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This Underrated Ingredient Can Soothe A Sunburn Overnight (Nope, Not Aloe)

Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor
By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
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August 11, 2021

Quick! What are the best remedies for sunburn? Chances are you offered up aloe or oatmeal—they are some of the most revered and age-old sunburn soothers, after all—but did you know argan oil makes a wonderful addition to your aprés-sun routine? 

Rich in fatty acids and antioxidants, argan oil makes a softening hair mask, a gentle cleanser, and in the case of this TikTok from board-certified dermatologist and mbg Collective member Whitney Bowe, M.D., an excellent choice for sunburn recovery. Here's why you shouldn't sleep on argan for your sunburn aftercare. 

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What makes argan oil so great for sunburns?

It turns out, argan oil has been used for centuries to help prevent sun damage, thanks to its antioxidant activity—one study even found argan oil helped protect against UV damage and hyperpigmentation. It's not a replacement for proper sunscreen or an excuse to bake under UV rays, but its free-radical-fighting effects are worth mentioning. 

As for its sunburn-soothing effects, argan's anti-inflammatory properties make it a top-notch treatment for skin barrier repair (tempering inflammation can also help burns feel less tender or itchy during the healing process), and an animal study found that applying argan oil could help speed up wound healing in second-degree burns. Not to mention, the oil is also full of fatty acids that can help boost moisture levels in the skin, which is especially helpful as the sunburn starts to peel. 

How to apply. 

Let's circle back to the TikTok tip: In the video, the user slathers on argan oil and lets it sit on the skin while she sleeps. Come morning, her once inflamed, red face appears completely calm—almost like the burn healed overnight. 

Sounds easy, right? But according to Bowe, the trick isn't as simple as the 30-second TikTok may have you believe: First, you'll want to be pretty selective about the type of argan oil you slip on. "The one she's using actually has fragrance in it, and that can be sensitizing," Bowe says. "I would prefer if you were going to do this hack, use 100% argan oil instead." (Here's a great option from the aptly named 100% Pure.) 

You should also know that argan oil does not work on fresh burns (see: hot, raw, angry skin). The oil is an occlusive, which means it can trap all that heat in your skin and actually make the sunburn worse. As Bowe clarifies in the comments, you should "try to avoid all oils or anything heavy [or] greasy until [the] burn cools down to the touch." Once the burn cools completely (and perhaps starts to peel), that's when argan makes a great remedy. 

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The takeaway. 

Argan oil can help soothe an uncomfortable sunburn, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and trove of antioxidants. While it's not best for fresh burns (you'll want to stick to aloe, oatmeal, or even ice in those moments), argan oil can help condition the skin as it heals and support the recovery process.

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Jamie Schneider
Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.