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At-home sunburn treatment seems to be going beyond the tried-and-true methods of aloe vera gel and cool compresses.
One of the latest trends being talked about on the internet is the use of menthol shaving cream. While many users boast its effectiveness, shaving cream hasn’t been widely researched in clinical settings for sunburn treatment.
So, should you reach for shaving cream for your mild sunburn? We talked to dermatologists to get their take on the matter. Their answer? While shaving cream may potentially soothe and moisturize sunburned skin, it isn’t the first recommended line of treatment.
Read on to learn more about shaving cream, how it may help moisturize your skin, and other alternative sunburn remedies that are proven to work.
Shaving cream may help soothe a sunburn, but it’s not a magic potion that works better than other remedies. The soothing potential of shaving cream comes from its ingredients.
“Shaving cream is designed to prepare the skin and hair for shaving, which means that [it has] hydrating and soothing properties,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Department of Dermatology.
“Some shaving creams also contain menthol, which has cooling and anti-inflammatory benefits. This also may explain why some people report skin benefits as a hack treatment for sunburn.”
“Shaving can cause skin irritation, so shaving creams often contain ingredients that reduce temporary redness and soothe inflammation,” she says.
Aside from menthol, Shainhouse points out other potential skin-soothing ingredients found in some shaving creams, including:
Collectively, the ingredients in shaving cream can offer temporary relief from heat, redness, and swelling. Still, clinical research backing up this method is lacking.
when to see a doctor
Take care when using any home remedy for a severe sunburn. Sun poisoning is a medical emergency. If you have raw, blistered skin, see your doctor or dermatologist immediately.
Once your skin is burnt, there’s no way to cure it — even the trendiest of remedies can’t make a sunburn go away. You can, however, soothe the skin to ease discomfort and help it heal quicker.
While shaving cream could potentially soothe and moisturize sunburned skin, this remedy isn’t typically the first line of treatment dermatologists recommend.
Zeichner recommends hydrating the skin with light moisturizers to help repair damage. “Aveeno Sheer Hydration lotion is light and easy to spread, so it won’t irritate the skin,” he explains. “It contains a lipid complex that softens and fills in cracks in the outer skin layer.”
For best results, apply moisturizer right after you get out of a cool shower or bath, while your skin is still damp. You can reapply throughout the day for extra relief.
Other proven remedies for sunburn include:
- aloe vera gel
- chamomile or green tea bags to soothe inflammation
- cool water or compresses for up to 15 minutes at a time
- oatmeal bath
- honey, for its many properties that may be beneficial, including the
potential abilityto soothe and moisturize injured skin
- drinking extra water to keep yourself hydrated
- hydrocortisone cream for itchy skin as the sunburn heals
- checking with your doctor if you can take ibuprofen or aspirin for pain
Also, cleaning your skin with the right products is essential. “Use ultra-gentle cleaners that won’t irritate sunburned skin,” says Zeichner. “Dove Beauty Bar is a great option to cleanse without compromising the integrity of the skin. It also contains similar ingredients you find in traditional moisturizers to hydrate the skin.”
One of the best ways to treat a sunburn is to try and prevent it from happening in the first place.
Consider the following proven tips for sunburn prevention:
- Wear sunscreen every single day.
- Reapply sunscreen throughout the day as needed, or whenever you go swimming or sweat.
- Wear long sleeves and pants whenever possible.
- Wear wide-brimmed hats.
- Avoid direct sun when it’s at its peak — this is usually between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
If you do get a sunburn, it’s important to treat it as soon as possible to help minimize any damage that’s been done to your skin.
As a rule of thumb, sunburn takes up to seven days to completely heal. Once the redness and swelling go down, your skin may flake and peel. This is essentially the damaged layer of skin falling naturally coming off.
Seek emergency medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms along with your sunburn:
- severely blistered skin
- fever and chills
- severe headache
- muscle cramps and weakness
- breathing difficulties
- nausea or vomiting
When it comes to sunburn treatment, shaving cream could help. However, this isn’t the best form of treatment. You also shouldn’t load up on shaving cream in hopes of healing your sunburn completely.
As a word of caution, Zeichner says, “Shaving cream is designed for short contact on the skin, and shouldn’t be left for long periods of time. So, I don’t recommend applying it and leaving it on the skin for extended periods.”
You might consider more conventional methods of sunburn treatment, such as 100 percent aloe vera gel, oatmeal baths, and drinking plenty of water. Try to avoid lotions and gels with lidocaine or other numbing agents.
If your sunburn doesn’t improve over the next few days, see your dermatologist for further advice.