The 5 Best Tips for Treating Sunburns


Sunburn is a scourge, a pox, and blight on humanity. Yeah, sure, it’s not Ebola or bubonic plague annoying, but many of us are familiar with that sinking 5 p.m feeling of “Oh man I knew I should have reapplied the sun block” when looking at our shoulders reddening up before our eyes. And then you berate yourself up for forgetting the hat/sun block/umbrella the size of Yankee Stadium that would have properly shielded you.

I haven’t officially “laid out” for 20 years. But I’ll still tend to forget the sunscreen somewhere on my body, which is genetically designed to handle as much sunlight as a moss-covered English rock. Sunburns still happen, even under the best laid plans of sunscreen. Don’t beat yourself up. You’re already sunburned! Just check out our five tips on how to treat your crispy skin.

Your first instinct is to reach for the moisturizer, right? Heck to the no. Do not use heavy moisturizers after getting a sunburn. It’s like putting more olive oil into the frying pan. Heavy moisturizers will trap in the heat of your skin. They may also contain alcohol and fragrances that don’t let your skin breath. Once your skin has cooled off and started to heal (but not blister,) considering adding moisturizer. And keep it natural and/or organic to keep the chemicals off and out of your already sensitive skin.

Now for what you should do! Cold compresses covered in chilled aloe vera is a great idea. Aloe isn’t drying, and chilled aloe will bring down the heat quickly. Pick up some organic aloe vera gel and consider using a hemp washcloth. Rinse a cold compress with the gel and leave it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. (Or better yet, introduce your bottle of aloe to the refrigerator and just keep it there.) Then place the chilled wash cloth on your parts. You can also do the same with chilled used tea bags. Tea has tannins that help the healing process – and they are great for burnt eyelids.

You also want to cool down the skin as quickly as possible. Take a cool shower. After you’re out – let yourself air dry. Or you can simply run ice cubes over your skin. Seeing how fast they melt on your burned skin shows you how much heat you are still radiating. And on the hottest, most humid days, who doesn’t like a little ice bath?

Or you could take a bath in baking soda. Baking soda is cooling and will help the skin retain moisture. It also can take the sting out of a burn. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to a tepid bath and soak for at least 15 minutes. Instead of drying the burned area with a towel, let it air dry.

And finally, spritz yourself in organic vinegar. I know, it sounds insane, but people swear by this home remedy. (Throw a Google on it and see!) Apparently, the acetic acid in the vinegar sooths and moisturizes sunburn skin. Put it in a spray bottle and spray as needed. Others also swear by witch hazel. Sunburn is partially due to skin inflammation, and witch hazel is long known to be a great treatment for inflammation. Use a cotton ball or similar and cover the burned area. Witch hazel has a cooling affect and takes the sting away.

Image: missrogue

Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.