Reasons to Use Coconut Oil on Tattoos

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There are many reasons why you should apply coconut oil on your inked skin. Recent research indicates that coconut has antibacterial properties that may protect your skin from infections. It has also been found to effectively moisturize skin.

Research has further shown that it can improve skin barrier function and promote wound healing. Coconut oil is also an affordable remedy that you can find and purchase easily.

coconut oil

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Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil, whether it’s used for general skincare before or after getting a tattoo, has multiple benefits, including:

  • Moisturizing: Studies have shown that applying virgin coconut oil as a moisturizer on people with dry skin is effective and safe.
  • Anti-inflammatory: In an eight-week study that included pediatric patients with atopic dermatitis, topical application of virgin coconut oil showed positive benefits in three different categories, including the extent and severity of eczema, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance. The study suggested that virgin coconut oil’s effectiveness was due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Antimicrobial: A small study of 52 adults randomized them to treatment with virgin coconut oil vs. virgin olive oil. It showed that virgin coconut oil was superior to virgin olive oil in reducing Staphylococcus aureus colonization.
  • Wound healing: An in vitro and in vivo study showed that fermented virgin coconut oil has a high wound healing potency.

How to Use

Keep in mind that post-tattoo, your skin will be irritated and red (in essence, it is a wound) and you will need to keep the broken skin clean to avoid infection. After a few hours of getting a tattoo, the site needs to be cleaned with gentle soap and warm water. You can then apply a thin layer of coconut oil on your tattooed skin.

Note, however, that several skincare products contain coconut oil and other ingredients that could irritate the skin or result in an allergic reaction. To avoid this, use a virgin coconut oil that has no preservatives or added fragrances. Because of its popularity in both cooking and cosmetics, you can find virgin coconut oil in supermarkets, health food stores, and the cosmetic section of many drugstores.  

Side Effects and Risks

Side effects from coconut oil are rare, but an allergic reaction known as contact dermatitis may occur due to topical exposure to products like cleansers, moisturizers, cosmetics, and shampoos that contain coconut-derived ingredients, such as coconut diethanolamide (also called cocamide DEA or CDEA) and cocamide sulfate. The risks of ingesting coconut oil include an upset stomach or anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.

Contact dermatitis symptoms may include a red, streaky, or patchy rash where the substance, in this case the coconut oil, touched the site of the tattoo. The rash may have red, blistering, weeping bumps, and the skin may feel tender. The rash may also ooze, drain, and crust, or become scaly, raw, or thickened. In addition, the skin may burn, itch, and hurt.

These side effects may occur a day or two after applying the coconut oil to the site of the tattoo and may take several days to clear up.

It is best to make sure you have no adverse reaction to a product before applying it on a large area of your skin. You may want to do a patch test before first use. Patch testing is a method used to determine the cause of a skin irritant or reaction.

A Word From Verywell

If this is the first time you are considering a tattoo, ask others who have tattoos what you can expect during the healing process and how to take care of the site. Make sure you go to a reputable tattoo artist who works in a clean and sterile environment; ask them what lotions they recommend for the healing process and if they recommend coconut oil.

To be extra cautious, consult with a dermatologist and ask them if they recommend coconut oil while the site heals and what else you can do to soothe the skin and keep the area clean.  

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8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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