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How to Heal Your Sunburn With Food

What's red and dry and peeling all over? If it's your skin this summer thanks to some poorly applied sunblock or too much fun in the sun, banish that burn with these tips and tricks.

Don't take those goals for a hot summer body too literally by frying your skin next time you hit the beach. A bad burn doesn't just sting and hurt every time you brush up against it; when you allow one of these red rashes into your life, it actually increases your chances of developing premature wrinkles and skin cancer. So slather on that sunscreen like your mom is watching. But if you manage to burn anyway, hit the grocery store—not just for a bottle of aloe vera gel, but any of the items on this list.

If you stay mindful of what you're putting in and on your body, it'll be bye-bye burn in no time, so add these to your diet or directly to your skin to stop stinging and hasten healing. Learn from your mistakes by stocking up on sunblock and foods that prevent sunburns while you're shopping.

Sweet Potatoes

sweet potatoes

Pair up two potatoes for a double dose of sun protection this summer. Boil and peel one to apply as a dressing that will draw heat from your sunburn and accelerate the healing process. Then cook the other with one of these healthy sweet potato recipes so you can soak up the vitamin C and beta-carotene it's packing. Both antioxidants are beneficial to your skin, but the beta-carotene in particular was shown by researchers at the Institute of Environmental Medicine of Dusseldorf to make skin more resistant to ultraviolet rays, which will keep your burn from getting worse.

Green Tea

cup of green tea

If you're not buying tea as green as your aloe lotion, you're doing it wrong. Not only will applying (cooled!) green tea to your skin reduce the stinging pain of your sunburn, thanks to its tannic acid content, but there are more than just topical benefits to this beverage. It's also got anti-inflammatory properties, plus long-term effects as well. According to the Journal of Nutrition, the polyphenols in green tea can help pause the progression of UV-radiation induced skin cancer, at least in the mice they tested. That's enough to get us gulping!


bowl of cucumber slices

Hike up your hydration with some cucumber slices this summer. Since the vegetable is mostly made up of water—95 percent, to be exact—popping these into your mouth or onto your skin will help decrease dryness during burn recovery. Just make sure you don't peel the skin before you bite in. That's where you'll get the most skin-saving Vitamin C.

Dark Chocolate

chunks of chocolate

Looks like you can indulge in your sweet tooth and feel good about it as long as dark chocolate is involved. A study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that regularly eating flavonol-rich chocolate can protect your skin from UV rays; since dark chocolate has the highest level of flavonols, it's about time you pencil it onto your grocery list. This sweet snack doesn't just help prevent burns, but treats them too, keeping your skin hydrated and smooth.


bowl of banana oatmeal

Eat oats hot or eat them cold, just as long as you're eating them. A bowl of oatmeal is a great source of avenanthramides, a free-radical fighting antioxidant that isn't found in many other foods, as well as Vitamin D. According to a study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, consuming high doses of this vitamin an hour after UV exposure can reduce a burn's redness, swelling, and inflammation. And it gets even better: you can quickly soothe your skin by slathering it with cold, extra runny oatmeal.



If your skin is the color of ripe tomatoes, you should start eating them ASAP. Not only do they help hydrate and reduce the inflammatory response of your burnt skin, but they protect against this in the future. Since the lycopene-rich fruits are so full of the antioxidant, a study in The Journal of Nutrition has shown that they work against harmful UV-rays.


woman drinking seated

Buttermilk has got your back, peeling sunburn and all. Drink a glass of it or soak yourself in a tub of the stuff for a natural remedy that will soothe and hydrate your red beach blunders. For even better results, add some tomato juice while you're at it.


open pomegranate

Looking to protect your cells from damage and death after too much time tanning? Pick up a pomegranate for a hearty helping of anti-inflammatory antioxidants. A study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M found that this fruit can play a role in treating sunburned skin.

White Vinegar

bowl of vinegar

For a simple topical treatment that's especially effective, dig around in your cupboards for a bottle of white vinegar. Dabbing the liquid directly onto your skin can relieve pain for up to 20 minutes, but only if your burn isn't already blistering.


pile of carrots

We know tomatoes aren't for everyone. Fortunately, you can reap the same skin-saving benefits from carrots. Researchers at Newcastle University found that a daily dose of carrot juice or tomato paste led to a reduced reaction to the sun's rays. Participants experienced nearly 50 percent less reddening. These results were seen after incorporating the veggies into their daily diets for 12 weeks, so start crunching on some carrots now. Don't believe us? They're one of the foods for better skin.


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