Chill Out, Sunshine: Our Go-To DIY Herbal Spray for Sunburn Relief

Nothing puts a damper on summer fun like the sting of a sunburn. Red, hot skin that is painful to touch is not only uncomfortable, it can prevent us from enjoying various activities. Fortunately, it’s easy to keep comfort close at hand with simple summer care, homemade sunburn spray.

Made with naturally soothing ingredients, the following sunburn spray recipe inspired by formulas shared within Herbal Academy programs is quick to make and comfortable to apply which is the best summer care. In most cases, we find a spray to be more effective than an after-sun lotion as it does not require rubbing into the skin, which can be irritating and painful when inflammation is present. It’s most certainly our go-to soothing sunburn recipe! 

summer care

About the Ingredients

The majority of the herbs and ingredients in this recipe were chosen for their anti-inflammatory properties and ability to cool hot, irritated skin during summer care. Several of the ingredients also support tissue repair during the burn healing process.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil
Included for its ability to ease pain and calm inflammation, this fragrant essential oil may also encourage tissue regeneration. Additionally, lavender’s soothing aroma can be helpful in providing emotional support when suffering from a painful sunburn.

Fractionated coconut oil
This carrier oil aids in moisturizing the skin, diluting the essential oil, and dispersing the essential oil evenly. Since this spray is best stored in the refrigerator, we recommend fractionated coconut oil rather than virgin coconut oil. Fractionated coconut oil will remain in a liquid state at cold temperatures, whereas regular coconut oil will solidify below 76 degrees F (24 degrees C). To ensure the spray is always ready to use and easy to spray, it’s important to avoid oils that will solidify. 

Aloe (Aloe vera) leaf gel
Well known for its ability to soothe sunburn, aloe leaf gel helps to cool and moisturize skin and may support the restoration of damaged tissues. It’s a staple botanical in our herbal cabinets with a myriad of uses!

Both store-bought and freshly harvested aloe vera gel will work in this sunburn spray, however, commercial aloe may provide a longer shelf life. A thick aloe vera jelly will also aid in dispersing the essential oils in this recipe, while freshly harvested aloe is thinner and will not have the same dispersion properties. (However, the fractionated coconut oil will act as a dispersant in the recipe, too). If using store-bought gel, be sure to check the additives list, as many aloe products include harsh solvents and preservatives.

Steam-distilled cucumber (Cucumis sativus) or peppermint (Mentha x piperita) hydrosol
Hydrosols are distilled from a variety of plant materials, such as leaves, flowers, rhizomes, fruits, and seeds. For this recipe, we suggest cucumber or peppermint hydrosol, as both contain anti-inflammatory properties and are cooling to the skin. Herbal hydrosols may be purchased or crafted yourself following these instructions.

You may notice a cool, tingling sensation when using these hydrosols (especially peppermint), which is a pleasant feeling after too much sun. Cucumber and peppermint hydrosols are so refreshing that you may find yourself reaching for them all summer (even if you don’t have a sunburn)!

Herb-infused or plain apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar also helps cool and soothe skin. However, due to its acidity it should be well-diluted to avoid skin irritation. Our recipe includes one tablespoon as part of the overall formulation, creating a gentle but effective preparation.

To add an extra herbal boost to your sunburn spray, you may wish to infuse the vinegar with herbs beforehand. While this step can increase the effectiveness of the sunburn spray, it does require some pre-planning as it takes a few weeks to create an herb-infused vinegar. Herbs such as calendula (Calendula officinalis) flower, chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) flower, lavender (Lavandula spp.) bud, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) leaf, plantain (Plantago spp.) leaf, and rose (Rosa spp.) petal are all great choices that aid in easing discomfort associated with a sunburn.

If you choose to go this route, combine ½ cup dried herbs and 1 cup vinegar in a glass jar, close tightly with lid and shake jar to ensure the vinegar and herbs are thoroughly mixed. Set jar in a dark place and let it sit for at least a week (2-4 weeks is optimal, shaking the jar every few days, and topping off the vinegar if needed to keep the herbs submerged). Once the vinegar infusion is to your liking, strain out the herbs using a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Since herbal vinegar can be stored in a cool, dark place for 6 months, there will be enough for use in multiple batches of sunburn spray. 

Herbal Academy’s Soothing Sunburn Spray

Yield: One 4 fluid ounce glass bottle. 

Ingredients and Supplies:

20-40 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil

1 tablespoon fractionated coconut oil

3 tablespoons aloe (Aloe vera) leaf gel

3 tablespoons steam-distilled cucumber (Cucumis sativus) or peppermint (Mentha x piperita) hydrosol

1 tablespoon herb-infused or plain apple cider vinegar

4-ounce glass bottle with spray top


  • Combine lavender essential oil and fractionated coconut oil in a glass spray bottle and stir or shake to blend. Adults may use up to 40 drops of essential oil to make a 2% dilution. For children, keep to a 1% dilution by reducing lavender essential oil to 20 drops. 
  • Add aloe gel, hydrosol, and vinegar to spray bottle. Cap with a lid and shake to mix. 
  • Label and store in the refrigerator. 

To Use: 

  • Shake well before each use.
  • Spritz evenly onto reddened skin a few times a day and allow it to dry.

If using commercial aloe, use sunburn spray within 3-6 months. If using freshly harvested aloe, it’s best to use within 2-3 weeks. Be sure to store your sunburn spray in the refrigerator, which will provide the longest shelf life and enhance the cooling effect of the spray. 

Even though a sunburn spray can be made in minutes, we suggest making this preparation ahead of time so you have some readily available for summer care. This spray is incredibly refreshing for your skin even if you don’t have a sunburn, and will help you cool off after a hot summer day.

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