The sun is both a great help and a great potential threat to our wellness.
On the plus side, it allows us to grow food, produce healthy amounts of Vitamin D, get the perfect summer tan, and we’ll admit…being able to see things is pretty great!
On the negative side, sunlight is partially made up of UV radiation. And prolonged exposure to this kind of radiation brings about sunburns.
And a sunburn isn’t simply a matter of your skin getting crispy! Apart from the pain, peeling, and blisters, UV radiation can break down the DNA in skin cells and if this happens too much, it can lead to skin cancer!
This is why 1) we should avoid sunburns whenever we can through sunblock-use or sitting in the shade and 2) it’s best to do all we can to help a sunburn heal.
Can essential oils help?
Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.
Some essential oils, particularly citrus oils and cumin, can increase the photosensitivity of your skin—increasing the likelihood that you’ll get a sunburn.
Other essential oils, like lavender, tea tree, and geranium, have properties that can help you heal up a sunburn.
So it’s all a matter of choosing the right oils to use in the right way.
(And no, there are no essential oils that work as sunblock. Sorry.)
How do I make a DIY Essential Oil Solution for Sunburns?
Decide if you are making an ointment or a spray
Most essential-oil-sunburn recipes you’ll find online are for 1) making a sunburn ointment or 2) making a soothing spray for sunburns.
It’s easy to see how an ointment might be a little more effective and how a spray might be a little more convenient—but, you decide for yourself what kind of sunburn solution you want!
Choose which oils to use
The most commonly used essential oils in sunburn-solution recipes are listed in the chart below.
Take a quick look at the properties and italicized cautions under each oil to decide which you want to use in your solution!
5. Do a quick safety check
Before you make a sunburn solution using these, or any other, essential oils, you should check:
- If you have significant blistering, unrelenting primary symptoms (the sunburn doesn’t go down after a few days), or significant secondary symptoms (fever, headaches, pain, chills, weakness), don’t use or stop using a DIY solution. See a doctor.
- Do a patch test with any new oil you intend to use in your solution. (It’s best to avoid having an allergic reaction on top of a sunburn!)
- If you have any serious medical conditions or fall into any very vulnerable demographics (pregnant, under 12, etc) make sure you check to make sure the oils you have chosen and the dilution ratio you choose (that’s the next step) are safe for you.
4. Choose a dilution ratio
Most DIY essential-oil recipes for sunburns use an oil dilution between 0.2% and 0.8%.
A few use dilutions between 1% and 2% though. And very few use dilute their oils to be more than 2%.
These dilution ratios may seem very small. But remember that 1) essential oils are very concentrated, so a little goes a long way, and 2) in these recipes, the oils are mixed in with other skin-soothing ingredients.
5. Decide how much sun-burn solution you are making, and therefore how much oil you’ll use.
Whether you are making an ointment or a spray, your solution is probably going to be anywhere from 2-8 ounces.
6. Choose your carriers
So, if your oils make up 2% or less of your solution…what is going to make up the other 98+%? Helpful, soothing carrier substances of course!
The exact proportions vary from recipe to recipe. But the majority of your solution will probably be made up of aloe vera, coconut oil, witch hazel, or water.
If you want to make an ointment, you’ll probably use more of the thick ingredients like aloe vera and coconut oil. And if you want to make a spray, you’ll probably want to use less of the thicker ingredients (if any) and use more witch hazel or water.
If you like, you can also add a small amount of a helpful additive—such as vitamin E oil, vitamin C oil, apple cider vinegar, black tea, baking soda, plain yogurt, or, if you are applying your solution in the bath, you can even use oatmeal!
7. Mix your solution well!
As long as you mix the ingredients together well, the order in which you put them into your container shouldn’t matter. But always give your solution a good mix or shake before each use just in case!
8. Beat that sunburn!
Apply your solution to your sunburned skin, making sure to not get any in your eyes, nose, or mouth. The solution will help the redness fade away and may even help reduce the pain! And if you’re very lucky, your sunburn may fade into a nice, summer tan!
It’s always best to wear sunblock and not get burned, but if you do get a little toasted by the sun, remember that you can use a great DIY essential oil solution to help you heal up!