Summer fun can sometimes mean summer sunburn. And although covering up, eating well, and wearing non-toxic sunscreen are first in our line of defense, our best efforts are occasionally not enough to prevent a sunburn from time to time.
While aloe is always one of our go-to options for soothing sunburn, this cooling milk bath is inexpensive and quick to ease the discomfort. Just pair it with a tall glass of water for extra hydration.
Hydration is key to bouncing back from a sunburn. Even though you’ll want to treat the more visible effects such as red, irritated skin, hydration goes a long way to repairing your skin from the inside out. Plus, if you’ve spent that long in the sun, you’re probably due for a long, cooling drink anyway!
Sunburn Relief Milk Bath
What kind of milk, you ask?
Milk can calm the heat from the sunburn; the proteins in whole cow’s milk help reduce inflammation and soothe the skin. Keep the temperature cool, and let the lactic acid go to work, providing its antioxidant powers and removing any dead skin.
As we are about to learn the soothing benefits of oatmeal/oats, it makes sense that oat milk is an ideal choice to add to your bath. Irritated skin can be soothed and redness eased with the anti-inflammatory action of oat milk.
Coconut milk has many calming and moisturizing properties and can relieve the discomfort of a sunburn when added to tepid water.
Another one with healing power is buttermilk, which can be placed directly on the sunburn for 10 to 20 minutes or added to a tepid bath. Buttermilk is similar to whole milk in that it has exfoliating properties that can reduce the discomfort of a sunburn.
Other bath options for sunburns
Other additions to your milk bath, once you decide on the type of milk you will use…
Oatmeal is an effective anti-inflammatory to calm irritated, inflamed skin [source]. Obviously, you won’t be running a super-hot bath—that would leave your skin feeling and looking more irritated than before!
The combination of these and lukewarm or tepid water will help reduce pain and inflammation—thanks to their unique skin-healing abilities. Lukewarm is a great place to start, but if you can handle even cooler water, then it’s even better.
Oats encourage your skin barrier to recover faster [source]. When you get a sunburn, your skin barrier (and the few layers of skin underneath!) is damaged. Oats provide a great way to improve moisture levels in your skin so that it bounces back from your burn and, hopefully, doesn’t peel as much. It should also help relieve the itching that comes as most sunburns begin healing—it really does it all.
Essential oils such as lavender essential oil have calming effects on the skin and can be added to a milk bath.
Plus, there’s an excellent mess-free way to make an oatmeal bath—the secret is to put the oats in a cheesecloth bag before popping them into the bathtub. It’s worth the little extra effort for a little less cleaning afterward!
The proteins and fat in milk help to form a thin, protective barrier over your slightly crispy skin. This is thought to help encourage skin healing and protect it that much more from the environment. Remember, everything is going to feel like too much for your skin, at least for a little while, so every bit of moisture and protection counts!
-2 cups uncooked oats
-1 cup milk of your choice
-Optional – few drops of lavender essential oil
After filling a bathtub with tepid water, add the oatmeal and milk and soak for 15–20 minutes. Drink plenty of water as sunburns can dehydrate skin. After the bath, follow with aloe vera gel or our cooling cucumber lotion to help heal the skin.
These baths are great to do pretty much every day until your sunburn has finished peeling. The oatmeal and milk will be beneficial to the new skin from underneath the sunburn too!
Don’t have a bathtub?
An alternative to a bath would be to soak washcloths in tepid water using the recipe above and gently lay them over the affected skin. Leave for 10–20 minutes before removing.
Hopefully, it should speed up the overall healing time of your sunburn to have you ready to go back out and resume your fun before summer’s over! But this time, make sure you stay out of the sun during peak hours and don’t forget to apply plenty of sunscreen!
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified physician who has been practicing for more than 20 years. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.201