To put it simply, sunburns suck.
Luckily, there are some products lurking in your kitchen that can help you take the sting out of scorched skin.
If you're prone to sunburns, always keep a couple of tomatoes in your freezer for an extra chill factor (the anti-oxidants in them help fight topical inflammation, too). Anytime you need instant redness reduction, simply puree one of the chilled veggies and apply the paste to warm skin.
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#2. Baking Soda
The all-purpose household product strikes again! For large burns on your back or legs, pour a half cup of baking soda in the tub and soak for at least ten minutes. If the burn is limited to a small area (like your shoulders or arms), mix baking soda and icy water and apply to skin with a wash cloth. The alkaline powder also has antifungal properties to ward off infections.
The simplest recipe we found for a redness-reducing facial masque mixes a half cup of oatmeal with one cup of cold yogurt and should stay on for 15 minutes. If you don't mind the smell (and idea), try subbing out the yogurt for Pepto-Bismol. The same ingredients that soothe your stomach are good for an inflamed face.
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Breaking news: cucumbers aren't just good for depuffing tired eyes. They also offer relief for sunburns by promoting circulation and naturally restoring moisture to skin. Slice a chilled cuc' and place the pieces on inflamed areas.
#5. Chamomile Tea
Our favorite sleep-aid is also a skin soother. Steep chamomile tea bags in warm water (infuse with a few drops of lavender oil if you really want to up redness relief), wring out excess water, and place in your fridge for 30 minutes to chill. The cold pouches can then be pressed on sunburned spots for five-minute periods to cool burns.
#6. Aloe Vera
Succulents aren't just chic as home décor. The juice from freshly-cut aloe plants is more effective than bottled varieties for alleviating sun-stressed skin. Refrigerate a full leaf, pull away its top layer, and apply the exposed part of the plant directly on painful spots.
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As if itchy skin weren't enough, peeling skin is another serious drawback to sunburns. Thankfully, this apricot-honey mash can calm both when applied for 15 minutes. To make, soak three to five apricots in warm water to soften the fruit, then mash with a tablespoon of honey into a paste.
#8. OTC Painkillers
If your burn is bad enough that sitting, standing, even breathing is uncomfortable, head to the medicine cabinet. A regular dose of a pain reliever, like ibuprofen, can quell inflammation to help with some of your aches and pains. And remember, next time, the best defense is a good offense. Stock up on sunscreens to prevent burns (and DNA damage) year-round.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.