It’s that time of year for bathing suits, beach trips, and, um, sunburns. (We’re not judging) They can be all too easy to get if you’re not applying an effective sunscreen every 90 minutes or so and in copious amounts.
So how to ease the sting? We asked plastic surgeon Justin Piasecki, MD, dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD, and holistic health coach and skin expert Laurisa Truemper for some all-natural, skin-soothing solutions for your burn. And guess what? Many of them are already in your kitchen. Here are the nine best. —Irene Bruce
The most popular skin-cooler “improves moisturization and contains aloectin B, which stimulates the immune system for healing,” explains Dr. Piasecki. You apply aloe at room temperature or refrigerate fresh leaves before peeling them open. Truemper suggests mixing aloe with pure vitamin E to soothe the sting and speed up the healing process.
Chamomile tea isn’t just for insomnia. Truemper says both cooled tea bags and the tea can help soothe your skin. Placing cold tea tea bags on the eyelids and affected areas can help reduce inflammation and sting, says Dr. Piasecki. And Dr. Peredo suggests soaking a sponge with the cooled tea and applying it to the sunburned areas.
This versatile oil is loaded with skin-nourishing fatty acids that make it a gentle moisturizer, and it comes in handy as a burn reliever, too. “It helps calm the skin’s stinging, burning feeling,” says Dr. Peredo.
According to Dr. Peredo, lavender is a near perfect skin treatment for sunburn. “It not only reduces pain, but it’s also an antiseptic and prevents scarring,” she says. Truemper suggests creating a spray with 20 drops of lavender essential oil to four ounces of filtered water, adding two teaspoons of aloe vera (juice or plant) if you have it. Keep the mixture refrigerated and shake well before misting it over your skin. Ahhh.
To help restore your skin to cucumber cool, use your blender, says Truemper. Blend a chilled cucumber to a smooth consistency and then apply it to the burned areas liberally. You could also put shredded or sliced cucumbers on sunburned eyelids and skin for some topical relief, too.
It’s one of the world’s oldest cosmetics, known for hydrating, and being soothing to sensitive skin in the process. Dr. Peredo recommends cooling your store-bought or DIY rosewater in the fridge before misting it over a burn.
Truemper says to avoid “synthetic rose ingredients as they have no therapeutic properties.” (We like this one from Tammy Fender.)
Truemper loves the healing power of a cold milk compress, which helps to lessen the heat and “creates a layer of protein, and aids the healing process.”
To get skin-calming results, she recommends combining four ounces of plain yogurt with one ounce of aloe vera gel and 15 drops of lavender essential oil.
The high fat content of milk and yogurt help to lock in moisture, explains Dr. Piasecki. So low-fat milk or yogurt will be less effective. You knew there was a reason you kept the real stuff around.
Goodbye, aspirin. Hello, vinegar. Dr. Peredo says vinegar’s been used to take the sting out of skin for ages because it contains acetic acid, a component in medications such as aspirin. “This helps reduce itching, inflammation, and pain,” she says. Dr. Peredo suggests filling a spray bottle with white vinegar and lightly misting it over the infected areas. You can dilute it with a little cool water to lessen the astringent factor a tad.
“Sunburns are painful at first because the pH of the skin is lower,” explains Dr. Piasecki. And that’s where baking soda comes in. “Baking soda’s higher pH normalizes the acidity of the burned skin and makes it feel more comfortable,” he says.
Truemper says to skip the rubbing alcohol and go straight for a bath with baking soda. She recommends adding ¼ cup of baking soda into a lukewarm water or creating a paste with ¼ cup baking soda and five drops of lavender essential oil. “Mix and apply until it dries, and then rinse it off with cool water,” she says.