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Natural Support for Sunburns

It's that time of year! The warm weather is finally here (for us northerners) and we can drop the clothing layers like last year's bad habit. If you are blessed with blindingly white English/Swedish/German skin, like I am, then you know that building up a healthy, protective tan is a very sloooooow process.

Natural Support for Sunburns | Musings of a Modern Hippie

{I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.}

It is important for us living in the northern hemisphere, especially above 37 degrees latitude, to build up a good store of Vitamin D over the summer months in order to get us through the dreary winter months. (The same is true below 37 degrees in the southern hemisphere.) So some direct sun exposure is necessary. But like a lot of things, more is not better. And most of us still probably need to supplement. I shoot for 10-15 minutes of direct exposure per day, during the peak hours of 10 am - 2 pm, or when the sun is greater than 60 degrees high. (Check out the great app called Lumos, that tells you what degree the sun is at any given time, date, and location.) Fair skinned folks should definitely start out slow. Even just 5 minutes a day at peak is beneficial, and will allow the melanocytes (the skin cells that absorb the sun's UV-B rays) to wake up and start producing the protective pigment and Vitamin D, without causing irreparable damage. If you do have damage from previous over exposure such as on the face, chest, shoulders, and arms, avoiding direct sun exposure all together and supplementing with vitamin D3/K2 instead may be best. Building your protective tan slowly is important. We've all heard about the dangers of sun exposure, and probably even know someone who has had skin cancer. Get your 10-15 minutes, then cover up or slather on the natural sunscreen. Here's a great recipe to make your own. Or check the Environmental Working Group's Sunscreen Guide for the best store bought ones. I love my birthday gift new wide brimmed hat.

I highly recommend these ones, that we've tried with great success:

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Sensitive, SPF 30+ Since many of us aren't quite as diligent with the sunscreen application as we should be, we may, on occasion, get a little more pink than we probably should. No one likes to suffer through the pain of burned skin and the subsequent days spent peeling like a shedding snake, so here are 9 natural remedies that will not only help speed the healing process, but will heal the damage, prevent shedding, and do what we care about most - stop the pain!

Natural Support for Sunburns

Natural Sunburn Remedies | Musings of a Modern Hippie

1. Aloe vera

Cut open the leaves (watch out for the spines!) and smush the inside gel onto the burn. (Don't have a plant? Click here.)

Natural Sunburn Remedies | Musings of a Modern Hippie

2. Coconut oil

Slather some right on the burn. Your body heat will almost instantly melt the solid oil. Look for some variant of unrefined, raw, cold-pressed, organic, extra-virgin, like {this} one.

Natural Sunburn Remedies | Musings of a Modern Hippie

3. Plantain

(Plantago sp.) major (Broadleaf) and lanceolata (Narrowleaf) are commonly found in the US.

Not to be confused with those green banana-looking things at the grocery, this magnificent little plant is considered by most to be nothing more than a lowly weed. Found in places of poor soil, in sidewalk cracks, driveways, soccer fields, animal paddocks, and backyards; many people choose to spray theirs with chemicals instead of harvesting these wonderfully versatile little leaves. Crush or puree the leaves and apply the entire concoction to the burn.

4. Calendula

The flowers are the key here. They can be infused into a cream, lotion, salve, or even as a tea and applied to the burn. The plants are really easy to grow and make a pretty addition to any yard. Form and function!

Natural Sunburn Remedies | Musings of a Modern Hippie

5. Comfrey (Symphytum x uplandicum)

Also known as Knit-bone for its amazing propensity to heal bones, comfrey makes a great poultice for burns and other skin issues. I don't recommend taking comfrey internally unless under the strict observation of a trained master herbalist or naturopath. Either crush the leaves or grind up the roots and make a paste to apply to the burn. This is another plant that is really easy to grow and will come back every year in most zones.

Natural Sunburn Remedies | Musings of a Modern Hippie

6. Oatmeal

Grind or crush whole oats into a powder (colloidal) using a coffee grinder or food processor, add a little water to make a paste and apply to the burn. Oatmeal is another great remedy for a lot of skin issues and will stop any itching.

Natural Sunburn Remedies | Musings of a Modern Hippie

7. Jewelweed (Impatiens sp.)

This great wild plant also goes by Touch-me-not and it's genus name Impatiens. Like plantain, it is great for all sorts of skin issues, but especially for poison ivy. Coincidentally (or perhaps by divine design?), it is usually found growing in the same area as poison ivy. Crush the juicy leaves and stems and apply to the burn.

9 Natural Sunburn Remedies| Musings of a Modern Hippie
Original Photo Credit - Flickr 2.0: Steven Depolo

8. Shea butter

Real Shea butter is marvelously moisturizing and healing for all sorts of skin issues. It contains lots of anti-oxidants which repair sun damage. Make sure you are using pure Shea butter and not Kpangnan butter. Shea is light beige in color while Kpangnan (pronounced Panyan) is yellow.

Natural Sunburn Remedies | Musings of a Modern Hippie

9. Raw honey

Honey is great for burn relief because it is both anti-bacterial and soothing. Look for raw honey when choosing a brand. Manuka honey from New Zealand has been clinically shown to effectively treat a variety of skin issues. Consider making your own Healing Balm - click {here}, and incorporating a few of these remedies.

Natural Sunburn Remedies | Musings of a Modern Hippie

One of our favorite store bought first aid creams, that contains many of the above remedies, is Nature's Sunshine's Golden Salve. See why I like it so much, here.

A little homeopathic Arnica for added healing and pain relief, and you should be good to go in a few days.

And next time, don't forget the sunscreen!

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