When I was 19 years old, my then-boyfriend and I traveled south to Florida. My father lived in Ft. Lauderdale at the time, it was spring break, and we were ready to leave the barren trees and cold, wet days of the western NC mountains behind us in our quest for sunnier settings. We grabbed beach blankets, flip-flops and our swimsuits and plopped down to soak up the rays ocean-side.
I remember that it was March and that it was overcast. I remember that we decided to forgo the use of sunscreen, owing to the cloud cover. I also clearly, vividly, painfully remember that, several hours later, we both developed sun poisoning, owing to our youthful, frivolous ignorance of the sun’s penetrating abilities. The remainder of our visit was characterized by countless applications of aloe vera gel, cold showers and, yes, tears (we both cried; sun poisoning is no joke).
That experience scorched me both physically and mentally. I’m considerably less cavalier about sun exposure. Despite my best efforts, though, I still sometimes end up with a bit more sun than I’d intended. When that happens, I turn to my garden, pantry and medicine cabinet for some all-natural, DIY relief. Today I’m sharing several easy, affordable cooling solutions for soothing what ails you. Here’s to many singe-free, lazy days of fun in the sun! — Ashley English
Read the full post after the jump . . .
Lauren and Janice Cox have written a fantastic book on all things related to natural beauty. Eco Beauty is packed with recipes for whole body care, from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet. Their Cooling Cucumber Body Mask is the perfect solution to sunburn pain. Chamomile tea, cucumber, aloe vera gel and lavender essential oil provide a powerhouse of burn remedies. I’d suggest keeping these ingredients on hand all summer, so you can whip this up quickly, should a frolic in the sun take a turn for the red-hot side.
Cooling Cucumber Body Mask
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 2 bags chamomile tea
- 1 whole cucumber with peel, chopped
- 1/4 cup aloe vera gel (from either a fresh, whole leaf or bottled)
- 2 drops lavender essential oil
1. Pour the boiling water over the tea bags to make a strong tea.
2. Once the tea has cooled a bit, remove the tea bags, pressing them to extract as much tea as possible.
3. Put the tea in a blender or food processor, add the cucumber, aloe vera and lavender oil, and blend until you have a smooth mixture.
4. To use, spread the entire mixture over your body or the sunburned area using your fingers or a small paintbrush.
5. Leave the mask on for 20 to 30 minutes. You may want to wrap up in an old sheet or a large towel so you can sit or lie down and relax.
6. Afterward, rinse well with cool water, pat your skin dry and don’t forget to moisturize!
You can also put the kibosh on sunburn pain by applying several ingredients you may already have in your refrigerator or medicine cabinet. Cox suggests the following readily accessible solutions for healing what hurts:
Super Sunburn Soothers
- witch hazel
- apple cider vinegar
- cucumber juice
- aloe vera gel
- arrowroot or cornstarch (mix 2 tablespoons with 1 cup water)
- baking soda (mix 2 tablespoons with 1 cup water)
Apply 1–2 cups of your chosen soother in one of the three following ways (be sure to moisturize afterward because, while helpful for fighting the burn, these soothers can also dry out your skin):
1. Dip a thin fabric like cheesecloth, silk or cotton into the liquid, then wrap it around your burned areas. Repeat as the fabric dries out, as necessary.
2. Add liquid to a warm (not hot) bath and soak.
3. Transfer the liquid to a spray bottle and spray directly on your skin. Don’t rub it in; allow the liquid to dry and repeat, if necessary.
What about you? Have any go-to solutions for treating sunburn (or any type of burn, for that matter) pain? I’d love to hear about them. When I was a professional baker in a production kitchen, we were always burning ourselves, so we kept a bottle of lavender essential oil on hand to dab on our wounds. It’s amazing how quickly it worked.
In the meantime, enjoy the sun, but beware the burn! If I could go back in time and have a chat with my 19-year-old self, I’d advise her to slather on the sunscreen, even if it seemed there were no rays in sight. Sun poisoning, and sunburn, are no day at the park. So here’s to being safe in the sun and leaving the burn in the sand!
Photos and styling by Jen Altman