How To Use CBD For Sunburn Care

Day hikes, relaxing by the pool, picnics in the park, beach days—whatever your summer plans look like, you want to make sure your skin is well protected from the harsh sun rays, or you'll be spending the next few days indoors recovering from a sunburn. 

The sun's invisible UV rays are so powerful that it physically burns the skin—It's itchy, red, and can escalate to blisters in severe cases.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural hemp-derived compound that may have benefits for supporting your skin health when you're recovering from a sunburn. We'll get into how it works and how to use it to soothe redness with CBD aftersun care.

Why Do We Get Sunburns?

Our bodies are engineered to react to sunlight. Some light rays are needed to regulate our sleep-wake cycle and hormone functions, but some photons are so powerful that they can damage our skin cell DNA.

Ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB) are invisible to the human eye, but they're so damaging to our skin cells that it can result in burns,  premature aging, and skin cancer. UV light is primarily emitted by the sun, but artificial items like sunlamps can also produce them. And so, when your body receives a high amount of  UV radiation without any sun protection, you could end up with a sunburn [1].

While we associate summer with soaking in the sun's rays, our skin is susceptible to burns even in the winter months if we don't properly protect it.

Does CBD Make You Heal Faster From Sunburn?

There isn't enough research to definitively answer that CBD can help with sunburn healing, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any cannabis product on the market to treat, cure, or prevent any skin condition. However, many people use CBD on their skin and swear by its gentle effects at soothing irritation, redness, and pain.

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which plays a critical role in maintaining skin homeostasis, barrier formation, and regeneration [2].

Topical CBD May Provide Comfort From Skin Sensitivity

UV radiation damages the skin like a first or second-degree burn, triggering the inflammatory response to remove the damaged cells and start the repair process.

When you're recovering from sunburn, your skin could feel hot and feel painful to touch. CBD has been suggested to comfort skin sensitivity thanks to its support in the endocannabinoid systems, but clinical studies suggest that it may also have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that could soothe your skin [3]. 

Given these properties, it makes sense why many people turn to CBD for sunburn relief.

Tips for Staying Safe in the Sun

It's easy to underestimate the sun's damage, especially on cloudy days or colder months, which can make us complacent about sun protection, leaving our skin vulnerable to sunburn. And so, it’s critical to take protective measures to avoid sunburn.

1. Apply Sunscreen Daily Of 30 SPF +

The SPF stands for sun protection factor, and the number next to it indicates its protection level. Since adequate sun protection is a vital part of maintaining our overall health, the FDA does regulate sunscreen to ensure products are offering the right protection.

If you plan to spend all day in the sun, it's recommended that you apply an SPF of 30 or more to block harmful UVA and UVB rays. Make a habit of applying sunscreen about half an hour before you step outdoors. This allows your skin to absorb the sunscreen not to be easily washed down when you sweat.

2. Wear Protective Clothing

During the sweltering summer months, you may want to dress lightly, but leaving your skin uncovered makes you more susceptible to sunburn, especially if you have fair skin.

Cover up the delicate skin on the face with a wide-brimmed hat, wear sleeves and cover up your legs if you're more prone to burning. You can find lightweight clothing that offers UV protection for the days you're spending a lot of activity outdoors.

3. Stay Hydrated

One of the effects of sun exposure is water loss.

When your skin is dehydrated, sunburn symptoms are worse, and it makes healing more challenging.

Since we need water for almost all our biological processes, including the immune response, to repair the damage, we need to make sure that we're drinking enough water to help with the recovery process.

Carry a water bottle with you when you go outdoors. You can also add an electrolyte powder to your water to enhance the flavor and keep your electrolyte levels balanced throughout the day.

After Sun Care Tips

Long sun exposure can dry out the skin, even if you're wearing sunscreen. Aftersun care products help your skin replenish the moisture lost and nourish the skin.

Here are some at-home tips for caring for your skin after a sun-soaked day.

1. Take A Cool Shower

Hot or cold showers can shock your body and delay recovery, so it's advisable to cool off in the shower with lukewarm water after extensive sunbathing. This helps to reset your internal body temperature to support your recovery process.

To dry off, make sure you dab your skin with the towel—don't rub, as the towel fibers can irritate your skin.

2. Apply CBD Lotion Or After Sun Spray

Skin products contain ingredients easily absorbed into the skin to replenish moisture and improve its overall texture and appearance.

Indigo Harper has a CBD After Sun Spray specifically designed to help your skin get back to feeling its best after a long day of sun exposure. It contains 510 MG of full-spectrum CBD extract, skin-loving aloe vera gel, and restorative arnica Montana extract to support circulation and normal inflammatory function.

3. Exfoliate The Skin

If you have a sunburn, you may want to hold off on exfoliating the skin until it's no longer painful, as this can result in more irritation and sensitivity.

Gentle exfoliation to your skin after sun exposure can help re-energize your skin. It scrubs away dead skin cells and other impurities to reveal the brighter, newer skin layer below that absorbs active ingredients in your skincare products.

The Takeaway: CBD for Sunburns

Being exposed to UV radiation for long periods can make you vulnerable to sunburn. When you get a sunburn, your skin exhibits symptoms of first and second-degree burns like tenderness, redness, and blistering.

Some of the tips for managing sunburn include donning protective clothing and staying hydrated.

While there aren't any FDA-approved CBD products out there that can claim to manage a sunburn effectively, it hasn't stopped people from reaching for CBD-infused skin products to support their comfort levels as they recover from sun damage.

While CBD could potentially help you feel more comfortable as you recover from your sunburn symptoms, it shouldn't be your only form of treatment, especially if you have blisters, broken skin, or the skin is extremely painful. It would be best if you visited your doctor to prevent infection and evaluate the damage's severity.


  • Guerra, K. C., Urban, K., & Crane, J. S. (2018). Sunburn.
  • Tóth, K. F., Ádám, D., Bíró, T., & Oláh, A. (2019). Cannabinoid Signaling in the Skin: Therapeutic Potential of the “C (ut) cannabinoid” System. Molecules, 24(5), 918.
  • Atalay, S., Jarocka-Karpowicz, I., & Skrzydlewska, E. (2020). Antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol. Antioxidants, 9(1), 21.
  • Goswami, S., Sharma, S., & Haldar, C. (2013). The oxidative damages caused by ultraviolet radiation type C (UVC) to a tropical rodent Funambulus pennant: role of melatonin. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, 125, 19-25.
  • Booz, G. W. (2011). Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 51(5), 1054-1061.
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