What can coconut oil do?
Coconut oil may be relatively new to the mainstream skincare market, but its use dates back to ancient Ayurvedic medicine in India. Treating skin burns and wounds, and relieving dry skin were just some of its medicinal uses.
If you’re getting a new tattoo or an old one removed, you probably know that aftercare is key to keeping your skin healthy and aesthetically pleasing. Coconut oil can help moisturize and protect your skin after either procedure. If you’ve got some in the kitchen or want to stock up, talk to your tattoo artist or dermatologist about adding the oil to your skincare routine.
Read on to learn more about its skin-saving benefits, how to use it at home, products to try, and more.
1. You can use it at any stage of the tattoo process
Coconut oil is gentle enough to use during any stage of the tattoo process. You can apply it to new tattoos, old ones, or even those that are undergoing removal or retouching. This can prove beneficial if you have more than one tattoo, or if you’re thinking about getting additional ink in the near future.
2. It can help heal wounds
Coconuts are historically touted as wound healers in alternative medicine. Some of these benefits can extend to infection treatment and prevention, too. Other studies have looked at the potential pain-relieving capabilities of the oil, which may help alleviate post-tattooing discomfort.
3. It’s antimicrobial
Whether you’re getting a new tattoo or removing an old one, the last thing you want is an infection. Some research suggests that lauric acid in coconuts may have antibacterial effects in the skin. It can also help fight off lipid-coated viruses, too. Coconuts may also have antifungal properties.
4. It’s anti-inflammatory
Tattooing directly results in intentional, yet temporary, skin wounds. As a natural response, your skin becomes inflamed (swollen). Coconut oil may speed up the healing process by helping to combat this inflammation. This is thanks to ingredients such as vitamins C and E and L-arginine. Lauric acid also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties.
5. It moisturizes the skin
Due to its fatty acid components, coconut oil delivers a high level of moisture to the skin. This is what makes the oil so popular for eczema and dry skin. When considering tattoo healing, coconut oil can help protect the art from looking dull while also keeping your skin healthy.
6. A little goes a long way
Coconut oil is, in a nutshell, oily. This means that you can use just a little bit at a time. Compared to lotions and other moisturizers, coconut oil could potentially save you money because you don’t have to use as much. If you accidentally pour out too much, simply use the excess oil to moisturize another area of skin.
7. It’s safe for sensitive skin
Coconut oil is safe for all skin types. This includes sensitive skin. You can safely use the oil with little to no risk of adverse reactions. However, it’s always a good idea to do a small patch test first. For fresh ink, it’s particularly important to avoid using an irritating product as the wound heals.
8. It’s all natural
Tattoo aftercare ought to be as simple and straightforward as possible. Avoiding fragrances and chemicals can help reduce the risk of irritation and infection. Coconut oil can be a good product to use because it’s all natural. Be sure you’re looking at pure oils to reap this benefit.
9. It’s not tested on animals
Pure coconut oil is cruelty-free. This means that the pure oils aren’t tested on animals. It’s also good for the environment, too. Coconut-based products that have other ingredients in them might not meet this standard, so be sure to read the labels. If you’re unsure, research online to learn more about the production company’s practices.
10. It’s easily accessible
Coconut oil remains one of the most accessible beauty products around. This is due in part to the fact that coconuts are widely abundant. Coconut trees are increasingly being grown outside of the tropical climates they’re indigenous to. As a consumer, this means more affordable and reliable product access.
11. It’s affordable
Coconut oil is among the most affordable skincare products you can buy. This can especially come in handy if you have a brand-new tattoo (or have recently removed one), and plan on using the oil for a long time.
12. It can be bought in bulk
A tattoo is permanent, and the care you give to it should be as well. If you plan on treating your tattoo with skincare products for the long haul, saving money can help. Coconut oil can be bought in bulk to help you save even more.
13. It’s versatile
The last thing you want is to have yet another skincare product not being used and taking up space in your bathroom. You can think of coconut oil as sort of a Swiss Army Knife of natural skin care. Not only can you use it for tattoos, but the oil may be helpful for dry skin, burns, and wounds. Some people also use it as an anti-aging product.
How to use
Despite its generally safe and versatile reputation, coconut oil sensitivity is possible. Before applying on a widespread area such as your tattoo, be sure to conduct a patch test first. This can help ensure that your skin doesn’t react to the oil negatively before you use it in a large area.
To conduct a patch test:
- apply a small amount of coconut oil to the inside of your forearm.
- cover this area with a bandage.
- if you don’t experience any irritation or inflammation within 24 hours, it should be safe to apply elsewhere.
Coconut oil is safe to apply directly to your skin as often as desired. Ideally, you’ll want to apply the oil after washing your skin. Applying the oil to damp skin will help it absorb more effectively.
Products to try
For traditional cooking purposes, coconut oil comes in solid form. You can melt this at room temperature before use.
However, there’s a wide variety of ready-to-go liquids made just for the skin that you might try instead. Popular options include:
- Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil
- Shea Moisture Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- Viva Naturals Organic Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil
For easier, more precise applications, opt for a coconut oil stick. Check out this one from The Crafted Coconut.
Be wary of multi-ingredient products touting coconut oil. Chemicals and artificial ingredients can irritate the tattooed area, so it’s important to use pure products.
No matter which type of coconut oil you choose, be sure to read all manufacturer instructions before use.
Potential side effects and risks
Overall, coconut oil carries few (if any) risks. Still, the Natural Medicine Journal reports a slight risk of allergic reaction. This may be related to the lauric acid content. The journal also reports a small risk of hypopigmentation from the oil.
If you have a reaction to coconut oil, you could exhibit redness and an itchy rash around the tattoo area. You should avoid coconut oil products if you have a history of coconut or a general palm tree sensitivity.
Even if you think coconut oil is safe for your skin, doing a skin patch test is the best way to confirm this before a full-application.
The bottom line
Coconut oil is generally safe to use, but a skin patch test is the only way to know for sure. You should also check in with your tattoo artist or dermatologist before use — they can give you the OK or suggest a better alternative.
If you begin experiencing irritation, discontinue use. You should see your dermatologist if your symptoms persist. You should also see your doctor if you experience pain, oozing pus, or other symptoms of infection.
While tattoos fade over time, coconut oil won’t speed up this process. If you think the coloring of your tattoo is starting to fade, check in with your tattoo artist.
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