Does Coconut Oil Help a Sunburn?

Does Coconut Oil Help a Sunburn?

I’m super white or fair-skinned, and that means I burn easy. So when it comes to life hacks about sunburns, this coconut oil is one of my favorites. Simply put, getting a sunburn hurts, and when you get one, you are willing to do almost anything to make the pain go away. So we looked into the life hack that says applying coconut oil will help treat a sunburn.

I’ve had so many sunburns in my life and let me just say they are never fun. So it’s nice to finally find something that may help. When I was growing up, we didn’t have coconut oil to help.


Does Coconut Oil Help a Sunburn?

After a sunburn, your skin may start to peel. This is a sign that your body is trying to rid itself of damaged cells. Never try to peel the skin yourself; let it come off naturally.

Coconut oil is high in saturated fats and is used to treat many skin conditions, including dermatitis and eczema. Coconut oil can help cool and soothe your sunburned skin and relieve some of the symptoms, such as itching and peeling.

When you get a sunburn, you want to apply a cool, damp towel to the affected area to help cool down the skin. You can also take a cool (not cold) bath or shower to help speed up this process. Once your skin has cooled down, you can apply coconut oil to your sunburned skin.

A 2012 study showed that applying things like coconut oil that are high in fats, may speed up healing time and reduce dryness often associated with burns.

Lauric acid is the saturated fat found in coconut oil, and studies have shown that lauric acid has some antibacterial abilities that may even help prevent infection and help reduce inflammation.


What you absolutely don’t want to do is apply vinegar, either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar to a sunburn.  Although some people swear by this hack, it can actually make the problem worse. For blistered skin, a small amount of vinegar mixed with cool water can help to dry out the blisters. For a regular sunburn, however, the mild acidity of vinegar can further dry your skin, making the burn worse.

Coconut oil has grown in popularity in recent years. People seem to think it’s the answer to everything. While I can’t attest to that, I can say that when it comes to helping a sunburn, coconut oil seems to genuinely work.

In addition to soothing your sunburn, it may also enhance the skin’s protective barrier functions. According to a 2017 study, however, it’s worth noting that their study used cultured coconut extract (CCE), which undergoes a further bacterial fermentation process.

When it comes to treating your own sunburn, you should remember to cool your skin first with a wet towel or cool bath. Only after your skin has cooled should you apply the coconut oil. Also, remember to drink lots of water when you have a sunburn.

A sunburn hurts you in more ways than one. The danger goes far beyond any short-term pain, redness, and discomfort because after the sunburn fades, lasting damage remains. Sunburn accelerates skin aging and is a leading cause in the majority of cases of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

  • Even without a burn, sun exposure raises skin cancer risk. Even if you are tan or your skin type is dark, and your skin does not redden, the sun can cause cellular damage that can lead to cancer.
  • The UV index is a factor: The sun varies in intensity by season, time of day, and geographic location. A high UV index means unprotected skin burns faster or more severely. Be careful, especially when the sun is strongest. But even when the index is low, the risk remains. Protect yourself every day of the year.
  • You can burn on an overcast day: Be careful even when the sun isn’t shining. Up to 80 percent of UV rays can penetrate clouds.
  • Light pink is still bad: No matter how mild, every burn is a sign of injury to your skin that can result in premature aging and skin cancer.

In addition to making your skin feel better, coconut oil may also have some antimicrobial effects.

Coconut oil has antimicrobial and antifungal properties due to its MCT content — specifically, lauric acid.

Lauric acid is a fatty acid that makes up about 50% of the MCTs in coconut oil.

Research suggests it may have antimicrobial effects against disease-causing microorganisms, such as:

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Streptococcus mutans
  • Streptococcus pyogenes
  • Escherichia coli
  • Helicobacter pylori

Studies show that lauric acid may act as a bacteriostatic agent. This is a substance that prevents bacteria from multiplying without killing the bacteria.

It may also act as a bacteriocidal agent, which destroys some bacteria. In addition, it may also inhibit the growth of microorganisms that are harmful to plants.

And best of all, coconut oil may boost the moisture content of dry skin. It may also improve the function of the skin, helping prevent excessive water loss and protecting you from external factors, such as infectious agents, chemicals, and allergens.

In fact, a recent study determined that applying 6–8 drops of virgin coconut oil on your hands and leaving it overnight may be an effective way to prevent dry skin caused by frequent use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. It may also reduce the severity of mild to moderate symptoms of atopic dermatitis, a chronic skin disease characterized by skin inflammation and defects in skin barrier function.

When it comes to finding the best coconut oil for your skin, keep in mind that virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil is best for skin health. It’s less refined, meaning it retains the beneficial compounds otherwise lost in the heat extraction process. These include antioxidants and beneficial plant phytonutrients. Both refined and unrefined coconut oils have triglycerides (fatty acids) and would be excellent moisturizers. But because unrefined coconut oil has a higher content of phytonutrients (compounds produced by plants to help protect them from environmental threats, such as antioxidants), it’s the best choice for skin care.

This means that you don’t have to spend a crazy amount of money to get the best coconut oil for your skin. Just look for the right kind. Again for skin, that would be virgin cold-pressed coconut oil. With a little effort, you’ll find a zillion brands of coconut oil that fit the bill.

The brand isn’t as important as the process. Look for coconut oil that is labeled as unrefined or extra virgin and cold-pressed. And make sure you avoid any that is labeled as deodorized.

Most refined coconut oil, on the other hand, is chemically extracted from dried coconut meat that’s been deodorized and bleached, so its antioxidant levels are depleted.

Most grocery stores carry coconut oil in both solid and liquid states—and even though they’re both labeled as coconut oil, they’re not exactly the same thing. All saturated fats (butter, lard, coconut oil) should be solid at room temperature. Those bottles of liquefied coconut oil have undergone extra processing, eliminating some of the fatty acids that are responsible for keeping it solid in the first place.

Long story short, you do not have to spend a lot of money to get a good quality coconut oil. You just have to pay close attention to the kind you are buying, to make sure you are getting the right one.



author avatar
Tracy Tegan
Tracy Tegan has spent the last seventeen years as a professional blogger about relationships, dating, and issues pertaining to gender equality at In her spare time, she writes romance novels that are available at Amazon.  You can check out Tracy Tegan's latest romance novel, Crescent Moon at Amazon.

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Does Coconut Oil Help a Sunburn?

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