Subscribe for our Free Beauty Tips

Can You Use Coconut Oil for Sunburns?

How to employ coconut oil in your after sun routine

It’s not exactly breaking news that the best way to deal with a sunburn is to take protective measures to avoid getting one at all. But if you’ve already missed that boat (or you got a sunburn while on a boat), the next best thing could be using coconut oil for sunburn.

Whether your skiing or swimming, sunburns can (and will) happen if your skin protection game isn’t on point.

But what exactly is a sunburn? Not to sound too alarmist, but a sunburn is literally radiation damage caused by the sun’s UV rays. Sunburns cause your skin to redden, sting, itch, and eventually peel. And they’re more than an embarrassing nuisance. Sunburns can lead to early aging, wrinkles, and skin cancer.

Can the benefits of coconut oil be used to soothe a sunburn? Let’s take a look at the facts.


Benefits of Coconut Oil for Sunburns

While more scientific research needs to be done specifically on coconut oil for sunburns, coconut oil does have soothing and healing properties that improve dry, damaged skin.



Have you ever noticed how dry and scaly sunburned skin can be? UV rays and the time you spend in the sun can cause severe dry-out.

Coconut oil is well-known for its moisturizing capabilities. Not only does coconut oil create a thin barrier to help your skin retain moisture, it’s also readily absorbed by the skin compared to other oils.

While it hydrates your skin, it also reduces oxidative damage. Coconut oil is rich in antioxidants which may prevent or even reverse aging caused by the sun’s rays.

A word of warning: before applying coconut oil to your sunburn, apply a cold compress or take a cool shower.

That radiating heat you feel on your skin after a burn isn’t an illusion – UV radiation actually traps heat. Applying coconut oil to your sunburn while it’s still hot could prevent heat from escaping and worsen your burn. Instead, moisturize your skin after it cools down, which could take a couple of hours.

Soothing & Calming

Coconut oil is a mild analgesic and an anti-inflammatory. As opposed to eucalyptus- or mint-infused aftercare lotions that have a cooling feeling, coconut oil calms and soothes skin by reducing inflammation and pain.

What’s worse than an itchy sunburn? Scratching that itch means causing stinging pain on your sensitive skin.

You’re in luck. Coconut oil is shown to be anti-itch. While coconut oil for sunburns hasn’t been studied specifically, ample research has been conducted on coconut oil for eczemaa condition that causes dry, itchy skin.

Two separate studies reviewed in a 2018 journal article showed that coconut oil significantly reduced the severity of eczema’s symptoms, such as itch, inflammation, and dryness.

Healing & Protecting

To get the full benefits of coconut oil for sunburns, you’ll want to be sure you’re using pure, unrefined, virgin coconut oil.

Studies show that coconut oil protects your skin barrier from further damage. That’s because virgin coconut oil contains healthful fatty acids that promote skin repair at the cellular level. These fatty acids encourage your body’s natural repair functions by fueling skin cell turnover.

On top of that, coconut oil is naturally antibacterial, which could help fight infection.

Coconut bonus: this oil has an SPF of around 7.1! While this isn’t nearly high enough to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays, it’s a good option when you have a sunburn that needs a little extra love.

After getting a sunburn, you should avoid exposing yourself to the sun until it’s healed. But you still need to live your life. That extra protection offered by coconut oil is better than nothing while you’re walking to your car or heading into work.

How to Use Coconut Oil for Sunburn

As we mentioned above, don’t use coconut oil immediately after getting burnt.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends cooling your burn with a cold compress or cool shower. On the flip side, don’t take a cold shower or use ice to cool your burn, as you could cause further skin damage.

Once your skin is cool, you can apply virgin coconut oil to your burn twice daily.

If the analgesic properties aren’t doing the trick, you can supplement your DIY sunburn treatment with soothing aloe vera.


After Sun Products with Coconut Oil

Burt’s Bees Aloe and Coconut Oil After Sun Soother

Cruelty-free, Sustainable, Paraben-free, Petrochemical-free, Phthalate-free

Burt’s Bees after sun lotion is fast-absorbing and soothing on sun-drenched skin. Moisturizing and soothing, this product’s star ingredients are aloe vera and coconut oil. It goes on light and isn’t greasy. Enrich your skin with antioxidants and nutrients found naturally in coconut oil.

Alba Botanica Sunscreen Spray with Coconut Oil SPF 50

Leaping Bunny Cruelty-free, Vegan-friendly, Coral reef friendly, Gluten-free, Fragrance-free

Protect against sun damage while moisturizing your skin on hot, sea-salty days with this high SPF coconut-based sunscreen. Alba adds hydrating shea butter and nutrient-rich avocado oil into this formula for extra nourishment. This product is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation and contains no oxybenzone, octinoxate, gluten, or synthetic fragrances.

Sun Bum Day Tripper Sun Care Pack

Cruelty-free, Vegan, Gluten-free, Paraben-free, Hypoallergenic

Sun Bum’s Day Tripper Travel Pack contains everything you need for your day in the sun – including a travel bag! Prepare for your time outside with moisturizing sunscreen lotion and coconut oil lip balm with SPF, then cool down with their after sun lotion. All contents are TSA-sized and Skin Cancer Foundation approved.


The Takeaway?

While more research needs to be conducted to show that coconut oil for sunburns is an effective treatment, we do know that coconut oil is helpful for symptoms associated with sunburn.

Virgin coconut oil hydrates and soothes skin. It reduces itch and inflammation, and may even speed up the healing process by nourishing skin cells and encouraging repair of the skin barrier.

There’s a reason coconut oil is found in sunscreen and after sun products! And it’s not just marketing. Coconut oil is naturally hypoallergenic and generally regarded as safe. So next time you spent a little too long sunbathing, try coconut oil for sunburn.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Related Posts

Choose What's Next

Join Our

A short introduction to the workshop instructors and why their background should inspire potential student’s confidence.