Already have an account?
Get back to the

Dermatologists Say Viral ‘Shaving Cream For Sunburn’ Tip Can Make Irritation Worse — Here’s What To Do Instead

The best lotions, cleansers and home remedies for fast relief from redness, itching and pain

We’ve been using the same tried-and-true remedy forever to treat a sunburn: slathering aloe vera gel all over scorched skin. So when we saw a viral Facebook post sharing that using shaving cream for sunburn works quicker than aloe, we were intrigued!

The post from Vivi Camposano-David suggests using any kind of menthol shaving cream, and applying it in a thick layer over the burn without rubbing it in, then let sit for 30 minutes; rinse to remove. If you’re still red and sore the next day, repeat the process and reapply.

And while the before and after photos from Camposano-David’s post are impressive, we turned to the pros to see if shaving cream for sunburn is the best and safest option to treat a burn. Keep reading to find out.

What happens if you use shaving cream for sunburns

Some shaving creams contain cooling ingredients like menthol, which can give a soothing sensation to a sunburn, but it does not get to the root of the issue, cautions dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., Associate Professor of Dermatology and the Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

“Applying a shave cream may help a sunburn if you are in a pinch and don’t have traditional post-sun products,” he says. “However, when possible, I recommend applying a true moisturizer designed to hydrate and repair the skin.” This is not the case with shaving creams, which Dr. Zeichner says, “are not designed to be left on the skin for extended periods of time, and actually can potentially cause skin irritation.”

Best products for sunburn

Instead, Dr. Zeichner recommends sticking with the tried-and-true products containing aloe, hyaluronic acid or colloidal oatmeal (which all soothe and heal), and staying away from heavy ointments like Vaseline or Aquaphor, because they can trap in a burn’s heat. Two to consider:

A cooling and calming gel

Soothing aloe and hyaluronic acid gel for sunburn

Applying Vacation After Sun Gel (Buy from Ulta, $12), which is a cooling gel formula, to skin immediately lessens the sting of a sunburn. And it’s infused with anti-inflammatory aloe and hydrating hyaluronic acid that help repair scorched skin faster.

A soothing and repairing lotion

Calming and repairing lotion with colloidal oatmeal for sunburn

Babo Botanicals Sensitive Skin Hydra Therapy Lotion (Buy from Amazon, $14.73) is packed with colloidal oatmeal that mends damaged skin and reduces redness and irritation. Plus, it’s made with moisturizing shea butter and soothing seabuckthorn oil that speed the healing results.

Bonus: Dr. Nussbaum also suggests avoiding bar soap in the shower since it can dry out sensitive skin. Instead, use a soap-free cleanser, like Sebamed Liquid Face & Body Wash (Buy from Rite Aid, $16), which is infused with anti-inflammatory allantoin.

The best home remedies for sunburn

While it’s best to skip using shaving cream for sunburn and it’s great to reach for one of the lotions mentioned above, if you’re short on lotion, one of these kitchen cures can work in a pinch:

Cold milk helps take down the redness

A cold milk compress works better than shaving cream for sunburn

“Milk constricts blood vessels to decrease redness and swelling while its pH content has an anti-inflammatory effect,” says Marnie Nussbaum, M.D., dermatologist and Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College.

To do: Soak a washcloth with ½ cup each of milk and water, then wrap the cloth around a handful of ice. Place on the affected area for 5 minutes, then refresh the cloth and repeat 3 times consecutively.

Full-fat sour cream repairs damaged skin cells

The cold temperature of fresh-from-the-fridge sour cream calms red, inflamed skin. Plus, the protein from sour cream can repair damaged skin cells. 

To do: Smooth 1/4 cup of sour cream onto sunburned areas and leave on for 15 minutes, then rinse off with cool water. Repeat twice a day as needed.

Greek yogurt coax skin into healing

Applying Greek yogurt works better than shaving cream for sunburn

“The yogurt’s probiotics and lactic acid work fast to ease inflammation and help skin begin to heal,” explains David Bank, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Mt. Kisco, New York. And applying Greek yogurt to skin straight from the fridge further helps alleviate redness and swelling.

To do: Slather ¼ cup of Greek yogurt onto any sunburned spots. Leave on for 15 minutes, then rinse off with cool water. Repeat twice a day until the burn has diminished.

Chilled tomato slices helps repair and protect

The fruit is packed with lycopene, an antioxidant that helps heal wounds by encouraging skin cell repair and renewal while also helping to protect skin from future sun damage, says celebrity aesthetician Jordan LaFragola. What’s more, tomatoes’ anti-inflammatory­ compounds help calm swelling and irritation.

To do: Cut a tomato into half-inch slices, then place in the fridge for one hour. Once cold, rub onto burned skin and let sit for five minutes; rinse with cool water. Repeat twice a day until skin is healed.

Frozen cucumber slices instantly ease irritation

frozen cucumber slices
Getty Images

Potent anti-inflammatory compounds in cucumbers soothe redness and irritation, and the icy chill reduces pain.

To do: Cut a cucumber in half, store in the freezer until chilled and apply to burns.

(Click through learn about more skin benefits of cucumbers.)

Green tea ice cubes take the sting out

“Anti-inflammatory compounds in the tea reduce redness, while rubbing it on cold takes the irritating sting out of a burn,” says Michele Green, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. And the high amount of antioxidants in the tea speed the healing of scorched skin.

To do: Steep two bags of green tea in two cups of hot water for 10 minutes; remove the tea bags and pour the liquid into an ice cube tray, then freeze overnight. Pop out one cube and rub onto sunburned skin for five minutes, then rinse. 

Click through to discover more ways to get relief from sunburn discomfort:

Sunburned Scalp Can Cause Hair Loss — Dermatologists’ Top Tips for Total Protection

The Best Home Remedy for Sunburns Is Already Sitting in Your Kitchen

5 Essential Oils for Sunburn When Aloe Just Isn’t Enough

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.