While careful sun exposure can be very beneficial, sunburn can be very harmful and should absolutely be avoided. I’ve found that I don’t burn nearly as easily since changing my diet, but (rarely) sunburn still happens. When it does, I try to find ways to reduce the pain and redness quickly but also to help the body heal and hopefully minimize the damage. I’ve noticed that I feel better when I get regular sun exposure and that when I’m eating a diet that supports skin health and sun tolerance, I don’t burn easily at all. When I go somewhere like the beach, I absolutely prefer to get sun exposure carefully, use natural sunscreen when needed, or (better) cover-up or leave the sun when I’ve had enough, but these are the remedies I use if my skin gets a little pink:
A sunburn, like any kind of burn, can be drying to the skin and often the time spent in the sun getting the sunburn causes dehydration. Just as diet is important in avoiding sunburn in the first place, hydration is important to help the recovery process. I drink lots of water, herbal teas, kombucha and water kefir to keep hydrated.
Also vera is an age-old remedy for sunburn. It can be very cooling, but I’ve found that the plant works better than a gel or lotion. If you use a gel, look for a high quality one without preservatives. I’ve used this one with good results.
ACV & Herbs Spray
This is the most effective remedy I’ve tried for the pain of sunburn. Apple cider vinegar (diluted) is considered an effective remedy for sunburn, but I’ve found that it is more effective when combined with a strong tea of soothing herbs. Here’s how I make it: Boil 1 cup of water and add 2 tablespoons of dried mint leaf, lavender flowers, and dried plantain leaf. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, strain out the herbs. Add an equal amount of apple cider vinegar to the cooled tea mixture and pour in to a spray bottle. Spray on burn as often as needed to cool and soothe the pain.
Essential oils like Lavender and helichrysum can also help soothe the burn and speed recovery. I mix them in a bottle of water bottle and spritz on the skin as needed.
I use coconut oil as a mild sunscreen. I’ve seen SPF ratings for coconut oil ranging from 5-10 SPF. It isn’t strong enough to use alone for all-day sun exposure but is a great every day option for mild sun protection and skin health. Many people also swear by it for helping with sunburn. I haven’t tried it the day of a burn, but have used it for the few days after that and it seems to help stop peeling and reduce the redness more quickly.