Many a fun summer day has ended with the sting of a sunburn. Maybe you could have seen it coming, but now what can you do? The tight, hot, burning feeling is not only uncomfortable, it can prevent us from savoring long summer days and enjoying further outdoor activities. Thankfully, our herbal allies can help to soothe the sting. In this post and video, we share a simple, homemade sunburn spray that’s easy to make and helps cool discomfort associated with too much sunshine.
First things first, it’s important to take action as soon as you notice a sunburn. In fact, it doesn’t hurt to apply herbal preparations, such as our homemade sunburn spray, even if you simply suspect you overdid it in the sun. A quick spritz after spending time outdoors won’t hurt a thing!
Why Make Your Own Sunburn Spray?
One benefit to making your own homemade sunburn spray is that you can choose the ingredients. This allows you to ensure the spray is suitable for your skin, and helps you avoid many of the undesirable ingredients often found in conventional products.
Secondly, a spray is more comfortable to apply compared to the more commonly available after-sun lotion. This is because rubbing lotion onto a sunburn can be painful and irritating, and less skin contact and friction is better when it comes to sunburns.
About the Ingredients
The ingredients in this homemade sunburn spray are naturally soothing. Some are included for their ability to cool hot skin, while others contain anti-inflammatory properties. A number of the ingredients also promote tissue repair.
Let’s take a brief look at each one:
Fractionated coconut oil
This carrier oil helps disperse essential oils evenly and aids in moisturizing the skin. Fractionated coconut oil is better to use than regular, virgin coconut oil because it remains in a liquid state at cold temperatures, whereas regular coconut oil will solidify below 76 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius). Because this spray is best stored in the refrigerator, you do not want an oil that solidifies when it gets cold.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil
With a long history of use in easing discomfort associated with burns, lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil is traditionally used to soothe pain and reduce inflammation. Its calming aroma may also be useful for emotional support when experiencing a painful sunburn. Lavender essential oil is a foundational ingredient in this homemade sunburn spray recipe.
Learn more about lavender essential oil in:
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) essential oil
The analgesic properties of peppermint make it a useful addition to this sunburn spray as it helps ease pain (Cassia et al., 2017). Peppermint also provides a cooling sensation when applied to the skin. This is a welcome respite from the intense heat of a sunburn!
Aloe (Aloe vera) leaf gel
Aloe (Aloe vera) leaf gel is well-known for its ability to soothe sunburns. However, aloe does more than soothe, it also aids in cooling and moisturizing the skin. Evidence suggests that aloe may support restoration of damaged tissues (Hashemi et al., 2015) which makes it an important ingredient in this homemade sunburn spray. In addition to easing pain and supporting tissue repair, aloe is also useful in dispersing essential oils.
For this recipe, you may harvest your own aloe or use store bought. If you opt for store-bought gel, be sure to check the label for additives as many aloe products include a variety of harsh preservatives and solvents.
Hydrosols are distilled floral waters that are made from a variety of plant materials, including leaves, flowers, rhizomes, fruits, and seeds.
Since hydrosols are water-based, they are less potent (and more gentle) than essential oils. In fact, they are often used instead of essential oils for younger children as well as the older population.
We suggest using rose (Rosa spp.), calendula (Calendula officinialis), or witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) hydrosol in our homemade sunburn spray recipe as they are well-suited to soothing inflammation and have many skin-soothing benefits.
Herb-infused or plain apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is included in this recipe for its ability to soothe and cool the skin. It should be well-diluted to avoid causing irritation, which is why you will see we have only included one tablespoon in our recipe below.
To further boost the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar, you may wish to infuse the vinegar with herbs first. This adds extra herbal power to your sunburn spray. However, it does require some forethought as it takes 4-6 weeks to create an herb-infused vinegar.
Suitable herbs for an apple cider vinegar infusion that helps ease the discomfort of a sunburn include calendula (Calendula officinalis) flower, chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) flower, lavender (Lavandula spp.) buds, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) leaf, plantain (Plantago spp.) leaf, and rose (Rosa spp.) petal.
If you have a sunburn, you may also find it helpful to add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar to a tepid bath to soothe the skin and encourage the skin’s restoration process.
Homemade Sunburn Spray
1 tablespoon fractionated coconut oil
30 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil
10 drops peppermint (Mentha x piperita) essential oil
3 tablespoons aloe (Aloe vera) leaf gel
3 tablespoons steam-distilled hydrosol, such as rose (Rosa spp.), calendula (Calendula officinialis), or witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
1 tablespoon herb-infused or plain apple cider vinegar
4 ounce glass bottle with spray top
- Combine the coconut oil and essential oils in the bottle and stir or shake to mix well. For adults, use up to 40 drops of essential oil to make a 2% dilution. For children, omit peppermint essential oil and reduce lavender essential oil to 20 drops for a 1% dilution.
- Add aloe gel, hydrosol or witch hazel, and vinegar and stir or shake to mix well.
- Label and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks before making a fresh batch.
- Shake well before each use, and spray evenly over skin.
This homemade sunburn spray is a simple way to cool inflamed skin that’s seen too much sun. Even though the spray can be prepared in a matter of minutes, it’s a good idea to have some on hand when you know you’ll be outside for long periods of time. It’s actually quite refreshing, even if you don’t have a sunburn! So, feel free to keep some in the fridge and use it to cool down after a hot summer’s day.
Want more herbal tips for summer? Download our free ebook, Cooling Herbs for Hot Summer Days.
Beautifully designed and full of helpful information, this 48-page manual includes plant monographs for seven of the most widely available, cooling herbs of summer, including spearmint (Mentha spicata) leaf, hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) calyx, plantain (Plantago spp.) leaf, rose (Rosa spp.) petal, bud, and hip, and more. We’ve also compiled some of our favorite recipes starring these seven herbs, including an incredibly refreshing hibiscus sun tea, easy monarda-mint ice pops, and even a rose foot bath fit for the May Day Queen herself.
We hope these simple herbal recipes will help you stay calm, cool, and collected on even the hottest of days, while simultaneously deepening your relationship with refreshing herbal allies of the season.
Cassia, R., Cardosa, T., Rogerio, F., Emmanuela Medeiros, A., & Pergentino D., (2017). Analgesic-like activity of essential oil constituents: An update. International Journal of Molecular Sciences,18(12), 2392. https://doi.org/:10.3390/ijms18122392
Hashemi, S. A., Madani, S. A., & Abediankenari, S. (2015). The review on properties of aloe vera in healing of cutaneous wounds. BioMed Research International,714216. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/714216