With the arrival of warmer weather, for many that means worrying about sunburns and worse how to soothe them. This article will hopefully provide you with ideas for soothing sunburns with essential oils, hydrosols and more.
Soothing Plant Based Products
When looking at essential oils for skin that needs soothing, it is important to understand that applying them “neat” or undiluted will not be the most beneficial. In fact, in can potential increase your risk for an adverse reaction to the essential oils you want to use. So before you consider using essential oils, it is important to look at carriers that will be soothing first.
My number one go to product I use and recommend for soothing sunburns and a great addition to your summer tool kit is Aloe Vera Gel1. There are many available on the market and most can be easily purchased at your local pharmacy. Often times, if the sunburn is very, very mild, I will not use essential oils but use aloe vera gel by itself since it is very cooling and soothing.
Normally, for sunburns my preference is to not use fixed oils. However, if I don’t have aloe vera on hand, a fixed oil is necessary to help dilute essential oils. With that being said, for sunburns I will use Tamanu oil. It is a fixed oil that is pressed from the dried fruit/nut of trees native to Madagascar. It does have nutty and rich earthy aroma with hints of caramel to it so it is likely one you smell over the essential oils if you are using it.
I know I talk about hydrosols all the time but they really are the easiest, natural and most versatile plant based products to use – especially when it comes to soothing mild sunburns. They are also very kid safe and do not require diluting or any special formulating. I actually keep a bottle in my bag during the summer when we are outside for any amount of time even if we have sunscreen applied.
My favorite hydrosol for sunburns is Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). To soothe a mild sunburn, I simply spray it right on the skin. It really is as easy as that! A cool compress made with Lavender Hydrosol can be helpful for drawing the heat out the skin, too!
Another fantastic hydrosol to use is German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita). Suzanne Catty specifically mentions it being used for sunburns2. It is also one that can be used to soothe itching after a sunburn.
My next favorite hydrosol for soothing sunburns is Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum). Again, you can simply spray it right on to the skin or for additional benefits blend it with Lavender or Roman Chamomile hydrosol using a 1:1 ration and create a cold compress to draw out the heat and soothe the sting of the burn.
Generally, I look for essential oils that have a cicatrisant or skin healing benefits. There are so many that fit this category thankfully and many are widely available from reputable suppliers.
If you have ever heard the story about Gattefosse and Lavender, you may already be thinking to yourself that Lavender will be mentioned. It is in fact one of my go to essential oils for soothing mild sunburns! Andrea Butje actually has a nice recipe that includes aloe vera gel and lavender in her newest book that I like3.
Another essential oil I like to use is German Chamomile. It tends to be a little more costly than lavender, but is worth its weight in gold if you already use lavender frequently. It is a superior essential oil for soothing skin concerns where there is redness and inflammation. It is also kid friendly! Alternatively to this one, Roman Chamomile can be used.
The next essential oil I consider is Patchouli. I know many have a love or hate relationship with this essential oil. However, it has some wonderful skin soothing and cooling abilities that make it one of my favorites after a sunburn.
I always look to prevent sunburns so in this case, making sure I am taking breaks from the sun, applying properly formulated sunscreens/sunblocks and reapplying if needed is paramount. If you should end up with a mild sunburn, as I mentioned earlier, it is important to make sure you are not using essential oils undiluted on sunburns. Aloe vera gel or tamanu can be wonderful cooling and soothing natural carriers for your essential oils. Or you can use my favorite option – hydrosols.
I hope you found this helpful. If you did, please take a moment to share it to your friends!
Worwood, V. A. (2016). The complete book of essential oils and aromatherapy: Over 800 natural, nontoxic, and fragrant recipes to create health, beauty, and safe home and work environments. Novato, CA: New World Library.
Catty, S. (2001). Hydrosols: The next aromatherapy. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Butje, A. (2017). The heart of aromatherapy: An easy-to-use guide for essential oils. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House.