Which Essential Oils Help With Sunburns?

by Joshua Matzkin

With Summer in full swing in most parts of the US, we thought it'd be a good idea to give out our best summer tips, starting with how to use essential oils for sunburns. 

We've all been there, a beautiful beach vacay tainted by the painful effects of sunbathing sans SPF. Whether you wanted to shake off the ghostly paleness of a year spent social distancing indoors, or you're just anticipating showing off your vacation glow to your coworkers, you skipped the sunscreen and lathered up the tanning lotion (so not recommended).

Good news...essential oils like Peppermint, Lavender, Eucalyptus and Tea Tree contain natural properties that may help alleviate and soothe sunburns. 

Here's how to get your skin back to its radiant best after a sunburn with some natural remedies, including essential oils

woman getting a sunburn at the beach that she will treat with essential oils


Sunburn Causes

Sunburns are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. This can lead to adverse health effects with short and long term consequences as minimal as slight irritation, pain, and skin peeling or as severe as cancer.  

UV rays are a form of radiation that come from the sun. On the radiation energy spectrum, they're somewhere in the middle between radio waves (low energy) and gamma rays (high energy). They're not strong enough to penetrate through the body, but they can do some severe damage to skin. 

There are several types of UV rays including UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA is the lowest energy and leads to wrinkles and other premature signs of aging on a cellular level. While some cancers have been linked to UVA rays, the majority have been attributed to UVB rays because they cause direct damage to cellular DNA. This type is also the culprit when it comes to sunburns.  

UVC rays have the highest energy and are, therefore, the most damaging to skin. You won't encounter them on the beach, though. UVC rays react with the atmosphere before they reach Earth's surface, so they're of no concern on a sunny day. Most UVC rays come from man-made technology like UV lamps for bacterial disinfection. 


essential oils for the beach

Sunburn Treatments 

Overexposure to the sun can cause some severe health issues over the long term, like melanoma (a form of skin cancer). We strongly recommend preventative measures to avoid sunburns in the first place like limiting exposure, wearing wide brimmed hats if you're spending time outside, and always applying sunscreen. 

If you're reading this far, though, we're guessing this advice comes a little too late and you're already suffering the consequences of leaving the SPF at home. So, here are some of our best natural remedies to treat the symptoms of sunburns! 

  1. Aloe Vera gel. We know you know this one, but it's a staple for a reason. Aloe is well known for it's skin healing benefits, especially for burns. The best way to use aloe for burns is to take the gel directly from the aloe plant to ensure freshness and purity and smooth onto the affected area. You can also buy aloe gel from local drug stores or markets, just make sure there aren't any additives like perfumes that could be irritating. 
  2. Cool yourself down. It may ease some of the pain and swelling of a sunburn to apply a cloth with cool water to the affected areas. Make sure it's clean though, especially if your skin has started peeling. 
  3. Essential Oils. There are plenty of oils that will help treat the symptoms of sunburn like pain and swelling. Diluting in a carrier oil and applying gently to skin should work well. 
  4. Avoid sunlight. This one seems obvious, but can be a little hard to do if you got sunburned on day two of a week-long beach vacation. We know it's tough, but the best thing you can do is keep yourself safely in the shade.


Best Essential Oils for Sunburns


peppermint for sunburns


This oil is incredibly versatile, but good for burns because it contains menthol. Menthol has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and pain relieving qualities. 

The cooling aspect is an added bonus in sunburn relief. Simply dilute with your preferred carrier and apply to skin as needed. 


lavender for sunburns


Lavender is truly one of a kind. We're sure there something out there this oil isn't beneficial for, but that list is a lot smaller. Lavender's pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties make it good for burn healing

Not only does it speed up the healing process, its calming anxiolytic benefits can make a stressful situation a little less so. 


eucalyptus for sunburns


Eucalyptus is great for pain relief due to its numbing effects on the skin. After all day in the sun, this feels great on sunburned areas. It'll also be helpful in keeping skin moisturized. 

Eucalyptus is also anti-microbial, so it may help in keeping burned skin from being infected. 


tea tree for sunburns

Tea Tree

Tea tree oil is renowned for it's skin benefits, from acne to anti-aging remedies. It's antibacterial properties Kare great for burns and skin wounds. 

Safety reminder when using essential oils for sunburns 

Remember with any essential oil it is important to dilute in a carrier oil before applying. Never apply essential oils directly to the skin because the can be irritating and always perform a patch test. View our patch test guide here


Where to buy essential oils to use for sunburns?

Try our Breathe essential oil tincture in some coconut or jojoba oil to soothe burns. This blend contains peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender and more to help ease healing. 






Take Away 

While lounging under the sun all day is tempting as we settle into Summer after a year of quarantine, remember that a couple hours of fun in the sun isn't worth the effects of UV radiation. 

If you find yourself suffering from a sunburn, though, try some natural remedies like essential oils to ease symptoms and get you back to enjoying your vacation. 

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