The 21st Century Herbalist

DIY Sunburn Care and Peeling Prevention Balm

It can happen to the best of us, sunburn.  You try to remember to reapply every 45 minutes, you spray, rub and lather on the sunscreen and still you end up pink and burned.  So now that you’re sporting, what will eventually become a farmer’s tan, we’ve got to get you some relief from the heat of the burn.  Time to go digging in our Summer Survival Kit for this week’s DIY recipes, Sunburn Soothing Black Tea & Mint Brew and Peeling Prevention Balm.

There are a lot of different all-natural and not-so-all-natural treatments available to you.  Today I put together a time tested recipe designed to soothe the heat of the sunburn and reduce the healing time.  After all, sunburn is skin damage and you want to minimize any further damage by treating it.  After you realize that you’ve gotten a sunburn, you want to start treating it as soon as possible.  Start with the sunburn care recipe below.

Sunburn Soothing Black Tea & Mint Brew

  • 1 cup (16 oz.) water
  • 2 black tea bags (any brand of black tea is fine, Lipton, Red Rose, PG Tips, any type of breakfast tea)
  • 4-5 fresh mint leaves (you can substitute a bag of mint tea if needed)

Heat the water to just below the boiling point.  Rub the mint leaves between your fingers and palms to break the capillaries and release their essential oils.  Add the mint and the tea bags to the hot water.  Allow it to steep for 20-30 minutes.

Use a soft washcloth or cotton pad to apply the tea directly to your sunburned skin.  The tannic acid in the black tea will help draw the heat created by the burn, away from your skin.  It will also restore your skin’s pH balance while promoting healing and reducing further skin damage to the area.  The mint leaves will act as an additional coolant on the skin, giving you relief from the heat of the burn.  Allow the tea to dry on your skin and follow with the Peeling Prevention Balm below.

The best way to prevent peeling is to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize and did I mention…moisturize.  Your regular lotion may not be able to do the job that’s required for peeling prevention.  Depending on the severity of your burn, you may not actually be able to prevent peeling but you can at least reduce it using the recipe below.  The aloe vera in the recipe is a given for sunburns, we all know how soothing and healing it can be, but I’m suggesting that you use fresh aloe vera gel (how to harvest aloe tutorial) or pure aloe vera gel (available in health food stores) instead of the aloe and alcohol gels that you typically find in the drug store.  While these drug store versions are soothing, sometimes they can also be drying, which is exactly what you want to avoid.  In addition to the aloe vera, I’ve also included honey.  I’m a big fan of honey and its moisturizing powers, as I’ve told you before and it is amazing for sunburns.  I’ve also included a powerful moisturizing base oil, refined coconut oil.  This can often be found in health food stores or in the specialty section of your local grocery store.  If you can’t find coconut oil, you can substitute extra-virgin olive oil.

Peeling Prevention Balm
I find that it is best to do this at night before bedtime.

  • fresh or pure aloe vera gel
  • honey (preferably “raw” honey)
  • coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
Mix together equal parts of each ingredient in a bowl.  The size of your sunburn will determine how much of this mixture you’ll need and therefore how much of each ingredient you use.  Once mixed, gently apply the mix to the sunburned area and allow it to set for about 10 minutes.
Depending on the area of the sunburn, it may be easiest to cover the area with your regular pajama shirt and pants.  If the burn is on your feet, wear socks to bed that night.  If it is on your hands, wear spa gloves.  You get the idea, cover the sunburned area with soft clothing.  Yes, wear clothes right over the slightly sticky Peeling Prevention Balm that you’ve just rubbed all over yourself.  By covering it, you’ll allow it to soak into your skin and begin to heal and hydrate over night.  Just pop the clothes into the wash the next day, they’ll come clean with no problem.
It may be slightly uncomfortable at first, but it is definitely worth it to prevent or reduce the amount of peeling caused by your sunburn.  This balm will also help heal the burn faster.  One or two slightly awkward nights are worth the benefits.
I hope that all of you never get to try these treatments because that would mean you never get a sunburn but just in case you do, I know these recipes will help!  Have a wonderful summer and check back next week for another recipe to add to your DIY Summer Survival Kit.


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