This Viral Shaving Cream Hack Is NOT the Best Sunburn Remedy

Even diligent sunscreen users can forget to reapply that second coat or miss a spot on their back, leaving them with a red, painful sunburn that's hot to the touch. But instead of reaching for aloe vera gel, one mom turns to an unconventional product to soothe her irritated skin: menthol foam shaving cream.

In a 2018 Facebook post that went viral, Cindie Allen-Stewart detailed her sunburn "hack" for friends and family. To her surprise, she has received more than 230,000 shares and 65,000 comments as of today.

Here's the gist of her remedy: "Apply the shaving cream on the burn. It may seem like it's a strange shaving ritual, but trust me! Don't rub it in, just let it sit on your skin," Allen-Stewart explained in her post. "It will start bringing all that heat out (you'll be able to feel it)."

She leaves the shaving cream on for about 30 minutes until it dries slightly. The sunburned area will begin to have a cooling sensation, at which point she recommends rinsing with lukewarm or cool water to remove the residue. Usually the sunburn disappears after a second treatment the next day, she wrote, adding that she has been using this method for healing sunburns for 10 years and has never been left with peeling or a burning sensation from the menthol.

Can menthol shaving cream really cure your sunburn?

To be fair, there's a reason shaving cream feels good upon application. "Shaving cream is designed to prepare the skin and hair for shaving, which means it has hydrating and soothing properties," explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "Some shaving creams also contain menthol, which has cooling and anti-inflammatory benefits."

Still, he's not completely on board with the idea as a first-line treatment. "Shaving cream is designed for short contact on the skin and should not be left for long periods of time," Dr. Zeichner explains. "In the event of a severe burn, blisters, or any open or raw skin, you should not use shaving cream."

That's because, in addition to menthol, shaving creams contain a plethora of ingredients (aka chemicals) that may cause further irritation to an angry burn, especially if it's peeling or blistering. In these cases, sticking to simple, tried-and-true sunburn cures will be your best bet. And let's be real: Shaving cream can get super messy and expensive.

The best home remedies to soothe your sunburn

Instead of slathering your body in shaving cream, keep your skin hydrated and protected with light moisturizers that help repair the skin barrier, says Dr. Zeichner.

Keep it clean

First, "use ultra-gentle cleaners that won't irritate sunburned skin. Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash cleanses and has the same ingredients you find in traditional moisturizers to hydrate the skin." You can also take a cool, soothing bath mixed with colloidal oatmeal, which you can find in Aveeno's Soothing Bath Treatment.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

Then, focus on hydration. "Vaseline Clinical Care Extremely Dry Rescue Lotion is light and easy to spread, so it won't irritate the skin. It contains a lipid complex that softens and fills in cracks in the outer skin layer," Dr. Zeichner says. Pure aloe vera gel is another great go-to moisturizer that helps reduce inflammation. (Just be sure to test a patch of your skin first to ensure you don't have an allergic reaction.)

Seven Minerals 100% Organic Aloe Vera Gel

amazon.com

$19.95

Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash

walmart.com

$5.29

Vaseline Clinical Care Extremely Dry Skin Rescue Body Lotion

walmart.com

$5.84

Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment with 100% Colloidal Oatmeal

amazon.com

$6.53

Advil Ibuprofen Tablets

amazon.com

$7.97

Aveeno 1% Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream

amazon.com

$22.43

Reduce redness, pain, and itching

Don't hesitate to embrace the power of ice—or a bag of frozen peas. This cold compress trick does the job amazingly well, helping to absorb heat, constrict blood vessels, and reduce swelling. And finally, when the pain and itching become too much to deal with, taking an over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen and applying 1 percent hydrocortisone cream can make all the difference.

Prevent future sunburns

Allen-Stewart told TODAY.com that she's not endorsing going outdoors without sunscreen and that she was simply sharing a method that worked for her. "If you don't want to try it, you don't have to try it, but it worked for me," she said.

Bottom line: The best thing you can do is prevent a sunburn from ever occurring through consistent use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen, preferably one that's water-resistant and at least SPF 30, like the following dermatologist-approved options. Stay safe out there!

EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

amazon.com

$33.00

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 100+

amazon.com

$8.89

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Sensitive SPF 30+

amazon.com

$11.39

MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense SPF 50 Sunscreen

amazon.com

$39.00

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Editorial Assistant Jenae is the editorial assistant for Prevention.com, where she regularly covers nutrition, beauty, celebrity workouts, and health trends. Health Editor, Prevention.com Alisa Hrustic has spent her entire career interviewing top medical experts, interpreting peer-reviewed studies, and reporting on health, nutrition, weight loss, and fitness trends for outlets like Women's Health and Men's Health, where she both interned and worked full-time.

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