How to Treat Sunburn Naturally: Discover the Power of Mineral Sunscreens and Essential Oils

Hey there, sun-seekers! Are you ready to bask in the warm glow of knowledge about sunlight and how to protect your precious skin? Let’s dive into the fascinating world of sunburns, mineral sunscreens, and essential oils that will have your skin thanking you every day.

Embracing the Healing Power of the Sun

There’s something truly magical about the warm embrace of sunlight, but we must be mindful of its potential to cause sunburn and other skin issues. In this article, we’ll delve into the mysteries of sunlight, the different types of UV rays, the significance of mineral sunscreens, and the wonders of essential oils in treating sunburn naturally.

Unveiling the Magic of Sunlight: Understanding UV Light

Sunlight encompasses three essential components: infrared (heat), visible light, and the notorious ultraviolet (UV) light. When it comes to sunburn, UV light takes center stage, dividing itself into UVA, UVB, and UVC rays.

UVA light also accelerates skin aging and contributes to wrinkle formation. Furthermore, it can harm skin cells in the basal layer, where most skin cancers originate.

UVA (320 to 400 nm) – Long Wave, The Tanning and Aging Culprit
UVA light stimulates melanin production, leading to the controversial yet sometimes coveted tan. This type of light makes up about 95% of the UV rays from the sun. While some studies show that gradual exposure to sunlight can protect against sunburn, it’s essential to exercise caution.

UVA light is present at the same intensity level during all daylight hours throughout the year. This light also penetrates clouds and glass, so ensure that you’re protected on cloudy days and when in your car. For the best anti-aging protection, wearing mineral sunscreen on your face throughout the year is recommended.

UVB rays can burn the skin’s superficial layers and penetrate deeper, causing cellular damage and altering DNA chemistry. If you’ll allow me to nerd out with a more scientific explanation…

UVB (290 to 320 nm) – Short Wave, The Sunburn Causer
UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn and skin cancers. Like UVA, it also contributes to aging and wrinkles. The largest amount of UVB light directed toward North America is from April to October between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM.

A bond is created between two thymine molecules, which creates an unnatural kink in your DNA. These are called “thymine dimers,” and they can cause increased mutations when the cell replicates its DNA. This can lead to mutations during cell replication, which is how skin cancers originate.

UV light skin damage diagram
Courtesy of Skinetrate

To shield your skin from UVB’s harmful effects, using sunscreens with appropriate Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is crucial. What is appropriate SPF, you ask?

SPF 30 is recommended for everyday use, while SPF 50 offers a marginal increase for shorter, more intense sun exposure.

UVC (100 to 290 nm) – Absorbed by Ozone Layer
Fortunately, UVC rays are absorbed by the ozone layer when it is functioning correctly, sparing us from their direct impact.

Understanding Sunscreens: The Guardian Angels Against Sunburn

Sunscreens come with an SPF rating, indicating how much longer it takes for UVB rays to redden the skin with the product than without it. Here’s a breakdown:

  • SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays.
  • SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays (recommended for daily use).
  • SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays.

For example, if you’re using sunscreen with an SPF of 15, it takes 15 times longer for your skin to redden than if you don’t use sunscreen. If you go up to SPF 30, this protects you against 97 percent of the UVB, which is fine for everyday wear. Remember to reapply at least every 4 hours for daily wear, even if you have makeup on. For more on this, read our sister article how to reapply sunscreen with makeup on.

SPF 50 offers a slight 1% increase for shorter more intense sun exposure like athletics. Sunscreen effectiveness can be decreased by factors such as sweating, swimming, and rubbing of the skin. That’s why it’s crucial to reapply at least every 2 hours when you’re active outdoors.

Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreens: Your Skin’s Best Guardian Against Sunburn

When shopping for sunscreens, you’ll come across three main types: mineral, chemical, and mixed formulations.

1. Mineral (or Physical) Sunscreens

On the other hand, mineral sunscreens function by reflecting UV rays away from the skin, rather than absorbing them. They contain ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

2. Chemical Sunscreens

Unlike mineral sunscreens, chemical sunscreens work differently. They permit UV light to penetrate the skin. Once the skin absorbs the UV light, the sunscreen’s chemical components, which may include oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate (as listed by the AAD), undergo a chemical reaction. This reaction converts the UV light into heat, which then dissipates from the skin.

3. Mixed Formulations

Many sunscreens combine chemical and mineral ingredients to offer broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. These formulations use chemical components to absorb UV light and minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to physically block UV rays. Enjoy the benefits of diverse active ingredients, catering to different skin typesand preferences.

Is One Type of Sunscreen Safer?

In May 2019, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that four sunscreen chemicals (avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule) were absorbed into the bloodstream at levels exceeding the FDA’s safety threshold. Another study in January 2020, also in JAMA, examined six sunscreen chemicals (including those in the first study) and supported the previous findings.

The results prompt further investigation, as they don’t guarantee overall sunscreen safety. Nevertheless, the risks of sun exposure far outweigh potential chemical absorption risks. As a precaution, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) advises against oxybenzone-containing chemical sunscreens due to concerns about hormone disruption and allergic reactions.

Dermatologists and ocean advocates warn against using chemical sunscreens while swimming in the ocean. A January 2019 review in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology highlighted the harmful impact of oxybenzone and similar chemicals on coral reefs. As a result, tourist destinations like Hawaii have banned oxybenzone to protect marine ecosystems (Center for Biological Diversity).

Why Mineral Sunscreens Are Ideal: Your Skin’s Gentle Protector

For these reasons and for individuals with sensitive skin or eyes, I highly recommend opting for mineral-only sunscreens. These sunscreens work wonders, especially if you experience any stinging when using chemical sunscreens.

Mineral sunscreens, with their zinc oxide and titanium dioxide content, effectively shield your skin by reflecting UV rays away, providing excellent protection without causing irritation.

Harnessing the Power of Essential Oils to Treat Sunburn

Nature has provided us with remarkable remedies for sunburn, and essential oils play a key role in soothing and healing sun-damaged skin. These oils stand out for their exceptional anti-inflammatory properties.

  1. Helichrysum italicum – Nature’s Skin Calmer
    With its skin renewal and calming properties, Helichrysum oil is an excellent choice for sunburn treatment. It promotes wound healing (1), soothes sunburn (2, 3), has anti-microbial properties (4), reduces inflammation (5, 6), and acts as an antioxidant, fostering healthy skin cell regeneration (7). To experience its benefits, consider using a facial cream infused with Helichrysum oil for after-sun care.
  2. Calendula officinalis – Aiding Wound Healing and Beyond
    Calendula is another exceptional essential oil known for promoting wound healing and relieving pain (8). Additionally, research suggests it may combat melanoma cells, potentially aiding in the prevention of skin cancer (9).
  3. Lavender – The Calming Skin Healer
    Lavender oil is renowned for its calming and healing effects on the skin. When it comes to sunburn, lavender oil can work wonders in reducing inflammation, redness, and pain. Its soothing properties provide relief and comfort to sun-stressed skin. Lavender oil promotes skin regeneration, aiding in the recovery process and helping your skin bounce back from sunburn’s effects. To experience its benefits, consider using a micellar water infused with Lavender oil.
  4. Chamomile – The Gentle Skin Soother
    Another powerhouse in the world of essential oils, chamomile possesses excellent anti-inflammatory and skin-calming properties. When applied to sunburned skin, chamomile oil works to soothe irritation and reduce redness. Its gentle nature makes it an ideal choice for sensitive or inflamed skin. To experience its benefits, consider using a facial cream infused with Chamomile oil for after-sun care.

How to Treat Sunburn Naturally: Soothing Skin Recipe

Medical Disclaimer: If you experience severe sunburn, it is essential to seek medical attention from a licensed physician rather than attempting self-treatment. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice.

For those seeking a natural remedy for sunburn, this simple recipe combining essential oils is highly effective.


  • 10 drops Helichrysum italicum essential oil
  • 2 drops Calendula officinalis essential oil
  • 5 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil
  • 1/3 cup almond or jojoba oil
  • 1 tablespoon shea butter
  • Glass jar with a lid


  1. Heat a saucepan with two inches of water on low heat.
  2. Combine all ingredients in the glass jar.
  3. Place the jar in the saucepan and stir until the ingredients melt.
  4. Once cooled, gently rub the mixture over the sunburned area.
  5. Store the jar away from light in a cool place and use within 4-6 weeks.

How to Treat Sunburn: Healthy Sun Care Tips

With the power of essential oils like Helichrysum and Chamomile, you can naturally treat and soothe sunburned skin, providing it with the care and healing it needs. Remember, it’s essential to treat your skin with compassion, especially after sun exposure. Seek relief with these cooling tips:

  • get out of the sun as soon as possible
  • cool your skin with a cool shower or damp towel
  • apply aftersun cream (one with no petroleum-based ingredients)
  • drink plenty of water to cool down and prevent dehydration
  • cover sunburnt skin from direct sunlight until your skin has fully healed

How to Treat Sunburn: Healthy Sun Care Don’ts

  • do not use creams with petroleum-based ingredients or petroleum jelly on sunburnt skin
  • do not put ice or ice packs on sunburnt skin
  • do not pop any blisters that develop
  • do not scratch or remove peeling skin
  • do not wear tight-fitting clothes over sunburnt skin

Do you have more to add? We value your thoughts and experiences, so don’t hesitate to share your favorite sunscreens, calming essential oils, and after-sun care tips in the comments below. Your voice matters, and we can’t wait to hear from you!

Embrace the Radiance of Healthy Skin with Organic Radiance Skincare

Soothe your sunburned skin with the caring touch of natural healing, as if it were a bold red lipstick that’s just a little too sassy for its own good!

Indulge in luxurious self-care with our hand-crafted line of soothing skincare products, specially formulated for sensitive, mature, and Rosacea-prone skin. Visit Organic Radiance Skincare today and uncover the transformative power of nature in our calming skincare products.

Let’s bring some relief to your sunburned adventures and nurture your skin back to its radiant best!

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1. Han, et al. Chemical composition analysis and in vitro biological activities of ten essential oils in human skin cells. Biochim Open. 2017 Apr 26;5:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.biopen.2017.04.001. eCollection 2017 Dec.

2. Maffei, et al. Anti-erythematous and photoprotective activities in guinea pigs and in man of
topically applied flavonoids from Helichrysum italicum G. Don. Acta Therapeutica. 1988; 14: 323-345.

3. Maffei, et al. Phytochemical characterization and radical scavenger activities of flavonoids from Helichrysum italicum G. Don (Compositae). Pharmacological Research. 1990; 22: 709-720.

4. Nostro, et al. “Effects of Helichrysum italicum extract on growth and enzymatic activity of Staphylococcus aureus.” Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2001 Jun;17(6):517-20.

5. Antunes Viegas. Helichrysum italicum: from traditional use to scientific data. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;151(1):54-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.11.005. Epub 2013 Nov 14.

6. Sala, et al. Anti‐inflammatory and antioxidant properties of Helichrysum italicum. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 54: 365-371. 2002. doi:10.1211/0022357021778600

7. Guinoiseau, E., et al. Biological properties and resistance reversal effect of Helichrysum italicum (Roth) G. Don. Microbial pathogens and strategies for combating them: science, technology and education 2 (2013): 1073-1080.

8. Disha Arora, et al. A review on phytochemistry and ethnopharmacological aspects of genus Calendula. Pharmacogn Rev. 2013 Jul-Dec; 7(14): 179–187. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.120520

9. Ukiya, et al. Anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor-promoting, and cytotoxic activities of constituents of marigold (Calendula officinalis) flowers. J Nat Prod. 2006 Dec;69(12):1692-6

10. American Academy of Dermatology. (n.d.). Understanding Sunscreen Labels.,block%20nearly%2096.7%25%20of%20UVB

11. (n.d.). Sunscreen FAQ.

12. Matta MK, et al. Effect of Sunscreen Application Under Maximal Use Conditions on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2019 May 21;321(20):2082-2091. doi: 10.1001/jama.2019.5586.

13. Matta MK, et al. Effect of Sunscreen Application on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2020 Jan 21;323(3):256-267. doi: 10.1001/jama.2019.20747.

14. Poiger T, et al. Occurrence of UV Filter Compounds from Sunscreens in Surface Waters: Regional Mass Balance in Two Swiss Lakes. Chemosphere. 2004 Nov;55(7):951-63. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2004.01.012.

15. Mitchelmore CL, et al. Occurrence and Distribution of UV-Filters and Other Anthropogenic Contaminants in Coastal Surface Water, Sediment, and Coral Tissue from Hawaii. Sci Total Environ. 2019 Feb 10;653:628-641. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.10.437.

16. Downs CA, et al. Toxicopathological Effects of the Sunscreen UV Filter, Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3), on Coral Planulae and Cultured Primary Cells and Its Environmental Contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2016 Oct;70(2):265-88. doi: 10.1007/s00244-015-0227-7.

3 thoughts on “How to Treat Sunburn Naturally: Discover the Power of Mineral Sunscreens and Essential Oils”

  1. Immortelle (helichrysum) and calendula are two of my favorite essential oils. I feel like this recipe would be good for rashes too. Thanks for sharing!

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