So you spent the weekend outside. And you were wearing one of those trendy, adorable little something or others with the crisscrossed straps? And you didn't put on enough sun screen, did you? Of course you didn't. And now you're in human lobster agony, aren't you? Let's do something about that.
You probably already feel dumb about getting sunburned in the first place, but if you don't, you should. It's a scientific fact that too much sun will turn you into a walking, talking leather handbag with cancer, and both the Tan Mom and the cast of Jersey Shore and every one of its unholy spawn reality stars demonstrate that deliberate tanning is gauche. But even more gauche are unsightly burn lines, peeling dead skin, blisters, and constant skin irritation. Thankfully, there are things probably lying around your house right now that can help you emerge from this burn experience with as little embarrassment and pain as possible.
Aloe vera gel is a product that exists expressly to minimize the effects of sunburn, which was always funny to me because never, not once in my life that I've had a sunburn has aloe vera gel done shit to make me feel better. If anything, aloe vera gel has made my life more slimy and changed my skin into a high viscosity precancer zone. When I apply aloe vera gel, I feel ever ready to go on the world's most painful Slip n Slide ride. I'm sure that it must work for some people in some far flung corner of the world, otherwise they wouldn't keep selling it, so if it works for you, then more power to you. It's just worthless to me.
After you realize that you've burned the shit out of yourself and it's not bad enough to warrant a trip to the hospital, do not pass go or collect $200 — take your clothes off and get into a cool bath. Don't use soap, and don't scrub. Just soak. This will relieve some of the burning and lower the temperature of your skin's surface, which basically spent the day cooking in its own juices. Ew.
Once you're out of the shower or bath, pat yourself dry. Then, take a spray bottle filled with either apple cider vinegar or particularly strong (but chilled) brewed black tea and spray that stuff all over your burn. Either way works, but in my experience, vinegar works better as long as you're willing to accept the fact that you might smell like an Easter Egg for a peculiar fart. Black tea is also effective, but it can stain clothing, so after you spray it on yourself, you have to stand there like P Diddy and air dry.
For extra relief, pop an ibuprofen or other swelling-reducing pill. And drink plenty of water. And moisturize. You don't want to walk around for days looking like a snake that's mid shed; you'll frighten the children.
In the future, slather yourself with SPF A MILLION or whatever nutty number is being slapped on sunblock nowadays (I realize that anything over 15 or so is essentially marketing designed to trick people like me, who naturally have skin that's roughly the same color as a baby subterranean rat who never goes into the sunlight and a family history of skin cancer, into paying a lot more for a not-all-that-superior product) and don't spend all day in direct sunlight if you can help it. Take breaks, drink water, and don't get drunk and pass out on the grass with your hand on your stomach at an outdoor music festival so everyone can gawk at you and your bikini top side boob. You will wake up without your dignity and with a big white handprint on your stomach. Let's hope that you have some teabags or vinegar at home.
Image by Ronald Sumners /Shutterstock.