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Sunburn can be a pain in the ass… literally, if you’ve been doing some naughty sunbathing. And the best sunburn remedies aren’t always there when you need them. But did you know that some shaving creams might be able to ease the discomfort?
- Best for sensitive skin: Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel
- Best high end: The Art of Shaving Sandalwood Shaving Cream
- Best for a variety of uses: Taylor of Old Bond Street Shaving Cream Bowl, Coconut
- Best with multiple ingredients: C.O. Bigelow Premium Shave Cream
- Best natural: Pacific Shaving Company Natural Shave Cream
- Best on a budget: Duke Cannon Superior Grade Shaving Cream
Let’s explore the evidence behind shaving cream as an effective treatment for sunburn.
Kinda, yes. A lot of the most common shaving creams share ingredients with proven sunburn remedies. For example, research has shown that both aloe vera and green tea can soothe and hydrate the skin, which means they’re decent candidates for scrappy sunburn treatments.
However, it probably won’t shock you to hear that scientific research into using shaving cream for sunburn is seriously lacking. Some other ingredients, like menthol, might be cooling in the short term but have been linked to inflammatory responses in the body – which can actually make sunburns worse.
Your first line of defense against sunburn should always be a nice layer of sunscreen. And it’s best to reach for a dedicated sunburn remedy if you get burned. But if you don’t have access to either of those and you catch a hefty dose of sunlight, some shaving creams might come through in a pinch.
There’s a scorching number of products on the market and a massive demand — the top 10 shaving cream brands alone sell more than 124 million units every year in the United States. But for our soothing, cooling purposes, we used three criteria:
- Price. Plenty of luxury brands offer creams made with melted gold and unicorn tears, but you don’t want to use that stuff to treat sunburn. We’re looking for affordable everyday creams that do the job without breaking the budget.
- Availability. No artisan single-batch shaving creams on our list! We chose products that are easily available from reliable, trusted brands. Shaving cream is a cosmetic product, so even though it’s FDA-regulated, it doesn’t need FDA approval before it hits the shelves. For that reason, we need to know we can rely on the people who make our chosen creams.
- Skin-friendly ingredients. We picked only creams that publicly list everything they contain, so you can check whether they’re right for your skin. We also avoided ingredients like menthol and alcohol that might make your sunburn worse in the long run.
We looked for ingredients that are known to soothe the skin, such as:
Say hello to our list of effective and trustworthy shaving creams that won’t break the bank.
- $ = under $15 per unit
- $$ = $15–25 per unit
- $$$ = over $25 per unit
|Product||Price||Skin types||Key ingredients|
|Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel||$$||dry, sensitive||oat, vitamin E|
|The Art of Shaving Sandalwood Shaving Cream||$$$||normal, sensitive, dry||sandalwood essential oil|
|Taylor of Old Bond Street Shaving Cream Bowl, Coconut||$$||all||manuka honey, African rock fig|
|C.O. Bigelow Premium Shave Cream||$||all||camphor, coconut oil, eucalyptus|
|Pacific Shaving Company Natural Shave Cream||$$||sensitive||aloe vera|
|Duke Cannon Superior Grade Shaving Cream||$||oily||shea butter, aloe vera, macadamia nut oil|
1. Best shaving cream for sunburn for those with sensitive skin
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: oat, vitamin E
- Skin types: dry, sensitive
For a very reasonable price, Aveeno gives you this 7-ounce canister of specially formulated shaving cream. As a shaving product, it’s created for those with dry or sensitive skin, which makes it ideal for treatment purposes.
There are no added fragrances that might irritate sunburn, and it’s noncomedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores.
2. Best high end shaving cream for sunburn
- Price: $$$
- Key ingredients: sandalwood essential oil
- Skin types: normal, sensitive, dry
Here’s another product that’s clinically and dermatologically tested for sensitive skin types. It’s priciest cream on our list but still a good value for a 5-ounce tub. You’ll find no synthetic dyes or alcohol in this shaving cream, so you can confidently use it to treat sunburn in a pinch.
Glycerin and coconut acid add extra hydration to minimize damage to your skin.
3. Best variety of use shaving cream for sunburn
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: manuka honey, African rock fig
- Skin types: all
If you’re using shaving cream for sunburn, Taylor of Old Bond Street is a solid brand to consider. In addition to this great coconut-infused variety, they offer an aloe vera shaving cream.
Both of those base ingredients are good for sunburn treatment on their own, but these products also contain manuka honey, mafura oil, and African rock fig for a considerably cool experience.
You can get a nice big 5.3-fluid-ounce tub for less than 20 of your hard-earned American dollars.
4. Best shaving cream for sunburn with multiple ingredients
- Price: $
- Key ingredients: camphor, coconut oil, eucalyptus
- Skin types: all
If you’re looking for an experienced, proven brand, this is it. C.O. Bigelow started out as a humble New York apothecary and grew to become a favorite brand of Italian barbers for nearly 200 years.
Their premium shave cream sits at a decidedly below-premium price for a 5.2-ounce bottle and is packed with a wide variety of skin-friendly and sunburn-threatening ingredients.
5. Best natural shaving cream for sunburn
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: aloe vera
- Skin types: sensitive
Packed with aloe barbadensis leaf juice (that’s aloe vera to you and me), this shaving cream is all-natural, vegan, certified organic, and cruelty-free. Plant-based ingredients mean you won’t have to worry about synthetic irritants if you use it to treat sunburn.
You’ll also typically have to part with less than $25 for a 2-pack of 7-fluid-ounce tubes. Single tubes go for even less. Formulated for sensitive skin, it could be the emergency sunburn remedy you need.
6. Best budget shaving cream for sunburn
- Price: $
- Key ingredients: shea butter, aloe vera, macadamia nut oil
- Skin types: oily
Duke Cannon products are made in the US of A, and a portion of the proceeds goes to supporting veterans. This product’s ingredients read like a shopping list of skin-soothing natural elements: shea butter, aloe vera, macadamia nut oil, calendula extract.
It’s also the cheapest shaving cream on our list by a cozy margin, so it’s a cost effective option for use as a makeshift sunburn treatment.
Obviously, your best bet for dealing with sunburn is to guard yourself from getting it in the first place. Try these preventive tips if you plan to be exposed on sunny days:
- Apply sunscreen every time you go outside, even if you’re only planning a short trip.
- Reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours, especially after swimming or exercising.
- Wear loose long sleeves and pants, along with a wide-brimmed hat (stylish!).
- Try to stay out of the sun in the middle of the day, when it’s brightest and hottest.
Of course, life can’t be so nice and neat that you always avoid getting burned. Here’s how to start treating your sunburn as soon as you notice it:
- Get out of the sun and indoors ASAP. Sunburn will only get progressively worse as you bake in the sun longer.
- Ease the pain with cool (not cold) showers every few hours. And remember to pat yourself dry — don’t irritate your skin by being rough with a towel.
- Regularly apply moisturizer (or shaving cream) with those nice ingredients we mentioned earlier.
- Avoid using benzocaine and similar products, which might irritate your skin more in the long run.
- Rehydrate yourself — and your skin — by drinking plenty of water.
- Take aspirin or ibuprofen to help reduce pain and swelling.
- Don’t pop your blisters! They help protect your skin from infection.
- Keep your skin covered with loose clothing made of tight-knit fabrics while your sunburn heals.
Sunburn typically takes about 7 days to heal. During this time, your skin will start flaking and peeling off by itself. This may not be pleasant, but it’s a good sign that your burnt skin is falling away and being replaced by the healthy kind.
Serious sunburns can cause your skin to age more quickly or, in the very worst cases, lead to skin cancer. Put down the home remedies and consult a healthcare professional if you experience:
- blistered skin across big areas of your body
- swelling, pus, or red marks stemming from the burn (these are possible signs of infection)
- fevers, headaches, dehydration, nausea, chills, or severe pain
- long-term pain that doesn’t get better even after you’ve treated it
- trouble breathing
- muscle cramps or weakness
If your sunburn is serious, a healthcare pro may recommend corticosteroid cream, prednisone, or antibiotics for an infection.
By now, you know how and why shaving cream can potentially help with sunburn, as well as which specific products might be best for treating your skin. But just in case you need some more clarity, we’ve got answers to some common questions below.
How does a sunburn happen?
Sunburn is caused by ultraviolet (UV) light, not heat. We get most of our UV rays from the sun, but UV light is also present in tanning lamps and sunbeds. When your skin is exposed to this specific type of radiation, it reacts by producing melanin.
Melanin is your skin’s natural protection against this harmful radiation. It also causes your skin to darken. When your skin is exposed to more UV light than its melanin levels can handle, your skin cells will mutate and “burn.”
Sunburn isn’t like getting burned by a hot stove or a flame. Because light is the cause, you can still get sunburned on cold or even cloudy days. Snow can reflect the sun’s rays and amplify the effects of sunburn.
Who is most at risk of sunburn?
Anyone can get sunburned and experience the short- and long-term effects on their skin. However, some people are more at risk than others.
Take particular precaution against sunburn if you have:
- pale or lighter brown skin
- freckles or moles
- red, light brown, or blond hair
- skin that usually burns instead of tans
- a medical condition that causes skin problems
- a family history of skin cancer
And, of course, if you live in an area that doesn’t get a lot of sun, you’ll likely need to take that into account when planning trips to places like Arizona or Florida.
Should shaving cream be my go-to sunburn remedy?
As we mentioned earlier, there’s no scientific evidence that shaving cream itself is an effective long-term sunburn remedy. Some dermatologists even recommend avoiding it as an improvised treatment. But sometimes it might be all you have available.
If that’s the case, look for shaving creams that contain skin-soothing ingredients such as:
- vitamin E
- aloe vera
- green tea
- shea butter
Does menthol shaving cream really help with sunburn?
Menthol might give your skin a cooling feeling as soon as you apply it, but there’s some research to suggest that it’s an irritant. In other words, once the cooling sensation goes away, your skin could end up itchier and more sore than it was before.
While we’re on the subject of irritants, some shaving creams also contain alcohol. If you’ve ever put aftershave onto a shaving cut, you know how much it stings. Make sure your chosen shaving cream doesn’t contain any alcohol before you try using it as a sunburn treatment.
What are some long-term risks associated with getting a sunburn?
There’s strong evidence backing up the idea that sunburn speeds up the aging of your skin. Depending on the amount of sunburn and its severity, your skin may experience varying effects in the long run.
Sunburn also comes with a risk of skin cancers like melanoma. Risk can increase based on how early and how often you get sunburned.
Using shaving cream to treat sunburn can be effective for short-term relief, but it mainly depends on the ingredients of the shaving cream and the severity of your sunburn. With a bit of research, you can stack the odds in your favor.
- Check what’s in your shaving cream — some ingredients are better for sunburn than others.
- Back up your treatment with proven remedies like cool showers and anti-inflammatory meds.
- Don’t hesitate to seek advice from a medical professional about your sunburn or any negative effects you’re having from your own treatments.
- Give your skin plenty of time to heal before you go out into the sun again.
And, of course, remember to protect your precious skin in the future while you enjoy the nice weather. Nobody wants a close shave with long-term risks.