Do you remember the worst sunburn you ever got? Junior year of high school, I was dead set on getting a “sunkissed glow” for prom. So I laid on the patio for hours with a little kitchen timer that would ding whenever it was time to turn over. Without a lick of sunscreen, my blindingly pale skin was burned to a crisp in two hours flat—but I didn’t realize it until much later.
Needless to say, I suffered through prom itching, scratching, and leaving a cloud of white flakes in my wake. What I wouldn’t have given for just a tiiiny bit of relief.
While it’s always best to practice prevention and slather on the sunscreen daily, I still slip up every now and then and forget it or get a little more sun than I’d like. Whenever that happens, I turn to this after-sun butter to put out the fire. Thanks to cocoa butter, aloe vera, and vitamin E, it’s a must for burnt and dehydrated skin.
Benefits of Cocoa Butter
Sunburned skin requires a little more TLC than some other skin conditions. While you might not think of a balm like this after-sun butter as being the best burn remedy, cocoa butter is a rejuvenating moisturizer that protects skin from the elements and nourishes damaged skin cells.
In addition to soothing inflammation, cocoa butter is an awesome multitasker. Here are just a few of the benefits of cocoa butter.
An antioxidant powerhouse: The sun causes free radicals to form in the body, but cocoa butter is high in antioxidants, which help fight off free-radical damage and keep skin looking young and healthy. Cocoa butter is also anti-inflammatory, which helps soothe the burn and skin heal faster [source].
A scar reducer: Regular use of cocoa butter is said to help keep stretch marks and scars at bay and reduce the look of scars that have already cropped up. This is one of the most beloved benefits of cocoa butter!
A deep moisturizer: Because cocoa butter is chock full of essential fatty acids, it hydrates the skin deeply and locks in moisture, so the skin stays soft and supple. It also contains oleic, palmitic, and stearic acids [source], which nourish the skin and strengthen the protective skin barrier.
A sensitive-skin soother: While some claims are purely anecdotal, a lot of people swear by cocoa butter for helping clear up skin irritations such as eczema and dermatitis.
How to Make After-Sun Butter
In addition to cocoa butter, this after-sun balm is packed full of rich, skin-healing ingredients that nourish overexposed skin and help heal burns. It’s loaded with more traditional sunburn remedies like aloe vera, raw honey, and vitamin E, as well as essential oils that soothe sensitive skin. While you can use whatever oils you like, some of my personal faves include:
Sweet orange – Another antioxidant powerhouse, sweet orange essential oil has anticancer effects while protecting against sun damage and the growth of bacteria. Its scent also improves mood and reduces anxiety [source].
Ylang ylang– A soothing essential oil, ylang ylang oil is another free radical scavenger that helps soothe a variety of skin conditions such as rashes, sunburn, and psoriasis. It also has some anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties [source] and has been used in cleansers.
Geranium – Geranium oil has components with anesthetic-like properties [source] that may help relieve the pain associated with sunburn. It is also antibacterial [source] and anti-inflammatory [source].
This essential oil may cause sensitivity to light and irritate the skin, so it is always a good idea to apply a small amount of the oil on the forearm as a spot test before applying to the entire sunburned area.
Once you’ve melted your butters and added your oils, you can pour everything into a portable jar or metal tin and toss it in your bag for easy application on the go. After spending some time in the sun, simply apply a thin layer of the after-sun butter to exposed skin, letting the oils absorb and heal skin from the outside in.
- 8-ounce jar or two 4-ounce metal tins with lids
- Over a double boiler, slowly melt cocoa butter, coconut oil, and beeswax. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 5–10 minutes. (You can also combine the oils in small bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals until melted.)
- Add the aloe vera, honey, vitamin E, and essential oils, stirring well to combine.
- Pour the mixture into a container and let cool completely.
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Rina Mary Allawh, M.D., a dermatologist who practices adult and pediatric medical dermatology, skin cancer treatment, and cosmetic dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.82