We like to think that every pale and freckly redhead out there is doing their utmost to stay protected in the sun. I know, you’ve heard it all before, but natural gingers are at a much higher risk of skin cancer than anyone else (some scientists even say it’s like being in the sun for 21 years), so you’ve got to be careful in the sunshine.
Alas, sometimes, you get caught short. Maybe you forgot your SPF one lunchtime (the horror!), or perhaps it was a cloudy day and you thought, “Nah, I’ll be fiiiiine“…but you weren’t fine at all. You were sunburnt.
How to treat sun burn
First things first. When you first notice sun burn, of course you must immediately get in the shade and cover up. Even then, you may notice that the burn worsens, and that’s because your skin will keep on cooking even after you’ve taken action against it.
Of course, there are heaps of high street after sun products, but there are also plenty of at-home remedies that can be used to cool down your sun burn and help kickstart the healing process.
1. Cucumber crush
Blend some cucumber until it’s mush and apply directly to your sun burn to instantly soothe any stinging. The salad friend’s antioxidants and analgesic properties will also get straight to work on healing your sun burn too, reducing swelling, redness and pain quicker than you can say, ‘cool as a cucumber’.
Oh, and the riper the cucumber, the easier it’ll be to mash into a soothing paste!
2. Potato paste
This root vegetable is well-known for it’s pain relieving qualities. Also able to help with soothing minor skin irritations and bites, it can tackle sun burn pretty well, too.
Either by grating or cutting into small chunks beforehand (you can leave the skin on), blend the potato until it’s mushed. You may want to add a few drops of water if the consistency is quite solid, but when it’s mush-able (that’s a technical term, by the way), apply directly to your sun burn with cotton wool for instant relief.
Or, if you can’t be bothered with the above, just slice up the potato and place on your skin.
3. Mop it up with milk
A milk compress is one of the quickest and most inexpensive ways to treat sun burn, so there’s not much direction needed here.
Simply use cotton wall to apply cool milk directly to your skin for instant relief. The initial coolness will bring the temperature of your sun burn down, but the milk itself also creates a layer of protein over your skin to help it heal.
4. Tea transfusion
Mint tea for cooling and soothing, green tea or black tea for its healing powers of tannins. Boil a pan of water and add 5 green tea bags and 3 cups of fresh mint leaves (or replace the fresh mint with 5 mint tea bags). After leaving the tea to stew for around an hour, remove the tea bags and mint before placing the leftover liquid in the fridge until it’s chilled throughout.
Use cotton wool pads to apply directly to your sun burned skin.
5. Oh-so oaty
Not just a filling breakfast, plain rolled oats release polysaccharides, which, when soaked in tepid or cold water, cool your skin and trap the coolness of the water on your sun burn.
The best method is to fill a sock with uncooked oats and secure tightly at the top. Place the sock in a tepid or cool bath for a while until the water goes cloudy. Next, take a dunk in your oat-y bath to allow your sun burn to reap the benefits of the oats’ healing powers.
6. Yoghurt yumminess
The endless enzymes and probiotics in live plain yoghurt are great for healing many minor skin conditions, including sun burn.
Apply a thick layer of chilled plain yoghurt directly to your skin and sit for 5-10 minutes before gently rinsing with cool water.
7. Aloe vera awesomeness
Everyone knows about this one and it’s probably the most widely used sun burn treatment around.
Simply put, it feels heavenly. Invest in an aloe plant and chill the leaves in the fridge in preparation for any sun burn mishaps. Cutting the leaves open will reveal some aloe goodness that can be placed directly on your skin. Bliss.