OK, OK, you know already. You should have used waterproof sunscreen. Or a higher SPF. Or maybe just put on a hat. But it's too late now. You're feeling the burn, and your skin's not doing so hot.
Well, keep your cool. Nature has some soothing remedies on hand that can help save your skin. On those rare occasions when you blow it and let too much sunshine in, reach for these healing herbs. back to top
Mellow with aloe
There's a reason you see all those aloe
products lined up next to the sunscreens: this herb really works. But a commercial aloe cream or lotion needs to have enough of the real stuff in it to do the trick. If you're buying an aloe product at a drugstore, make sure it contains at least 70 percent aloe vera. Better yet, head to a health-food store and find some pure aloe vera gel, which you'll want to put in the refrigerator to keep fresh (and refreshingly cool). Best of all: use the gel straight out of an aloe plant, which you can easily grow on your windowsill. Just cut off a plump lower leaf, remove any spines along the edge, slit the leaf lengthwise, and squeeze out the gel inside, using the tip of a butter knife.
You can apply aloe vera directly to sunburned skin for quick pain relief and to help your skin heal. Let it dry, and reapply as often as you like. back to top
Kick back with chamomile
Who says chamomile
is just for tea? This gentle herb can help calm your skin as well as your nerves. To cool off after a day in the sun, some people slather store-bought chamomile cream or lotion onto their tender skin (make sure it's at least 3 percent chamomile).
Even more fun is to immerse your whole body in cool chamomile tea. One way to do this is to pour several cups of cooled chamomile tea into your bathwater. Another is to tie up a cup of dried chamomile flowers (available in health-food stores) into a square of cheesecloth or a cotton sock, then hold the herbs under cool running water as you fill up your bath. The scent of chamomile, a favorite in aromatherapy, may just soothe your spirits while its active ingredients seep into your skin. back to top
Chill with calendula
The bright orange flowers of the calendula
plant have long been used on minor skin wounds to reduce redness and swelling and prevent infection. Today, some people rely on calendula gels, creams, or lotions to help soothe a sunburn (or alleviate acne
). You can find calendula products in many health-food stores. For optimum healing, choose ones that contain at least 10 percent "extract of Calendula officinalis." Apply calendula to your sunburn as often as you like to turn down the heat. back to top
Soak up some oatmeal
Whether or not you like oatmeal for breakfast, your sunburn may appreciate its soothing effects. Colloidal oatmeal (found in products such as Aveeno Bath Treatment) is a natural moisturizer with anti-itch powers that many people use to relieve rashes or aching feet. It can also help cool down your simmering skin. Use according to package directions. You can also tie up some oats (the kind you'd cook for breakfast) in a sock and throw it into your bathwater. back to top
Cool as a cucumber: a custom recipe
Want to try some really cool food for your face? Spritz up this recipe. It will have your sore, sunburned skin asking for seconds.
The skin cooler:
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
1 to 2 teaspoons grated cucumber
1 to 2 drops of lavender essential oil
In a small bowl, mix all ingredients well with a spoon. Apply the mixture to your face (and arms if you want) and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse off your skin. For extra cooling, skip the towel and let yourself air-dry. back to top