Summer days call for sun, sand, and surf. But too much sun can lead to the painful sting of sunburn. As nature’s apothecary, essential oils rescue us with their soothing, healing, and anti-inflammatory properties. This article delves into the Top 15 essential oils for sunburn – A Comprehensive Guide on Their Use.
Causes of Sunburn
Sunburn is more than just a temporary discomfort; it’s a clear sign that your skin cells have been damaged by too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Let’s delve into the root causes:
- Ultraviolet Radiation: The primary culprit behind sunburns is ultraviolet radiation, which is divided into two types:
- UVA rays: These penetrate the skin more deeply and are associated with ageing, wrinkles, and some skin cancers. They are present during all daylight hours and can penetrate clouds and glass.
- UVB rays: These are primarily responsible for sunburn. Their intensity varies by season, location, and time of day (usually peaking at midday).
- Fair Skin: Individuals with fair skin have less melanin, which provides some protection against sunburn. Therefore, they are more susceptible to getting burnt.
- Time of Day: The sun’s rays are most potent between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., making it the riskiest time to be outdoors.
- Altitude and Latitude: The sun’s rays are more intense at higher altitudes and closer to the equator.
- Reflective Surfaces: Water, sand, snow, and even pavement can reflect the sun’s rays and intensify the exposure.
- Medications: Some medications can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, increasing the risk of sunburn.
Symptoms of Sunburn
While the redness and pain associated with sunburn might seem obvious, there’s a range of symptoms that can manifest based on the severity of the burn:
a. Mild Sunburn:
- Redness: The most obvious sign is a reddening of the skin.
- Warmth: The affected area feels warm or hot to the touch.
- Slight swelling: Mild swelling can accompany redness.
- Tenderness: The skin becomes sensitive to touch.
b. Moderate Sunburn:
- Pain: Pain intensifies from just tenderness to more persistent pain.
- Itching: As the skin starts to heal, it can become itchy.
- Tighter skin: The skin can feel tight, especially when stretched or moved.
c. Severe Sunburn:
- Blisters: These may develop hours to days after sun exposure, signalling severe skin damage.
- Swelling: The swelling becomes more pronounced.
- Headache: In some cases, sunburn can cause headaches.
- Fever and Chills: Indicates a systemic reaction to the sunburn, suggesting it might be sun poisoning.
- Nausea: In extreme cases, individuals can feel nauseous or even vomit.
- Dizziness: Dehydration associated with sunburn can lead to dizziness.
- Fatigue: The body’s response to healing can lead to feelings of fatigue.
d. After Effects:
- Peeling: As the skin heals, dead skin cells are sloughed off, leading to peeling.
- Irregular pigmentation: Dark or light patches can develop on the affected skin, which might be temporary or permanent.
Top 15 essential oils for sunburn
1. Lavender Oil
- Origin: This oil is sourced from the Lavandula angustifolia plant, predominantly grown in the Mediterranean.
- Description: Renowned for its gentle, calming scent, Lavender is a universal oil suitable for all skin types.
- Anti-inflammatory: Quickly reduces sunburn, redness, and inflammation.
- Analgesic: Alleviates sunburn pain and discomfort.
- Application: For sunburn relief, combine a few drops with a teaspoon of coconut oil and gently massage onto the skin.
2. Peppermint Oil
- Origin: This oil is distilled from the leaves of the Mentha piperita plant.
- Description: It offers a refreshing, minty aroma.
- Cooling Sensation: Immediate relief from the stinging and burning of sunburn.
- Analgesic Properties: Reduces pain and discomfort.
- Application: Mix 1-2 drops with aloe vera gel and apply to the affected areas for a cooling effect.
3. Chamomile Oil
- Origin: Extracted from the daisy-like flowers of the chamomile plant.
- Description: This is one of the gentlest oils, perfect for sensitive skin.
- Soothes Redness: Reduces inflammation and redness.
- Moisturizing: Offers hydration to sun-dried skin.
- Application: For best results, blend with jojoba oil and apply to sunburnt skin.
4. Tea Tree Oil
- Origin: Native to Australia, this oil comes from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree.
- Description: Recognized for its distinct scent, it has potent antiseptic properties.
- Prevents Infection: Essential for blistered or peeling sunburns.
- Anti-inflammatory: Reduces swelling and redness.
- Application: Always dilute with a carrier oil, like almond oil, before applying to affected areas.
5. Eucalyptus Oil
- Origin: Hailing from the tall evergreen eucalyptus trees of Australia.
- Description: With its refreshing scent, it invigorates the senses.
- Promotes Healing: Stimulates blood flow to aid in skin repair.
- Pain Relief: The cooling sensation offers immediate relief.
- Application: Mix a few drops with aloe vera gel and apply to sunburn for soothing relief.
6. Frankincense Oil
- Origin: Derived from the gum of Boswellia trees found in the African and Arabian regions.
- Description: This ancient oil has a spicy, woodsy aroma that’s calming to the senses.
- Skin Regeneration: Supports the formation of new skin cells.
- Reduces Scarring: Helps in preventing long-term damage from sunburn.
- Application: Blend with coconut oil and apply gently to encourage healing.
7. Helichrysum Oil
- Origin: Sourced from the flowers of the Helichrysum italicum plant, native to the Mediterranean region.
- Description: Known as the ‘immortal flower’, this oil has rejuvenating benefits.
- Skin Repair: Promotes cell growth and regeneration.
- Reduces Discoloration: Evens out redness and skin tone.
- Application: Combine with lavender oil and a carrier oil for a potent sunburn remedy.
8. Geranium Oil
- Origin: Extracted from the stems and leaves of the Pelargonium graveolens plant.
- Description: Offers a floral and slightly minty aroma.
- Anti-inflammatory: Calms inflamed skin.
- Balances Skin: Restores the skin’s natural moisture balance.
- Application: Mix with rosehip oil and apply to sunburn areas for best results.
9. Sandalwood Oil
- Origin: Derived from the heartwood of the sandalwood tree.
- Description: It has a rich, deep, and woody aroma.
- Moisturizing: Prevents dryness and peeling of sunburnt skin.
- Healing: Its antiseptic properties can prevent infections.
- Application: Dilute with jojoba oil and gently apply to the affected skin.
10. Rose Oil
- Origin: This luxurious oil is derived from rose petals.
- Description: Its sweet floral aroma is calming to the senses.
- Hydrating: Replenishes lost moisture from sun exposure.
- Reduces Redness: Soothes and calms inflamed skin.
- Application: For a refreshing after-sun blend, mix with cucumber-infused water and spritz on the skin.
11. Aloe Vera and Coconut Oil Blend
- Origin: A synergistic blend combining the hydrating properties of both aloe vera and coconut oil.
- Description: While not an essential oil, this blend is a staple for sunburn treatment.
- Cooling: Offers instant relief from burning and stinging.
- Moisturizing: Deeply hydrates and prevents peeling.
- Application: Apply a mixture of aloe vera gel, a few drops of lavender oil, and coconut oil to sunburnt skin.
12. Roman Chamomile
- Origin: Distilled from the Chamaemelum mobile plant.
- Description: Lighter than its German counterpart, it’s gentle on the skin.
- Soothing: Perfect for itchy, peeling sunburns.
- Anti-inflammatory: Reduces swelling and discomfort.
- Application: Mix with a carrier oil and apply directly to reduce sunburn symptoms.
13. Myrrh Oil
- Origin: Sourced from the resin of the myrrh tree.
- Description: With its earthy aroma, it’s been used for millennia in skincare.
- Promotes Healing: Speeds up the skin repair process.
- Moisturizing: Provides deep hydration to sunburnt skin.
- Application: Blend with frankincense oil and a carrier oil for an ancient sunburn remedy.
14. Carrot Seed Oil
- Origin: Derived from the seeds of the wild carrot plant, Daucus carota.
- Description: Offers an earthy and mildly sweet aroma.
- SPF Properties: Provides natural sun protection.
- Revitalizing: Rich in antioxidants, it rejuvenates sun-damaged skin.
- Application: Mix with a light carrier oil and massage onto sunburnt areas for relief and protection.
15. Tamanu Oil
- Origin: Extracted from the nuts of the Calophyllum inophyllum tree.
- Description: With its thick consistency, it’s a potent healer.
- Skin Regeneration: Accelerates the healing process.
- Reduces Inflammation: Calms sunburn, redness, and pain.
- Application: Apply directly or dilute with another carrier oil for deeply nourishing sunburn relief.
DIY Sunburn Relief Recipes Using Essential Oils
Harnessing the power of essential oils can provide comfort to sunburned skin. Below are some DIY recipes that are easy to make and apply:
a. Lavender Soothing Gel
- 1 cup of pure aloe vera gel
- Ten drops of lavender essential oil
- In a clean bowl, mix the aloe vera gel with lavender essential oil.
- Store the mixture in an airtight container in the refrigerator for added cooling.
- Apply gently to the sunburned area 2-3 times a day.
b. Peppermint Cooling Spray
- 1 cup of distilled water
- Five drops of peppermint essential oil
- Five drops of chamomile essential oil
- Combine water and essential oils in a spray bottle.
- Shake well before each use.
- Mist the affected area lightly, allowing it to air dry.
c. Calendula & Rose Healing Oil
- 1/2 cup of coconut oil (melted)
- Ten drops of calendula oil
- Five drops of rose essential oil
- Blend the melted coconut oil with calendula and rose oils in a bowl.
- Allow the mixture to solidify slightly.
- Apply gently to the sunburned skin once a day.
d. Eucalyptus Hydration Lotion
- 1/2 cup of unscented natural lotion
- Five drops of eucalyptus essential oil
- Five drops of tea tree oil
- Mix the lotion with the essential oils thoroughly.
- Store in a cool, dark place.
- Apply to the sunburned skin 2-3 times a day.
e. Chamomile & Geranium Bath Soak
- A bathtub full of lukewarm water
- Ten drops of chamomile essential oil
- Five drops of geranium essential oil
- 1 cup of oatmeal (optional)
- Fill your bathtub with lukewarm water (hot water can further irritate sunburn).
- Add the essential oils and oatmeal to the water.
- Soak in the tub for 20-30 minutes, ensuring the sunburned areas are submerged.
f. Aloe & Helichrysum Recovery Blend
- 1 cup aloe vera gel
- Eight drops of helichrysum essential oil
- Five drops of lavender essential oil
- In a mixing bowl, combine aloe vera gel with the essential oils.
- Transfer to an airtight container.
- Store in the refrigerator for maximum cooling relief.
- Apply gently to sunburned areas as needed.
g. Soothing Rosemary & Witch Hazel Toner
- 1/2 cup witch hazel
- Five drops of rosemary essential oil
- Five drops of tea tree essential oil
- Combine witch hazel with the essential oils in a bottle.
- Shake well before use.
- Using a cotton pad, dab onto sunburned skin for relief.
h. Sandalwood & Jojoba Moisturizing Serum
- 1/4 cup jojoba oil
- Seven drops of sandalwood essential oil
- Five drops of chamomile essential oil
- In a small bottle, combine jojoba oil with the essential oils.
- Roll or shake to mix well.
- Gently massage a few drops into the sunburned skin, especially before bedtime.
i. Neroli & Almond Hydrating Cream
- 1/2 cup unscented natural cream
- Ten drops of neroli essential oil
- Seven drops of carrot seed oil
- Mix the cream with the essential oils until well combined.
- Store in a cool, dark place.
- Apply to sunburned skin to help reduce peeling and restore hydration.
j. Frankincense & Coconut After-Sun Balm
- 1/2 cup coconut oil (solidified)
- Five drops of frankincense essential oil
- Five drops of lavender essential oil
- Melt the coconut oil slightly in a double boiler.
- Once liquified, remove from heat and mix in the essential oils.
- Allow to cool and solidify.
- Apply generously to the sunburned area, especially at night.
Precautions and Considerations When Using Essential Oils for Sunburn
While essential oils offer a plethora of benefits, especially for issues like sunburn, it’s crucial to use them responsibly to ensure safety and effectiveness. Here are some key precautions and considerations:
- Patch Test: Before applying any essential oil or blend to a large area of your skin, it’s advisable to perform a patch test. This will help you determine if you have any sensitivity or allergic reaction to the oil.
- Dilution: Essential oils are potent. For topical applications, especially on damaged or sensitive skin like sunburn, always dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil or lotion. This reduces the risk of irritation.
- Avoid Direct Sunlight: Some essential oils, especially citrus-based ones like lemon, bergamot, and orange, are photosensitive. This means they can react when exposed to sunlight, causing skin discolouration or increased sensitivity. After using such oils, it’s recommended to avoid direct sunlight for several hours.
- Quality Matters: Opt for high-quality, pure, and organic essential oils. Cheap or adulterated oils may not offer the same therapeutic benefits and could even cause harm.
- Seek Expert Advice: If you’re new to essential oils or have health concerns, consult with an aromatherapist or healthcare provider. They can provide guidance tailored to your needs.
- Storage: Store essential oils in dark, cool places. Exposure to sunlight or heat can degrade the quality of the oil.
- Avoid Eyes and Mucous Membranes: Essential oils should never be applied near the eyes, inside the ear canal, or on mucous membranes. If oils come in contact with these areas, flush with plenty of water.
- Children and Pregnant Women: Some essential oils are not suitable for children or pregnant women. If you fall into either category or are breastfeeding, always do your research and consult with a healthcare professional before use.
- Existing Health Conditions: If you have existing health conditions, especially skin conditions, be extra cautious. Some oils might exacerbate issues or interfere with medications.
- Discontinue Use: If you experience any adverse reactions like itching, redness, swelling, or any other form of irritation, discontinue use immediately and wash the area with plenty of water.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Essential Oils for Sunburn
Can I apply essential oils directly to my sunburned skin?
No, it’s generally not recommended to apply essential oils directly to the skin, especially when it’s sunburned. Always dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil or lotion before application to reduce the risk of irritation.
How soon after sunburn can I start using these essential oil remedies?
You can start using these remedies immediately after noticing a sunburn. However, for severe sunburns with blistering or broken skin, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional before applying any treatments.
Can I use multiple essential oil remedies at once?
While it’s possible, it’s better to stick with one remedy and monitor its effectiveness and your skin’s reaction. If you want to switch or combine remedies, make sure they’re compatible and don’t overwhelm your skin.
Are there any essential oils I should avoid for sunburn?
Citrus oils, particularly lemon, lime, and bergamot, can be photosensitive, which means they can react when exposed to sunlight. While they can be beneficial in some skin treatments, be cautious using them on sunburned skin and avoid sun exposure afterwards.
How long should I continue using the essential oil remedy for my sunburn?
Continue using the remedy until your skin heals or shows significant improvement. However, if you notice any adverse reactions, stop immediately.
Can I use these essential oil remedies as a preventive measure against sunburn?
While some essential oils have properties that can nourish and strengthen the skin, they are not substitutes for sunscreen. Always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
How often should I reapply the essential oil blends to my sunburn?
Typically, 2-3 times a day is sufficient. However, for blends with a cooling effect, like aloe-based ones, you can apply them as needed for relief.
Can I use essential oils for sunburn on my face?
Yes, but be very cautious. The skin on the face is more sensitive, so always do a patch test, avoid the eye area, and choose non-comedogenic carrier oils like jojoba or grapeseed oil.
Conclusion Essential Oils for Sunburn
Nature offers a plethora of remedies, and when it comes to sunburn, essential oils are a potent solution. From peppermint’s cooling relief to tamanu oil’s skin regeneration properties, there’s an essential oil solution for every sunburn need. Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil and test on a small skin patch before applying. Here’s to quick healing and more days enjoying the sun responsibly!
Disclaimer Essential Oils for Sunburn
- The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.
- Essential oils are potent and can cause allergic reactions or skin irritations for some individuals. Always conduct a patch test before using any new oil or remedy.
- Consultation with a healthcare professional or dermatologist is recommended before using essential oils, especially if you have underlying health conditions, are pregnant, or breastfeeding.
- Direct application of undiluted essential oils on the skin, especially sunburned skin, is not advised.
- The article doesn’t endorse any specific brand of essential oil.
- While efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of the information, the author or website cannot be held responsible for any omissions, errors, or outcomes resulting from the use of this content.
- Avoid using essential oils on infants or young children without professional guidance.
- Store essential oils out of the reach of children.
- The remedies and information provided are not substitutes for sunscreen or other sun protective measures.
- The efficacy of these essential oil remedies may vary from person to person. Results are not guaranteed.
- Always store essential oils in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight to maintain their efficacy.