How I Treated My Painful Sunburn With These 3 Products

Sunburn more painful than the tribal gecko tattoo I got in 1998

On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than getting lost in a great book. Last Monday, I did just that. The problem? I was standing in the pool, resting my arms on the ledge holding said book. Did I reapply sunscreen over my neck, back, and shoulders after every dip I took to cool down? Not really. I did spray some Neutrogena Wet Skin here and there. Sadly, not frequently enough. After I finished ‘The Knockout Queen’ (an amazing read), I noticed my back feeling slightly tight. By Tuesday morning, I was burnt to a crisp and in a lot of pain. Below, I’m sharing the three products that helped me soothe and calm an extremely irritating sunburn in only two days. Lesson learned. 

Basic go-to.

Nature Republic 92% Aloe Vera Gel

This affordable multi-tasker was among my first K-beauty buys, dating back a decade or so. Ever since, I make sure to have a jar on hand and always keep it in the fridge. It’s a thick but easily spreadable gel and contains 92% Aloe Extract with an added blend of hydrating and soothing Hyaluronic and Polyglutamic Acids, Glycerin, and Lemon Balm Extract, to name a few. You can apply this gel over your entire face and body, including on your nails and hair. 

I find it comes most in handy to address razor burn or minor burns caused by kitchen-related accidents. In my case, it provided an instant cooling sensation and replenished the hydration loss triggered by overexposure to the sun. It absorbs quickly so you can put on a loose fitting T-shirt seconds after application. If you plan to use it on your face, I find it works best as a rinse-off mask. As a leave-in, I found it to pill. There is a faint clean citrus scent which I adore but some may find the addition of Orange and Spearmint Extracts not very appealing. I’m a huge fan. $5.99 (300ml) on

Definitely worked when I was screaming in agony from the itch and burn…

Witch Hazel (the very basic stuff)

When it comes to proper skincare, I enjoy the Thayers brand, especially the mists. They’re gentle, refreshing, and often infused with light scents of cucumber, rose, or lavender. Other situations, call for a bottle of straight up Witch Hazel, such as the T.N. Dickinson’s brand, which is a medicine cabinet/first aid kit staple in this house. It does wonders on annoying insect bites so often associated with country living. As my sunburn became concerningly painful, I applied a cold compress drenched in Witch Hazel to my back for 15-20 minutes, which proved to be incredibly effective. I saturated a washcloth with the T.N. Dickinson liquid (which is 100% natural distilled Witch Hazel in a 14% grain alcohol solution) and it delivered instant comfort to the blistering red areas. The formula isn’t elegant but it did the job of an astringent, and that’s what my poor skin needed. $3.64 (16 oz.) at

Overnight care.

Yon-Ka Lait Apres-Soilel

It is rare that a PR mailer arrives so perfectly timed. Imagine my excitement (as excited as one can get in the midst of a painful sunburn) when I spotted a bottle of soothing after-sun lotion in a recent Yon-Ka delivery. After treating my back and shoulders with Aloe and Witch Hazel, this tube was my answer to overnight TLC so I could actually get some sleep. Lait Apres-Soleil is a lightweight lotion that soothes compromised skin with a blend of nourishing oils and calming plant extracts such as St. John’s Wort, Chamomile, Cucumber, Cornflower, and Linden Flower. The formula is also infused with milk proteins, Vitamins A and B5 as well as Yon-Ka’s signature medley of Lavender, Geranium, Rosemary, Cypress, and Thyme essential oils. Another perk: it can be used on both the face and body. $46 (150ml) at

I am happy to report that after two days, the red and inflamed areas on my back and shoulders calmed significantly. After sun treatments are great but it’s best to avoid the need for them by reapplying sunscreen after sweating or swimming. For those wondering how I avoided sunburn on my face, I wore Bare Republic Mineral Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30. It has a bit too slippery of a dry finish to work as an everyday sunscreen but I find it excellent for pool or beach days.

Lastly, wear sunscreen you guys. Reapply often.


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