With summer in full swing, it’s time to get serious about sun protection. That being said, sunburns happen—especially if you forget to reapply SPF throughout the day—and can put a damper on your summer fun, to say the least. Fortunately, there are a variety of different ways to nurse a sunburn at home, using things you can already find in your cupboard, pantry and even in your vanity cabinet! To find out the best at-home remedies, we tapped two top New York City dermatologists. Here are their recommendations
Perhaps one of the most common ways to soothe a sunburn, aloe vera gel can do more than provide the skin with cooling relief. According to board-certified dermatologist, assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist, Dr. Debra Jaliman, aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory properties provide sunburned skin with a soothing sensation upon application. 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.
If you experience a sunburn on your face, Park Avenue Plastic Surgeon, Melissa Doft, MD suggests applying a facial serum infused with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, “to help the skin heal faster.” As the skin’s natural hydrator, hyaluronic acid can help moisturize and plump dried, sunburned skin.
What’s worse than a sunburn? An infected sunburn. To help relieve some of the pain and inflammation from the burn—and prevent it from getting infected—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,” says Dr. Jaliman.
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.
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.
Thanks to its lactic acid, Greek yogurt is considered an anti-inflammatory 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.
If you’re not into DIY sunburn 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, cucumber extract, oatmeal and antioxidant-rich vitamins C and E.