6 Natural Ways to Soothe Sunburned Skin

This information is for entertainment purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease and has not been evaluated by the FDA. Sunburn is an injury that should be treated by a medical doctor. These are some steps you can take until you seek medical care for this injury. Always consult with your doctor if you’ve experienced a sunburn.

Whether you were on your first day of vacation in the sun or working in the garden a bit longer than planned, sunburn is always unexpected. If you’re like our family, you save sunscreen for those times when you know you’ll be exposed  to the sun more than usual. In addition to protecting your skin from sun damage, most are filled with chemicals that have not yet been fully tested for safety.  Sunscreen also prevents your body from absorbing those imp0rtant B vitamins. If you need help finding a safe sunscreen, checking out the EWG sunscreen database to choose suncare with the least amount of chemicals. UV clothing and hats are also a great way to protect yourself from too much sun.Natural elements that heal burns

So, what can you do when you spend too much time in the sun?  The first step is to call your doctor. Seek their advice for how to deal with this in your personal situation. When it happens, act fast. Sunburn or sun poisoning can be dangerous, especially if it’s over a large part of your body and you should see a doctor for any medical issues. Here are some natural steps you can take to support healthy skin.  Therapeutic essential oils play a huge role in helping support skin health and you may evade the white, peeling skin that follows.  If you spend too  much time in the sun, you can support your skin’s health with these natural elements and keep your glowing skin supple: 

1.  Pure Aloe Vera – I use Aubrey’s pure aloe, you can also use a food grade aloe vera for drinking, to make sure your aloe is without chemicals or preservatives. Bathe the exposed skin in aloe and repeat as often as you’d like. A good schedule is to follow your body’s  cues. As soon as the skin begins to feel warm, apply more aloe. You can apply with a cotton ball, but I’ve found just pouring some in your hand, rubbing the hands together and gently splashing on burned limbs is gentlest. You could get the purest aloe right from a plant, just break it open to access the rich, healing gel.Pure aloe soothes burns

2. Lavender essential oil – make sure you use only food & therapeutic grade lavender essential oil from a quality source. If your lavender oil has any synthetics or additives in it, it will make the burn worse!  If you are unsure of the quality of your lavender oil, I would not use it on sunburned skin at all, synthetic chemicals can make a burn worse. Dilute 1 drop of lavender essential oil in 1 tsp of purified water and splash this on exposed skin. You can repeat this like the aloe, even up to every 5 minutes to help cool the skin. If you want to enhance the effects of the aloe, add a drop of lavender essential oil to a tsp of aloe and apply to the skin, repeated as often as needed.

3.  Frankincense essential oil – Just as with lavender essential oil, I would only use  Therapeutic food-grade essential oils that have been tested for purity. Now is not the time to test and see if your essential oil is pure, if it is not, it could make your damaged skin situation worse and painful in the process! Frankincense is often distilled with solvents to break down the hard resin. Make sure you only use food-grade frankincense essential oil on delicate, sunburned skin. Dilute your drop of  frankincense in a teaspoon of water or aloe and splash on warm skin. Frankincense is an excellent oil for mature skin and soothes redness and even works to keep skin healthier from aging skin or years of too much sun. 

4.  Pure vegetable oil like Coconut, Extra Virgin Olive (EVO) or Sesame oil. Organic is ideal. Save this oil for after a few applications of the aloe vera and essential oils. You can mix up your own gentle lotion that can be used for a day without preservatives.  I use a technique that is quick and easy. With clean hands, drop 1 tsp aloe vera into your palm, add a drop of essential oil of choice and a drop or two of vegetable oil. Rub the palms together quickly to mix the ingredients and apply gently to  sore skin. Adding the vegetable oil will help keep moisture in the skin, the essential oils and aloe will help cool the skin and soothe tenderness and swelling from damage. At the early stages of a burn, do not apply  pure vegetable oil to the skin without diluting it or it can keep the skin from cooling. Instead, combine the oil with more aloe or pure water so it gently holds moisture in.

5.  Pure water – use this to your advantage to keep sore skin hydrated. When you bathe sunburn skin, use warm water, not hot which will dry it out more. Follow a shower immediately with a pure vegetable oil like coconut oil, even when the skin is damp or moist to draw that water into the skin. Drink more pure water when skin is burned to lessen your chances of developing sun poisoning.

6.  Milk can soothe burned skin. Apply 1/4 cup to a soft cloth,  cotton flannel is gentle on the skin, and place the cool, damp compress on irritated skin. Whole milk works best as the fats help hold moisture in and of course organic would be best as you don’t want any GMO’s or chemicals in milk you’d put on the skin. 

Above all, keep skin clean and avoid these irritants that can make your burn worse:

Fragranced body lotions. The synthetic chemicals in fragranced body products can irritate delicate skin that has been overexposed. Instead, moisturize with gentle vegetable oils like coconut or extra virgin olive oil or organic body care products that have no chemical fragrance.

Synthetic essential oils If you are not using food-grade essential oils there is no way to determine if there are additives or fillers in your essential oil. Never use any product that is just labeled oil (“lavender oil”, “frankincense oil”) These are not good to use on sunburned skin and will most likely harm healing skin.

Perfume or Colognes are just combinations of chemicals that will most likely irritate sunburned skin. In addition, the added chemicals on your skin can stress your body which could prolong the healing process.

Chemical aloe products traditional drug stores are filled with blue & green colored aloe gels. These often contain chemicals that mimic the cooling effect of natural aloe. Even worse, they most likely have artificial colors and preservatives, the last thing you want your sun-damaged skin to drink in.suncare products with artificial colors

Surprisingly, I’ve found that when using natural methods to support healthy skin, minor sunburns are quickly resolved because of the body’s ability to naturally return to it’s healthy state. One vacation I suffered from a sunburn and used a drug store aloe vera product for sun damage. Within a day, my skin began peeling and flaking, something I’d never experienced before. Coincidence? Probably not. Natural home remedies support the body’s defenses to heal and restore itself to optimal health. Man-made chemicals often deal with immediate symptoms and pain rather than assisting the body in becoming more in balance.  Have you used natural remedies for sunburn not listed here? I’d love to hear if something new (or old) has worked for you.

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7 Responses to 6 Natural Ways to Soothe Sunburned Skin

  1. Ellie January 16, 2015 at 12:40 am #

    Really cold green or black tea work really well!

  2. kathy April 13, 2015 at 6:40 pm #

    Yes you definitely should avoid fragrances and synthetic essential oils when burned.

    Some unethical companies even label and advertise their oils as pure and organic when they are synthetic or highly adulterated.

    A few that have been proven to sell fraudulent essential oils are camden-grey , piping rock, and healing solutions.

    You can find the reports on Facebook, search for the group “Blue tansy analysis” and check out the pinned post!

  3. Susan P April 15, 2015 at 4:30 pm #

    Thanks for the tip Kathy!

  4. Mary June 7, 2015 at 9:23 pm #

    I have tried taking a cold shower or bath and icing the sunburn you want to relieve as much heat as possible

  5. Susan P June 13, 2015 at 8:04 am #

    Thanks for the tip Mary. I would suggest using cool water rather than cold or ice since the skin is already damaged from sunburn, too cold of temperature can traumatize the tissue as well.


  6. ethan vick July 12, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

    Is young living oils a good brand to use for the sunburn or are they synthetic.

  7. Mariya February 24, 2017 at 11:35 am #

    Plain yoghurt, kefir, or sauer cream also work really well. Once I got such a terrible sunburn that I could not lay on my back. I can’t remember if I used kefir or plain liquid yoghurt, but it soothed my skin and I could finally fall asleep. I think it might work even better than milk because you can apply layers of it, whereas you can’t do as much with milk.

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