As tempting as it is to bask in the sun on a warm summer day, you’ll want to protect yourself from its rays every time you head outdoors.
The best way to prevent a sunburn, of course, is to not get one in the first place. But we all know that things happen, even to the savviest SPF advocates.
As soon as you notice a burn, cover up, head inside and try one of these natural healing remedies:
The Right Moisturizer
Dr. Jeremy Wolf, LuckyVitamin’s lead health advisor, recommends using calendula lotion to treat sunburns or even urtica urens, a plant-based cream that can be used to treat first-degree burns.
Stacey Rex, creator and owner of Pure Stella Skin Care in North Carolina, suggests using aloe vera to soothe and hydrate sunburned skin. If possible, she recommends using aloe straight from the plant, but it can also be used in a gel or lotion.
In addition, Wolf cautions against using lotions or creams that contain petroleum, benzocaine, or lidocaine. Moisturizers with petroleum trap heat in your skin, he says, and benzocaine and lidocaine can also be irritating.
“Stick to moisturizers that are free from fragrances and preservatives, which may further irritate your skin,” Rex adds.
Florida-based beauty chemist David Pollock considers tea to be the greatest at-home remedy for sunburns.
“You can brew a strong pitcher of black tea using several tea bags, then bring it to room temperature,” says Pollock, founder of JustAskDavid.com. “The tannic acid in the tea will instantly restore the acidic nature of your skin, take out the stinging and help to prevent peeling.”
He suggests using a compress to dab the tea across your burn, or run a bath and pour the pitcher of tea into the tub to soak in.
Baking soda can have a similar soothing effect on sunburns. “It helps balance the pH of your skin to promote healing and soothe your skin,” Rex says.
Add a cup of baking soda to a cool or lukewarm bath and soak for 20 to 30 minutes, Rex says, or apply a paste of baking soda and water to clean skin with a cotton ball. Let it sit for up to 10 minutes before rinsing with cool water.
Like tea, white wine vinegar is acidic and can be used to soothe a sunburn naturally, Pollock says. (It just has a stronger smell.) In addition, Rex recommends using apple cider vinegar as a sunburn-treating solution.
“Mix equal portions of water and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spray on skin,” she says. “I also recommend adding lavender essential oil; not only will it mask the vinegar smell, but lavender is also great for soothing burns and speeding up the healing process. You can also add a cup of vinegar to a warm (not hot) bath and soak.”
The acidic nature of yogurt is close to that of our skin and can help promote natural healing, Pollock says.
In addition, Rex says that the probiotics in yogurt help moisturize and reduce pain. “Make sure you find a plain, full-fat version, then apply to the skin, wait 10 minutes and rinse off in the shower.”
Hydrating Foods and Beverages
One of the most important things you can do to help heal a sunburn is to stay hydrated, Wolf says. Drink plenty of water, and even consider adding a scoop of electrolyte powder to your water bottle to maintain hydration, he says.
You can also consider trying certain foods to help ease your pain. “Snack on foods that are high in vitamin C, like oranges and watermelon, to promote healing,” Rex adds. “As an added bonus, they also help keep you hydrated.”