This Is How You Can Use Essential Oils to Treat a Sunburn

A sunburn can range from a pinky glow to a blistering burn. To treat everything in between, check out which essential oils dermatologists recommend.

How to treat sunburn

Liubov Silanteva/ShutterstockSunburn isn't fun for anyone, especially if you're on vacation and need to get relief quickly. While there are plenty of natural ways to treat sunburn, what about essential oils? "The goal of treatment after sunburn is multifactorial—your skin needs intensive rehydration and a calming agent to help with the inflammation," says dermatologist Mara Weinstein, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group. "We also need an antioxidant to scavenge the free radicals and help repair sunburn cells."

Essential oils you should look for

Fascinadora/Shutterstock"Tea tree oil, lavender, geranium, peppermint, coconut and chamomile are all soothing, especially with sunburns," says Dr. New York City-based dermatologist Michele Green, MD, a RealSelf contributor. "I like chamomile the best. It can be applied immediately after a burn. Coconut oil also is really soothing, much like aloe vera gel." (Here are some other essential oils that do wonders for the skin.) Login to or head to the nearest convenience store to pick up these essential oils for anywhere between $3 and $10 a vial, depending on the size and type.

Extra ingredients to soothe sunburn

Africa Studio/ShutterstockIf you can't get your hands on essential oils, look for products that contain those ingredients, as well as ingredients such as avocado oil, vitamin E, and vitamin C. The vitamins work well together to repair damaged skin, says Dr. Weinstein. "These are key antioxidants and help with wound healing after insult whether it be sunburn or a laser procedure which is essentially a controlled sunburn (without the UV damage)."

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How to apply the oils

areeya_ann/ShutterstockOils, vitamins, and gels can be layered and rubbed into the skin, dermatologists say. Dr. Green recommends using a cool cloth for extra relief, while Dr. Weinstein suggests refrigerating aloe vera for an added cooling effect. Dr. Green also cautions against applying any of these items to first degree or superficial burns—especially blistering skin, which likely needs medical attention. Make sure you know what else you should not do after getting a sunburn.

When will the pain stop?!

Alliance/ShutterstockAlong with your beach party essentials, you should always have your hat, longsleeves, and sunscreen when at the shore or next to the pool. This becomes double important after a sunburn. Depending on the extent of the burn, it might take a few days to fade away. Regular application of products will give you some sunburn relief, but make sure you don't make things worse by adding more sun insult to your injury.

Products that are worth it

noppawan09/ShutterstockIf you prefer a thicker spread than pure oil or gel, look for after-sun lotions that have natural ingredients. COOLA's Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion contains agave, aloe vera, lavender oil, rosemary extract, and sunflower oil, and promises to "promote collagen synthesis while offering UV protection and clinically proven relief from sunburn." MAKE's Succulent Skin Gel was designed to soothe, calm and comfort skin after exposure to any extreme conditions like high wind and heat. The formula includes aloe vera, prickly pear, chamomile, calendula and comfrey, which delivers intense hydration to sunburned skin.

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