With summer, comes outdoor activities, and lots of vitamin D. While it can be nice getting some color, getting a sunburn is something else entirely.
You need to be extra careful when spending an extended time in the sunshine, even if you don’t burn easily. But instead of using store-bought products with bad ingredients, you can apply healthier alternatives. Here are the best natural sunburn remedies and sunburn protection for your skin.
Safest Ingredients For Natural Sunscreens
If you want to try natural sunburn remedies, the first thing to consider is what ingredients are in your sunscreen.
There is nothing wrong with going for a store-bought sunscreen if you don’t want to make your own, but pay attention to the ingredients.
You can still get a natural, organic sunscreen from the health store as long as you make sure it has adequate UV protection. Just make it doesn’t contain a lot of additives or chemicals. Remember, whatever you put on your skin should be good enough to eat since it absorbs whatever you put on it and uses it for tissue building.
Best Natural Sunburn Remedies and Sunburn Protection
Ingredients to Look for in a Natural Sunscreen
This is going to be one of the top ingredients to look for or include in your natural sunscreen. (Whether making it yourself or looking for a good store-bought option.)
Zinc oxide is a type of mineral that occurs naturally and can help reduce the UVA rays, which cause cancer, along with the UVB rays, which burn the skin. This creates a type of mineral sunscreen that helps to coat your skin and protect it.
There are a few healthy oils that your natural sunscreen might have. Not only do these do great things for your skin and complexion, but they contain a good amount of sun protection as well.
A popular one is coconut oil, which actually has some SPF properties. Others you might want to use are sesame oil, sunflower oil, and jojoba oil. These latter ones are also good carrier oils, so you blend them with essential oils before applying them to your skin.
Good essential oils for sun protection include lavender and eucalyptus. Just be careful not to use the citrus-based essential oils with natural sunscreens, like lemon.
Shea butter is an active ingredient in many natural beauty and body care products, including natural sunscreen. This also gives homemade sunscreen a nice cream-based texture like other types of sunscreen.
Best Essential Oils for Sunburned Skin
Essential oils can also be used for sun protection.
But, that is not the only thing you can use them for. They are also good for relieving pain and inflammation if you happened to get a sunburn.
Even with proper sun protection, you might still end up with a sunburn. It's easy to miss a few spots, or maybe you did not re-apply, or you have very light skin that burns easily. In this case, you can find relief naturally with the right essential oils.
Since your burned skin is going to be very sensitive, once again avoid the citrus essential oils. These are going to be too harsh on your burning skin. Instead, try some of the following oils instead:
Lavender is by far one of the most popular essential oil.
It is very calming and soothing, and can almost instantaneously provide relief for your burned skin. You will notice the redness is reduced along with lowering how much the burn is stinging your skin.
Peppermint is another wonderful essential oil for your skin. This essential oil can soothe the sunburned areas of skin while making it feel cool. It is also an analgesic, which is what helps to reduce pain.
In addition to these primary essential oils, these others are good options for sunburns:
Use Carrier Oils
Any time you use essential oils on your skin, you need to make sure it is diluted with water or oil.
For essential oils used in the bathtub or in DIY beauty products, it is already naturally diluted. So, when applying it directly to your skin, it must contain a carrier oil like jojoba oil, carrot seed oil, or grapeseedoil.
Pure essential oils on their own are too harsh for your skin, especially if they are being applied to a burn.
Soothe a Burn With These Herbs
The next natural remedy you can use for your sunburn is herbs. The great thing about using herbs is that they are not only easy to find, but you can grow them yourself right in your own medicinal garden.
The main benefit to growing your own herbs is that they are always at your disposal whenever you need them.
Herbs that can help provide a soothing sensation for your sunburn and help it to heal faster
Naturally, the first healing plant that is on this list is the aloe plant. Aloe has big leaves that contain a substance called aloe vera. Aloe has a gel-like consistency that you can use directly on a burn to cool it off and provide some pain relief. Aloe also helps to reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process. It can be used on mild and moderate sunburns.
Calendula is another herb with healing properties perfect for a sunburn. Calendula reduces inflammation and helps new skin cells to grow which will help to heal your sunburn more quickly.
Echinacea is a type of coneflower that provides a multitude of health benefits. It contains some different compounds that will help to soothe your skin and improve the healing process after you get a sunburn. You can use a product made with the herb, or apply cooled Echinacea tea to your burned skin.
St. John’s Wort
Many people know St. John’s Wort as a natural remedy for depression, but this herb can also be used to treat mild sunburns. It is not the dried herb you will use, but oil extracted from this plant to help with your burn.
If you have some oregano around, that can also be useful for helping to treat your sunburn. Oregano provides a soothing benefit for a burn, similar to how it is used with a sore throat.
The last herb on this list is rosemary, which also contains a lot of different health benefits, particularly for your skin. Many DIY natural beauty products contain rosemary because it has antioxidants in it. This can also help with your sunburn when used alongside other natural remedies, like herbs and essential oils.
You can use herbs in different ways for your sunburn. You can speed healing by drinking herbal tea or add dried or fresh herbs to creams and gels for your skin.
In the next section, we will dive deeper into some homemade sunburn relief products you can make right at home.
How to Make Your Own After-Sun Relief Sprays and Gels
DIY Sprays and Gels For Relieving a Sunburn
Lavender Peppermint After-Sun Spray
This first DIY product is a type of spray, which is good just after you have gotten a burn, and don’t want to rub anything on it. Even rubbing aloe vera gel on burned skin can be painful. This spray can just be sprayed on your skin, where it will be quickly absorbed so no rubbing is necessary.
The two main ingredients you are using are lavender essential oil and peppermint essential oil. You can decide how much to use but aim for equal amounts. About 15-20 drops of each one for a 4-5 ounce spray bottle should be good. The rest of the bottle simply needs to contain water.
Just add the drops to a spray bottle of water and spray it on your burn. Repeat as often as needed to find relief for your burn.
Aloe and Essential Oil Gel
This is a good option when you feel comfortable rubbing something on your burn. Aloe vera gel is one of the best things you can use for your skin, but you don’t need to use a drug store option. If you have access to pure aloe vera or you have a plant in your backyard, you can make your aloe gel.
Just get a small bowl and combine pure aloe vera gel with essential oils like lavender and peppermint. Mix them together, then add the mixture to a small jar. This can be kept in the refrigerator so it is nice and cool on your burned skin.
Soothing Herbal Sunburn Salve
This salve is a cream-based consistency and will soothe your burn while also helping it to heal. It uses a combination of oil, essential oil, and herbs.
You want to start with your pure aloe vera gel, then add some lavender essential oil, coconut oil (not melted), avocado oil, and witch hazel extract. Mix it together and use this salve on your sunburn.
More Remedies For Sunburn Relief
The first natural remedy is coconut oil, which you might have noticed is also in some different DIY sun relief salve products.
You can use coconut oil in its original creamy consistency or melted. Coconut oil is great for your skin, not only healing the skin cells but reducing pain and providing hydration you might be missing.
Coconut oil can also help to block a small percentage of the sun’s UV rays so it does provide a little added protection for your skin.
When you have a sunburn, what you probably want the most is something cooling that is going to soothe your burned skin. That is where cucumbers come in. This is by far the most cooling of vegetables, whether you use it on your skin or you eat it. For a sunburn. You can cut a cucumber into slices, places the flesh of the cucumber directly on your burned skin.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Don’t forget about the magical power of apple cider vinegar. You have probably seen this on many lists talking about natural products for all sorts of things, from digestion to burning belly fat.
When using apple cider vinegar on your skin to relieve and heal sunburn, you just need to make sure you dilute it. This is vinegar, so it does have a high acidic property that might hurt if it isn’t diluted with water first. It can also be added to some of your other homemade natural sunburn remedies.
Safe Sun Tips
- Cover up and find shade, or use clothing and hats as additional layers of protection to keep cool in the summer sun! Tightly woven fabrics provide more protection from UV rays than loosely knit materials like cotton-polyester blends.
- If you can, try to avoid having your skin exposed between 10 am and 2 pm. When the sun is at its strongest in a given day it's important that we make sure not too much of our body gets burned – especially those with fair or sensitive skin!
- Wear UV blocking sunglasses. Protect your eyes from the harsh rays of sun to avoid any eye damage, like cataracts and blindness!
- Beach umbrellas don’t protect you from the sun. Don't be fooled by an umbrella, UV rays are still shining down on your skin and reflecting back off of sand near-by! One study found that beach umbrellas only offer a SPF value between 3-7 which is not enough to keep you safe in high intensities for long periods of time; therefore wear sunscreen and protective clothing too.
- Remember to cover up in the car. Car windows are usually more protective than side windows, but not so much when it comes to ultraviolet rays that cause skin cancer and premature aging of your skin. So if you're heading on a cross-country road trip this season, make sure you protect yourself by covering up with long sleeves and applying sunscreen often!
- Don't avoid sun exposure entirely, it might be because of the fear that UV rays will give you skin cancer. But there are so many benefits to getting Vitamin D from the sun! Most Americans need more vitamin D in their diets and a little sunshine is all they need to get those nutrients into their bodies without having any nasty side effects like increased risk for melanoma or squamous cell carcinomas. Early morning and later afternoon hours are perfect times because these periods have less intense sunlight which can help keep your sensitive skin safe while still exposing enough light for Vitamin D absorption (just don't go crazy!)
- Use mineral sunscreens. The dangers of traditional sunscreen are that they contain nanoparticles, which can be harmful to the environment and human health. Luckily there is a solution! Mineral sunscreens use ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide in order to protect you from UV rays without having any adverse effects on your skin's cellular structure as well as the planet around us.
If you're like me, you feel better when you have a little sun exposure. So just take care to protect and prevent sunburn from happening in the first place. But if you do happen to overexpose your skin and you end up getting burned anyway, take care to use the best natural sunburn remedies above.
Typical over-the-counter sunscreen products contain many harmful chemicals (like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate) that your skin absorbs into your bloodstream. Blue Lizard is purest and healthiest over-the-counter sunscreen I've found. It has no chemicals, paragons and fragrances.
Do not use anything on your skin that you would not also eat. Purchase products that contain natural substances and little in the way of toxins or potential irritants. Otherwise, you are asking your skin to work harder to eliminate toxins.