This Surprising Ingredient Can Exacerbate Your Sunburn
Even if you follow sun safety (right? ), you can still get a sunburn from time to time. UV rays are no laughing matter, especially during this scorcher of a summer.
When you do become burnt, there are a slew of substances that can help soothe your skin's crispy, itchy, sensitive, and unpleasant state: If you're in need of some fast relief, try colloidal oat, chamomile, green tea, or simple cold water. When the sunburn starts to peel, some people gather heavy-duty moisturizers, such as coconut oil, to put on.
Take care with the last one. Yes, rehydrating after the sun is vital, but you might want to think twice before slathering yourself in coconut oil—apparently, it aggravates irritated skin.
Why you shouldn't use coconut oil on a new sunburn.
A distinction should be made: Coconut oil is excellent for itchy, flaky, and dry skin. The fatty-acid-rich oil nourishes and smoothes the skin, and studies suggest that it can assist raise skin moisture levels and enhance skin barrier function. So, what if you've had a burn for a few days and it's starting to peel? Apply the heavy oil liberally—it should feel delicious.
Coconut oil, on the other hand, might aggravate new burns (i.e., angry, sensitive skin): The oil can actually trap heat in your skin because it's such a thick occlusive. "An occlusive is not suggested after a sunburn, just as it is not recommended after a stovetop burn," says board-certified dermatologist Ava Shamban. "In reality, it will serve as a trap, trapping the heat and perhaps causing greater discomfort or injury."
For your Saturday, here's some science jargon: Sunburns cause your skin to be extremely hot for several hours thereafter. Your blood vessels dilate when the skin tries to repair after being harmed by UV radiation. "The temperature of the skin rises, and a strong, acute cutaneous inflammatory reaction develops," Shamban explains. "It can take several hours—even a half-day or more—for skin to cool down." During that time, a cooling, anti-inflammatory number, such as aloe, colloidal oat, or even a cool water compress, would be far more beneficial to you and your burn " Coconut oil's moisturizing properties can assist refill the phase two healing [process] once the healing process is complete and skin temperatures have returned to normal [levels] "Shamban's journey continues. Sealing in moisture using an occlusive (like coconut oil!) is critical at this time to avoid peeling and dryness.
There are numerous substances that might help with after-sun care; coconut oil can help with flaking and dryness, but you might not want to apply it soon after getting out of the sun. Because of its occlusive characteristics, it can retain all of that heat, perhaps exacerbating the burn.