How to Heal a Sunburn Overnight with Two Simple Ingredients

sunburn pic

In need of a sunburn remedy?

Having spent a good chunk of my adult life living in the tropics, I’ve become pretty familiar with how my skin reacts to the sun. I know how much of a tan I need to keep from getting a sunburn, how many hours I can spend out with no sunscreen on, and when it’s time to cover up or get in the shade. I almost never got sunburned once I learned how to adjust to the strong rays beaming down nearly every day in Hawaii.

I also learned how to maintain the number one best defense against sunburn—a healthy diet low in PUFA and plentiful in protective saturated fat and antioxidants. My number two defense was always to take internal sunscreen in the form of astaxanthin when the sunshine-iest weather is upon you. And I’ve developed a love of slathering on coconut oil (which has a natural sun-protection factor) pretty much every day, but especially any time I know I’m going to be particularly sun-exposed.

And yet, with all these in place, and no matter how sun-experienced you are, burns can still happen. Now that I live in the only seasonally-sunny Pacific Northwest, I have been missing out on another effective means of sunburn prevention—a suntan! 

So, just a couple weekends ago, during the first major heatwave of the summer here in Portland, I spent a little too much time out by the pool at my brother and sister-in-law’s house. It was just too dang hot to do anything else, and while I managed to keep the rest of me burn-free, my shoulders wound up fairly scorched.

Now, mine weren’t quite as red as the one in the pic up top (that’s not me), as I usually just don’t burn that badly no matter what. So, I’m not saying my remedy will take away a 3rd-degree, blistering beast of a burn overnight, but for the average sunburn from an accidental overexposure to otherwise-beneficial UV rays? This is just the ticket.

I just happened to have photographic evidence of the burn, shown here when my 12-week-old puppy who has yet to figure out that he can indeed swim in the pool with me instead of on top of me:


(He had already fallen in once and wasn’t about to make that mistake again, apparently.)

Thankfully, I got rid of the redness on my shoulders, quickly and easily.

Sunburn Remedy: Instant Relief and Overnight Healing

I actually didn’t even realize I was sunburned until the next morning, when the pain of my stinging skin woke me up early. But I knew just want to do! I grabbed my sunburn remedy ingredients, and in just a few minutes, the stinging stopped and I was on my way to burn-free skin! By the very next day, it was basically gone. This works way better for me than aloe vera ever did!

Remember this remedy the next time you get a sunburn, and your skin will thank you. It’ll heal the burn much more quickly than you ever thought was possible!

Sunburn healing supplies:

Heal your sunburn overnight in just 2 steps:

  1. First, wet the washcloth with cold water, then splash on the apple cider vinegar. Dab the wet cloth onto your sunburn, soaking the skin. You should notice instant relief from any stinging! It feels sooo good on a sunburn. After a few minutes, your skin should be dry.
  2. Now, liberally rub on some coconut oil to the sunburned area. By the next day, your skin should be significantly healed. I recommend continuing with the coconut oil for several days to promote healing and to help ease the skin peeling that is usually inevitable after a burn. Exfoliate and lubricate (with more coconut oil)! ;)

This worked like a charm for my most recent sunburn. Immediate relief from the stinging, and literally the next day, it wasn’t red anymore. Maaaybe the slightest bit pink. But the sting never came back. Just to be sure, though, I dabbed on another round of the apple cider vinegar, let it dry, then followed with more coconut oil. The following day, it was just tanned skin!

Give this remedy a try next time you get a little too crispy from the sun, and say goodbye to that burn!

What do you use for a sunburn remedy?

Any other tried-and-true remedies you use for a sunburn? Or have you also had success with apple cider vinegar and/or coconut oil? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Photo credit: Emily Hildebrand on Flickr (altered)

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MEDICAL DISCLOSURE: Your health is between you and your health care practitioner. Nothing in this blog is intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations is at the choice and risk of the reader.

41 Responses to How to Heal a Sunburn Overnight with Two Simple Ingredients
  1. Amanda says:

    Agreed. I use coconut oil on my redness too. NOt ACV, but just coconut oil. Sometimes with a couple drops of lavender essential oil. 2 years now without peeling and a nice tan.

  2. Ginny says:

    I really wish I would have known about this 20 years ago! I ended up with a sunburn so bad, I had half dollar sized blisters covering my shoulders, back, chest and hips. For almost an entire month, it looked like it had just happened. I will definitely remember this remedy!!

  3. Vonnie Schultz Albrecht says:

    When I was a little girl, I had some horrific sunburns every summer. Mom often used Noxzema which was cooling and soothing. Not sure what was in it (besides camphor)…I probably wouldn’t think of using it now. Anyway – one summer, she heard about using vinegar, and we had a winner! It really does take out the sting, and I was a much more comfortable kid. As I got older, I learned the value of gradual sun exposure and a good tan. I seldom had trouble with sunburn when I was careful. Of course, sunscreen wasn’t available,and the commercial brands of suntan lotion were primarily coconut oil! We used baby oil (can’t believe it now!) most of the time. Nothing like a good broil on a summer’s day!
    Thanks for all the good stuff – love getting your emails!

  4. Yes! I love vinegar for removing the sting of sunburns and coconut oil is always my go-to moisturizer!

  5. Edy says:

    I have used vinegar before to take the sting out of a sunburn. Does the coconut oil prevent peeling later on?

  6. Bag balm is also amazing! And blue goo. One of my boys and I are super fair. We deal with sunburns at least once each summer as much as we try to avoid it. Coconut oil just seems to rock for everything! :)

  7. Pdudley says:

    Being 66 years old I used Corn Huskers lotion on my self and all my children and grandchildren. I kept a bottle cold in the refrigerator when my children were young and it would immediately cool when applied with cotton balls. Sun Burns treated with Corn Huskers do not peel and you can put blue jeans on burned legs immediately without pain. Give it a try. You can purchase in any Walmart Pharmacy or any drug store.

    • Ruby says:

      Growing up my mom used Corn Huskers too. I burned my back 2 ce as a teenager (2 different summers) and my mom used hot water(as hot as you can stand it) shower the night that you burn it. Then for 5 days we used corn huskers. later she found an after burn lotion with Tea Tree Oil from Walgreens that worked just as well.

  8. [...] This sounds like a good sunburn trick. Obviously, you don’t want to get burned, but if you end up with a little too much sun, this is definitely worth a try! How to Heal a Sunburn Overnight with Two Ingredients [...]

  9. Rachel says:

    having doggy paws all over your shoulders probably didn’t help ;-) when I overdid the sun recently, anything touching my shoulders hurt so much – I also used coconut oil, but if it happens again I’ll use the apple cider vinegar first!

  10. Jamie says:

    My shoulders and ears got a little red on a trip to the Bahamas after spending all day under the sun in a swimsuit. If I hadn’t been taking astaxanthin at the time, it would have been worse. When I noticed the redness, I got out of the sun, applied aloe vera, and doubled up on the astaxanthin. The next day I was brown as a berry! (And note that I have blonde hair and blue eyes. Most would assume I wear sunblock, but I don’t!)

  11. Sarah Grant says:

    I sunburn really badly every year due to the looong North Idaho wi ters and then KABLAM, it’s hot sunny summer!!!! For years my go to healing potion has been a mix of about 1 tbspn coconut oil and about five-ten drops of high quality melaleuca oil (tea tree oil). It soothes the burn, reduces inflammationand stops the sting, and usually by the next day I’m good to go! I’ve seen horribly red burns like the one in your picture fade to light pink overnight with this remedy (on friends and neighbors, my family has never burned that badly!). :-D

  12. Scarlet says:

    I’m in the tropics, too and get burned extremely easily.

    I’ve used the vinegar trick many times and it works well. Once, I didn’t have vinegar so I used my own urine (!!!) and it worked great. Mustard is also effective.

  13. Tara says:

    I just wanted to say that the picture of your(?) sunburned shoulder made my eyes water…it looks horrendous! OUCH.

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  15. Ionestar says:

    Does it have to be apple cider vinegar? Where I am strange enough I don’t find this type of vinegar. The most common is the wine grape vinegar. Would it work the same?

    • ButterBeliever says:

      I’m not sure, but I think it would because my mom told me that my grandmother used to use plain white vinegar on sunburns when she and her sisters were kids. Give it a try!

  16. monika says:

    My to go to home remedy agaist sunburn is plain yoghurt.
    When I get a burn I just plaster yoghurt all over me. I leave it on for at least 15 minutes but prefer half an hour. Yoy feel the yoghurt pull out the heat from your skin. After I shower and use coconut oil to moisten my skin.

  17. Gena D says:

    I use aloe lotion not the gel but a lotion works wonders. I think the gel locks in the heat after its first put on and can actually make a bad burn worse. I used to work at a summer camp and have seen more than my fair share of burns (on me and the kids).

  18. Monna says:

    We grow Aloe vera at our house and apply it at the first sign of a burn. Magic!

  19. Mia says:

    My tried and true remedy is a two step process.

    I immediately dump my hands n a bucket of ice and ice any burn t take the heat out and moisturize the skin. I am really really pale, and I simply don’t tan just red and back to white. The ice feels like heaven and you can literally see the red seep out and feel the water go in. After icing, I break off some f the fresh aloe Vera plants and go to town lathering all over the burn. The combo works wonders and I rarely peel because of the initial icing I think.

    It’s magic and I’ve done if for three years now at the slightest burn and its gone by the next day. Then I just use Vaseline usually to re moisturize the skin.

  20. MIchelle says:

    When I get burnt I put on egg whites on where I’ve been burnt and leave it on over night. The next day the pain and redness is gone.

  21. Beth Horne-Bowling says:

    My struggle with fair skin and sunburns has been a fight every summer of my life. It was my family doctor that finally gave me the ONLY cure that really worked, and we’d tried everything from apple cider vinegar, butter, Noxema and washcloths with ice! I would have allergic reactions that made me scream with pain! What finally worked and prevented blistering was Benedryl and Ibuprophen every six hours for 48 hours after the burn. The burn would disappear, leaving me with only a little tan (I never tanned much anyway) and took away all the pain. Remember, TANS ARE DANGEROUS! They are scar tissue, just ask your dermatologist! Any more than ten minutes to twenty minutes in the sun is too much, and ALWAYS use heavy duty sunscreen if you’re going to be out longer, and cover up!! Be safe! The tans you get today will turn into melanomas later in life! I saw both my parents have surgery for them in their forties and fifties, and it was very scary! BE SAFE!!!

  22. marasou says:

    I’ve been using a brew of Black Tea and Aloe Vera (brew the tea in warmed aloe vera juice or gel)with Lavender Essential oil added. After it dries on the skin, I apply Coconut Oil. This treatment has resulted in quick healing for my kids (bad mama!) and myself. I’ll add the ACV and see what difference that makes. Any idea how the ACV works in this situation? Do you think it needs to be raw?

  23. Erica says:

    I don’t get out in the sun too much, any more, and coconut oil does help. But years ago I got a nasty painful burn, especially near my armpits. I took Viva papertowels, folded, and soaked them in buttermilk, then applied to the burn. I let the pads sit for about 20 minutes, till they were drying out and beginning to stink. Then I took a shower to wash it off, and the pain was gone.

  24. thisfarmwife says:

    Neat solution, I hadn’t tried those before, I’ve always just used aloe but what’s cool is there is a rarely a day where we don’t have cider vinegar and coconut oil on hand! Thanks!

  25. […] How to Heal a Sunburn Overnight with Two Simple Ingredients by Butter Believer […]

  26. Currently Burnt says:

    I’m trying this remedy out right now. I was studying outside in the Australian sun today and the backs of my legs are tomato red (always happens this early in the season). So I’ve got to go to work in 2 hours, lets see how we’ll ACV gets rid of stinging! :)

  27. Leana woren says:

    I rarely burn but if I do I use burn cream like acriflex or burn shield and it works a treat. I think people nowadays are becoming more skin aware though which is a great thing. Hate seeing older women with such bad sun damage that they look like leather handbags

  28. Alia says:

    yeah its a big issue, according to research almost fifty present of all adults reported sun skin damage at least once in a year. sunscreen helps block both UVA and UVB radiation.

  29. Jerry says:

    Had pretty bad sun burn on upper legs, applied aloe vera gel at the night the same day; then found this remedy and applied the next day – in just one day, the sting has pretty much gone, the redness remains but it doesn’t bother.

    Great remedy, many thanks for sharing!

    P.S. I used normal white vinegar, and light olive oil, they worked for me fine.

  30. Lisa says:

    I was at my kids football game, got really red from the sun. When I got home I took a shower and after I put on coconut oil, then vitamin e lotion, like I do after every shower. The next morning looked at my sunburn, and it was gone.

  31. Samantha says:

    Could I use regular lotion or shea butter instead of the coconut oil?

  32. Sarah says:

    My son got sunburned yesterday at the beach and put on coconut oil overnight. Just read your post so this morning I’ve applied acv and he said that before it felt like acupuncture all over his back but after the acv the pricking had gone.

    Will apply more coconut oil once it’s dried.

    Thanks for the remedy!

  33. Jacquelyn says:

    I have a very bad sunburn right now from being told to stay too long in a tanning bed….I just applied the Apple cider vinegar and coconut oil, already feeling better. Will let you know in the morning…if I don’t peel or blister it will be a miracle!

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