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Cool the Burn- Natural Sunburn Remedies

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Summer is in full swing, and what better way to enjoy it than with some fun in the sun? We wait all winter for the long, sunny summer days so we can enjoy the great outdoors. For many people, it is their favorite time of year. But bad sunburn can ruin it quickly, however. It's good to know some easy, all-natural sunburn remedies so you can take the burn away quickly!

After a full year of lockdowns and isolation, people are getting back out in the world. This is our time, right?! Many people are hitting the local pools, splash pads, and water parks. Others have pools or even sprinklers in their yards and are keeping cool at home.

People are flocking to beaches and enjoying hiking trails. There really is nothing like a little fun in the sun in the summertime! Until you get a sunburn. That can put a damper on any fun really quickly. A bad sunburn can make you miserable. Chills, weakness, fatigue, and that terrible burning pain.!

The absolute best way to avoid the pain of a sunburn is to not get one to begin with. You should always wear high-quality sunscreen when you're outside for any length of time, even on cloudy days. And yes, even if you "tan easily." You are still subject to sunburn and its harmful effects! But, if you happen to get a sunburn, there are ways you can soothe the pain at home, all naturally. You know I'll share them with you, but first, some tips.


Choosing a sunscreen:

Not all sunscreen is created equally. A popular chemical called Oxybenzone is used in thousands of skin care products for sun exposure around the globe. A 2016 study showed that Oxybenzone has many negative effects on ocean life, namely corals. Oxybenzone is not the only offender, though. There are other chemicals that are widely used in sunscreens that have harmful effects on coral. You can do your part by looking for an ocean-safe sunscreen.

The ocean isn't the only thing that can be negatively affected by sunscreen, either. Studies have also shown that chemicals in sunscreen have negative impacts on the human body. Oxybenzone may also affect things such as breast development, sperm count and function, and infant birth weight. That sounds serious, right? That is not a chance I am willing to take with my body or my children's bodies.

Fortunately, there are some sunscreen brands out there that are considered safe but are also effective. A good option is a zinc- or titanium-based sunscreen, or a combination of the two. For babies and kids, I like to use Babyganics SPF 50 * in the spray-on formula. It is easier to apply as a spray than a lotion because zinc sunscreens tend to be much thicker.

For adults and older kids, this Badger brand sunscreen * is a good option. Be aware, however, that is not a spray but a lotion and it is quite thick. I don't mind using it, but my kids don't care for how it feels so we stick to the spray with them.

If your measures fail...

An aloe plant in a terra cotta pot.
We have several of these little guys!

Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we or our little ones will end up with a sunburn. Don't beat yourself up, it happens. No one likes to see their kiddos in pain, and we don't enjoy it much ourselves either. Unfortunately, many of the "aloe" products sold in stores contain little to no actual aloe vera. They are a chemical concoction of who knows what that you probably don't want on your skin, much less your children's skin.

In fact, in this CBS article, the author discusses how lab tests actually showed that despite having aloe vera juice listed as a main ingredient in their products, there were no lab markers present to verify that aloe was in the goop at all. That's not what you want to hear!

So what's a parent to do? No worries! There are several all-natural options that you can keep in your arsenal:

  • Grow aloe- it may sound simple, but many people don't realize that you can in fact cut a fresh aloe leaf and squeeze the gel from the leaf to apply directly to sunburned skin. It doesn't get much more natural than that. We have several on hand. Not only is the pure aloe soothing, but it's also healing to the skin. If you choose to buy a prepared aloe vera gel, be sure you find one that is 100 % aloe without added chemicals.

  • Take a tea bath- the tannins that are present in black tea are soothing and beneficial to your skin. You can throw several tea bags into a tepid bath and once the water has darkened, climb in and soak. Make sure the water is not too warm. Not only will it be painful, but your sunburned body doesn't need that extra heat. If your face is burned as well, make a glass of tea and gently apply the tea to your face with a cotton ball. If soaking in tea doesn't sound like your cup of, well, tea, you may also apply tea bags that have been soaked in cool water directly to your skin. This may be a good way to treat a small child's burns as well, just be sure the baby doesn't get chilled.

  • Apple cider vinegar bath- apple cider vinegar is also soothing and simply adding about one cup of it into a tepid bath to soak can be an easy at-home remedy for sunburn. You won't smell like a pickle afterward, no worries.

  • Oatmeal bath- finely ground oats, known as colloidal oats, mixed into bathwater work similarly to tea or vinegar. Each of these options will soothe the skin. You can make colloidal oats yourself by putting a cup of plain, uncooked oats into a blender or food processor and turning them to powder. Mix them into a tepid bath and soak. If you'd rather buy colloidal oats, this * is a good option. For the money, though, I recommend making your own.

Other helpful tips:

When you or your little ones have a sunburn, you will need to take it seriously. Your body needs to heal the same as it would from an illness or injury. This means you will want to keep a few things in mind:

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate- drink plenty of water. Your body will need water to heal and your skin needs hydration to recover and regenerate as well. With a bad sunburn, dehydration is a real concern and one you want to avoid.

  • Stay out of the sun for a while- yes, kids get bored when they can't go outside. But it is important that they stay out of the sun for a while until they have healed completely.

  • Rest- one of the best things you can do for your body any time you are injured or ill is to sleep. Our bodies repair themselves as we rest.

  • Moisturize- a fragrance-free, gentle lotion can help soothe itchy skin as sunburn starts to heal. I love this baby lotion *made by Shea Moisture. I have used it on my own skin and on my kids. It's soothing and all-natural.

Any of these options or a combination of them should help ease a minor to moderate sunburn. If you are in excruciating pain or you don't feel like your or your child's sunburn is getting any better, you should seek medical help. There are things they can do that are not possible in a home setting and other treatments they can provide to help you recover.


While sunburn is definitely no fun, you can take the steps in this article to help care for it at home. As with any other illness or injury, if you feel like you need medical attention, don't delay seeking it. Sunburn can be very serious, especially in very young children. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

Do you have any other natural remedies you use for sunburn?

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