Tips for Treating Sunburn Naturally
July 22, 2015
Regular sun exposure is important to keeping you and your skin healthy. In addition to the importance of vitamin D that sunlight provides, other benefits include mood enhancement, melatonin regulation, and protection against melanoma and other skin diseases. It even helps the circulatory system. However, we all know when we’ve had too much sun when we notice even a slight reddishness to our skin, and it’s this overexposure that you want to avoid.
Sunscreen Isn’t Always Your Best Choice of Sunburn Protection
A safe, natural sunscreen is useful for being outdoors all day, but if you apply sunscreen every time you’re out in the sun, you’ll block your body’s ability to produce vitamin D. Over-applying sunscreen puts you at risk for vitamin D deficiency which increases your odds of developing melanoma or other skin diseases.
Secondly, most sunscreens on the market are not safe, including popular brands. One of the most troublesome ingredients found in the majority of sunscreens is oxybenzone, which primarily absorbs ultraviolet light. However, oxybenzone is also believed to cause hormone disruptions and cell damage that may provoke cancer. These same sunscreen products also contain vitamin A and its derivatives, retinol, and retinyl palmitate, which increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer when exposed to the sun (as opposed to when it is used in night cream).
Safer sunscreens tend to use non-nanoparticle zinc- and titanium-based mineral ingredients, which block the sun’s rays without penetrating your skin. A safe sunscreen can be applied after you’ve optimized your daily vitamin D production.
At Murray Avenue Apothecary, our LabNaturals Mineral Sunscreen is good enough for humans, the environment and animals, and is always free of toxins, preservatives, and dyes. We use food grade ingredients. NOT cosmetic grade. Our ingredients are NOT refined, bleached, or heavily processed. We use only Therapeutic grade essential oils...NOT cheap, adulterated fragrance oils or essential oils. The FDA approved sunscreen agent in this product is the non-nano zinc oxide. However, every ingredient used in this formulation is considered a sunscreen. It also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties.
Preventing Sunburn from the Inside Out
You can rarely use sunscreen and virtually never get sunburned if you’re also protected on the inside through supplements and a proper diet. At Murray Avenue Apothecary, we carry a supplement called Astaxanthin, which serves as an internal sunscreen. Astaxanthin is produced from marine algae in response to exposure to UV light, which is how algae protect itself. Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant that can also be used topically and a number of topical sunscreen products contain it as an ingredient to protect your skin from damage. Granted, it will not eliminate the risk of sunburn in everyone due to individual factors, but it can radically reduce your risk of developing severe sunburn and related skin damage. It also takes several weeks for the dose to build up in your body to achieve UV protection and to help improve your skin’s overall moisture balance and elasticity.
Astaxanthin is recommended at 4 milligrams per day, and should be taken in addition to consuming a healthy diet. Unprocessed foods provide nutrients your body needs to maintain a healthy balance of omega-6 and omega-3 oils in your skin, which also help defend against sunburn. Fresh, raw vegetables also provide an abundance of powerful antioxidants that help fight free radicals caused by sun damage.
Treating a Sunburn Naturally
Raw aloe vera gel is one of the most effective ways to treating sunburn. It is loaded with powerful glyconutrients that accelerate healing. Applying aloe to sunburn has been shown to offer both anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects.
Most aloe is easy to grow if you live in a southern location, and is always great to have in your home garden for its medicinal purposes. If you don’t have an aloe plant, Murray Avenue Apothecary carries Aloe Gel as well as Pure AloeForce and Herbal AloeForce liquid for oral use.
If you don’t have aloe vera on hand, there are plenty of other topical food-based remedies that can also help ease the pain and speed healing:
- Potatoes - Potatoes have starch-based compounds that may help soothe sunburn. Chop an uncooked potato into slices, and rub or pat down a piece on your sunburned spots. You can also try grating a cold raw potato and applying it as a poultice.
- Honey - The ancient Egyptians were known to use honey as a topical salve for skin burns. Just make sure you're using high-quality honey, such as raw organic honey, or Manuka honey, which has very potent medicinal qualities. The "Grade A" type honey you find in most grocery stores is more akin to high fructose corn syrup, which is more likely to increase infection, and should not be used to treat topical wounds.
- Vinegar - The acetic acid found in vinegar is said to reduce pain, itching, and inflammation. Add a cup of apple cider vinegar into your bath water and soak in it. It can also work like a natural aspirin. Simply dab a bit of white vinegar on to your sunburn for 20 minutes for instant pain relief.
- Green tea - Green tea's catechin and tannic acid help soothe sunburn pain. Soak a couple of tea bags in cool water. You can either use the tea bags themselves as a cold compress on the burnt areas or wash your face gently with the cold tea extract. Studies also suggest that drinking just two cups of green tea a day can provide additional sun-protective benefits. It is also available at Murray Avenue Apothecary as HerbaGreen Tea.
- Cucumbers - With cucumber's cooling effect, simply putting it on top of your sunburn is guaranteed to provide instant soothing effects. You can also use it as a paste by mashing it and applying it on your skin.
- Lettuce - To take advantage of lettuce's painkilling benefits, boil its leaves in water. After straining, allow the liquid to cool. Keep it chilled inside the refrigerator. Using clean organic cotton balls, carefully apply the lettuce juice over the affected area.
- Calendula - It has natural anti-inflammatory and healing properties that are especially beneficial for burns. Although there are many calendula creams sold in drugstores today, you can make your own calendula poultice using fresh calendula blossoms for faster healing of your sunburns. It is also available at Murray Avenue Apothecary.
- Coriander oil - For a soothing effect, use it as an essential oil by lightly rubbing it, diluted, onto your sunburn.