8 Natural Sunburn Remedies

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Sunshine can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Getting your dose of vitamin D is crucial, but if you’ve gotten a little more than your fill, these sunburn remedies can help.

Sunburns may be caused by either too much sun exposure or too much ultraviolet (UV) exposure from a tanning bed. If you have light skin, eyes, or hair, or freckles, your risk for sunburn is even higher.

When you spend too much time out in the sun, your body will trigger your skin to increase its melanin production for protection, which could give you a darker and/or irregular color. (1Fun fact: Melanin gives color not only to your skin, but your eyes as well!

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The protective effects of melanin are crushed when you have an excess amount of sun exposure. Your skin cells die, triggering your body to increase blood flow and causing inflammation to the area.

Too much time in the sun triggers melanin production in your skin, which gives you that darker color.

Your skin is also largely responsible for regulation of your immune system, which is suppressed with high doses of UV radiation. (2)

So if you’ve accidentally spent too much time at the beach, here are a few sunburn remedies to help combat mild, painful sunburns.

Note: if you have severe sunburns, especially the type with blisters, make sure to consult with your doctor before trying any of these methods.

Moisturize With Coconut Oil

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Put a little coconut oil on your skin the next time you turn a little red from too much sunshine. The fatty acids found in coconut oil assist in reducing inflammation, while also adding moisture back to your dry and flaky skin. Coconut oil has also been found to function as a minor sunscreen, blocking about 20% of the sun’s UV rays. (3)

Cool Down With Cucumbers

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When you think of a spa, do cucumbers over the eyes come to mind? As it turns out, there is some science behind this.

Cucumbers are actually made up of about 95% water, so they literally have an immediate hydrating effect on your body. Cucumbers can decrease your inflammation and swelling when used topically or directly on the skin by blocking pro-inflammatory enzymes. (4) These are the same enzymes that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin block to alleviate pain. (5)

Take A Cool Shower

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If you feel like your skin’s temperature is rising just after getting out of the sun, try taking a cool shower to lower your body temperature. (6) Avoid using freezing cold water, as extreme temperatures are what you are trying to stay away from.

Also, make sure that you aren’t stepping into a shower with very high water pressure, as this could be painful to your skin. A gentle lukewarm flow of water is best for relaxation. Be cautious when using products like bath oils or soaps, as these may irritate your skin and make you feel worse. Gently pat yourself dry when you get out and avoid any vigorous rubbing. Try immediately moisturizing with coconut oil for a double whammy!

Rub on Natural Aloe Vera

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Grab a hold of these succulent leaves to relieve some of your pain and redness from sunburn. Inside aloe vera leaves, you will find the clear gel that relieves sunburn, moisturizes and softens the skin, and supports wound healing.

Use natural aloe vera instead of the store bought kind, which is often riddled with unnecessary chemicals and colors.

Be aware that many aloe vera gel varieties sold in stores contain additional chemicals, so aloe vera gel straight from the plant works best. Growing aloe vera is actually perfect for those without a green thumb, as it thrives on neglect!

Apply Apple Cider Vinegar

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Apple cider vinegar, ACV, has many home remedy uses, and you can add sunburn treatment to the list.

Several methods would work to apply the solution to your skin, including: bathing in cool water and diluted ACV, gently patting affected areas with a wrung-out washcloth that has been dipped in your ACV solution, or using a spray bottle to apply the ACV solution to your skin. (7)

Whichever your method, be sure to dilute the solution, as vinegar is an acid and could sting if used on its own. There is no standard ratio of water to vinegar volume, but a 1:1 ratio is a good starting point.

Stay Hydrated

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Don’t let your body experience a drought. The body is made up of mostly water, and your insides tend to dry out when you experience excessive UV exposure. Counterbalance this by drinking enough water to prevent further dehydration, because a sunburn will force water to your skin’s surface and away from your body.

Get Antioxidants From Tea

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Tea isn’t just for drinking – you can also use tea bags directly on your skin to help treat sunburns. Tannic acid and theobromine found in green and black teas in particular are the fire-extinguishing elements, as they have the ability to turn the heat down for your burns. (8)

Green and black teas are both full of antioxidants that will defend against free radicals created by excess sun exposure, making for effective sunburn remedies.

Catechins are another helpful chemical embodied within these teas that help prevent and repair skin damage.

Try Witch Hazel

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Witch hazel is a vibrant yellow plant that was used by Native Americans to reduce inflammation and swelling. By distilling the good witch’s fresh-dried leaves, stems, bark or twigs with water, you can also extract tannic acid, similar to that found in tea. Try applying witch hazel directly to your skin for relief.

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