You probably didn’t know it was happening. Perhaps you were too busy splashing around in the water, completing your pager-turner of a beach read or taking a nap. But by the time you got home and took a glance in the mirror, it was too late: You looked more like a boiled lobster than a human. That’s right, you fell victim to a bad sunburn. And no matter how many times your mother, significant other, or any concerned civilian preaches the consequences of not reapplying your sunscreen every some-odd minutes, you’ll mostly likely acquire a few cases over the course of each summer. While we advocate smart, sun-safe actions, the bottom line is that it happens. So fear not, dear reader: check out six sunburn treatments to soothe your skin.
1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
For any grooming guru, moisturizing is a must. After all, who wants unnecessarily dry and wrinkly skin? Exactly. But when you’ve spent too many SPF-free hours in the sun, moisturizing becomes mandatory for every victim. When deciding which concoction is best, pick a formula that contains aloe or aloe vera, a species known as “true aloe.” Available in many post-sun products, SheKnows notes that it contains active compounds that fight pain, infection, inflammation and post-burn bleeding. Translation? Aloe is a miracle worker. It seems obvious that using a gel or lotion will moisturize, hydrate and add soothing nutrients to your skin, but they can also help avoid that awkward peeling aftermath. To reduce the peeling even more, The Huffington Post suggests sitting in a bath that’s mixed with a few drops of lavender oil and resist the urge to pick at your skin.
2. Drink lots of water
It’s no secret that water has what feels like an infinite number of benefits year-round: Health says that H20 makes your eyes brighter, hair shinier, and can even improve your sleep. But in the summer, water feels like more of an essential than it does in the other three seasons. Not only will our favorite compound quench your thirst during those hot pool days, but it’s also a necessity for when you’re burnt to a crisp. The Skin Cancer Foundation notes that any topical burns attract fluids to the skin’s surface versus the rest of your body. The result? Major dehydration. Do yourself a favor and stock up on water instead of making matters worse.
3. Avoid products with benzocaine and lidocaine
Aloe and sprays a la Solarcaine are a sun-fighting dynamic duo, right? Not quite. Sure the stingy sensation these aerosol products supply may convince you that they’re curing your burn, but be careful: Many of these sprays contain benzocaine and lidocaine. According to The Huffington Post, these two ingredients have the tendency to cause irritations and allergic reactions instead of helping the original diagnosis. Who wants to feel even worse when they’re already burnt? Exactly. Check the label, your body will thank you later.
4. Pamper yourself with a yogurt mask
Who says that being sunburnt should be all pain and no pampering? To treat that selfie-resistant face burn, create a mask with plain yogurt. According to Everyday Roots, a flavor-free yogurt contains probiotics and enzymes that help over-exposed skin. Simply apply yogurt on your face and wait for a short period of time — Everyday Roots recommends five minutes. Once time is up, gently rinse of your mask with cool water. While the website’s instructions only require a half cup of yogurt, splurge on a larger container so your mask can double as a post-beach snack.
5. Create a homemade salve with your groceries
Stop the DIY treatment with your facial burns? No way. If you’re looking to get a little creative with your nursing, simply open your refrigerator or pantry. For example, Parents advocates soaking in a solution made with basic household ingredients such as cornstarch and baking soda can help reduce inflammation and itching. Looking for some more natural alternatives? The website also credits the acetic acid in vinegar, anti-inflammatory powers of colloidal oatmeal, and honey’s soothing alter-ego as ideal options.
6. Apply cold compresses
Sometimes, you don’t need a luxurious post-sun product to remedy this skincare faux pas. On the contrary, maybe all you need is to go back to the basics. While the severity and treatment for each sunburn case varies, NPR.com reports cold compresses are an equally effective remedy. “The funny thing is what it did suggest to do fell right in line with my mom’s catch-all remedy when we were growing up in Texas: she would always use a wet washcloth,” mother Christi Hayden Wilson told the website about her daughter’s sunburn in 2008. “It’ll cure anything.”
While there’s an unofficial consensus on the powers of this tip, the jury is still out about the best liquid touse. According to Prevention, there are several healing liquids you can use for compresses: aluminum acetate alleviates itching, witch hazel is a great anti-inflammatory relief ingredient and water is perfect if you’re looking for an easy chill in a pinch. All affordable and easy to find, trying each one will save yourself from constant discomfort.
Follow Kelsey on Twitter @KMulvs