Sometimes we forget to use sunscreen, we don’t reapply every hour, or we fall asleep outdoors. Sometimes the not-so-trusty forecast claims low and overcast when reality screams high 90s, glorious sunshine, and an aggressive UV index. We’ve all paid the price at one point or another: sunburn.
Sunburn is no laughing matter. It’s your body’s response to overexposure of UV rays and suggest severe damage to the largest organ of the human body—your skin. Blood vessels dilate, trigger an inflammatory response, and result in a swollen, painful, red (and in severe cases, blistering) complexion.
In case you forgot to slather on SPF and your bronze went bad, we’ve collected the most popular remedies to beat the burn and ease your lobster-itis.
1. Drink up
When you’re stuck with a sunburn, your skin is dry, and in turn, dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water will speed up the healing process, while using an aloe-based, after-sun lotion can help bring moisture back into your skin. Feeling water-logged? Eat some fruit instead. Watermelon is 92 percent water and, luckily for you, 100 percent delicious.
2. Take a bath
Not just any bath, though. Fill the tub with cool water but hold the soap. Mix in baking soda to relieve inflammation and itching or pour in apple cider vinegar—the acid can soothe pain and reduce inflammation as well).
3. The OG
Aloe vera. Whether it’s directly from the leaf or in a gel or spray form, it will provide temporary relief, a cooling sensation to your skin, and drastically reduced sunburn healing time. When using a topical aloe gel or lotion, store it in the fridge. It’ll give your raw, hot skin a break. If you were ever hesitant to believe the benefits of aloe, the proof is there to back it up. A study found evidence that aloe has the capability to reduce healing time up to nine days.
4. Cool it off
Is it a sunburn or a scorching hot ball of fire on your body? Often, it feels like the latter. Place an ice pack, damp cloth, or even a frozen bag of vegetables on your burn to pull out heat from the skin.
If you’re feeling creative (or desperate, let’s be honest), you can take a chance on one of these home remedies. (We haven’t personally tested them, but if they work for you, let us know!) Steep tea bags and place them on the burn, soak a towel in milk and use it as a compress, or try a new method courtesy of a viral Facebook post: lathering up in a menthol-based, foam shaving cream.
5. Over the counter
Kick pain to the curb with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen. Along with aspirin, try a nonprescription hydrocortisone cream to ease discomfort, itching, and swelling. If you’re looking for something stronger, a topical analgesic gel with lidocaine (an anesthetic) will numb the sunburn, relieve pain, and take off the edge.
6. And if we’re being honest…
The best remedy to sunburn is prevention. Sunscreen, hats, cover-ups, and more sunscreen will do the trick to prevent your glow from growing gruesome, and hopefully, keep irreparable skin damage 92.6 million sun-kissed miles away.