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NOW READING 5 Quick Tips To Instantly Soothe a Sunburn
July 14, 2020

5 Quick Tips To Instantly Soothe a Sunburn

After spending months in the “Great Indoors” during lock down due to COVID-19, hitting the beach, lake or river sounds quite enticing. What’s not to love? Fresh air, cool water and a day of soaking in the sun. Good times are also good for the body, but it’s easy to overdo it when you’re busy having fun.


Forgetting to reapply sunscreen can result in a painful burn that makes sleep impossible and wearing clothes unbearable. We’re not going to harp on the value of sunscreen here, but it’s important to note that UCLA Associate Clinical Professor, M.D., and F.A.A.D. Glynis Ablon says, “A tan or burn is sun damage. You are damaging your cells and that is what leads to skin cancer and wrinkles.”


Young woman with red sunburned shoulder - sunburn concept
A tan or burn is sun damage. You are damaging your cells and that is what leads to skin cancer and wrinkles (istock/andriano_cz)


DIY Sunburn Relief


Since even sunscreen devotees make mistakes, remedying them quickly is a priority. While you’re mulling over Dr. Ablon’s wisdom, let’s turn down the heat on that scorching sunburn. These five options will get you on the road to recovery in no time.


1. Water – Before you start treating the outside, rehydrate your body from the inside. A sunburn can cause dehydration, so sip cool water to replace what’s been lost. Eating water-dense foods, like cantaloupe, cucumbers, watermelon, and tomatoes will also fuel your body while replenishing lost moisture.


2. Oatmeal – , or Oat Kernel Extract as it’s often listed on skincare products, reduces inflammation, moisturizes, and calms and soothes the skin. Grind a handful of oats in your food processor then add them to a tub of cool water. Soak for no more than 20 minutes and then pat your skin dry with the fluffiest towel you own. And, remember to leave the soap and body wash in the shower given cleansing products can irritate sunburnt skin, as can warm water.


Beautytap Advisors (aestheticians, facialists, makeup artists, and beauty professionals) recommend this cream with Avena Sativa.


Restorsea body butter
Restorsea Revitalizing Body Butter – $120


3. Tea – You’ve probably used damp tea bags to relieve puffy eyes after a good cry, but they also relieve sunburn pain. Camellia sinensis, also prominent in skincare, contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are said to soothe sunburnt skin. Simply soak a few tea bags in cool water then apply them to your skin and rest for a few minutes.


4. Aloe Vera ­– Long revered for its wound healing properties, aloe vera gel can easily be found in most grocery or drug stores. Before you commence to slathering your parched self, make sure your go-to gel is alcohol-free to avoid further irritation. Dr. Ablon recommends using aloe vera either mixed into a moisturizer or on its own to ease sunburn discomfort. “We know inflammation is not good for our body,” Dr. Ablon says, “so I recommend cooling the skin with anti-inflammatories like aloe vera. Everyone should have an aloe plant at home. Just cut off a leaf and put it in the fridge” then apply the gel to the sunburn every hour.


Beautytap Advisors (aestheticians, facialists, makeup artists, and beauty professionals) recommend this aloe vera cream.


Cosrx aloe vera oil free moisture cream
COSRX Aloe Vera Moisture Cream – $13


5. Over-the-Counter Pain Medication – If you’re in pain, both acetaminophen and ibuprofen will give you some relief. Health providers often recommend ibuprofen, though, because it also reduces inflammation.


While most sunburn symptoms resolve with at-home care, seek medical attention if you’re experiencing severe sunburn pain or find it difficult to function normally.

Tracy is a "quality over quantity" word girl fascinated by eagles and life in a small SoCal mountain community. She believes in the now, has written professionally for 30+ years, and worships at the alters of serum and Sulwhasoo.




I've used Maui Vera which is vegan and made in HI. That helps and it's not sticky and feels really good.


Oh! And Maui Vera has noni in it. I'll check this out. I've been using Epicuren's Noni Skin Elixir (for skin tightening on my neck; not for sunburn) for several months. Thanks for the tip!


I get crazy bad sunburns all of the time. My skin is sensitive and pale. My go-to, as listed in this article, is water/hydration and aloe vera. I plan to use these other methods, such at oatmeal and tea, the next time I get a good heavy sunburn!


So many great tips to use! I personally LOVE my aloe plant. Having access to pure aloe, straight from the plant is my favorite. I haven't thought to put a cutting in the fridge! Thanks for sharing.


Nice tips! I have definitely used the tea bag method for my eyes. Such a brief, yet elaborate article explaining exactly what is needed. I will definitely recommend these tips to my clients who happen to enjoy the sun often and need some help on sunburns.


The tea bag trick was news to me, too. That's one pantry staple we always have on hand in our house.


Sooooooo good for right now!! My poor daughter got sunburned last week for the first time and I swear it is because we have been in lockdown! Great natural ways to help with the pain and some great products too!


Ouch! Your poor baby. I hope she feels better soon. Childhood sunburns are the worst!


I was surprised by oatmeal, but I definitely use aloe vera for sure! :)


The oatmeal bath surprised all of us, I think, and I'm ready to try it just to see how it soothes regular dry skin in the winter. :)


wow oatmeal? Mind blown very cool info specially for the little ones enjoying the summer sun.


That's exactly why I love writing about skin and skincare. I always learn something while researching. We're very fortunate to have so much information at our fingertips.


I have really pale and sensitive skin to the point where I get sun burned very easily. This is so helpful especially when I want it soothed as soon as possible! REMEMBER TO WEAR SUNSCREEN! EVEN INDOORS!!


Love these tips! Applecider vinegar soaked cloth is wonderful aswell.


Just got burned hiking last weekend when I failed to reapply sunscreen on my upper arm. Always reapply and remember aloe is your best friend!


When I learned that Dr. Ablon recommended putting an aloe leaf in the fridge, it reminded me of my grandfather. He gave all of us aloe plants one year. At the time, it seemed weird. Years later, I realize it was one of the best gifts he ever gave me.


I feel like I learn about more and more benefits of aloe every week, what a great gift!