These common pantry remedies are scientifically proven to soothe the pain and kickstart your body's natural healing, plus they're already in your cupboard (or garden).
No one wants a sunburn. Ideally, you're in the habit of using sunscreen, hats, clothing, and strategic shade to protect your skin from excess UV radiation. However, accidents sometimes happen despite the best planning and intentions.
When prevention has failed and you find yourself with painfully red skin, it's natural to search for any available remedy to ease your discomfort. Luckily, you probably have several options available in your pantry or windowsill.
Try one or all of these remedies. They're all proven to soothe the burn and help damaged skin heal, and can complement each other's effects.
Everyone knows that aloe is great for soothing a sunburn. It's why you see those tubes of bright green goo on market shelves all summer. If you have an aloe plant, however, the pulp straight from the leaf is even better. It's also not a neon color.
Aloe vera gel is full of vitamins C and E, as well as other anti-inflammatory properties. This supplies nutrients to your skin, while it soothes inflammation and irritation. Studies have shown it can actually increase the rate of new cell production, to help speed up burn healing. It also contains antimicrobial properties that help protect your skin as it recovers.
For an extra soothing effect, cut a few aloe leaves (when you need them), scoop out the inner gel, and store it in the refrigerator. The cool get can feel wonderful and helps to soothe your skin just a little bit extra.
Oatmeal is one of the oldest and safest ways to soothe inflamed or itchy skin. It's been used in skin care products for decades, and in 2003 the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) officially classified it as a skin protectant.
A high concentration of starches and beta-glucan (a type of fiber) create oatmeal's primary benefit. They form a soothing protective barrier that adds moisture to the skin and softens it.
The breakfast grain also includes a wealth of vitamins and phenols (antioxidants) that nourish skin and fight inflammation. This makes it brilliant for battling the redness and pain of a minor sunburn.
The best way to get oatmeal's benefits is to grind (or blitz) it into a fine powder and soak that powder in water. This releases the starches and other beneficial components into the water, so they can soak easily into your skin.
Use a small portion of water to create a thin paste to apply to specific burn areas, or add the powdered oatmeal to a cool (or tepid) bath, and soak your whole body in the soothing mixture.
It's best to avoid flavored oatmeal packets for this, as they're full of other sugars and ingredients that aren't helpful. Thick to plain old oats.
As you may already know, honey's natural composition includes elements that make it both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. This is good for your skin in general, but especially when it's red and inflamed.
Honey's sticky texture can also act as a gentle exfoliant, pulling away dead dried skin that's been damaged by the sun.
Lastly, honey helps moisturize and smooth damaged skin. Spread it over small burned areas, to soothe and protect the skin, or pour it into a cool bath with baking soda, milk, or oatmeal for a soothing full-body treatment.
Black tea (from the Camellia sinensis plant) is an astringent, which means it reduces swelling. This is why you may see tea bags recommended as a treatment to reduce puffy eyes. The same effect can help reduce the inflammation of a sunburn.
This is another treatment that can be added to a cool bath, or concentrated to soothe specific areas. Soak a few tea bags with cool water, and place the wet tea bags on burned areas.
Using a pair of tea bags over your eyes is an effective way to safely reduce sunburn pain and swelling around your eyes or face.
Water / Hydration
We've already mentioned taking a dip in a cool bath, but water will do you even more good on the inside. A lot of the itchiness that follows a sunburn is caused by how it dries out your skin. While external moisturizers can help with this, drinking plenty of water is the best way to hydrate your skin from within.
Staying properly hydrated is one of the best tips for everyday skincare, as it minimizes wrinkles and flaking and generally keeps your skin in its best condition, but this is even more vital when you've gotten a sunburn. After a burn, your skin needs all the support it can get for quick healing and recovery. Drinking plenty of water is the best way to provide this support.
If you're not a plain water fan, try flavoring your drinks with summer fruits and herbs, like mint, pineapple, or lemon. Eating fruits with high water content is also a good option. Not only is watermelon hydrating, but it also carries a host of vitamins and antioxidants that will further help your body heal. Cold teas or fruit juices cut with water are other excellent possibilities.
Give any or all of these remedies a try. Enjoy a cool oatmeal, honey, tea bath with a tall glass of fruity water, followed by some fresh aloe gel. It won't get rid of your sunburn, only time can do that, but it will make it feel a lot better. Plus, most of these ingredients might already be handy.
Of course, the best solution is always to protect yourself and avoid a sunburn in the first place. However, if a burn does happen, we hope these remedies help you feel better fast.
For more healthy summer tips and beauty recipes, check out these other posts:
Need some pure raw honey right away? Chances are good it's available in a store near you!