Summer days are filled with fun outdoor activities with friends and family and for many people, soaking up the sun. We all want to make the most of those glorious sunny days. But too much sun will result in sunburn. Red skin that is warm to the touch, itchy leathery skin, pain, and if you are one of the unlucky ones to burn quite badly, your skin may peel or you can even get blisters.
Despite all the fun we make of each other, particularly when sun exposure and sunburn results in a sock, thong, or sunglasses tan, sunburn hurts and isn’t good for us at all. We should all be taking care to avoid getting sunburned starting with a broad spectrum sunscreen.
Fair-skinned people can burn in as little as 10-15 minutes and while darker skinned people can get away with a few hours in the sun, even they are not immune to the suns rays. Any unprotected exposed areas or putting on too little sunscreen can cause you to burn quicker than expected. The discomfort of sunburn can really dampen your fun, but not to worry, you can find quick relief through remedies.
Natural is always best since many commercial products have harmful chemicals in them that are not good for your skin and can cause hormone imbalances. Essential oils for sunburn is one of the best remedies out there.
What Essential Oils are Good for Sunburn?
Essential oils are great because many of them have analgesic effects meaning they reduce pain. They also have anti-inflammatory properties and have antioxidants which repair broken skin and they moisturize parched skin which will improve skin elasticity and soften the skin.
Here are the best essential oils for sunburn:
- Carrot seed
There are two essential oils which are the absolute best. When using peppermint oil for sunburn, along with the refreshing fragrance, you will notice a wonderful cooling sensation as it relieves the pain. You can also use lavender oil for sunburn and nearly any other skin ailment. It calms inflammation, soothes your skin, and helps to prevent infections due to its antibacterial properties.
But all the above mentioned essential oils will help to heal your sunburn. You can use a combination of them or just one by itself when creating your DIY sunburn remedy.
How to Use Essential Oil for Sunburn relief
Using essential oils for sunburn is easy. You can use these remedies multiple times a day for the best results.
1. Essential Oil Serum
Essential oils can be combined with carrier oils to moisturize and soothe the skin. This is one of the most effective ways to prevent peeling and to soften your skin. Use cold pressed or virgin oils as these will have the antioxidants and vitamins such as vitamin E and A that are so good for your skin as refined oils have a lot the benefits removed (1).
- Mix together 2-10 drops of essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil.
- If you are using an oil like coconut oil or palm oil you may need to heat it to melt it first before adding essential oil. If the oil is hot, wait for it to cool a bit first before applying it.
- Rub it into the affected area gently. There is no need to rinse it off, just wait about 20 minutes before putting your clothes on to prevent oily marks.
- If you prefer to rinse it off, wait at least 20 minutes before doing so.
The best carrier oils to use:
- Olive oil
- Sesame oil
- Sunflower oil
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Grapeseed oil
2. Essential Oil and Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has healing and soothing properties and contains vitamin E and C which combat the harmful effects of the sun on the skin (2).
- If you have an aloe plant, cut a leaf and squeeze the gel out. Alternatively, you can use store-bought gel, but make sure that it’s pure without chemicals.
- Add 2-10 drops of essential oil per tablespoon of aloe gel.
- You can also add some carrier oil if you prefer, but mix the solution well before each use since it will separate.
- Apply it to your sunburn and wait for it to dry.
- Then rinse it off.
- Add a cup of aloe vera juice to a spray bottle.
- Add 15-30 drops of essential oil.
- If you would like to you can add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of carrier oil.
- Shake it well and then spray it onto your sunburn.
3. Essential Oil Bath
When using essential oils for sunburn, applying them as a serum isn’t the only way. You can add them the bathwater to soothe your skin and just relax.
- Either pour some of your essential oil and carrier oil mix into the bath or add 20-50 drops of essential oil.
- You can also add a cup of apple cider vinegar or baking soda to your bathwater as they soothe sunburn too, but this is optional.
- Stir your bathwater to mix the oil in and then sit back and relax making sure that the water covers your sunburned areas.
- Soak for 20-30 minutes before getting out.
4. Essential Oil and Honey
Honey is an ancient remedy for healing wounds and is a common ingredient in skincare products because it can moisturize the skin and is antibacterial (3). Use raw or manuka honey as processed honey has lost most, if not all, of its beneficial properties.
- Mix together 2-10 drops of essential oil per tablespoon of honey.
- You can add some aloe vera gel too if you would like to.
- Spread it onto the affected area.
- Leave it on for 20-30 minutes before rinsing it off.
Tips and Precautions
- Speak to your doctor before using essential oils if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a medical condition, or are on chronic or hormonal medication. Certain essential oils have an effect on our hormones, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and can thin our blood. Always research your chosen essential oil well before use.
- Be careful with using essential oils around your pets. Not all essential oils are suitable for your fluffy or winged family members (4).
- Always do a patch test before using essential oils and never use them undiluted. The last thing you need is extra irritated skin on your already painful sunburned areas. Lavender and chamomile essential oils are usually safe for those with sensitive skins.
- If you develop blisters over a large part of your body, have a high fever, experience nausea, and/or vomiting, or you see your skin swelling or leaking pus, you need to see your doctor as you may have sunstroke or your sunburn may have become infected (5). This usually only happens in very severe cases.
- Wear loose fitting clothing that allows your skin to breath. Make sure that the fabric is soft so that it doesn’t scratch and rubs against your sunburn as little as possible.
- Don’t want to use oil or add it to your bath? Add a few drops of essential oil to your current moisturizing lotion for extra soothing and healing properties.
- Always apply broad-spectrum sunscreen if you are going to be in the sun for more than 20 minutes, preferably waterproof and in the form of a lotion as sprays blow away in the wind and you can easily sweat or swim the sunscreen off. Reapply the sunscreen if you have been swimming or sweating a lot even if it is waterproof. Use a good amount on every exposed area. Use at least SPF 30.
- Cover up with clothing, a hat, and a good pair of sunglasses with UV protection. Seek out the shade whenever possible.
- Download a weather app that shows you the UV index for your area. This will help you to plan accordingly when going outdoors.
- Eat foods rich in lycopene and beta-carotene (orange and red antioxidants) like tomatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato, and leafy greens. These foods help to protect you from sunburn and give you a natural healthy glow but keep in mind that they can’t replace a good sunscreen (6).
- If you like citrus essential oils, like lemon, orange, and bergamot, for example, be aware that they make your skin more photosensitive which means they make you more prone to burning in the sun. Only use them at night no less than 8 hours before sun exposure.
Enjoy the rest of your summer and remember to be sun safe. We hope your skin feels better soon! If you find that essential oils are not for you, try these other sunburn remedies for speedy relief instead.