Still, once in a while, an unexpectedly long beach day or a long run in a place where the sun is stronger than you’re used to can creep up on you, and you find yourself burnt to a crisp. (Yup, it happens to the best of us.)
When that happens, there are a few things you can do that provide sunburn relief for your aching, heat-generating skin and also speed up the healing process. Check out some science-backed sunburn remedies, below. And while you’re sitting there in a loose cotton dress fanning away the heat radiating from your limbs, think about how you’re going to prevent it from happening again.
Sunburn, after all, is an inflammatory reaction, and that means it’s not only painful, it can affect your overall health, too.
5 Simple Tips for Sunburn Relief
1. Try a cold (milk!) compress
Any cold compress (i.e. a good old wet washcloth) will help tame the swelling and inflammation, but experts also recommend a specific way to increase the effectiveness: milk! The cool factor is the same as if you used water, but you’ll also be delivering pro-healing antioxidants Vitamin A and D and lactic acid, which can help gently exfoliate dead skin cells away.
2. Invest in an aloe plant.
The results of studies on whether aloe vera gel can actually speed up burn healing time have largely been inconclusive. Still, it’s been used as a burn remedy for centuries, and even if it doesn’t impact how fast you heal, it definitely feels calming and cooling on inflamed skin. Your best bet is squeezing the pure gel from the plant itself (which will look great in your apartment). If you’d rather buy a packaged version, avoid products that also contain benzocaine and lidocaine, common ingredients paired with aloe that can further irritate skin.
3. Make Sure You Moisturize
Now’s the time to reach for the most luxe moisturizer (or coconut oil) you’ve got. You want to slather yourself with moisture to soothe your skin and prevent peeling. One caveat: Skip the Vaseline since petroleum can trap the heat in your skin (we’d recommend doing that all the time, anyway, since using a product made from crude oil is not the best idea for your body or the planet, overall).
4. Hydrate from the Inside
That sunburn seriously dried out everything, and your body is going to need extra H2O to fight the inflammation and get back to a place of balance. Keep your water bottle close and empty it often.
5. Pop a Pain Pill
When sunburn is really bad, there’s no shame in popping a pill for pain relief, since an Advil is uniquely good at banishing that burning sensation. Plus, taking ibuprofen (AKA Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (AKA Aleve) could even help reduce some redness since they’re anti-inflammatory.
Now, time to invest in a new hat, shades, and SPF.