3 Sunburn Treatments That Don't Work, From A Dermatologist
If you've ever experienced a sunburn before, you know how tempting it can be to try just about anything to accelerate the healing process. However, there are a few at-home sunburn remedies floating around the internet that you should probably steer clear of (shaving cream, we're looking at you). Recently, board-certified dermatologist Luke Maxfield, M.D., busted a few sunburn myths over on TikTok to spread the word.
Here, he shares the DIY treatments that won't work or, worse, can further inflame the tender skin:
While this venture is very DIY-friendly, it's not going to help heal your sunburn, Maxfield says. The cool sensation of sour cream touching your skin after (hopefully) chilling in the refrigerator may feel nice at the moment, but it's not going to benefit you in the long run.
Apple cider vinegar
While apple cider vinegar contains anti-inflammatory properties, those benefits are outweighed by the fact that it is extremely acidic and a powerful exfoliator (two things you don't want to dabble in post-sunburn). Your skin needs to enter a recovery period in order to heal itself, and ACV will not foster a soothing environment.
If you use baking soda on your sunburn, "You're going to take this damaged skin and damage it more," Maxfield says, as baking soda has an abrasive nature. Definitely not a soothing option for sunburns. Plus, some skin types are especially sensitive to baking soda, which can infuriate the tender burn even further.
What should you use instead?
One treatment Maxfield approves of is trusty aloe vera. This natural, age-old remedy is popular, and for a good reason: "[Aloe vera] can feel cool and soothing. It decreases inflammation1, increases re-epithelialization so it heals faster, and decreases itch," he explains.
There are a few ways you can use aloe vera for sunburn treatment. You can pop some aloe vera gel in the refrigerator (prepackaged or fresh from the leaf) and rub it on your burn to cool, soothe, and encourage skin healing. Or if you don't love the feeling of sticky gel, look for a body lotion that contains high amounts of aloe (you can tell if aloe vera extract is near the top of the ingredients list).
To sum it up: Sour cream, ACV, and baking soda will not help your sunburn. In fact, they can even make it worse. Stick to classic treatments like aloe vera; either rub the straight-up gel on your skin post-sun or apply a body lotion that contains high amounts of aloe. However, aloe is not the only DIY-friendly sunburn hack: Here are five at-home sunburn remedies that actually work.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.