3 Common Sunburn Remedies: Vinegar, Oatmeal, and Baking Soda

Get Too Much Sun? Here's How to Make Your Skin Feel Better

Folk remedies for sunburn
Getty Images/Image(s) by Sara Lynn Paige

If your skin is red and painful because you spent too much time in the sun, you'll be glad to know there are some easy home remedies you can use to make yourself feel better.

These homemade sunburn remedies use items you most likely already have in the house. They won't cure your sunburn (unfortunately, only time can take care of that), but they should ease your pain, and make it easier for you to live with the redness while your skin heals itself.

There is one caveat to note. You should see a doctor if your sunburn is accompanied by fever, chills, or blisters. These symptoms could be signs of sun poisoning, a serious condition you should never try treating at home.

Vinegar as a Home Sunburn Remedy

Because vinegar is acidic and sour, you probably wouldn't think of it as something you'd want to put on sensitive, sunburned skin. Surprisingly, vinegar can help quite a bit.

Apple cider vinegar and white vinegar work equally well for this. If you have a spray bottle handy, fill it with vinegar and spray your sunburned skin every few hours (or whenever the pain and discomfort returns). The acetic acid in vinegar soothes and moisturizes sunburned skin – just what you need to feel better in the moment. It has the added benefit of minimizing the unsightly peeling that will come later on.

It's important not to spray your face with vinegar because it may get in your eyes.

Instead, gingerly apply the vinegar to your face with a cotton ball, a washcloth, or a strong paper towel. You can also use these to apply vinegar to the rest of your skin if you don't have a spray bottle handy. Of course, make sure you don't use a spray bottle that once contained a chemical or other harsh ingredient.

Oatmeal to Soothe Sunburned Skin

You probably have oatmeal in your pantry, and you may even have taken an oatmeal bath to soothe your skin. Oatmeal works just as well for sunburned skin.

To try this, cook up a pot of oatmeal according to the directions on the package. Be sure to use only plain, not instant, oatmeal. Add extra water to the mixture so that your oatmeal is runnier than it normally would be, and cook it until the grains are very soft.

Then, apply the oatmeal to the burned places on your skin and leave it on for a while. Rinse off with cool water and repeat as often as necessary (using fresh oatmeal for each application).

Baking Soda Soak for Sunburn

Baking soda is another common household item you most likely have on-hand.

There are two ways to use baking soda for this purpose. First, you can use it in the bath. Fill up your tub with water that's cool to the touch, and as it's filling, add one cup of baking soda. Relax in the tub for a while, and your skin should start to feel better.

Alternatively, you can mix the baking soda into a paste and apply it directly to your skin. Start by placing a half-cup of baking soda in a mixing bowl, and add cool water until the mixture is thin enough to spread on your skin.

Apply the mixture and leave it on for around 15 minutes, then wash it off with cool water.  As you can imagine this will be messy, so be prepared for that.