Sunburn pain can be excruciating. Not only does your body feel like it’s a self-heating furnace, but you’re also itchy and uncomfortable, and it’s difficult to do normal daily activities like sleep. Now that temperatures are heating up, Facebook user Cindi Allen-Stewart shared a post with a DIY hack on how to quickly and effectively treat a sunburn and its side effects using menthol shaving cream.
While the go-to DIY treatment for sunburns is fresh aloe, some people—like Allen-Stewart and her husband—are allergic. She shared this hack passed down by a family member for people who need a quick fix and don’t have aloe on hand or cannot use the “burn plant” for relief.
“…Apply the shaving cream on the burn. It may seem like it’s a strange shaving ritual, but trust me!” wrote Allen-Stewart. “Don’t rub it in, just let it sit on your skin. It will start bringing all that heat out (you’ll be able to feel it). You may feel like you are itchy too, but that’s a good thing! Itching means healing.”
With more than 200K shares and counting, the menthol shaving cream hack is spreading like wildfire, but does it really work? And if so, are there any risks associated with using shaving cream in this way? Before you go dousing yourself in a can or two of Gillette Foamy Menthol, NewBeauty turned to a few top dermatologists to get their expert opinions on the safety and validity of this out-of-the-box sunburn hack.
Las Vegas Dermatologist H.L. Greenberg, MD says it’s all about the ingredients in the can: “The key ingredients in the Gillette Foamy Menthol are water/eau, stearic acid, triethanolamine, isobutane, laureth-23, sodium lauryl sulfate, propane, menthol, fragrance/parfum and bht. The water and menthol should cool the skin; I’m happily surprised that it works.”
“Menthol can be soothing by making the skin feel cooler and reducing the sting of a sunburn, but it wouldn’t really impact the redness much,” says Jericho, NY dermatologist Sarika Banker, MD. “I usually recommend cool compresses and hydrocortisone 1 percent two to three times per day for a few days until redness has subsided. For blistering sunburns, you should see a dermatologist as you may need additional treatment to avoid infection.”
“I agree the menthol can be cooling, and that I don’t see how it would help with the redness,” adds Long Beach, CA dermatologist Rey Hamidi, MD. “I do prefer a fragrance-free product, as I worry about sensitivity to fragrance, which is so common—especially with already inflamed skin. Another layer to the hack might be to put the foam in the refrigerator so it’s cool—and extra soothing—when it goes on.”
“Menthol is cooling, but Sarna would do the same thing and be less messy,” says Tacoma, WA dermatologist Jill Rosenthal, MD. “The whole bit about the shaving cream starting to disappear and dry in areas is ridiculous. That’s what shaving cream would do after half an hour no matter where you put it.”
“This is an old treatment and has been reported many times in the past,” says Fort Lauderdale, FL dermatologist Dr. Matthew Elias. “It’s the menthol which cools the skin or ‘takes the heat out,’ however it shouldn’t have much of an effect on the inflammation, and in that case, low-potency steroids like over-the-counter hydrocortisone will take care of the redness.”
Final verdict: The consensus is that while the shaving cream can soothe and give temporary relief of the burning feeling, this method doesn’t actually take away the sunburn. But if you want to try it, while they don’t recommend it, these doctors don’t see the harm in this DIY method. To soothe the effects of too much sun exposure, we love Lord Jones High CBD Pain & Wellness Formula ($50), Coola ER Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion ($32) and Burt’s Bees Natural Sun Care Aloe & Linden Flower After Sun Soother ($5).