Don't Feel the Burn-Natural Sunburn Relief

Jul 18th 2023

Summer is here, and we hope everyone is doing their part and using the proper sunscreen. Most of us know sunscreen is important, but sun damage still happens. Not reapplying sunscreen regularly, not using the right grade SPF for your skin tone, going out in the sun during peak times, and staying out too long can contribute to sunburn.

Most of us have suffered some type of sun damage; while it isn’t the end of the world, it can be extremely painful. Have you ever tried to sleep while dealing with a sunburn? It’s almost impossible to get a good night’s sleep! We aren’t knocking OTC sunburn remedies. They have their place and can be effective, but most clients are interested in NATURAL remedies. 

As luck would have it, a staff member needed suggestions for her daughter, who had recently been burned on a lake trip. We asked her to try some of our remedies. 


Cold Water

A cold, wet rag gently applied to sunburned skin can bring instant relief. Don’t even think about a warm/hot shower. Keep showers and baths cool to avoid aggravating already hot, sore skin. This remedy worked well. We saturated soft towels in water, THEN put them in the freezer for 10 mins. 

Our tester laid the cold rags over the sunburn for instant relief. 


The acetic acid found in vinegar is responsible for its ability to reduce pain, itching, and inflammation. Add a cup of cider vinegar to your bath water and soak your burned skin. It can also work like a natural aspirin. Simply dab a bit of white vinegar on your sunburn for 20 minutes of instant pain relief. 

This remedy offered no additional relief, according to our tester. 

Cool Milk Compress 

A cool milk compress is a quick and low-cost way to treat sunburn. The initial coolness of the milk will ease the heat while creating a layer of protein to protect your skin and soothe discomfort. Saturate a soft rag or gauze in cold milk and drape over the burn. 

Our tester used this remedy at the height of discomfort, and was a welcome reprieve from the sting and pain. Our tester reported instant relief, but it may have been drying. They reapplied every 10 minutes for a couple of hours, which seemed to speed up healing. 

ACV & Herbs Spray 

Apple Cider Vinegar has many uses, and its effectiveness in reducing the pain and inflammation of sunburn is well documented. Some say this is the most effective remedy they’ve tried to treat sunburns. We found a treatment that combines apple cider vinegar (diluted) and a strong tea of soothing herbs. 

Herbs and ACV Mixture Recipe 

Boil 1 cup of water and add two tablespoons of dried mint leaf, lavender flowers, and dried plantain leaf. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, strain out the herbs. Add an equal amount of apple cider vinegar to the cooled tea mixture and pour it into a spray bottle. 

Spray on sunburn as often as needed to cool and soothe the pain. Another option is adding one cup of apple cider vinegar to a bath to help balance sunburned skin's pH (acid or alkalinity) and promote healing. 

This treatment wasn’t popular or effective. It burned, and there were tears involved. Perhaps the ACV wasn’t diluted enough, but whatever the case, be careful with vinegar and do a SMALL test spot first to avoid potential tears. 

Topical Remedies 

Aloe Vera

Aloe is the best remedy to treat sunburned skin naturally. It is loaded with powerful glyconutrients that speed healing. Ideally, it is best to use the gel from a fresh plant. We know some great aloe gels come in a bottle. However, if you can, the best source of aloe is straight from the plant! 

Cut a mature Aloe Vera leaf open, and a thick gel-like juice will emerge. Use that as a topical ointment to reduce the sting and redness of your sunburned skin. Apply it five times a day until your condition improves. 

Our test subject began by buying aloe gel at the store. They reported feeling like it wasn’t doing anything and stung a little. After looking at the ingredient list, it was clear that they were probably getting very little aloe. They decided to buy an aloe plant, and the healing and relief seemed almost immediate. 

If you are going to use aloe, don’t buy the gel. Just buy the plant. If you use the plant, cut several big leaves down the middle, spread them flat, and lay them on the affected skin. 


This remedy is old but has many testimonials. Potatoes have starch-based compounds that help soothe sunburn. Chop an uncooked potato into slices, and rub or pat down a piece on your sore sunburned spots. You can also try grating a cold raw potato and apply it as a poultice. 


Gosh, what doesn’t honey do? The Holistic Pediatrician author Kathi Kemper, M.D. says, "Studies suggest it may work better than some antibiotic creams at speeding up healing, reducing infection, and minimizing pain." 

Our tester was not a fan of this remedy. Honey is great for many things, but the stickiness, etc., and the fact that it was rather ineffective, means it may be best to save honey for its antibacterial and antiviral properties. 

Baking Soda 

This remedy decreased redness and irritation a little. 

Black and Green Tea 

The tannic acid in black tea helps draw heat from inflamed skin and restore the skin's pH balance. Green tea has tannic acid and catechins that cool and soothe sunburned skin. You can either use the tea bags as a cold compress on the burnt areas or gently wash your skin with the cold tea extract. Studies also suggest that drinking just two cups of green tea a day can provide additional sun-protective benefits. 


Like green tea, berries also have tannin, which helps alleviate the sting of sunburn. Use it as a topical balm by mashing a cup of ripened strawberries and applying it to sunburns. Let the balm sit on the affected skin for a few minutes, then rinse with fresh, tepid water afterward. 


Cucumbers have natural antioxidant and analgesic properties. They have a natural cooling effect, so putting the slices on affected areas can produce instant relief. This works for small areas, but for larger areas, chill cucumbers, then mash in a blender to create a paste, and apply to affected sunburned areas, including the face. 

Cucumbers also can be soothing for peeling skin following a sunburn. Our tester blended and used it as a paste. Some relief was reported, but as far as topical ointments, it was hard to beat the aloe. 

Natural Aloe Leaf for the Win!

The gel from the aloe plant simply cannot be beaten for a sunburn. Of course, we would have loved to have been able to try all of these remedies, but time and healing prevented trying them all! 

Let us know if you’ve tried any and what the results were. Let’s not forget the most effective sunburn relief remedy-not getting burned. If you find yourself in this painful predicament, try some of these simple, natural remedies!