No matter how much sunscreen we stockpile leading up to summer, we can’t seem to fully hide from the dreaded sunburn. The next time your skin gets a little too red, rely on these expert tips to soothe a painful sunburn naturally.
New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD says a lukewarm bath or shower will help cool down the skin, but to be careful when doing so. “It is important not to scrub the skin, but to pat yourself dry to prevent irritation,” she adds.
Opt for a Soothing Mist
Dr. Peredo notes that witch hazel “is great to help itchiness and minimize pain,” but when that doesn’t cut it, she recommends one specific product when caring for a sunburn both on the face and body: PrimaSkin Nano-Formulated Skin Solution ($54). “Nano molecular glutathione is the active ingredient in the mist which is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties,” notes the doctor.
Rely on Cold Water
“Showering and/or washing your face with cold water will help prevent blistering and skin hardening,” says celebrity esthetician Biba de Sousa. Aside from soaking in cold water, which de Sousa says is your best bet instead of a quick shower, celebrity esthetician Renee Rouleau also recommends drinking cold water. “Since your body loses fluids when it’s overheated, it’s important to drink ice water to keep the body’s temperature down and to internally hydrate,” she explains.
“A cold compress, such as an ice pack wrapped in a towel, can be applied to reduce heat, pain and swelling,” adds Dr. Peredo.
Applying soothing, moisturizing ingredients to the burn will keep pain at a minimum, but Dr. Peredo notes staying hydrated from the inside out is key. “It is important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration which can be caused by a sunburn,” she says.
Know Which Aloe to Use
Experts agree that the best form of aloe vera is the diluted aloe from the plant itself. However, if you don’t have access to it, an aloe gel will do the trick—but make sure it’s as natural as possible. “The gel should be clear to a slightly golden color,” says Roleau, explaining that artificial colorants and dyes are likely to further irritate our already sensitive skin. “Try placing the gel in the refrigerator for around 30 minutes before applying a thick coat on the burn,” says Rouleau. “Apply the gel to the skin, let it dry for 15 minutes, then rinse,” she says, advising we repeat the steps every three hours. If you don’t have aloe on hand, celebrity esthetician Nerida Joy says that chilled cucumbers are your next best option.
Soak in Milk
“Soaking in milk will also help heal a burn,” says Rouleau, advising a lukewarm or cool bath mixed with six cups of milk. “A cool bath helps to lower the internal body temperature and milk, due to its fat, protein and pH, can have an anti-inflammatory effect and help provide some comfort to tight, burned skin.”
Get Crafty With Oatmeal
Colloidal water—which is made when soaking colloidal oatmeal in water then bathing in the murky water—is beneficial for healing, de Sousa explains. Another way to reap the benefits: grinding a cup of colloidal oatmeal and adding it to your cold bath.
Covington, LA dermatologist Christel Malinski, MD says green tea is surprisingly great for sensitive skin. “I love to brew green tea and cool it down in the fridge to make compresses for sunburns of post-procedure care,” she says.
Know the Black List
“With any sunburn, you want to stay far away from acidic fruits, all oils and heat,” says Joy. More ingredients to stay away from include petroleum, benzocaine, or lidocaine.
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