Do you have a sunburn? You dummy.

Let me ask you a question: How long have you had your body? Is it new? Hmm, maybe you just got your body this year. Did you just get your body this year? Or, I don’t know, maybe you got it two or three years ago, and—hah, ahh, so embarrassing—you forgot about the thing where your skin needs goddamn sunscreen if you’re going to take it outside in the sun you idiot?!

I’m going to guess your body isn’t new, so let me ask you another question you should be able to answer: Where is your stupid brain, you dumb idiot? Perhaps your stupid brain is in the same place you left your ability to exist in a world other than that of searing agony and unflattering pink skin: maybe your stupid brain is in the park, the pool, the beach, the car window, your porch, or a farm, etc. Maybe you can check there for your brain, you idiot. (Put on sunscreen first.)

This has been rude so far, I know. It’s called “tough love.” Below you’ll find something more along the lines of “love love”—several loving sunburn remedies from various members of the family. “What about the apple-cider-vinegar-mixed-with-water spray remedy that I read about online, should I try that?,” you might be wondering. Well, relax, first of all—maybe someone recommended that exact remedy and now you’ve ruined the surprise of their blurb. Very rude. Second of all, no one recommended that but I did try it recently and it didn’t work for me and also it smelled bad. So.

Here are some other remedies, and please add your own in the comments:


I use coconut oil for all kinds of things: to cook bananas in (one time), to make my skin smell like coconut oil, etc. Applying globs of this magic salve to reddened skin takes the pain of the sunburn way down and—I think—speeds up the recovery process and minimizes peeling. (This also may all be in my head. Maybe I’m giving bad advice? At least it feels like you’re doing something.)

I don’t burn particularly often or easily, so I haven’t had many opportunities to work out a perfect regimen for coconut oil application. My recommendation: take a cool bath when you get home from cooking your skin, air dry with a fan, and then slather yourself in the stuff like a popcorn covered in butter. (Word to the wise: coconut oil is very greasy and takes forever to absorb, so don’t lie on your finest sheets while you do this.) You should be streaming a TV show from your laptop during every step of the process to distract your faulty brain, which obviously doesn’t work well enough to teach you to avoid sunburn in the first place. —Caity Weaver


I used Aquaphor (the stuff you put on a baby butt when they’re still in diapers) on a sunburn last year and it seemed to work really well. —Jim Cooke

Stay Very Still Except for When You’re Drinking Water

I get sunburned once or twice or year like a freaking idiot. This happens to me because I am brazen enough to assume that if I just sit out in the early spring sun, nothing will happen to me because the sun is not yet “hot enough.” Mistakes, I have made and I know that I have made them. My only sunburn remedy in the inevitable event that this happens is to lie perfectly still with no sheets or blankets or anything on or near my body, drink an immeasurable quantity of water, and take ibuprofen every four hours or so. The water helps, certainly, and the meds take the edge off. I sometimes use aloe, like every other sunburn victim, but when has anyone ever had aloe readily available when they’re sunburned? The answer is never. Also: lotion! For the peeling. —Dayna Evans

Lotion in the Freezer

Leah Beckmann: my remedy is put your lotion in the freezer for a little while

Leah Beckmann: like 30 mins

Leah Beckmann: and then put it on your burn

Kelly Conaboy: okay can you give this to me in a few sentences

Leah Beckmann: ugh

—Leah Beckmann

Excessive Prevention

If you’re at the beach or the pool, apply sunscreen twice as often as you think you should. Whenever it occurs to you that at some point soon it might be time for another round—or even if it occurs to you that you’ve just re-applied and there’s no possible way it could be time for another round—it is time for another round, right now. Also: don’t fall asleep without a shirt on. —Andy Cush

Lidocaine Spray

If ya got real burnt and your bed feels like straw and nails, you have to get your crispy lil’ hands on some lidocaine spray. I’ve been using the same spray since the ‘90s and when I say “the same spray” I mean it literally—this can has probably been chilling in my parents medicine cabinet since my conception. So a great bonus: you immediately stop hurting and the can will last you a lifetime* (if you don’t get sunburnt too often). —Gabrielle Bluestone

*not a legal claim


“Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow,” you can say while you’re walking around your apartment. “Ahhhhh,” you can say while you’re lying in bed. “[Deep inhalation of breath]” you can say when you sit down in your chair at work. “Oh no I got a sunburn,” you can text two of your friends, neither of whom will respond. “AHHHHH” you can write on a sunburn Snapchat, though I don’t recommend it. While it doesn’t speed up the healing process, ease pain, or prevent peeling, complaining about your sunburn feels good because your sunburn is all you can fucking think about and, man, sometimes it just feels good to say what’s on your mind. Also maybe someone will go get you aloe from the store, if they dislike hearing you complain about your sunburn so much. —Kelly Conaboy

Never Get a Sunburn

My sunburn remedy is to never get sunburn by wearing SPF 15 on my face at all times, and at least SPF 50 when I do anything outside in the sun. —Rich Juzwiak


The only treatment is time. —Hamilton Nolan

Probably a good thing would be to—right now as we speak—buy coconut oil, aloe, aquaphor, lotion (for the freezer), Advil, and lidocaine spray, and put them in a sunburn emergency kit that you keep underneath your sink. Man. Wouldn’t that be nice? A sunburn emergency kit? Underneath your sink? For whenever you need it? Damn, that sounds good.

Also just don’t get a sunburn. You dummy.

Illustration by Jim Cooke. Contact the author at