12 Natural Ways To Treat Sunburn

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Now that the sun is finally ready to flaunt its way through the summer months, we need to pay extra attention to our skincare routine. We would obviously never skip our sunscreen on a super bright day, but nobody’s perfect and we’ve all ended up with a bit of sunburn at some point from missing a spot or forgetting to reapply.

For the times that your skin is a little more red, inflamed and sensitive than you’d like it to be, we’ve compiled a list of the best natural sunburn relief remedies. And honestly, some of these feel so relaxing that you might confuse them for spa treatments.

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With a cold compress…

1. Filtered Water

This one is as simple as it gets: drop a few ice cubes in some filtered water, soak it up with a soft cloth, and then gently place it on the burnt area. When the cloth gets warm from your body heat, just resoak it and reapply. Use the cold compress up to 15 minutes at a time and several times a day until your skin heals.

2. Witch Hazel

Thanks to its tannins, witch hazel can be a very effective anti-inflammatory option. It can even help repair broken skin and fight bacteria. Wet a cloth with the witch hazel and gently press the cloth directly on the burn. The anti-inflammatory relief should last longer than the water option thanks to witch hazel’s astringent properties.

3. Milk

Sounds weird, but it works. The proteins in dairy are super helpful in soothing sunburnt skin. Soaking a cloth in milk and placing it directly on the skin creates a protein film that not only relieves pain, but reduces the heat radiating from the skin. Some sources say to opt for fat-free milk, so that’s something to consider as well.

4. Bags Of Tea Leaves

This method is especially helpful for when you have sunburn on your face and near the eye area. Grab mint, chamomile or green tea bags from your pantry, soak them briefly in cold water to activate the tea leaves and then place them directly over your eyes for relief from both pain and swelling.

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In the bathtub…

5. Baking Soda

Baking soda is able to soothe inflammation while reducing the itchiness that often comes with sunburnt skin. It also helps adjust skin’s acidity, which is part of how it makes it feel more comfortable. All you have to do is toss a handful into cool or lukewarm bathwater and soak in it for at least 20 minutes.

6. Vinegar

Yikes to the smell, but oooh to the skin-soothing benefits. Whether you prefer white or apple cider vinegar, the compound’s acetic acid (which is also an ingredient in medicines like aspirin) helps reduce the trifecta of itching, inflammation and pain. Just toss a cup into the bath and feel it work its magic.

7. Oatmeal

Do you remember when you had the chicken pox as a child and your mom drew you warm oatmeal baths to dull the itch? Well, it’s just as effective with sunburn, too. Pour dry, crushed oatmeal into a lukewarm bath and soak up all the anti-inflammatory benefits you can stand. (Plus, this one smells way better than the vinegar bath.)

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With topical treatments…

8. Aloe Vera

This one works best when it’s squeezed directly from the plant’s leaves and not a plastic bottle from the pharmacy, but if you have to go the store-bought route, just make sure it’s the only ingredient on the label. This natural gel moisturizer is full of antioxidants and exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, better helping your skin feel relief post-sunburn.

9. Plain Yogurt

Here we go with another dairy option. Plain, unflavored yogurt is full of enzymes and probiotics that help heal sunburn naturally. Just apply the yogurt directly to your sunburnt skin and let it sit for at least five minutes. Gently wash it off with cool water and notice the difference in the pain you feel.

10. Essential Oils

Coriander oil, lavender oil and coconut oil all come highly recommended in nourishing the skin after a sunburn and can be massaged into the skin like lotion. Coriander oil can reduce inflammation, lavender helps ward off infection, and coconut oil is super calming while moisturizing. Try just one or a combination of the three for effective relief.

11. Vitamin E

Vitamin E not only helps to moisturize the burnt, dry skin, but it also provides essential nutrition that can aid in recovery time. If you already take it as a dietary supplement, simply poke a hole in one of the liquid capsules with a safety pin and squeeze the vitamin E into a small bowl. Add a little olive oil to make it easier to spread over more of your skin, and massage the mixture into any sunburned area for relief.

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On the inside…

12. Drink All The Water

It makes sense, right? Burnt skin is also dehydrated skin, so it’s important to recalibrate by adding water back into the equation from the inside out. Drinking a healthy amount of water each day will help replenish and heal the skin faster than if you let it remain dried out. Also, peeling. Gross.

In general, it’s a good idea to avoid things that will dry and/or irritate your skin like soaps and drying off with rougher towels. Stick to the options above, pat skin dry after washing and let your body do its healing. It works in mighty powerful ways if you just create the right conditions for it to work optimally.