Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Natural Aftersun Remedy for Mild Sun Burn

As an alternative to commercial aftersun lotions, here's a natural remedy for mild sunburn that you will find in the kitchen.
Cloudless Blue sky, Howth, May 26th 2012. Photo by Anne-Marie O'Rourke
 After a fabulous few days of wonderful sunshine, I've seen a good few red faces around Dublin. Irish skin is known to be one of the most delicate in the world. But as the weather is so unpredictable in Ireland, we greedily soak up the sun whenever it shines lest that's the last we see of it all summer.  And oh, how we burn!

Prevention is of course, better than cure. Click here for the Sunsmart Code from the Irish Cancer Society
photo of tea from Wikimedia Commons
However, if you have spent a little too long in the sun this weekend, try soothing your mildly cooked skin with cold tea! (Note: If you are badly burned, best ignore this altogether and get thee to the doctor, especially if you have symptoms of sun stroke.)

I picked up the tea trick when I lived in Spain in the 90s. Even though I used sunscreen, I often slapped on a factor that was too low and then I'd spend hours swimming in the sea, washing it all off. Though I have sallow skin that tans pretty well, I spent many a summer's night with a face like a baboon's bottom while my back burned like a furnace. Then a friend shared the secret powers of tea with me. 

Black tea found in your kitchen works just fine on mildly affected skin. The tannin in tea will cool the skin and allegedly help your tan along too, much like commercial aftersun lotion with a drop of fake tan in it.

Stew a teabag in a basin of water or even in the bath - though be warned, the tub will need a good scrub afterwards. When the liquid cools down, dab it on the sunburn with cotton wool or bathe in it. Do not apply hot water to your skin!  Let the cold tea soak in and dry into your skin as best you can.  Use an old towel if you are drying the excess off and put on dark coloured clothing in case of staining.

Chamomile is great too. It is known for it's use in calming minor skin irritations. Bathing in cold chamomile tea can even soothe itchy eczema.  Apparently, it has anti-inflammatory properties and will help take the sting out of mild sunburn. You can even transfer the cooled tea into a clean spray bottle and use it as a natural face spritzer to keep you feeling and looking fresh!

However, I'm going to leave you with a wise reminder from Baz Luhrmann. Use Sunscreen.

'Sunscreen' recited by Baz Luhrmann

Useful links:


  1. Great tips Anne-Marie, thanks for sharing! I tested tea on my nose after I burnt it on a trip to Aran Islands last weekend and it worked out very soothing - And what's best, there's no need for chemists, it's available in all hotel rooms!

  2. Great tips, I couldn't guess tea was an aftersun! I use camomille though, especially for the eyes when get irritated because of wind and sun, it's miraculous. Lovely video too!!!

  3. How interesting is this post in Ireland..hahaha
    remember me that in my Country, Catalonia, when I was a child my mother used to calm red burn from Sun with vinegar..yes, vinegar with water...and I think elder people knows remedies from the closest and as fast as possible..Tea in Ireland and vinegar of wine in Mediterranean...!!
    great post Anne y buenos recuerdos..ahora ya no me quemo mas con el Sol....lol

    1. Hi Margarita. I learned the tea trick from my friends in Valencia, Spain. My granny recommended aloe vera straight from the plant. Acutally, luckily, as kids my Mum lathered us in so much sun block we looked like ghosts. I didn't get sunburn until I was an older teen and 'repsonsible' for myself and then I used sudocreme on the redness. I'm more careful now again though.