“It’s Tea Time” for Sunburn Relief


I recently posted about how to make your own Homemade Sunscreen. I still stand by the “recipe” despite the mini firestorm of comments it spawned. :-)

One of the comments to this post included a DIY Sunburn Spray made from essential oils which I thought was a brilliant idea.

Because let’s face it, despite our best efforts, sometimes we are just going to BLOW IT and get a doozie of a sunburn.

(But hopefully not as bad as Will Ferrell’s!)

Here is Jill K.’s recipe:
2 oz. distilled water
10 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops peppermint essential oil
Mix in spray bottle.
Store in fridge and spray as necessary.

While I haven’t tried this recipe exactly…I have used Lavender Oil on many burns and stings and it works WONDERS!

But if you don’t happen to have any essential oils on hand or you’re on vacation, I recently discovered another Sunburn Pain Remedy on Instructables.com that should I need it (Heaven forbid!), I plan on trying, because it comes VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by many people who HAVE tried it…and all you need are a few tea bags!

STEP ONE: git nekkid! The best way to apply this is “in the buff” so you don’t have to worry about getting it on your clothes.

Hmmmm….Maybe that should actually be STEP TWO…or THREE. Let me start over.

Photograph: Tom Grill/Getty

STEP ONE (again): Fill a pitcher with warm water and drop in three bags of BLACK TEA. The tannic acid and theobromine in black tea helps remove heat from sunburn. Other compounds in tea, called catechins, help prevent and repair skin damage.
Let the tea bags soak until the water has turned a rich, dark black color. Let the tea mixture cool to a lukewarm temperature.

NOW you can git nekkid! :-)

©Emre Arican/Shutterstock

STEP TWO:  Once you are “nekkid”…dip a soft rag into the tea and dab it gently onto the sunburn. DO NOT WIPE OFF! Let your burned skin absorb the mixture. Once its dry, re-apply as necessary, but don’t wash off.
Just before bedtime is the ideal time to try this healing potion so it has time to work its magic while you sleep. In the morning wash it off in the shower. The sunburn should be significantly better, if not completely gone.
The sooner you can apply the tea after you get the burn, the more effective it will be.

THANKFULLY I haven’t had to try this…and HOPEFULLY I won’t NEED to…but chances are I will…at some point. So I am definitely going to keep this method filed away until it’s inevitably needed.



One last note: once the pain of a bad sunburn has subsided….to avoid peeling…..Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize.

I suggest Aloe Vera LOTION (not the gel…it contains alcohol and is too drying)


My PERSONAL FAVORITECoconut Oil. Apply liberally at least twice a day until the burn is healed.

And after all this is said….

I hope you never have to use ANY of these suggestions this summer!  PRACTICE SAFE SUN!

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    • says

      Lisa…the first time I bought coconut oil I bought the kind I found at Walmart in the cooking aisle. It works just fine. I now buy organic coconut oil…but it’s just a personal preference. Either kind will work. :-)

  1. deniseinark says

    Love the tea recipe – we’re headed to the lake today and I’m making this concoction to throw in the ice chest. I have mint going insane in the garden, so I’ll brew it with the tea. Several other things I’ve heard over the years are chamomile and vinegar (along with an oatmeal bath) so I might toss some of those in for good measure. Best thing that could happen with this recipe is to NEVER need it….

  2. Kristy Jevens says

    Lavender has always been our favorite remedy for any kind of burn. It also is great for stopping the itching of mosquito bites.
    Hopefully we won’t ever need to use the black tea recipe, but it is nice to know about. I have a very fair teenage boy who hasn’t learned the value of sunscreen yet, this may save him once or twice this summer.

  3. Kimmer says

    My favorite sunburn remedy (and I burn just thinking about the sun) is white vinegar. I saturate a washcloth with cooled vinegar and just let it soak in on the burn area. Ahhhhhhhh.

    • Lauren says

      Agreed- white vinegar is great for sunburn! I got the worst sunburn of my life last summer on my ankle, so painful and burnt it actually looked purple instead of red, but with the help of white vinegar soaked tea-towels, and cold green tea it healed up. Not both at the same time, but every couple of applications I swapped it up. And amazingly I didn’t have any scaring, no blistering, and oddly, barely any peeling! I’d recommend both of these!

      • Lauren says

        Forgot to say- the sunburn was so bad my foot had actually swollen up so much that it looked like an elephant foot and I could barely walk for a week, didn’t much leave the sofa…. in hindsight should prob have gone to the doctors… BUT the green tea and the vinegar did offer relief, and ensured that it healed well when it did heal.

  4. Nicole says

    My favorite all natural burn remedy is aloe. Not the fake green gel stuff you buy in stores, but actual aloe. You just cut off a piece of the plant, slice it open, squeeze out the ‘goo’ inside and rub it on your burn. It feels amazing. Of course, this works best for small areas. For big sunburns, the tea method is definitely something I’m going to have to try!

    • Annika says

      You just made me miss Southern California. My grandparents have a few aloe plants. We used to cut off a piece and squeeze out the goo. Since we moved up to Seattle, no more aloe plants. =(

  5. Stephanie says

    It’s not all-natural, but the BEST sunburn relief I’ve ever found is Mint Milk of Magnesia. Just like the tea, you dab it on the burn and leave it. The mint is very soothing and the burn will be nearly (if not completely) gone in the morning. I’ve also used it on nasty kitchen burns (I used to work in a restaurant kitchen, which is where I heard about this remedy).

  6. Annie says

    Several years ago my aunt told us about the magic of tannin! Her recipe is a little different, and not all natural, but it really does take the sunburn away!! She told us to melt one of the large containers of Vaseline by putting it in a pan with water and heating it on low. Then you steep 6 tea bags (I think we used green) in the melted Vaseline. Once the Vaseline starts to solidify, take the bags out. (We usually scrape off the stuff that sticks to the bag.)

    This is amazing stuff! I blistered my cheeks the first day of our Lake Powell trip (oops!), put this stuff on before I went to bed, and woke up with my cheeks almost back to normal (no blisters at all and just a little pink!!). Plus, the Vaseline helps to keep your skin from drying out. I do recommend thoroughly washing the stuff off in the morning.

  7. Danielle says

    One of my 5 year old boys is very prone to getting sunburned, he has very fair skin and we have to lather him in sunscreen every 2 to 3 hours. For those times that we don’t get enough on him or heaven forbid we forget, I use the water and Lavender, I just have it in a little spray bottle and spritz in on after his bath. It works wonders, I haven’t tried putting the peppermint in but will do that with the next batch. As for myself, I always always get that first burn of the summer, luckily I have good skin and it is usually gone with in a day or two and I am left with a nice looking tan, but there have been many times, as you can attest miss Jillee, that I have fried myself crispy. I am definitely going to keep the tea recipe for when that happens. :-) Thanks miss Jillee you are super awesome!!!!

  8. says

    Jillee, I’ve been using tea bags for decades. My grandmother told me about it when I was pretty young. Using it for any 1st degree (just the top layer of the skin) burns, not just sunburn, will have the same healing effects. Tea bags are also useful for a number of minor irritations: tired eyes (just put two tea bags in very hot water for a few minutes; let cool but not too much, only enough so that it feels good when you apply the wet and warm bags to each eye and let rest until the bags cool—it removes the red and makes the eyes all better and has the added effect of reducing puffiness); other small eye irritations like a sty, same treatment–warm tea bag to eye etc (used this on my children for eye irritations and sty(s) and it worked within a couple of applications, plus it is very soothing to have the warm tea bag on the eyes); I use the same method on insect bites–apply warm tea bag and let cool–I am very allergic to mosquito and spider bites and get huge, itchy reactions that last for 3 or 4 days and the warm tea bag provides nearly instant relief from the itching and reduces the redness and swelling around the bite site (pardon me, just couldn’t resist the rhyme). Anyway, I’m sure if you check remedies using tea on the internet you’ll find any number of uses. They are my go-to fix for small irritations (and some not-so-small irritations, but hesitate to mention because others may not have the same results or use them safely and risk burns)

  9. Tess says

    Black tea is awesome for so many things… including aching feet (old ballerina remedy!)… But, instead of apply with a rag, put into spray bottle & spray all over! Let dry, re-spray! The lavender e.o. is excellent for burns, as well… and I mix it into my aloe vera gel!!! Thanks, Jillee, for your wonderful posts!!! Tess

  10. Jules says

    The Tea idea really works. When I lived in Florida I had burned my back really bad, to the point that I has blisters and infections starting. I was told I had sun poisoning. My manager told me to go home, fill up my tub with luke warm water and throw in tea bags . Let them seep for a little bit and then crawl in and soak in the tea water. Before I did this I was unable to sleep on my back, so very painful. After I soaked in the water the pain was gone and my sunburn was almost gone the next day!

  11. Carly says

    I tried the tea sunburn relief for my husband last night (we went to a beach picnic on Saturday and he came home with swollen lobster feet… not good when they have to be stuffed into military boots for too many hours a day!)… kept applying the tea treatment every 45 minutes for a good 4 hours at least… leaving the tea soaked rags on his feet in between treatments and when he woke up this morning, they were redder than ever. Did I do something wrong?

    And Jillee, I found your blog on the website of all amazingness (Pinterest) and have been following you ever since. I love your ideas!

    • says

      You may not have done anything wrong, but skin on the tops of feet is rather thin.
      I have had to break out the hydrocortisone and silver sulfadiazine (Rx) in these cases!
      Hope he is better soon!

  12. Tracy says

    while i love the sunburn relief recipes, i have to say the picture of sunburned will ferrell in a speedo totally made my day! i’m still laughing! thanks so much jillee. your blog (and of course you) totally rock!

  13. says

    I can attest to the tea working. I am of Irish and Swedish decent (read: über pale!). As a kid, before sunscreens were able to stay on for more than 5 minutes in the water) I got some hellacious burns. Despite mother’s best efforts.
    She would put the cooled tea in a spray bottle, make me stand in the tub and spritz me down.

    Peeling, however, is the damaged skin sloughing off.
    Moisturizing may minimize it, but nothing will eliminate it.

    If one gets sun poisoning, seek medical attention. Not a fun time. I have had it twice.

  14. Jen says

    A note for those suggesting viniger, be very careful using it on children. My mother used it on my poor brother when he had a sunburn and we found out he was allergic to viniger. Hives on top of sunburn! He was miserable!

  15. Kelsie says

    That recipe is AMAZING. My brother had the worst burn I’d EVER seen. He sprayed it on his legs and said it was the BEST.THING.EVER. So yes, it does work. Peppermint with a carrier oil will work as well since it’s “cooling.”

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  17. Dee says

    I was going to ask if you could just put some in a spray bottle and take it to the beach with you for instant relief, but I just read the other Dee’s comment above about how her mother would spritz it on her with the bottle. I’m definitely taking this this summer because either me or one of my daughter’s always gets burnt!

  18. Ellen says

    I know this is an old post, but I thought it would be good to add that all aloe vera is not made with alcohol. When I had radiation for breast cancer, I found the cheap Fruit of the Earth brand had no alcohol. It is 100% gel, also with no green coloring added. My oncologist okayed my using it.

    I also used it on the sunburned knees I have at this moment and it helped some. The vinegar, which I diluted, actually burned a bit, though that subsided. The tea, however, has made a big difference. Since it is such a small area, I’ve just been using the wet teabags directly on the skin. I just realized that I think it is making it actually look worse because of the tannin in the tea. :-)

    I’ve been reluctant to try anything with oil since the skin needs to breathe – though that may very well work. Just reminded me of the old remedy of putting butter on a burn, which is about the worst thing one can do. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that recommended.

  19. Arthur Arnst says

    Usually, sunburn symptoms continue to get worse in the first 24 to 36 hours after the sunburn. Sunburns start to go away over 3 to 5 days. Severe sunburns can be serious in babies, small children, and older adults because of their sensitive skin and their high risk for other problems.`”;..

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  1. […] a lobster. Ok, a lot like a lobster. So, I went on Pinterest and found this sunburn remedy from One Good Thing by Jillee and it worked! With a little black tea and a couple of sun-free hours, my sunburn was gone! See my […]

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