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sunburn relief sunburn relief
Photo: Andreana Bitsis | Styling: Jessy Scarpone

Your Guide To All-Natural Sunburn Relief

Sometimes, you can’t always stay safe in the sun. If you’ve gotten a sunburn, move on, don’t beat yourself up over it, and make a promise to yourself to do better next time. (The placebo effect is real and stressing isn’t going to do you any favors.)

Below, we’ve compiled some tried and tested remedies for when you’ve been burned (because we can’t all always be wearing our GC hats).

Photo: Andreana Bitsis | Styling: Jessy Scarpone

Cool Off

First and foremost when you have a sunburn is to find immediate relief from any pain.

The go-to for skincare writ large is chamomile, and sunburns are no exception. Chamomile is known as an antimicrobial, antiallergic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and analgesic, making it the ideal option for sunburn relief. (In Germany, it is approved for burn therapy treatment.) Additionally, it contains compounds  that reduce photodamage and improve skin texture and elasticity. To try, brew a pot of chamomile tea, let cool (you can quicken this process by adding ice cubes), and then use a clean cloth or cotton balls to gently dab on the affected areas. If you don’t have any chamomile on hand, green tea will do in a pinch, as it has similarly proven itself to have an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect on the skin.

For burns that are keeping you up at night, try a relaxing, anti-inflammatory oatmeal bath. (Added bonus, you can catch up on your reading while you hang out!) You can concoct your own oatmeal bath by grinding oatmeal in a blender until it has a fine consistency and adding a cup to your bath (make sure the water is tepid); alternatively, you buy a pre-made pack.

Another easy remedy (and you one you probably already have in your fridge) is an organic full fat yogurt (or milk in a pinch). The lactic acid present in yogurt is well-documented for its ability to improve skin thickness and smoothness, essential for healthy skin recovery. Simply apply the yogurt with clean fingers, or soak a clean cloth in cool milk and dab on the affected areas. Let sit for ten to fifteen minutes and the rinse. The coolness of the dairy products also helps create a soothing sensation.

Photo: Andreana Bitsis

Soak Up Nutrients

When it comes to repairing sun damage, aloe is pretty much the end-all, as its wound-healing and anti-inflammatory properties are well documented. Just be sure to avoid generic aloes that come in bright colors, as these tend to contain artificial dyes that can further irritate the skin. When purchasing aloe, look for organic products with minimal ingredients (other soothing additions like chamomile and witch hazel are fine, but you want to avoid subjecting the skin to too many things). You can try concocting your own topical serum of honey, milk, and aloe vera– a traditional Iranian remedy typically used for heat burns that can reduce inflammation while providing therapeutic relief.

Keep At It

Once the burn has started to fade, keep showing the area a little extra love. Seek out masks with nourishing oils, like our DIY sesame oil face mask, which relies on the “mother of all oils” to provide anti-aging and anti-cancer benefits. The safest bet is to look for the ingredients already mentioned throughout, like yogurt, chamomile, and aloe. If you’re not into DIY healing (or just don’t have the time), seek out products specially formulated for sun worshipers, or formulas high in Vitamin C.

Outside of skin care, you can also up Vitamin E and Vitamin C in your diet to engage inside-out healing: almonds, spinach, and sweet potato are all high in both nutrients. If you’re in NYC, you can head to Avocaderia, whose entire menu features avocados– the perfect blend of healthy fats and essential nutrients.

Photo: Andreana Bitsis

Look Ahead

The easiest way to avoid sunburn (besides becoming nocturnal) is protective clothing, like our GC hats or our perennial favorites Foxglvoes. For areas that simply can’t be covered, opt for sunscreen; we’re fans of Supergoop SPF 40, anything by La Roche-Posay, Neutrogena’s Clear Face SPF 55 line, and EltaMD skincare’s SPF 46 sunscreen. Always be sure to mention any unusual skin conditions to your doctor– even if it doesn’t seem like it’s skin cancer.

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