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This simple sunburn home remedy is hydrating, soothing, and healing for sunburns and minor kitchen burns. It helped me heal faster from my last sunburn, and now I have made extra just to have on hand for minor kitchen burns, and sunburns. Every single ingredient is highly effective, yet I’ve found works better in a salve together than separately. I had all of these ingredients already, as each one is kept on hand for a variety of uses. I recommend all of them as pantry and first aid staples!
Note: If using for minor kitchen burns, I’d recommend running cool water over the burn before applying.
Disclaimer: Of course, with any serious burn (whether sunburn or a regular burn) getting professional help is necessary when it is severe. I share this salve not as a medical professional, and you should ask your own medical team for advice on your situation. Also, there are affiliate links in this post.
We all know that it’s much better never to burn, and I am generally careful. But unfortunately I’ve started to burn more quickly than I used to in the past. I wrote about foods that can help prevent sunburn here, and I realize that going into summer I should be loading up on some of these important foods. Recently, we spent 3-4 hours out in the sun, and it was a cool day, and overcast for much of the time. Covering up or using sunscreen didn’t cross my mind since it was such a mild day – which is where I went wrong. Everyone else was fine, but I got burnt…badly. I was only slightly pink when I got out of the sun, but it got rapidly worse, and worse, and worse, until I was in a lot of pain by the evening, and had turned a bright red, almost purple color on parts of my shoulders and legs.
I made up two salves, one with Manuka honey, coconut oil, and sea buckthorn seed oil, and another with just coconut oil and sea buckthorn seed oil. One leg was by far the worst sunburn, so I spread the mixture that included the honey on that leg. I used the coconut oil and sea buckthorn seed oil on my shoulders, which weren’t as bad. I wrapped myself in a clean sheet and went to bed. When I work up in the morning, my leg was feeling so much better, and my shoulders were way worse! The addition of honey made a big difference in my healing process. In the end, my leg healed up quickly, with much less pain, and barely any peeling at all. My shoulder (which I started the honey mixture on the next morning, and found a lot of relief using) took longer and ended up peeling. I believe it was because I didn’t use the honey mixture fast enough.
While you can use just one of these ingredients (you can read about my experience using the sea buckthorn oil on a bad sunburn here), out of experience I can now say that it seems to work the very best when you use them together. They all bring something different to the table.
The low down on the ingredients:
Coconut oil: Coconut oil is actually a traditional sunblock! While it doesn’t have a super high SPF, it can help prevent getting sunburnt in the first place. You can read about that here. But I’ve also long used it for treating sunburns. It seems to really help heal minor sunburns faster. Truthfully, I used to find that if I got a little pink that just spreading on some coconut oil was enough to “turn it into a tan”, as they say, within 12 hours. Amazing! It also makes a great base for the other two ingredients in this salve as it’s not only helpful by itself, but it’s less expensive compared to the other ingredients and helps spread them out. I used this brand.
Manuka Honey: Honey has a very long history in external applications, including wound dressing, treatment of burns, and sunburns. It was used by the Greek physician Dioscorides in 50 A. D. to treat both sunburns and infected wounds. While any raw honey is going to be soothing and helpful, Manuka honey is going to take it to the next level. The antibacterial power of honey can vary widely. Manuka honey is on the high end of healing power. Manuka honey it taken from bees getting pollen from the manuka plant (which is a medicinal plant). For medicinal use, it is recommended to get a honey with a UMF 10 rating or higher (this rating lets you know how potent the honey is). It is amazing stuff, being found in studies to be very antibacterial, even fighting off MRSA in studies, according to Dr. Mercola. I used this brand, as that’s what I had on hand. There is also an FDA-approved for medical uses Manuka honey (Medihoney) that has been irradiated for purity (I personally feel very comfortable using regular Manuka honey for most uses, as I am wary of irradiation. But for something for putting on wounds, or serious burns, and such, this could be a good choice.)
I believe that the reason that the honey made such a difference for my leg was because not only does it have its own healing properties, but it is also highly moisturizing. When I was sleeping, my leg kept moist, where as the oil on my shoulder just got absorbed into my skin, and needed to be reapplied (if I had kept reapplying it as needed throughout the night, I think I would have healed faster on my shoulders).
Sea buckthorn seed oil: I’ve been a real fan of this oil since I used it to treat a really severe sunburn last year. It has a long and lustrous history as well, and has also been scientifically studied. For example, this study found that it helped heal burns faster, and this study with 151 burn patients found that it helped with swelling, pain relief, and cell growth. It is really a great general, anti-aging oil to use, but also seems to be incredibly help in treating sunburns and minor kitchen burns (and even worse burns, as some of these studies found!). This is the brand I used.
Other possible ingredients:
Lavender Essential Oil: This is a very helpful oil for burns. Add about 15-20 drops to the mixture
Emu Oil : Emu oil has been found to help with inflammation and scar reduction when used in healing serious burns. It also helps other ingredients penetrate skin faster. I’ve used it neat on minor kitchen burns with great success. You can add some to the salve, or use in place of the Sea Buckthorn oil (Source).
What about Aloe Vera? Aloe Vera primarily helps sooth and comfort, but doesn’t seem to actually help heal burns more quickly according to this study. So you can definitely add for it’s soothing properties, just don’t expect it to help heal it faster.
- Mix together with a fork or spoon in a small bowl (if your coconut oil is really hard, gently melt, or mix together in a small blender or food processor). Keeps 6 months to 1 year.
- Apply as needed.