Few things are quite as enjoyable as spending the day outside soaking up the sun. Yet stay outside for too long, without the proper sun protection, and you’ll likely come home with the red, inflamed skin characteristic of sunburn. Your skin might even blister and peel in extreme cases. So what can you do to relieve your painful, itchy skin? We encourage you to opt for natural remedies rather than a chemical-filled store-bought sunburn product.
Problems with Store-Bought Products
Store-bought sunburn products have their time and place. When you’re too busy for a home remedy or your burn is severe, they can be the best option. Yet most of the time you’re far better off whipping up a natural remedy yourself.
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The main reason we recommend avoiding store-bought sunburn products is that most are filled with chemicals. Rubbing the product on your skin is basically an invitation for these chemicals to enter your body.
Of course, there are reputable all-natural brands out there but these are often hard to find. We prefer to play it safe and use natural remedies on our sunburnt bodies.
Natural Remedies for Sunburn
You have a lot of different options for sunburn with natural remedies. We’ve tested dozens of them ourselves and have narrowed them down to the 11 most effective below.
The best sunburn remedy is to prevent one in the first place! This means wearing an all-natural sun lotion whenever you’re outside. Though sunburns are much more common in the summer, they can also occur in the winter.
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Stay out of the sun during peak sun intensity hours. Ultraviolet light is strongest from roughly 10am and 3pm. If you do need to go outside during these hours, try to stay in the shade as much as possible.
Fail to heed our prevention advice? The number one natural sunburn remedy is hydration. Drinking plenty of water will help your skin heal faster. The cold liquid will also provide a noticeable measure of relief to your seared skin.
3. Aloe Vera
Few natural products offer sunburn relief quite like aloe vera. While you can pick up a store-bought aloe vera gel, we prefer to use our own aloe vera plant. Slit one of the plant’s largest leaves down the middle and apply the inner gel directly to your sunburn.
4. Potato Paste
Potatoes have long been regarded as one of the best natural pain relievers. Grind a potato up in a blender until it forms a paste. Add a little water if needed. Pour the mixture over a handful of cotton balls. Rub the cotton balls on your sunburnt skin once they’ve soaked up the paste up.
Some people prefer to skip the blending process. Instead, they place thin slices of the potatoes directly on their skin. We recommend trying both methods to see which works best for you.
5. Baking Soda
Mix baking soda with water until it forms a paste-like substance. Rub the baking soda on your burn area. Baking soda offers quick relief from sunburn pain. It also reduces swelling and redness of the burned area.
Cornstarch works much the same way as baking soda. Mix it with a small amount of water to form a paste. Spread the paste over your sunburn for immediate relief.
The best natural remedies for sunburn are those you already have laying around at home. Chances are you have some milk in the fridge.
Soak a clean washcloth in this cold milk. Lay the damp washcloth over the sunburnt area. The coolness of the milk with help reduce the heat of your burn. Leave the milk-soaked washcloth on as long as you still feel its cooling effects.
8. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel has long been used to heal skin conditions including sunburn. The substance is distilled from the leaves, bark, and twigs of the witch hazel plant. It’s easy to find in stores in its distilled version.
Soak a clean washcloth in the distilled witch hazel. Use the cloth to dab a small amount of the substance on your sunburn. Unlike other natural remedies on this list, a very small amount of witch hazel is effective. It will help lessen inflammation, reduce swelling, and heal the skin.
An oatmeal bath accomplishes two things at once. First, bathing in cool water offers a lot of relief for sunburned skin. Second, the polysaccharides in oatmeal coat your skin, helping it heal more quickly.
Run a bath and make sure the water is on the cool side. Fill a clean tube sock with two cups of oatmeal and tie off the end. Soak the sock filled with oatmeal in the bathwater for a few minutes. This will soften up the oats. Rub the sock across the sunburnt parts of your body to unleash the oatmeal’s healing effects.
10. Plain Yogurt
The plentiful probiotics and enzymes in plain yogurt work wonders on sun damaged skin. Be sure to select plain yogurt only. Even vanilla flavored is less effective.
Apply a small amount of plain yogurt to each of your burn areas. Rub it in and let sit for at least 5 minutes. The yogurt will provide a cooling sensation for your damaged skin. Wash it off and repeat as needed.
11. DIY Burn Cream
There’s so many great options for natural remedies for sunburn that we prefer to use one of the above methods first. While DIY burn cream is very effective, it takes a little longer to create.
Our favorite recipe combines 1 tablespoon witch hazel, 1 teaspoon aloe vera, 4 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon peppermint oil, and 2 tablespoons water. Mix the ingredients together into a paste. Place the mixture in a sealed jar and let sit in a cool dark place for 24 hours.
Because it takes at least 24 hours to cure, we recommend creating a batch of DIY burn cream at the beginning of summer. That way you’ll have some close at hand whenever you get a burn.
Which one is your favorite natural remedy for sunburn?
Want to know more? This article on the DrAxe.com website shows you the essential oils and foods you can eat to help reduce the symptoms of sunburn.
The 11 remedies above have worked very well for us so far but we’re always on the lookout for new ideas – let us know your suggestions in the comments below!