6 Essential Oils That Will Heal Your Painful Sunburns

Try These 6 Essentials Oil for Sunburn Relief


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Enjoying the outdoors is always a fun time, but if you forget your SPF the chances of getting a sunburn are pretty high. As wellness and beauty enthusiasts, we know that the damage from years of sun exposure, the wrong SPF, or one bad sunburn, can increase our risk for skin cancer, hyperpigmentation, and other difficult-to-fix conditions.

Let's say you find yourself a bit on the well-done side after a day at the beach but are looking for relief with a more "clean" or "natural" approach—look no further than essential oils. Essential oils are a more controversial ingredient found in beauty products, yet, their use in aromatherapy and as a healing modality date back to the 10th century. The benefits of these concentrated plant extracts include being antimicrobial, mood-enhancing, or soothing, which are still the main reasons for their use today. And while it is relatively easy to get your hands on a bottle or two, you should opt for brands that expertly and sustainably source the highest quality plants to create the oils you find on the shelf.

What to Know Before You Use Essential Oils


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Nadine Artemis, founder of the skincare brand, Living Libations, has a helpful tip for starting your essential oil journey. The first is to patch-test your essential oils. "Our body chemistry is diverse, and everyone's skin is unique. People who are new to single essential oils and blends may want to patch test before using," she says. "To test, clean the soft skin inside the elbow with a non-irritating, fragrance-free soap, apply one drop, and cover it for 48 hours. If there is no response within three days, then it is likely that you can use the product without issue."

It is worth paying attention to the circumstances in which you are using essential oils and how much. "Essential oils can be powerful healers when used in the right situations and correct dosages," emphasizes Nichole Powell, founder of Kinfield. It's best if you dilute your essential oils in a carrier oil, like castor, almond, or jojoba before applying directly to the skin.

If you're ready to heal your skin post-sun exposure, try adding the below essential oils to your routine.

1. Eucalyptus

The essential oil eucalyptus has been used for centuries in oral and topical treatments due in part to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Since a sunburn is an inflammatory response in the skin, it makes sense that incorporating this into your routine can help ease the swelling we know all too well.

2. Frankincense

In the heat of the moment, you're most likely considering the immediate irritation from too much sun, but it isn't too early to start thinking about the after-effects. Frankincense is the perfect place to start. "There is also research indicating that frankincense contains components that fade pigmentation and protect from potential abnormal cell growth from the previous overexposure," explains Artemis.

3. Lavender

Artemis says "lavender provides plant-powered pain relief," and she isn't wrong. Studies have shown that lavender essential oil possesses properties that make it trigger an anti-inflammatory response in the body. This topical must be combined with a carrier oil or other ingredients to stop reactions on the skin. Some of our favorites include aloe, which can cool down hot-to-the-touch skin.

4. Peppermint and Spearmint

Widely known for its ability to help alleviate headaches, peppermint essential oil offers an immediate analgesic effect on sunburn. The root of this is menthol, which creates the cooling sensation associated with this plant extract. It runs in the same family as spearmint, allowing the two to be interchangeable when treating sunburn.

5. Rose

Rose essential oil works two-fold. Not only does it smell divine, but the benefits experienced by the skin can also be shocking. These include decreasing swelling, keeping bacteria at bay, and protecting against environmental stressors. Thanks to the high vitamin C content, rose essential oil can help with scarring, which is a possibility once your burns heal.

6. Sea Buckthorn

"A single drop of sea buckthorn contains 190 different bioactive compounds and the resplendent essential fatty acids along with the antioxidants, vitamins, palmitoleic acids, carotenoids, and phytosterols. These sink in deep to regenerate the skin to dodge damage and peeling," notes Artemis.

More Products to Try

If you find the idea of creating your own tinctures with essential oils intimidating, here are some products on the market that harness the power of these topicals.

Powell's brand, Kinfield, was founded on the idea that natural remedies are just as, if not more, effective than the traditional products at the store. "The main ingredient in the spray is aloe vera, long beloved for its ability to reduce inflammation and speed up healing, and we took it one step further by adding cucumber, eucalyptus, and spearmint to give Sunday Spray its uniquely cooling and refreshing feel that calms skin on contact," she says. "We also added prickly pear, sourced from California, which also helps to soothe and rejuvenate inflamed skin."

"Everybody Loves the Sunshine is our classic collection of alchemical essences, such as seabuckthorn, rose, and frankincense, as well as other oils from plants that evolved to grow best in full sun," says Artemis. "Apply daily before heading outside and after a day of play to glean the best benefits from these pearls of plant wisdom." Multitasking products are definitely editor-approved.

If a creamy, lotion-like texture is your preference, this option from Coola is a good choice. It has soothing ingredients like aloe, but the essential oil star of the show is lavender.