Before you hit the beach -- or even go outside for a walk -- it’s important to protect your skin from the sun. But even the most sun-savvy of us can get burned once in awhile, so it's just as important to repair sun damage as soon as it happens. We’ve compiled a list of eight all-natural remedies that help soothe the burn and kick-start your skin’s healing process!
1. Buttermilk Rinse
The lactic acid in buttermilk (an ingredient you’ll see listed in many high-end beauty products) acts as an astringent, meaning it evens out and tightens skin. It also acts in a similar (but much gentler) way to an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), which exfoliates and smooths your skin. Just apply a little buttermilk to your sunburned skin and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing off with water. Don’t have buttermilk in your fridge? Use honey instead; it promotes healing and reduces the inflammation.
Read more: The 29 Safest Sunscreens and 3 to Avoid
2. Aloe Vera
One of the most favored natural sunburn remedies out there, this incredible plant has been renowned since ancient times for its skin-healing powers. Besides being incredibly soothing, it can also be used to prevent damage to the external layer of skin. Try to find a pure aloe vera gel without any additives. Even better? Buy an aloe vera plant and get it straight from the source: Simply cut the leaves open and smear on all the gelatinous goop that comes out. Whichever version of aloe vera you choose, apply it about five times a day to get the full healing benefits. Chill the gel in the fridge beforehand for a truly cooling experience.
3. Cucumber Paste
This water-rich vegetable is incredibly hydrating -- cucumbers are actually 97.6 percent water, resulting in a unique set of benefits for your body and skin. To make a soothing paste simply combine finely chopped cucumber, cornstarch and water until it reaches a paste-like consistency. Apply to burned areas, and then rinse off with cool water for a soothing effect. If you have any leftover cucumbers (not the paste!) you can use it to flavor your water. Sunburns often go hand in hand with dehydration, so refueling with healthy liquids while treating your skin is key.
Read more: 12 Ways to Make Water Taste (Much) Better
4. Apple Cider Vinegar Bath
A vinegar-based substance may not seem like a top choice when you’re looking for immediate relief, but it works! This acidic (yet gentle) ingredient is loaded with acetic acid, which reduces inflammation as well as lessens pain and itching. Add a cup to a lukewarm bath, and, for an even more soothing experience, add a few drops of lavender essential oil. Use pure apple cider vinegar with no add-ins or fillers. Since it is acidic, use it sparingly: Space out your baths to every other day or as a one-time treatment.
Read more: 8 Reasons to Love Apple Cider Vinegar
5. Potato Juice
The humble potato is packed with benefits for your skin -- especially sunburned skin. In fact, raw potatoes have been a common remedy for many skin ailments in India and other countries for centuries. They can be used to treat blemishes on the skin, prevent wrinkles and lighten/brighten tanned skin. The starch in the “juice” from a raw, peeled potato creates a soothing and cooling effect. Another easy trick is to place raw potato slices on the damaged areas and let them sit for a few minutes.
6. Strawberry Mash
Strawberries naturally contain an astringent, tannin, which helps alleviate the stinging sensation of a sunburn by reducing inflammation. A 2010 study revealed that the ellagic acid found in strawberries as well as other foods prevents the collagen loss that comes with exposure to UV rays. The ellagic acid can actually help prevent wrinkles that form after overexposure to the sun. Mash a cup of ripe strawberries and gently rub on your skin. Leave it on for a few minutes, then rinse with cool water.
7. Coconut Oil
What can’t coconut oil do? It’s in everything from DIY lip balm to hair masks and is a must-have for beauty and health nuts alike. Rich and moisturizing, this oil is also ideally suited for a sunburn remedy. Its high fat content provides loads of hydration for burned skin. Coconut oil is also antibacterial and antifungal, which is key for protecting damaged skin. Rub a small amount of coconut oil on the burned area and allow it to melt and soak into your skin. Coconut oil also works as a simple carrier oil, so you can blend in a few drops of an essential oil like lavender before applying for an extra-soothing twist.
Read more: Does Coconut Oil Live Up to the Hype?
8. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel water has been a popular natural remedy for centuries and is derived from the leaves and bark of the witch hazel plant. Native Americans used it to treat numerous conditions — from skin sores to colds and coughs — and it’s FDA-approved as an ingredient in nonprescription drugs. Witch hazel is an astringent, which makes it perfectly suited to deal with inflammation. Pour a small amount of witch hazel on a washcloth and dab on sunburned skin. Witch hazel can shorten the healing time for your skin and prevent the inevitable flaking that comes several days after a bad burn. With this method, your skin will be back to its natural, healthy state in no time!
What Do YOU Think?
Have you ever tried any of the remedies mentioned? Did it work or not work? What are other natural remedies do you use to soothe a sunburn? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Read more: 11 Warning Signs Your Skin Is Sending You
Shrankhla Holecek, the founder of Uma Oils, was raised in India, and grew up immersed in the knowledge and cultural tradition of Ayurveda and holistic medicine.