Summer is here, the sun is out, and our skin turns cherry-red as we bask in the first burn of the season.
Yowch. Hindsight is 20/20, but what do you do for quick relief when you get a sunburn? And what do you do to keep your skin healthy as it heals?
Read on for some easy-to-make, natural sunburn remedies.
Toxins in sun relief
Of course, when you’re channeling your inner lobster, you could slather on some bottled goop that helps ease the pain instead. But what’s really in those bottles?
If you buy over-the-counter sun relief, be on the lookout for ingredients like parabens, alcohol, fragrance, and lidocaine. These ingredients can be endocrine disruptors (meaning they mess with your hormones), cause allergies, irritate the skin and lungs, affect the reproductive system, and even increase your risk of cancer.
Doesn’t sound like it’s worth it.
But there needs to be some sort of relief out there!
Natural sunburn remedies
When I lived in Mexico and closer to the equator than ever before, I found out that during the summer you can burn in about 8 minutes if you go outside without sunscreen- especially if you’re of northern European descent like me.
People would stand in the shadow of a light pole while waiting for the buses. (I wish I had a picture to show you- it was comical.
I would run from shade to shade and try to stay inside as much as possible. But there were still times I got burnt!
It’s just inevitable sometimes.
And since I’m not a huge fan of pain (who is?) I quickly found some ways to help my sunburns to heal, without spending loads of money on icky, chemically, over-the-counter products.
Thankfully, natural remedies are cheaper, cleaner, and more efficient in the long run!
They won’t just numb the pain temporarily, but really help your skin to heal and feel better.
Let’s get into it!
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Here are some natural sunburn remedies you can DIY easily and quickly for instant sunburn relief! Stick around til the end for some recommendations on non-toxic sunscreens that really work too- so that you don’t make the same mistake next time. =)
Lavender and coconut oil
Lavender and coconut oil are great for immediate sunburn relief, especially with blisters or burns.
Lavender essential oil is great for pain relief and will help your skin heal faster. Coconut oil is nourishing to the skin, helps reduce inflammation, and may relieve pain as well.
I usually make it by taking a small scoop of coconut oil in a spoon and then just add a drop of lavender oil! I probably do about two teaspoons of coconut oil to one drop of lavender. Mix with your finger and apply. Feel free to make more if you need- but a little goes a long way!
And if you have a headache from the sunburn or just have a really bad sunburn, you can try adding peppermint essential oil as well. Peppermint is great for headaches and pain relief.
Again, just add 1 drop of essential oils per 2 teaspoons- you don’t need a ton! So if you’re making this with both peppermint and lavender, you’d want to use 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of coconut oil with 1 drop each of peppermint and lavender.
I’m pretty sure aloe vera is a magical plant. It purifies the air of toxins, helps heals leaky gut and constipation when taken internally, and the plant is almost impossible to kill.
It’s also super useful for sunburns! Just cut off a piece of the leaf and rub the gel over any burnt areas.
If you don’t have an aloe plant, you can get one here so that you’re prepared for any time you get a sunburn! They grow fast to fill their pot and don’t need much sunlight or water.
You can also easily make your own aloe gel!
To do this, just cut off a couple leaves from your aloe. Make sure you’re cutting off only a few of the outer leaves. This will ensure that the aloe will keep on producing- cut leaves won’t grow back.
Wash the leaves, and cut off the thinnest portion of the leaf at the top- about the top ¼ of the leaf. Cut off the spines. Next, skin the leaf using a knife or veggie peeler. Then just toss chunks of aloe into a blender and blend it up!
The gel will save for around a week when stored in the fridge, or you can freeze it for later use.
And if you just want to buy the gel, make sure you’re getting one that is mostly aloe vera and doesn’t have a lot of fillers. This is a good one.
You can stick it in the fridge before using it for extra relief and cooling!
Take a cold shower
A cold shower can work wonders on a bad sunburn.
Not to mention it’s also good for circulation, muscle soreness, and to relieve stress!
Just make sure you aren’t using any products that will create inflammation– most soaps, scrubs, and other products do nothing to help you heal and might increase redness and pain.
After your shower, try applying aloe gel or an aloe lotion to help your skin continue to heal.
This remedy might be especially helpful before bed, so that your skin has a chance to cool down and you don’t feel like you’re on fire while you’re trying to sleep.
Apple cider vinegar
ACV for a burn? Whaat? When I first heard about this I was skeptical.. why would you put acid on a burn?
But it really works for instant sunburn relief! It can help with inflammation, redness, pain, and itching.
We’ve been given an amazing variety of plants to help us heal. And some of those plants are spectacular for sunburns and healing the skin!
Plantain, lavender, calendula, chamomile, St. John’s Wort, witch hazel, and comfrey help to speed up healing and reduce inflammation and irritation.
I get all my bulk herbs from Starwest Botanicals– they know what they’re doing with herbs and they always have what I need, at great prices!
You can try adding some herbs to your cool bath, or try making a compress!
To make an herbal compress, put a quarter cup of whatever dried herbs you like into a drawstring muslin bag like this one. (You can make multiple bags if you want). Then steep the bag(s) in hot water, just like how you’d make tea. Use 1 cup of water for each bag.
Let it steep for about 10 minutes, then stick your water and herbs in the fridge to cool.
Once it’s cool, just take a washcloth and soak it in the tea, squeeze out extra water, and apply to wherever you need it!
Sun soothe lotion
If you don’t have time to make your own infused herbal sunburn remedies, you can try this wonderful body cream instead! It gives you instant sunburn relief without the toxins.
The cream soaks in quickly and won’t leave your skin feeling like it has a coating of ick on it (as some natural products do) but also won’t end up drying out your skin (as some unnatural products do). It’s the best after-sun ointment I’ve found!
Sun soothe lotion is infused with a bunch of the wonderful herbs mentioned above, along with hydrating mango butter and cucumber seed oil- you’ll be feeling cool as a cucumber in no time!
And speaking of cucumbers- that saying is true for a reason.
Cucumbers help to cool you down and provide relief. Just take a cucumber or two and stick it in the blender. Store in the fridge to make it extra soothing, and use on burnt or peeling skin.
Save a couple slices for your eyes and you’ll be feeling pampered rather than pained while you’re healing from your sunburn!
Go ahead and give yourself the self-care you need after getting a burn. You have my permission. =)
Try to avoid too much sun while your sunburn is healing. Wear protective clothing, and enjoy the shade.
And I know it’s hard, but try not to peel your skin while it’s recovering. I’m like the queen of OCD, so sometimes I just need to go find something else to do if I find myself picking at peeling skin.
While you’re healing, make sure to drink lots of water– your body needs it. I carry my stainless steel water bottle around everywhere I go to make sure I’m getting enough, and that’s especially crucial when your skin is toasted!
Non-toxic sunscreen options
Raise your hand if you want to get a sunburn again! No? Me neither. But I also don’t want to get cancer- and lots of the leading sunscreen brands out there are filled with endocrine disruptors and carcinogens. They can actually cause the very thing they’re trying to protect against!
Getting enough sun -without a barrier on your skin- is a great thing. It helps you wake up in the morning, get enough vitamin D, and fights depression!
But burning for a tan isn’t worth it.
If you’re going to be out in the sun for a while and notice yourself getting pink, apply sunscreen.
Here are some better (non-toxic) options for a natural sunscreen:
This sun shield uses all-natural ingredients -such as herbs, oils, and beeswax- to sink into your skin and help protect you at a cellular level. It isn’t a mineral sunscreen and offers all-natural skin safety.
I use this one when I’m going to be near water. It’s a great non-toxic option that’s biodegradable, reef safe, and water-resistant. They never test on animals either.
(There’s also a kids sunscreen that is water-resistant, as well as hypo-allergenic… and a bit cheaper. I like both.) =)
You can also try this organic mineral sunscreen– I find that it’s a little harder to rub it, but it’s good for sensitive skin and works great!
Sick of toxins?
If you’re ready to pursue healthful living and get more toxins out of your life, make sure you get my guide to reducing toxins!
Sunscreen remedies and DIY sunburn relief techniques are just the tip of the iceberg- with this guide, you’ll find out how to reduce your exposure to toxins in and around your home.