I did that thing that every New Yorker does when they encounter good weather. I went totally nuts. Right now, I’m sitting inside a gorgeous sea-side cabana in Bal Harbour, Florida preparing my very own milk bath. We’ve all been there, right? Ugh.
After living in New York for so long, I’ve become accustomed to its seasons: nine months of winter and three months of summer. So when I get the chance to escape, I sprawl out like I haven’t seen the sun in years. I’m feeling all warm and bronze—a side effect of my sunglasses, of course—and then I go inside to see that a slow-burning red has crawled over the front side of my body.
“I admit it, I have a burn,” I tell my mom, who warned me and begged me to wear SPF. I didn’t listen, did I? I remembered my childhood and teen years, when, for some reason, I had an even, lovely tan and no pain. She says she told me so.
So, I’ve used some natural remedies for a sunburn that have worked really well:
Milk and oatmeal: Everyone knows the soothing, healing properties of oatmeal. It worked for childhood chicken pocks and it still works now. Pour some raw oatmeal into a pot or a bath, mix it with cool—not cold—whole milk (which is filled with Vitamins) and apply to the effected skin. I’ve been using this remedy a few times since the burn and it has not only extracted some of the heat, it’s reduced the red, stinging quality of the burn.
As with milk and oatmeal, a baking soda bath may be in order. I know people who swear by this, as do I. You’ll want to fill a whole bathtub with cool water—again, don’t ever use shockingly cold water with a burn. Shake a cup of baking soda into the water and relax. The baking soda helps the skin’s pH level return to normal, and with a whole bath, your core temperature will reduce.
Everyone has some white or apple cider vinegar sitting around. I did this immediately after the burn started to really set it, and it worked wonders. In a bowl, I poured half cool water and half white vinegar. With a soft towel, I soaked the mix into my burned areas, letting it settle on the skin. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which is found in aspirin, aiding the inflammation and pain.
Peppermint Spray just feels good. Pick up a bottle of peppermint oil and mix a few drops into a spray bottle of cool water. You can refrigerate this mixture and spray on when necessary. It’s seriously beautiful.
If you can get your hands on fresh aloe, this is also great for burn application. Instead of aloe vera products, the aloe taken from a fresh leaf goes a long way.
Before you get to this point, use SPF. Don’t food around like I did after spending months away from the sun. You can, in most cases, get burned, no matter what your skin tone is. Apply SPF 20-30 minutes before going out, reapply often and be mindful of your body.