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Healing sunburn with Boiron, calendula and shea

Is a Solution for:
Sun Protection for Body
Reviewed by Angela August 15, 2011 12 Comments
On the long July 4th weekend, I went to Lake Tahoe for some much-needed communing with nature.  It was a glorious, cloudless three days with temperatures hovering in the mid-80s.  I went hiking for two days and each day, after 30 mins. of letting my arms, shoulders, back and legs absorb some Vitamin D inducing rays, I slathered my body with Badger SPF 30+ Sunscreen.  I didn’t get a hint of color after 4 hours in full mid-day sun.  On the third day, I took a boat ride around the lake and again, after 30 mins of exposing my skin to the sun, I slathered my body with Lumixyl MoistureLock Sunscreen. I reapplied after one hour. By the end of the 3 hour boat ride, of which 1.5 hours was spent below deck, my back and shoulders were fried.

When I got back to the car, I immediately applied Lily of the Desert Aloe Vera Gel on the burn and reapplied frequently because the coolness felt so good.  The following day, I applied the aloe in the morning but because I had to go back to work, I couldn’t reapply frequently. I was in excruciating pain - the kind of pain that isn’t just on the surface of the skin but seems to go straight through to the bone.

That evening to my local natural pharmacy to purchase Jurlique’s Calendula Cream, one of the best things I’ve found for sunburn. To my horror they were out of stock, but one of the sales people recommended a different calendula formula, a gel from Boiron, a French homeopathic manufacturer. I applied some from the tester and felt relief within 5 minutes.  I bought both the gel and their calendula cream and used them together, layering the cream over the gel, for three days. I continued using the gel but then began to layer shea butter from Mountain Rose Herbs on top of it. By Sunday night, the redness was gone and my skin was brown. There was no pain. I stopped using the Calendula Gel but continued using the shea butter, hoping it would prevent my skin from peeling.

It’s one month later and my skin never peeled! I’ve continued using the shea butter almost daily (and really ought to make it a permanent part of my routine - it’s fabulous) and my back and shoulders are tan.  The Boiron products contain some nasties and aren’t as natural as I would like them to be but holy cow, did they work!  They will now be a permanent fixture in my first aid kit.

Boiron Calendula Gel: Active Ingredient:  Calendula officinalis MT HPUS - 7% Inactive Ingredients:  1,2-hexanediol and caprylyl glycol, alcohol, carbomer, dimethicone, purified water, EDTA disodium, sodium hydroxide, sorbic acid

Boiron Calendula Cream: Active Ingredients: Calendula officinalis 1X HPUS 10% Inactive Ingredients: Purified water, pegoxol-7 stearate, (from EWG: PEGOXOL 7 STEARATE: Polymers of ethylene oxide used as humectants, solvents, binders, emulsion stabilizers, and viscosity increasing agents in cosmetics) lauroyl macrogolglycerides, glycerin, cetyl palmitate, sorbic acid, carbomer, sodium hydroxide, methylparaben, propylparaben
  • August 16, 2011

    by Angela J

    Hi Julie Kay,

    Truly, I am stunned that I didn't peel at all and I attribute this to the shea butter. I agree that reflection off water seems to intensify the sun's burning ability and that may have added to my sunburn. Sunblock clothing does sound interesting but then I wonder what chemicals are in the clothing that makes it so.
    It's seems so difficult to be a healthy, natural, environmentally-conscious, middle-age chick who still wants to look good.

  • August 15, 2011

    by Julie Kay

    AngelaJ- I'm sorry to hear you suffered that deep of a burn. I have (in the past), and I remember that "to the bone" feeling. I'm impressed w your not peeling! Wow! My first instinct is to believe the water burn is the worst we can suffer. Most of my worse burns were when I was near water; seems the reflective nature of the rays can cut through anything. I have also read (very recently) of sunblock clothing- which for me, an aging chick, is something I may look into IF they fulfill my "hip" requirements. I will be looking for your Boiron calendula cream for my grandkids- it sounds perfect. Thank you for your article! ~jk

  • August 15, 2011

    by Angela J

    Hi All - I'll answer your questions in order:

    Janice - just because a product doesn't work for one person doesn't mean it won't work for someone else. I've bought plenty of products that others have raved about that haven't worked for me and vice versa.

    Marta - it's unlikely I'll use Lumixyl in the same way, i.e., when I'm out in the sun all day. Despite my Italian heritage, I'm very fair and obviously need a product that provides more coverage, like Badger. The hat I wore was not a broad-brimmed kind, it was more of a baseball hat with a neck-cover (yes, it looks as awful as it sounds!) so while my face and neck were shaded, nothing else was. I think Lumixyl is fine for my face/neck on a daily basis when I'm working and will be exposed to solar rays for only short periods of time.

    Chris - so glad it worked for you. As I said in my reply to Janice, what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another.

    Susan - I don't think that's the case. The Lumixyl has 8.4% Titanium Dioxide while Badger has 18.75% Zinc Oxide -- that's a significant difference. The Badger is a more occlusive (for want of a better word) cream so is a better barrier.

    Junko - I've become a huge fan of Mountain Rose Herbs and yes, the raw unrefined organic shea is the one I'm using and it is quite greasy if I use too much. The trouble I have is not allowing it to heat/melt in my hands before massaging it in - it has a thick, paste-like quality - so I use far too much for that reason. Oddly, even though I glisten and gleam after applying it I don't feel super greasy, but my t-shirts at the end of the day are quite soaked through with it.

    Oksana - I'm so glad your mother found relief while undergoing radiation and it's great to know of another calendula cream I can turn to. I do like Weleda's products so I'll look for it next time I'm at the natural pharmacy. I'm sorry to hear that you experienced sunburn with Devita -- it was my HG facial sunscreen last year. This year I've been relying on mineral makeup from Lucy Minerals for my facial sun protection (even though it's not FDA approved) as well as the hideous hat I mentioned and it has been enough. (Lucy Minerals Ingredients~zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, mica, magnesium stearate, iron oxides, allantoin, Apple Poly® polyphenols, trans-resveratrol, green coffee bean extract, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate)

  • August 15, 2011

    by Jennifer

    Why do you think that the DeVita isn't working well as a protective agent? I'm now worried, as I have 2 tubes of for face & one for body. Love the feel of it, but will be SO disappointed if it doesn't work! With 19% zinc, it should...right?

  • August 15, 2011

    by Marta

    I have the same problem with Devita. Its a nice product, but it doesn't give enough protection. I've been using MD Solar when I go for a run at the weekends and it works very well - I wish there was a little less silicone though.

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