SuncareFeatured Posts

Shea & Cocoa Butter For Sunburn: Do They Really Work?

Different types of butters including shea and cocoa butter on the table

Having a sunburn can be a painful and irritating experience. We all want to get relief from symptoms as soon as possible.

There are many products and home remedies to try, and it’s challenging to choose one product. Some of these products which gained popularity are shea butter, cocoa butter, and some other types of butter.

Shea and cocoa butter are natural products rich in vitamins, fatty acids, and antioxidants. They have healing, soothing, skin cell regeneration, and moisturizing properties, making them excellent choices for sunburn skin recovery. They turn dried and flaky skin back to hydrated and glowy.

The downside is they dont let heat produced by inflammation and swelling after sunburn be cleared out quickly. It’s because of their comedogenic (skin pore blocking) and occlusive properties. It’s advisable to use these products only after your skin has recovered from initial sunburn damage.

Next, we’ll discuss the sunburn conditions in which shea, cocoa, and other butters can be helpful.

Shea Butter for Sunburn

Nuts of shea tree

Shea butter is not a dairy butter. It is obtained from the nuts of the shea tree, which is naturally found in Africa.

These nuts are then boiled for many hours. Afterward, dried under the sun and ground into powder. Finally, they’re turned into a paste to obtain shea butter.

Shea butter is rich in vitamins A, E, and F, fatty acids, and antioxidants. These ingredients provide excellent skin benefits and keep it healthy.

book, “Shea Butter- The Nourishing Properties of Africa’s Best-Kept Natural Beauty Secret” published by W.G. Goreja, describes:

“There are significant amounts of UV-absorbing ingredients in shea butter which prevent sunburn.

Shea butter has special therapeutic potential. It has a significant healing fraction in addition to its moisturizing fraction.

Its application can relieve various skin issues, such as blemishes, wrinkles, itching, sunburns, eczema, skin allergies, insect bites, frostbite, and other skin conditions. “

Does Shea Butter Help Sunburn?

A container with pure shea butter for sunburn

If you have a mild sunburn, you can use shea butter for its healing, soothing and moisturizing properties.

But if you’re having an extensive sunburn, you shouldn’t use shea butter. Wait until your sensitive skin has recovered from the severe damage and regained its normal texture. The reason is shea butter can trap heat inside the body, which leads to poor temperature regulation.

Sunburn causes inflammation which leads to redness and raised body temperature. In this case, if shea butter is used, it doesn’t let all the temperature produced by inflammation and swelling be cleared into the environment quickly.

For initial sunburn stages, you should use anti-inflammatory drugs, hydrocortisone, aloe vera gel, and other remedies, which we’ve discussed in detail here.

Shea Butter for Sunburn Face

Shea butter can be used on the face. It can provide some degree of protection against sunburn. But it’s not a substitute for sunscreen.

Shea butter has excellent health benefits but is comedogenic (blocks skin pores) and occlusive. It can trap heat inside the body and slow down the healing of inflammation and swelling. It shouldn’t be immediately used after a sunburn.

In addition, because of its comedogenic (skin pore blocking) properties, it can also cause acne if overused.

You can use it after your skin has recovered from initial sunburn damage. Its healing and moisturizing properties help in skin cell regeneration. It turns dry, flaky skin back into hydrated and glowy skin.

Shea Butter VS Aloe Vera for Sunburn

Aloe vera has an excellent anti-inflammatory and soothing effect on sunburned skin. It can help reduce pain, irritation, and dryness caused by sunburn. It has many vitamins, including A, E, and antioxidants, which are great for skin health and healing.

When Should You Use Aloe Vera

While both aloe vera and shea butter help sunburned skin, aloe vera has the advantage that it doesn’t occlude the skin. It hence helps in better temperature regulation and inflammation reduction.

In the early stages of sunburn, aloe vera should be used instead of shea butter.

To understand how to use aloe vera for sunburn, please read here. You will also find other tried and tested methods for sunburn cure.

When Should You Use Shea Butter

For mild cases of sunburn or after recovery from initial inflammation and swelling, using shea butter shows impressive results. It is not sticky and has excellent reconstruction, healing, and rejuvenation properties.

Shea butter can occlude skin and can trap heat. It’s not advisable to use shea butter in severe cases of sunburn.

It is advisable to use aloe vera in the initial sunburn phase and use shea butter later.

Shea Butter Sunscreen

Shea butter acts as a natural sunscreen to some degree. It protects the skin from the sun’s harmful and damaging UV radiation. However, it shouldn’t be used alone as a substitute for commercial sunscreen.

Research published in Scholars Academic Journal concluded that Cinnamic acidin, a component of shea butter, protects against UV rays. The research also indicated that shea butter contains vitamins A & E, important for skin cell growth and healing. It also promotes blood circulation under the skin, providing a natural glow.

However, shea butter, cocoa butter, or any other butter or oil can not substitute for sunscreen.

research suggests homemade sunscreen recipes that are easily available online are risky because they are not regulated or tested for efficacy like commercial sunscreens.

Cocoa Butter for Sunburn

Cocoa pod containing cocoa seeds

The cocoa tree is found in Africa, America, and the Caribbean. Cocoa butter and powder is obtained from beans of cocoa pod. Beans are removed from the plant, crushed, and roasted. Cocoa butter is the fatty part of the beans.

Cocoa butter is rich in fatty acids and vitamins. It makes skin smooth and wrinkle-free. Its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cell repair properties help skin heal faster and retain health and glow.

It acts as a protective barrier against harsh weather, sun damage, and water loss.

It is part of many moisturizers and skin lotions. It is edible and also used in chocolates and sweets.

Cocoa Butter is Occlusive: It Can Trap Heat Inside The Body and Block Skin Pores

A container with cocoa butter inside

Now let’s discuss whether we should use it for sunburn or not.

Like shea butter, cocoa butter is also comedogenic, which means it can clog the pores of your skin.

It forms a thin layer or barrier on your skin, which can trap the heat inside. When sunburned, you’d want to cool off your skin as much as possible. Swelling and inflammation caused by sunburn can heat your body.

Since cocoa butter doesn’t let all that heat efficiently dissipate away from the body, it’s not recommended to be used in severe or extensive sunburn.

When To Use Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter, like shea butter, as discussed earlier, can be used for mild sunburn or when sunburn is past the initial healing stage. Some of its elements help cell and DNA repair.

You can use cocoa butter to return sensitive skin to its pre-sunburned glow. You can also use it when you go out in the sun. But remember, it’s not a substitute for sunscreen. It can be used alongside it well.

What Medical Research Says About Cocoa Butter

Shea and cocoa butter for sunburn- Infographic

A medical study was done to confirm the benefits of cocoa in preventing sunburns. A component of cocoa butter is polyphenol. Because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it can prevent sunburns and other UV-related side effects.

It was also concluded that the effect of UV protection was insignificant, and more research is needed for further clarity.

Is Cocoa Butter Good for Sunburn Peeling

Cocoa butter has excellent healing and cell repair properties. It’s also one of the best natural moisturizers. You can use it to repair sunburned, peeling skin.

  • Wash the affected skin with cool water
  • Pat dry with a soft towel or soft damp cloth
  • Apply cocoa butter and massage gently until fully absorbed

Remember to let your skin cool off from initial symptoms and then use cocoa butter for the repairs.

Body Butter for Sunburn

A person applying body butter after a sunburn

Body butters are products that generally contain cocoa butter, shea butter, coconut oil, or some other natural oils or butters to help moisturize, heal, and protect the skin.

These are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and natural elements beneficial for skin health.

One thing to keep in mind is not to use body butter immediately after sunburn. Let your body cool off from heat caused by swelling and inflammation. Afterward, use body butter to heal and repair the skin.

You should remember body butter is not a substitute for sunscreen. Remember to choose good quality brands and avoid harmful additives and chemicals when choosing body butter.

We have shared some of the best body butters for you, which we recommended to many patients. These products show amazing results for the skin.

Epoch Baobab Body Butter for Sunburn by Nu Skin


Epoch Baobab body butter is obtained from the fruit extract of the baobab tree in Africa.

It contains:

  • Ethnobotanicals give a soft and smooth texture to the skin.
  • Shea Butter with healing, soothing and moisturizing properties.
  • Anti Oxidants reduce inflammation and cell damage.
  • Macadamia nut oil consists of easily absorbable fatty acids which maintain the skin’s water barrier.

Some other beneficial ingredients include coconut oil, carrot oil, and glycerin.

This product has one of the best benefits for sunburnt skin healing.

Palmers Cocoa Butter for Sunburn


Palmar is a quality brand offering the purest and richest cocoa butter. Its cocoa butter contains polyphenols, flavonoids, antioxidants, and many vitamins, which help lower inflammation caused by sunburn and improve skin tone and texture.

It also helps soothe flaky and dry skin. Collagen, found in cocoa butter, helps repair damaged skin and improves skin structure.

It helps in locking the moisturizer in the body and helps against dehydration.

Vaseline Cocoa Butter for Sunburn


Vaseline cocoa butter lotion is a nongreasy and light product. It not only contains cocoa butter but also has shea butter.

It is a dermatologist-tested and fast-absorbing lotion. Once you start using it regularly, the results are visible in the form of smoother and well-nourished skin.

It’s an excellent after-sunburn product. It heals damaged cells and helps return all the lost glow and moisture to the skin.

Remember: Avoid vaseline petroleum jelly and only use this product as lotion.

Burn Butter for Sunburn

Burn butters are just like body butters; they usually contain shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and some other natural oils and preservatives. The advertised purpose of these burn butters is to recover skin after sunburn.

As I’ve already discussed,

These fatty acid-loaded products should not be your first choice immediately after sunburn. You can use these products, but only when inflammation from sunburn is gone, and you no longer feel a burning sensation.

I recommend you initially use some aloe vera in intial sunburn stages.

Be Careful About All Products:

  • Don’t use these products extensively on your face, as they could clog your skin pores and cause acne
  • Don’t use immediately after a sunburn; wait for the inflammation and swelling to cool off


Shea butter and cocoa butter have excellent healing and skin repair abilities for sunburn recovery.

Both are obtained from natural plant sources. They contain many useful vitamins and antioxidants, which help speed up skin recovery and heal cell damage after sunburn.

They also moisturize your skin and protect it from water loss.

However, you should not apply shea or cocoa butter directly after sunburn. These butters contain fatty acids, which form a layer of fat on your skin. It prevents heat exchange and doesn’t let your body much needed cool down after a sunburn.

You should first wait for the inflammation, swelling, and heat to cool off.

Then we discussed some of the best body butters and burn butters for sunburn. All contain almost the same ingredients. They are readily absorbable by the skin and can be used as nonsticky lotions.


Is butter good for sunburn?

Butter contains almost 80% fat. It is not good for sunburn relief as it forms a layer on the skin that can trap heat inside the body. It can even slow down the healing process. It also clogs skin pores leading to acne and other skin issues.

Cocoa butter vs. aloe, which is better for sunburn?

Aloe vera should be used after sunburn to reduce inflammation, swelling, and skin hydration. It also soothes and comforts the burnt skin.
Cocoa butter should be used only in mild sunburn cases or after the initial symptoms of sunburn have cooled off. It forms a fatty layer on the skin; therefore, it can trap heat in the body. It can slow down the healing process.
However, cocoa butter has excellent skin repair and healing abilities. It can help recover peeling, flaky and dry skin.

Dr Ahmed

Dr Ahmed is a medical graduate of National University of Medical Science. He has 7+ years experience in medical writing.

You Might Also Enjoy

Mexican Soap For Dark Spots

Mexican Soap For Dark Spots – Is It Really Worth It?

Discover the truth about T.Taio Esponjabon Soap - the best Mexican soap for dark spots. Can it really lighten the skin and exfoliate dark patches? Find out now!


9 Best Cleansers for Hyperpigmentation – Medically Proven

Medical and science based recommendations of best cleansers to clean up hyperpigmentation and dark spots. Choose the right product for your skin type and make an informed decision.


Native Sunscreen Review | High Quality With Affordability

Native sunscreen sits easily on the skin and doesn't grease it up. It doesn't flare up acne or clog pores. It's healthy for your skin and safe for environment.


Zinka Sunscreen Review: The Ultimate Sun Protection

Zinka Sunscreen provides broad-spectrum UV protection. It is easy to use, water-resistant, non-pore-blocking, and safe for health.

ā“˜ This article may contain affiliate links, meaning we'll earn a small commission if you purchase through these links at no additional cost to you.