Herbal Remedies For Sunburned Skin

A picture of Mel Mutterspaugh, calendula, and a woman who has sunburned skin
I'm absolutely thrilled to have you here as we delve into a topic that, ideally, you'll never have to experience—soothing and healing sunburns. Although sunburns are an unfortunate reality for many during the summer season, fear not! I have some incredible herbal remedies to help you find relief and promote healing when you need it most. 


In a previous episode, I shared tips on staying cool and hydrated on hot summer days, and I happily reported that my recent rafting trip with my family was a success—we all avoided sunburns by using protection. Unfortunately, I witnessed many people on the river who were already sporting fiery red skin. Sunburns can lead to premature aging and even skin cancer, so it's crucial to take preventive measures and learn how to alleviate sunburns when they do occur.


Understanding Sunburns and Skin Response


When harmful UV rays penetrate the skin, they activate the melanin, the dark pigment in the epidermis (outer layer of skin), which shields your DNA from damage. While melanin helps to tan your skin, prolonged exposure to UV radiation can lead to DNA and cell damage, causing premature aging or potentially increasing the risk of skin cancer. Sunburns occur as an inflammatory response to this damage. 

The body responds to sunburns by directing blood flow to the affected area, resulting in redness, warmth, and swelling. This process triggers pain and itchiness receptors due to the release of chemicals from damaged cells. As the days progress, you may notice your skin starting to peel. This is your body's way of shedding damaged skin cells to prevent potential cancerous cells. Once this peeling process is complete, your skin begins to replace the damaged cells with new ones.


Herbs for Soothing and Healing Sunburns


To help you avoid sunburns, it's crucial to practice basic protective measures, such as avoiding peak sun exposure times, wearing protective clothing, and using sunscreen. Speaking of sunscreen, I want to share my personal experience with creating a natural and effective sunscreen called Good Day Sunshine. During a long rafting trip, I tested my sunscreen against a store-bought SPF 50 product, and I was amazed by the results. Good Day Sunshine, formulated with herbs like Calendula and St. John's Wort in sunflower oil, green tea in coconut oil, rosehip seed oil, red raspberry seed oil, shea butter, vitamin E, beeswax, zinc oxide, and a touch of lemongrass essential oil, proved highly effective in preventing sunburns. Despite being a small business, I couldn't afford SPF testing, but the comparison with the SPF 50 product filled me with pride. You can recreate this sunscreen using the provided ingredients in small doses.

While preventive measures are ideal, sometimes sunburns still happen. In such cases, herbal remedies can provide much-needed relief. Vulnerary herbs are excellent for wound healing, making them suitable for treating burns. Mucilaginous herbs have cooling and soothing properties, ideal for alleviating sunburns.

Aloe vera is a prime example of a mucilaginous herb. Its inner gel, abundant in Allantoin, can be directly applied to the burn or frozen into soothing ice cubes for added coolness. 

Calendula, another remarkable herb, boasts anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties that specifically aid in soothing and healing burns. You can create a fresh calendula poultice, a salve, a cream, or even cooling calendula ice cubes by infusing strong calendula tea with chamomile. 

Lavender essential oil, renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties, can be diluted in a carrier oil like almond or sunflower oil. This blend can be gently applied to the affected areas or turned into a refreshing hydrosol spray. However, it's important to note that whole plant medicine is generally preferred over essential oils due to its sustainability and wider range of medicinal constituents.

Comfrey, rich in Allantoin, is exceptional for regenerating skin cell tissue. You can utilize its fresh leaves as a poultice, make a healing oil, cream, or salve.

Plantain, an abundant and easily accessible herb, is a true gem for soothing sunburns. Its leaves can be used fresh as a poultice, infused in oil, or turned into cooling ice cubes.

The mucilaginous root of marshmallow is equally remarkable for providing cooling, soothing relief. Soaking marshmallow root in water overnight creates a slimy, mucilaginous mixture that can be gently applied to sunburned skin.

A cautionary note: while St. John's Wort (used in my sunscreen) possesses anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties, it may be contraindicated for sun exposure when used internally, especially if you're on certain medications.


Prevention is always the best approach when it comes to sunburns.


Remember to practice sun safety by avoiding excessive sun exposure, wearing protective clothing, and using sunscreen. By taking these measures, you can greatly reduce the risk of sunburns and protect your skin.

But in the unfortunate event of a sunburn, fear not! We can turn to the power of herbal remedies to ease discomfort and promote healing. Embrace the wonders of vulnerary and mucilaginous herbs such as aloe vera, calendula, lavender, comfrey, plantain, and marshmallow root. These remarkable natural remedies possess incredible anti-inflammatory, cooling, and regenerative properties that can alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and stimulate skin healing.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for your continued support and for joining me on this herbal journey. If you found this episode helpful, please share it with your friends and together, we can make herbal #spreadlikewildflowers. 

One of my favorite places to get carrier oils is Mountain Rose Herbs has a special promotion right now.  I do have a partnership with Mountain Rose Herbs. Therefore, every order made through my link provides me with a small commission. I just want you to get high quality, sustainable herbs.

Have yourself an incredibly beautiful day and a wonderful rest of your week. Take care!

We Love the Mission and Sustainable Herbs available through Oshala Herb Farm, WishGarden Herbs & Mountain Rose Herbs and receive a small commission when you purchase through our affiliate links. Thank you for supporting our small business, and others on a mission to make this planet a better place to live!
 *Always remember to contact your healthcare provider when considering the use of botanical medicine as a possible treatment option and the medical considerations. While the information in this article is absolutely relevant, herbs work differently for each person and each condition.
 **I am a trained herbalist and not a licensed or registered healthcare practitioner. I cannot diagnose health conditions, nor prescribe medicines legally; I am not a medical doctor. However, I will recommend or suggest medicinal herbs for various health complaints, as I do believe in the safety and efficacy of botanical medicine.
 ***The information I’ve provided is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment. Please consult your medical care provider before using herbal medicine, particularly if you have a known medical condition or if you are pregnant or nursing.

Ready To Learn More?

Check These Out These Programs, I Promise They're Fun & You'll Learn A Ton!

Kid Safe Herb Club

Each month we'll do a deep dive lesson on one herb and its many medicinal uses. Plus, you'll get lessons on the foundations of herbalism, plant identification skills, and sustainability in herbalism. Plus, every month we'll do a live Herbal Show & Tell in the community! All for $7!

Join The Club

Apothecary Momma Herbal Mentorship

Live weekly classes & Q & A, plus a growing library of lessons to help moms handle everything from cradle cap to acne covered skin, and everything in between. It's all about empowering you, so that you can take your family's health back into your own hands.

Tell Me More!

Medicine Makin' Mommas

Start making safe & effective herbal remedies that actually work, and taste great too, so that you don't have to worry the next time the store runs out of the other remedies. From tinctures to salves, to lotions, and potions galore, we'll cover it all!

I Need This!

Check Out These Articles Next!

How Stress Can Lower Your Immunity

High stress is everywhere today. Thankfully there's herbs that can help us through.

Tell Me More!

3 Herbs To Ease Gut Inflammation 

The most essential herbs for a happy healthy gut, and easing your tummy upset.

Learn All About It!

Herbs To Boost Your Immune System

Discover the best herbs to increase immunity, especially when everyone you know is sick.

I Need To Know!