As an invincible teenager, I had the worst sunburn ever where the back of my knees were so sunburned they were swollen and it hurt to walk with the skin stretching and bending repeatedly, which is when I swore off the sun for good.
That was until this past weekend at my 3-day plein air painting workshop.
I knew the weather forecast was for full sun and around 85°F, but it wasn’t supposed to be a sizzling day. So, I figured I would paint in the shade and be okay.
But of course, my artist’s eye was drawn to an area where there was very little shade throughout the late morning/afternoon when I was painting for two of the three days. Needless to say, despite the slathering on of SPF30, and then SPF50, I ended up with a wicked burn on my shoulders and in other very random weird areas such as the insides of my ankles.
And yes, I know how bad it is for your skin, and I have never worshipped the sun. I think it was so bad this time, since I normally avoid contact with the sun.
Having trouble sleeping the first night because my shirt felt like sandpaper against my skin, I decided to research the best natural products for soothing sunburned skin. These methods are not scientifically proven to help heal sunburn faster, but they do work!
Here’s Five Natural Ways to Sooth a Sunburn:
1. Aloe Vera
This has always been my go-to for sunburned skin. The plant’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it the perfect combination for sun damaged skin.
While aloe provides instant relief, there is no scientific evidence that it actually speeds sunburn healing. I used to put the store-bought gel in the fridge and then put it on my skin – it felt so icy cool and soothing.
To use real aloe, just slit large leaves length-wise, but not all the way through, flatten them out, and lay over the affected area.
Here is a neat idea for making aloe vera ice cubes.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar has been used for centuries to help heal sunburn, and general minor burns for that matter. Unfiltered pure apple cider vinegar seems to work the best. You can put the vinegar in a spray bottle and spritz on the affected skin, or you can soak cloth or cotton balls in the vinegar then apply. I’m going to try this one out too, since I know I have some lying around the house.
Live cultured plain yogurt contains probiotics and enzymes that will help heal your sunburned skin. These healthy bacteria and enzymes will actually help you recover faster – yay! All you need to do is spread some over the affected area, let it sit for five minutes, and then wash off.
The coolness of the milk is not the only thing that’s going to help ease your sunburn. Simply soak a cloth pad (or gauze) in a bowl of chilled milk, and then gently press the self-made compress over your sunburned skin. Leave it on for as long as it takes to eliminate the sting. If you do find your milk getting warm, simply put the bowl of milk back in the fridge. The cool milk offers instant relief, while forming a protective layer over your skin to help it heal more quickly.
This one is the weirdest for me, but potatoes can actually help sooth your burning skin. This is because potatoes have long been used in holistic medicine as a pain reliever, helping to ease minor skin irritations, burns, scratches, bug bites, and inflammation…who knew potato starch could be so helpful?!
All you need to do is cut up the potato into slices and lay on top of your sunburned skin, or you can also make a paste by chopping up a potato and putting it into the blender that you can simply smooth over the affected area.
The Most Natural Sunburn Relief
All in all, the best way to soothe a sunburn is to prevent the incident from occurring. Stay out of the sun between the hours of 11am-4pm when the sun is at its strongest and make sure you wear sunscreen. Apply the sunscreen one half hour before going out in the sun, and then reapply every four hours.
The safest tan is a gradual tan…not the one you get from burning yourself to a crisp after sitting out in the hot sun all day with oil on. Be smarter than me! You only live once – you don’t want leathery skin when you’re older.
Have any naturally soothing sunburn remedies you swear by? Please share below.