether virgin coconut oil healed sunburn faster than a placebo.
While research is lacking, it’s clear that coconut oil may be beneficial for soothing and speeding up the healing process of sunburn provided that it’s applied once the skin has cooled—and not to newly sunburned skin.
Coconut oil offers potential benefits for soothing sunburn due to its moisturizing properties, anti-inflammatory compounds like polyphenols and lauric acid, and antioxidants that combat sun-induced free radicals. Does coconut oil help sunburn? It can provide a cooling sensation and promote skin repair, particularly with lauric acid’s antimicrobial qualities aiding in infection prevention and healing.
However, coconut oil should not replace primary sun protection measures like sunscreen and protective clothing. Consult a healthcare professional or dermatologist for severe sunburn or skin concerns.
How to Use Coconut Oil for Sunburn
According to a 2021 review article, the majority of sunburns heal without treatment. That said, if you want to speed up the healing process and relieve symptoms of sunburn, coconut oil may help. Coconut oil can trap heat in the skin, which is why it’s best to avoid applying it to new sunburns. Instead, use coconut oil once your skin is cool to the touch.
For best results, apply virgin coconut oil directly to the affected area. Alternatively, opt for a moisturizer that contains coconut oil. There are plenty of lotions and butters that contain this ingredient. Choose a formula that contains other nourishing ingredients such as aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, and shea butter.
Do not apply coconut oil to severe burns or blisters. Even if they do feel cool to the touch, this emollient can trap heat and worsen sunburn.
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When to Use Coconut Oil for Sunburn?
While not everyone favors using coconut oil for sunburn, it can be extremely helpful for easing the discomfort and speeding up healing.
“When your skin barrier is compromised, water evaporates more readily,” says Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. “The more severe the burn, the more likely you are to lose water.” For that reason, it’s extremely important to keep your skin hydrated.
The best time to apply coconut oil to sunburn is one to days after it occurs. Then, your skin will be cooler and less inflamed, which means it will be safe to slather on the coconut oil. To ease any discomfort before then, apply aloe vera, take cool baths, and pop an ibuprofen.
Coconut Oil vs Aloe Vera
According to dermatologists, aloe vera is best in the early phase of sunburn as it won’t occlude the skin or trap heat. Instead, it will immediately soothe the skin. Board-certified dermatologist, Greeta Yadev, MD, recommends applying coconut oil on top of aloe vera to lock in lasting moisture and stimulate the healing process.
“Aloe vera allows the skin to breathe and is best used initially on a sunburn; coconut oil is better used in the later phase of sunburn recovery, when the skin is peeling,” he says.
With its antioxidants and antibacterial properties, aloe vera inhibits bacteria growth while promoting healing. It also contains vitamins A and E, as well as anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve dry, itchy, or sunburned skin.
Coconut oil contains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can also be helpful for treating sunburn. Plus, it’s a highly moisturizing ingredient that seals in moisture, preventing dryness and irritation.
Both aloe vera and coconut oil are effective natural remedies for sunburn. For best results, apply aloe vera first and finish with coconut oil when skin is cool to the touch.
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Should You Put Coconut Oil on a Sunburn?
When used properly, coconut oil for sunburn can be an effective home remedy. However, due to its heat-trapping properties, you should never apply this oil to newly sunburned skin as it can make things worse. If your skin is warm to the touch, it’s best to apply a refrigerated aloe vera gel instead which is a gold standard for treating sunburn.
Alongside this, try soaking in a cool bath to calm inflamed skin or apply a cold washcloth to the affected areas. To prevent sunburn in the first place, always apply SPF 30 or higher every two hours when outdoors. Besides preventing sunburn, wearing sunscreen also significantly reduces your risk of skin cancer.
Does coconut oil help sunburn? Yes, as long as you apply it once your sunburn is cool to the touch. In addition to healing sunburn, coconut oil can also alleviate dry skin.