Sunburn can really put a stop to enjoying summer fun! Fortunately, there are natural ways to both prevent sunburn and to soothe sunburn if you overdid it. This quick read provides a little list of the best natural ways to prevent and treat sunburn so you can take care of your precious skin.
Summer is fully in swing and maybe it’s just me, but the sun seems really strong and fierce these days… when we take our walks, we pass many people with deep, dark sunburns (ouch!) and I am sorely tempted to offer up my suggestions for soothing those painful looking burns. Since I don’t often just walk up to strangers and offer advice, I’ll happily share my suggestions with you, dear readers. 😊
Getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D via the sun is essential to our well being, but overdoing it can result in the all too familiar and oh-so painful sunburned skin that everyone has probably experienced at one time or another. By now, we all know to cover up as much as possible when we are spending hours in the sun. And you probably know how important it is to stay hydrated, so remember to keep drinking water with you when you plan to be a long time in direct sun.
It is so necessary to protect ourselves from too much sun, especially for those of us with fair skin that is lacking in natural melanin that protects our skin (and allows us to tan rather than burn).
The majority of regular drug-store sun creams are full of chemicals that are truly awful for health, so much so, that I included a whole section on sunscreens in my article on chemicals in makeup and skincare products that could be making you sick.
Fortunately, there are some very effective ways to prevent sunburn naturally, or to soothe and heal your skin if you do get burned.
Eat Foods Rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Vitamin D
The sun provides us with the Vitamin D that we need, but it is important that we also ingest foods high in Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids. People who regularly take cod liver oil that is very high in these substances do not burn when they spend extended time in the sun. Interesting, no?
This is important, because we need to store enough immune boosting Vitamin D during summer to last us through the winter months. If we don’t take pro-active steps to avoid burning in the sun, we naturally spend less time in the sun… so we need to protect ourselves from getting sunburned so we can catch those rays that will provide the Vitamin D that we need during winter.
Taking cod liver oil and/or eating lots of foods that contain Vitamin D, such as salmon or tuna (at least 4 times per week) will provide us with the boost we need. A high quality cod liver oil, such as this cod liver oil from iHerb ✓ also provides a high amount of Vitamin A, which is much needed by our systems for immunity, bones and eyesight. If you don’t like to take oil straight, you can always get the cod liver oil in soft gels ✓.
Other foods that contain the saturated fats that help prevent sunburn are: butter, virgin coconut oil and whole milk products.
Take Supplements Prior to Spending Time in the Sun
There are also supplements that you can take if you are planning a vacation in the sun, or simply to prepare for summer. Even if you begin taking them during summer, it will build your sun protection – just don’t overdo it until some weeks have passed since you started a sun protection supplement regime.
These supplements are known to improve your SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and should be taken for between 2-10 weeks before intense sun exposure.
Astaxanthin is a natural cartenoid, containing the pigmented phytochemical, carotene, that gives a reddish-orange color to some algae, vegetables and seafood. Oddly enough, this natural pigment that makes foods and some sea creatures reddish-colored, (plus flamingos, because they eat algae and shrimp that contain astaxanthin) actually keeps humans from turning pink in the sun when we ingest it regularly!
Astaxanthin is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that also aids in preventing sunburn when taken internally. Here is a good quality natural astaxanthin supplement (made from micro-algae).
Vitamins C and Vitamin E
Both of these vitamins are strong antioxidants, and when taken together, they can not only neutralize free radicals in our bodies caused by sun exposure, but actually lessen the amount of damage that we incur by overdoing it in the sun.
Green Tea Extract
Green tea is a powerful antioxidant containing polyphenols that reduce inflammation incurred during sun exposure. When taken regularly prior to spending extended time in the sun, green tea extract ✓ helps to prevent the ill effects of sunburn.
Eat Foods That Contain Lycopene
This cartenoid pigment that is found in red colored foods, such as tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon and pomegranates can also be useful in preventing sunburn. Especially useful are foods such as tomato paste, that contain concentrated amounts of lycopene.
Apply Natural Oils Topically
There are several natural oils that you can apply topically to prevent sunburn. These include:
Pure Cold-pressed Apricot Kernel Oil
I used apricot kernel oil in the heat of a summer in a seaside village in India one year and for the first time in my life I got tanned (Me! Tanned!) instead of burning my very fair skin! I would suggest this apricot kernel oil ✓ which is something to put on whenever you are going to be in the sun.
Sea Buckthorn Oil
Sea buckthorn oil is a miracle oil, chock full of antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids, anti-radiation phyto-nutrients (plant nutrients) and skin protectors. If you want to prevent sunburn, sea buckthorn oil ✓ (good for both internal and external use!) is perfect for applying to your skin before going into the sun, as its natural ingredients help to block the sun’s ultra-violet (UV) rays.
Note: Sea buckthorn oil is bright orange in color, so be sure to mix it with a carrier oil (like jojoba oil or sweet almond oil) to prevent staining of clothes.
Red Raspberry Seed Oil
Red raspberry seed oil ✓ is very high in antioxidants and Vitamin E, which makes it an excellent sunscreen oil. when mixed with other sun blocking ingredients, such as zinc oxide as in this sunscreen by Earth Mama . (It’s advertised for babies, but hey, I like to treat my skin as carefully as I would a baby’s!)
Extra Virgin Cold-pressed Coconut Oil
Although there are many debates on the use of coconut oil as a sunscreen, extra virgin coconut oil (EVCO) will block some percentage of sun rays and is most effective when used along with oral preventatives (as noted above).
Natural Ways to Soothe Sunburn
During the first 24 hours following a sunburn, you should avoid putting straight oils onto your skin, as vegetable oils will seal the skin, not allowing it to breathe and absorb nutrients needed to heal. So, these suggestions are for initial treatment of uncomfortable sunburn:
Baking Soda and Oatmeal Soak
Soaking in a tub that includes a few spoonfuls of baking soda and oatmeal will definitely soothe your skin right after a sunburn. If you don’t have a tub, you can dissolve baking soda in warm water and throw in some oatmeal too… strain off the water after it has soaked for at least 15 minutes and dab the water on your skin for quick relief.
It’s a well known fact that aloe vera gel is excellent for soothing skin burns, and of course that includes sunburn! If you have an aloe plant, cut open one of the ribs and remove the gel to smooth over your skin. Store bought aloe gel is also useful and can be refrigerated to keep it fresh until use.
Or, you can use this great product that adds supporting soothing herbs to aloe gel:
Vinegar and Essential Oils (Peppermint, Lavender, Chamomile)
I’ve already mentioned that you should always have lavender essential oil on hand to treat minor kitchen burns in my previous article about natural first-aid, so it’s not surprising that lavender oil will soothe a painful sunburn. Peppermint is cooling and healing and chamomile is soothing and calming. Mixing a few drops of essential oils into apple cider vinegar and applying with a washcloth will soothe sunburned skin… you may smell a bit vinegary, but you’ll be more comfortable!
Mix a cucumber with a little bit of water in a blender and use the strained juice to pat onto sunburned skin. Alternatively, you can just cut open a cucumber and rub it gently onto your skin.
Yogurt is also soothing to sunburned skin, so smooth it onto your skin… it’s kind of messy but oh-so-cooling!
Black or Green Tea Bags
Soak black or green tea bags in a cup of water and let it cool… either lightly rub the bags over your sunburn, or dab the water on your skin with a soft cloth.
The same instructions work for chamomile tea, as chamomile is well known to be soothing and calming.
After 24 hours:
After 24 hours, any of the following oils can be used straight out of the bottle to not only soothe the skin but also to prevent infection and help to repair skin cellular structure that is damaged by sunburn:
- Apricot kernel oil
- Coconut oil
- Sea buckthorn oil
- Rosehip oil
And if you want to prevent or heal sunburn naturally, but just want to buy something pre-prepared, here is a great natural sunscreen that you can purchase – it don’t contain nasty chemicals and is made with your health in mind: Beauty By Earth Mineral Sunscreen ✓ (eco-safe and non-toxic)
Whatever you choose, just remember to take care of your skin when spending time in the sun!
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