It’s summer, it’s hot, it’s beautiful and an already out-stretched sun lounger is hollering at you. It would be rude to refuse ‘eh. Sun is here to be enjoyed *cough* with the careful application of sunscreen of course. Your body needs sunlight – bottom line, without it skin begins to look like a family relative of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Gollum.
Do not feel guilty for enjoying the sun my friend – just make sure you practise it safely.
Now sometimes, however safe you are – a patch of skin get’s missed or… patchy cloud cover makes UV light a hell of a lot more intense than you’re used to (yes, this really happens!) or… that dip in the pool followed by an intense game of pool-polo rubs off your non-water resistant sunscreen.
It happens. Don’t feel bad. Instead grab yourself some on-hand sunburn remedies. Here are 5…
1. Home Remedies for SunBurn: Colloidal Oatmeal
Skin that is sunburnt is tender, sore, inflamed and reddened… symptoms that get worse even after you’ve erected a fetchingly coloured sun umbrella. Sunburn averagely doesn’t become noticeable until 3-5 hours after UVB exposure – the kind of light most responsible for sunburn.
Download my free sun lingo guide here to clue yourself up on sun protection terminology.
After the first reddening of skin – scientifically called erythema – sunburn continues to develop for up to 12 to 24 hours after your initial sun worship session. It can then take up to 72 hours to heal and repair.
Want to speed this up?
Try colloidal oatmeal 2 ways. Porridge isn’t one.
- A cooling bath with a scoop of colloidal oatmeal – this is a fine, dissolvable powder, try Aveeno Fragrance Free Soothing Bath Treatment (£11/8 sachets)
- Colloidal oatmeal skincare – try First Aid Beauty, First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lotion (£22/236ml)
Sunburn causes all sorts of inflammatory skin reactions to happen. Reactions that release all sorts of inflammatory – immune reactive ingredients. You’ll recognize this one – histamine.
Whenever your body meets histamine – which is just a kind of ingredient – your immune system is activated and redness and inflammation are invited in.
Anti-histamines help kick boot to histamine.
Colloidal oatmeal contains anti-histamine like ingredients called avenanthramides – they help to reduce skin irritation, soothe redness and therefore relieve sunburn.
Avenanthramides are the reason why colloidal oatmeal joins our sunburn remedies hall of fame.
2. Best Sunburn Treatment: Aloe Vera Gels
Remember the last time the side of a heated oven touched your skin? Or perhaps the steam from a kettle hungrily flew up your arm? Both of these things scold and burn your skin, making your skin react in pretty much the same way as it does to sunburn.
Sunburn is a burn… and what’s the golden rule of a burn my friend? You’ve got this one…
Cool it the hell down. Quick.
When skin burns it doesn’t stop burning just because you removed yourself from the thing that burnt it. It’s kinda like muscle ache after the gym.
See, skin keeps on burning, even though you’re no longer in direct sunlight… this is partly because there’s so much heat trapped within your skin.
Heat cooks your skin. Cooling skin, reduces your cooking time.
Water based aloe vera gels are the perfect way to cool sunburnt skin.
The best gels to use, have rehydrating ingredients like glycerin, alongside soothing sunburn actives like aloe vera.
- Try Hawaiian Tropic Cooling Aloe Gel (£10/200ml) – it has water, glycerin, aloe vera and more.
Cooling sunburn remedies are a great first line of defence to help reduce your sunburn effect and therefore reduce sunburn damage.
3. Sunburn Treatment: Zinc Oxide Healing Creams
Zinc oxide, is a skincare ingredient with lots of uses… does it ring a bell? Zinc oxide helps prevent sunburn and to help heal it. You’ll find zinc oxide as an active ingredient in sunblocks, mineral sun creams and also in some sunscreens. In sun protection skincare, zinc oxide is designed to sit scattered on the top of your skin. In place here, it behaves like a field of tiny solar panels, pinging UV light back out into the atmosphere.
Zinc oxide is also very good at helping your skin to heal – exactly what it needs when suffering sunburn.
Whereas sunblock’s containing zinc oxide are designed to stay on the top layers of your skin, sunburn treatments containing zinc oxide are designed to go a little deeper – so you will need a separate zinc oxide sunburn remedy.
Zinc is a crucial mineral in the healing process of skin. Without it lots of healing mechanism either don’t work, or don’t work as well. To speed up your skin’s sunburn healing, try…
- Uriage CU-ZN+ Anti-Irritation Cream (£15/40ml) – this is a pricier product per ml, so may be one to keep on hand for sunburn on your face or those areas of skin escaping sun cream – like the patches just on the edge of your bikini.
You can also find zinc oxide creams like Sudocrem, however for initial sunburn treatment I’d recommend avoiding these as they are heavy (read likely to lock in heat) and also require a fair bit of spreading – not ideal for sensitive, sunburnt skin.
4. What’s Good for Sunburn? Lidocaine Aftersun
Looking for sunburn remedies that really take the S out of sting? While you wait for the anti-inflammatory action of oatmeal to take effect, you may want to consider something like a lidocaine containing aftersun.
Lidocaine is an active ingredient that numbs skin.
Which means, when you have sunburn that is so painful, even wearing clothes becomes troublesome – a lidocaine sunburn remedy can help.
- Try something like Australian Gold Aloe Freeze Gel with Lidocaine ($4/8fl. oz.) – this also contains skin protecting allantoin, rehydrating glycerin and soothing aloe.
- Or Soleve sunburn relief cutaneous emulsion (£10/100ml)
— Cheryl Woodman (@HonestyForSkin) 19 June 2017
5. Sunburn Remedies: Bisabolol
Sounds strange ‘eh… bisabolol, who’s that? Bisabolol is a fabulous ingredient for soothing sensitive skin and when you have skin that is sunburnt, these are the types of ingredients you need. You need, heat relief, you need redness relief and you need skin healing assistance. The last 2 are also performed nicely by sensitive skincare – now there’s a great sunburn skincare cheat for you ‘eh.
Bisabolol is the individual ingredient responsible for chamomile’s soothing reputation. Just like it’s rumoured Albert Einstein’s wife was the real brain, chamomile’s soothing properties are because of an ingredient in the background, an ingredient chamomile contains, called bisabolol.
Bisabolol is an…
- Anti-irritant aka it’s very soothing
- Anti-inflammatory aka it gets rid of redness and soothes some more
- Potential anti-bacterial – great for skin that is damaged and likely to need some help in this direction
For a bisabolol containing sunburn remedy, try…
- Australian Bodycare Summer Sensation Aftersun Lotion (£16.50/200ml) – this also has skin repairing beta-glucan, an active found in oatmeal, hydrating hyaluronic acid, aloe vera and skin protecting allantoin – in short, a really great after sun, sunburn remedy.
All set with your favourite of these sunburn remedies? Now you’ll want to get the savvy on how to help prevent your sunburn next time around, for this I recommend heading here, ’10 of Your Most Often Asked Sunscreen Questions Answered’… it covers you on the most common sunburn causing mistakes. Read this and you’ll be sunburn and sunscreen savvy – double the trouble.
So, my pal, which of these sunburn remedies is your favourite? Have you tried one or two or all of them? Tell me more in the comments below…
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.