How to Cool Down Sunburned Skin

BY Jessie Quinn · August 24, 2020

after sun products

Sunburns sometimes happen, even to the most diligent of sunscreen wearers. Fortunately, there are a variety of different ways to nurse a burn at home, using ingredients you may already have in your kitchen or on your bathroom shelves. To find out the best at-home remedies, we asked two top New York City dermatologists for their recommendations.

1. Aloe Vera

Perhaps one of the most common ways to treat a sunburn, aloe vera gel can do more than provide the skin with cooling relief. The gel also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe sunburned skin, says Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist. Keep a bottle of aloe vera in your beach bag this summer—or, even better: use the gel from the actual plant—and apply when needed.

2. Hyaluronic Acid 

If you experience a sunburn on your face, Melissa Doft, M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City, suggests applying a facial serum infused with hyaluronic acid, “to help the skin heal faster.” As a hydrating substance produced naturally by the body, hyaluronic acid can help moisturize and plump sun-parched skin without causing further irritation. 

3. White Vinegar

To help relieve some of the pain and inflammation from the burn—and prevent potential infection—Dr. Jaliman suggests applying white vinegar to the affected areas. “Because white vinegar is composed of acetic acid, it can help relieve the pain and inflammation, and act as an antiseptic,” she explains. 

4. Baking Soda

Another important thing to keep in mind when treating a sunburn at home is your skin’s natural pH level. To help balance the pH of burned skin, Dr. Jaliman suggests making a cold compress composed of baking soda and water and applying to sunburned skin for 15 minutes.

5. Green Tea

In addition to baking soda compresses, Dr. Jaliman also suggests giving green tea compresses a try, as they contain polyphenols, “which are anti-inflammatory.” To do so, simply steep green tea leaves and soak a clean washcloth in the steeped tea. Allow the compress to cool in the fridge before applying to sunburned skin for 15 minutes.

6. Greek Yogurt

Thanks to lactic acid, Greek yogurt has anti-inflammatory benefits and can be used to soothe and moisturize sunburned skin. “Greek yogurt is strained more times than traditional yogurt [and] as a result, it is thicker and has a higher concentration of probiotics,” says Dr. Jaliman. “Recent studies have found that topical application of probiotics decreases skin sensitivity and redness,” she adds. To soothe a sunburn at home with Greek yogurt, you can apply plain, organic Greek yogurt to the face and body as a mask and rinse after 15 minutes.

Topical Treatments With Calming Ingredients

If you’re not into at-home remedies and are looking for a topical treatment that can soothe and nourish sunburned skin, Dr. Doft suggests reaching for topical treatments that are formulated with soothing, nourishing and replenishing ingredients, such as aloe vera, hyaluronic acid and cucumber extract. Don’t know where to start? Consider some of the products below. 

1. Herbivore Botanicals After Sun Skin Soothing Aloe Mist

After-sun care is all about adding moisture back into the skin’s barrier. One way to do so is by replenishing the complexion with a hydrating facial mist. This one boasts post-sun savior aloe vera and peppermint essential oil for a cooling, soothing sensation plus lavender, which is an excellent anti-inflammatory ingredient that helps target redness.

2. Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask

Cucumber is one of the most hydrating—not to mention cooling—skin care ingredients available and this face mask is chock-full of its moisturizing abilities. If you’re in need of some serious R&R after some fun in the sun, this aloe vera–based gel mask hydrates, soothes and improves overall skin elasticity.

3. Bioderma Photoderm After-Sun

In addition to moisture-loss, the skin might experience feelings of overheating after time in the sun—and this product is made specifically with that uncomfortable sensation in mind. Formulated with allantoin and ginkgo biloba to soothe heated skin and a mixture of glycerine and shea unsaponifiable to rehydrate and prevent after-sun dryness, this elixir leaves the skin feeling deeply nourished after a hot summer day.

4. 100% Pure Sheet Mask: Deep Hydration

Featuring two powerhouse after-sun ingredients—aloe vera and hyaluronic acid—this sheet mask is like a drink of water for your complexion. In addition to aloe and HA, the soothing mask also includes plant ceramides and cucumber to lock in hydration, rosehip and chamomile to calm irritated after-sun skin and grapefruit and blood orange to brighten the skin’s overall appearance.

Jessica Quinn | Dermstore Blog

Jessie Quinn

Jessie Quinn is a writer and editor with work published in NYLON Magazine, StyleCaster.com, Girlboss.com, Marvel.com, and more. She is a graduate of Academy of Art University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Journa... Read More >

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