Almost everyone is probably guilty of spending a little too much time in the sun without sunscreen or found that when you’ve slathered on sunscreen for a day at the beach, you managed to miss a spot. Oftentimes, this results in a painful or uncomfortable sunburn.
However, it’s sometimes difficult to remember to be kind to your body’s largest organ, especially when you weren’t expecting to spend time outside in the first place, but the opportunity to spend some time out in nature was too enticing.
But here’s the problem for those who fail to carry a tube of sunscreen in their bag every time they leave the house: UV rays are responsible for the majority of the skin’s signs of aging, including dark spots, wrinkles, and sagging, less radiant skin.1 In fact, experts recommend wearing sunscreen even on gloomy days because of these effects.
Nevertheless, until you get into the habit of bringing sunscreen around you with more regularly, there are a range of natural remedies that can soothe your sunburn and maintain your skin health.
Essential Oils: Sunburn Soothers and Healers
It turns out that there may be a few sunburn-care options in your collection of essential oils, many of which have the power to cool the skin, relieve pain, and heal damaged skin.
The first step is to ease the pain of a sunburn, and there are several essential oils that act as natural analgesics, easing the pain when applied to the skin’s surface.
When using essential oils, remember to always use a carrier oil—aloe vera gel is an ideal carrier oil for pairing with oils to heal burns. A 2007 study from researchers in Thailand that appeared in the journal Burns found that burn victims who were treated with aloe vera gel healed faster than those who were given a placebo.2
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Pairing cooling, soothing aloe with essential oils can help the two work in synergy to speed up healing, so your sunburn fades without lasting damage.
Pain Relief from Sunburns
There are several essential oils that not only help cool skin but also relieve pain. These should be your first line of defense when dealing with a sunburn.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Eucalyptus acts as an analgesic when applied topically to sunburned skin. A 2003 study from researchers in Brazil found that the essential oil was an effective pain reliever in mice studies. The cooling elements of eucalyptus is an added bonus for cooling the hot sensation created by a burn.3
Peppermint Essential Oil
According to researchers in Iran, peppermint oil removes heat from the skin, so it not only cools overheated burns, but it also acts as a natural analgesic. This oil has also been attributed to relieving the itching that occurs as burns heal, so it’s a great oil to keep around throughout all stages of healing.4
Blue Chamomile Essential Oil
Chamomile is one of the mildest and most soothing essential oils, and it is pretty versatile too. According to a 2010 study appearing in Molecular Medicine Reports, chamomile acts as a topical anti-inflammatory, which can help ease the pain associated with sunburns. For severe wounds, chamomile has been shown to act faster than corticosteroids in expediting the healing process.5
Douglas Fir Essential Oil
Douglas fir contains bornyl acetate, which acts as an analgesic, relieving sunburn pain at the skin’s surface. A 2007 study appearing in the Journal of Chinese Medicinal Materials also discussed the numbing effects of bornyl acetate, further helping relieve pain.6
Helichrysum Essential Oil
Healing Essential Oils
Once the heat has been lifted from your burn and the pain has diminished, it’s time to look for essential oils that will help heal damaged skin, especially if the skin is peeling or blistered.
Some of the most effective oils for sunburn healing are also oils that provide the most benefits, making them must-haves for your collection.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is one of the most versatile oils available. In addition to easing stress and helping reduce signs of aging, lavender essential oil is also an effective treatment for burns, based on the results of a 2002 study appearing in the journal Phytotherapy Research.8
Tea Tree Essential Oil
A 2011 study from Australian researchers in the journal International Wound Healing found that tea tree oil can help speed up skin repair, including for injuries associated with sunburns. Researchers from Texas also studied the healing benefits of tea tree oil in a study that appeared in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2013.9
Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
Another versatile oil with ancient roots, Roman chamomile has been shown to help speed up wound healing faster than corticosteroids in studies, based on the results of a 2009 study in Phytotherapy Research.10
Carrot Seed Essential Oil
While carrot seed oil is thought to offer protection from UV rays, it also helps restore skin after a sunburn by stimulating the renewal of collagen and elastin cells, so as surface cells slough away, new cells are revealed.
For more intensive healing, coconut and argan oils carrier oils are both packed with nutrients that help speed up cell turnover and offer rich moisture to hydrate dry, parched skin.
As you might already know, the key to avoiding the negative effects of sunburns is by making sure that you carry around sunscreen as often as possible and apply it even on gloomy days. However, while you’re getting in that habit, the essential oils discussed above can provide you much-needed sunburn relief when you need it while ensuring that your skin suffers minimal damage from the incident.
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