Natural Sunburn Remedies that Work
If you spent a little too much time in the sun today, you’ve come to the right place. Not only are sunburns extremely painful and uncomfortable, they’re dangerous for your health. Avoid scaring and skin cancer with these natural sunburn remedies that work wonders!
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Why You’re Wasting Your Time with Traditional After Sun Products
If you are severely burned, your first instinct may be to run to the store on your way home and pick up an after-sun moisturizer or some aloe vera. Please, please don’t do that! If you’ve been to Essential Moves to Wellness before, you know how I feel about traditional home and beauty products.
If you’re here simply for the sunburn relief, I’ll break it down for you. Natural living is a kind of lifestyle that involves removing harsh chemicals hidden in your home and beauty products and replacing them with safer or homemade options.
It’s insane what dangerous ingredients are lurking in things that you put on or in your body every day! I started a gradual switch to natural living over six years ago, and I’ve never felt better. If you want to find out what’s in your products, try the Think Dirty App. It’s a completely free resource, and I have an in-depth review of the Think Dirty App right here.
While there are plenty of sunburn relief products out there, I would stay away from them because there’s most likely a slew of unwanted chemicals in the ingredient list. Things like “fragrance” are a huge no-no because there could be hundreds of unknown chemicals in this one word that gives you a certain smell.
Instead, go with simple, whole ingredients that work just as well, if not better, than traditional store-bought products. The ingredients I have listed below are even more effective in my opinion, because I use them all the time with great success.
The Best Natural Ingredients for Sunburn Relief
These things are the best of the best when it comes to sunburn remedies. You can use one or all of these ingredients, depending on how severe the burn is. One key part is to treat the burn as soon as possible before it starts to peel or blister. The sooner you treat it, the quicker it will heal.
I learned this the hard way at the end of my junior year of high school. My friends and I had an end-of-the-school-year pool party, and I was so excited that my friend (who I had a big crush on and later became my husband) was there that I completely forgot to put on sunblock.
Fast forward to later that night when I got home, and my mom was horrified to see that my shoulders were bright red. And I mean bright red. I managed to get second degree burns! Just putting my arms up over my head at dance the next day had me screaming in pain!
I had no idea how to treat a sunburn, so I just left it alone. I think my mom put some aloe on me once, but it was the non-natural kind. My skin began to peel to reveal raw, juicy sores that hardened into scabs. It took weeks to completely heal with little scars left behind. Sorry for the TMI, but I’m using the fear tactic to get you to put on sunblock in the first place!
Don’t do what I did, which was nothing. Treat your sunburn with whole, natural ingredients as soon as you can! Pick from the list below to make your own special sunburn remedy, and you’ll be fine in no time.
This is probably the most well-known of all sunburn remedies! If you try to find some in the store, make sure that you get some from a brand that sells pure aloe vera gel. This part is crucial! Most brands will have some kind of chemical in there to act as a kind of preservative.
One tell-tale sign is if it doesn’t demand to be refrigerated after opening, run the other way. Pure aloe vera gel will only last in the fridge for about six to eight months. My personal favorite brand is Lily of the Desert. It’s completely pure and natural, and one of their bottles will last you forever.
Lavender and Roman Chamomile Essential Oils
While we know lavender for its soothing aromatherapy benefits, it works great for your skin, too! Lavender is not only soothing, but it helps moisturize your skin and keep it from peeling. It also helps draw the heat out your skin while providing anti-inflammatory properties.
Chamomile is a lesser-known essential oil, but just as powerful as lavender. It’s more well-known as a great tea to have before bedtime, but it’s a great remedy for inflammation on the skin. There are a few varieties of chamomile oil out there, but I recommend Roman chamomile because it works best as skincare.
If you’re wondering where to buy your essential oils. I highly recommend Rocky Mountain Oils! They have pure, high-quality oils for a very affordable price with completely honest ingredient lists. And they ship for free within the U.S. You can read my Rocky Mountain Oils Review to learn more.
Lastly, if you’re going to use these essential oils, use them safely!! Do not put straight essential oils on your body without diluting them first! You could risk an adverse skin reaction that could greatly affect how your body reacts to essential oils afterward. It’s not rocket science, just read about Essential Oil Safety and you’ll be fine, I promise!
This might come as a strange ingredient for sunburn remedies, but oatmeal is actually a great thing to have among the natural living community. Oatmeal makes a great facial, exfoliator, and moisturizer! And when I say oatmeal, I literally mean oatmeal.
You’re going to make a healthy version of oatmeal to heal your sunburn properly. Take about 1 cup of oats and grind it into a powder in a blender or food processor, then add in some hot (but not too hot!) water or milk. If you want extra moisture, add 2 tablespoons of honey, and mix!
Apply your oatmeal to your sunburn and leave on for at least 15-20 minutes, then wash off. Your skin will be soothed and moisturized! I recommend doing this at least twice a day for the first day or so, depending on the severity of the sunburn.
Black Tea Bags
Yes, you read that right. While black tea can give you a small caffeine boost, it has great antioxidants that can help calm inflammation. It’s also moisturizing when left on your skin for a long time.
Black tea is also amazing at drawing the heat out from a fresh sunburn. The antioxidants combined with cool water make a one-two punch at healing your skin.
Just grab a pitcher and fill with cool water and about three black tea bags. You want the water to be pretty dark, so steep the tea as long as you can. Next, you can take a rag you don’t mind ruining and dipping it in the pitcher before wringing it out and placing it on the sunburn as a kind of cold compress.
Or, you can take out the tea bags and place them right on your skin. You can do either option, depending on the size of the burn.
Apple Cider Vinegar
One way you need to look at sunburn relief is to see it as first aid. Your skin is horribly burned, and you could get an infection from the blisters and shedding skin. Apple cider vinegar is the perfect disinfectant for sunburn, because it’s a great anti-inflammatory agent.
Apple cider vinegar is able to get rid of all the bad bacteria caught in your sunburn, while maintaining the good bacteria to promote healing (source). You can make it into a quick spray, or put a few tablespoons in a bath.
However, if you remember anything about using apple cider vinegar, remember to dilute it!! Straight apple cider vinegar can actually cause burns of its own. Just start with one tablespoon per one cup of water, and you’ll be fine. The easiest way to use apple cider vinegar is to combine it with water in a spray bottle and spray onto the sunburn.
Now you can rest easy knowing that there are simple and chemical-free alternatives to sunburn relief. But what’s the best way to use these ingredients?
Easy DIY Sunburn Remedies
Depending on how severe the burn is, or how determined you are to get your sunburn to go away, you can do one or all of these things below. If you have a sever second-degree sunburn, I highly recommend you do all of these things within the first 24 hours.
You want to prevent your skin from blistering and peeling to reveal sensitive, even more raw skin. So take these measures now before it gets any worse! Do these things in the order below, and continue to moisturize afterward as needed. So let’s start with the first step.
Draw Out the Heat
The realization that you just fried your skin can hit you pretty hard in the first few hours. Your skin is radiating heat, and it’s sensitive to the touch. The first thing you need to do is get that heat trapped in your skin out of there!
The easiest way to draw the heat out is to apply cool things to your skin. This can be a rag dipped in cold water, a cold bath, shower, whatever feels best. This is the best time to try that black tea method we just talked about! Make a pitcher of iced black tea, and dip a rag in it. Wring it out and apply to the burn as long as you need.
This step in crucial in the first few hours of getting a sunburn! The less heat in your skin, the less damage it can do. No matter how minor or severe the burn is, you should always try to take out the heat as soon as you can. But if you want to go further, there are plenty more sunburn remedies for you to try.
Take a Bath
I highly recommend this step if you are experiencing second degree burns, or any otherwise severe burn. If you have a light sunburn, you can skip this step if you want. But who wouldn’t pass up the chance to have a luxury bath?
First thing’s first, don’t make your bath water too hot. Warm to lukewarm is fine, just don’t make yourself hotter than you already are with that sunburn! The key is that the water should help to draw even more of the heat out of your skin while disinfecting and moisturizing.
You can disinfect and moisturize by adding in some of the ingredients we talked about earlier. I would add in at least a cup of ground oats, a few drops of lavender and/or Roman chamomile, and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Don’t worry about the smell of the vinegar. The lavender and oats should smell amazing!
Combine all your ingredients in your lukewarm bath water, and let yourself soak and relax for at least 20 minutes. Might I suggest you get some Netflix or YouTube videos to watch while you soak? Stranger Things has been amazing!
Anyways, slowly get out of the tub and pat yourself almost dry. You want your skin to take in the extra liquid left behind for some added moisture. Plus, a nice breeze on damp sunburned skin will feel amazing! Once you’re dry and ready to move on, there’s just one more thing left to do.
Soothe, Moisturize, and Hydrate!
Apply some long-lasting soothing and moisturizing agents to let your sunburn heal faster and with less pain. Whether or not you decided to do the soothing bath, you need to be reapplying extra moisturizing and soothing ingredients to your skin.
This can be as simple as applying aloe or a diluted lavender/Roman chamomile blend to the burn throughout the day as needed. The bare minimum should be once in the morning and evening for the first couple of days.
I absolutely love to use my homemade lotion on sunburns! It’s got all the soothing and healing properties I need, and it keeps my skin hydrated all day! Some of the ingredients, like aloe and lavender, are staples in this recipe. You can take a look at my DIY lotion recipe for yourself. I use it as a facial and body moisturizer every day!
Last, but definitely not least, you need to keep hydrated! Your skin is going into overdrive trying to heal from a burn, so you’ll need all the water you can get. Try to drink a few more cups of water than you normally would during the first 24 hours or so. Again, depending on how severe the burn is.
Final Thoughts on All-Natural Sunburn Remedies
The first 24 hours of getting a sunburn is the most crucial time to apply your sunburn remedies! Remember to first draw out the heat, take an optional soothing bath, and continue to soothe and moisturize your skin as much as you need.
All of these things will help your skin heal faster, and hey, maybe you won’t even peel if you’re diligent enough! And please don’t get any traditional sunburn relief products from the store. Those are full of dangerous chemicals that won’t do you any good. You want to use whole, natural ingredients that get the job done just fine.
If you’re wondering what I do for a typical sunburn, I apply ice-cold aloe vera gel I keep in my fridge as soon as I get home. I let it draw out the heat and do its work until it’s absorbed into my skin, then I apply my own lotion for extra moisture.
This is my lazy routine when it’s not that bad of a burn. If it’s a severe burn, then I take all the steps I mentioned above. But I hope that you never have to use them this summer. So remember to diligently apply sunblock, and have fun out there!
What’s your favorite sunburn remedy? Let me know in the comments below!
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