Can Shaving Cream Treat a Sunburn? a Dermatologist Weighs in on This Home Remedy Gone Viral

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

So what is this miracle treatment the Internet can’t get enough of? Shaving cream. Menthol foam shaving cream, to be exact, like this type Allen-Stewart found on Amazon. “We ended up buying six cans of it, but it works out because we live in Texas and sunburns happen a lot,” she wrote in her post.

After about 30 minutes, she says, rinse the shaving cream off in a lukewarm or cool shower or bath. “Finally, if you still need it, do it again the next day,” she adds. “Usually after the second treatment, the sunburn disappears.”

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Along with her instructions, Allen-Stewart posted photos of her back taken after a recent sunburn. In the first photo, her back is red with visible sunburn lines where straps had been. The second photo shows her back slathered in shaving cream, and the final photo was taken “the third day after my sunburn,” when her back looks much better.

“I slept great after the first treatment and when my shoulders still felt hot from the burn the next day, I had another coating of shaving cream on just my shoulders,” she wrote. “I have not had any peeling either.”

It’s very possible that shaving cream could help ease the pain and discomfort of sunburn, he adds. “The number one ingredient in shaving cream is typically water, so it’s very hydrating,” says Dr. Huang. “But also there are a lot of oils, usually palm or coconut oil, which are very soothing and nice to help replenish damaged skin.”

Glycerin is also a common ingredient in shaving cream and an effective moisturizer, he says, and some shaving creams (although not the one Allen- Stewart uses) also contain aloe—a well-known remedy for sunburn.

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The most important thing to keep in mind, of course, is that sunburns should be avoided at all costs—so if you’re relying on this method too often, you may want to reevaluate your sun-protection habits and the amount of time you’re spending in the sun.

“The body doesn’t forget what we do to it, and an accumulation of sunburn over a lifetime can promote skin cancer later in life,” Dr. Huang says. “This is why skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with over 5 million cases diagnosed a year.”

Allen-Stewart also answered questions from a few commenters and clarified a few points, as well: She wrote that her husband has sensitivity to aloe and cannot use it, so her family uses this remedy instead. She also says she thinks it helps sunburn feel better more quickly and that any brand of shaving cream will work, as long as it contains menthol and it’s a foaming formula rather than a gel.

Some people who commented on the post noted that menthol shaving cream can feel like it’s burning the skin, but Allen-Stewart says it’s always felt “very cooling” for her. A doctor interviewed for Inside Edition also warned that people shouldn’t use a new type of shaving cream without testing it on a small area first to make sure they’re not allergic. (No one wants an allergic reaction on top of an already painful, itchy sunburn.)

Sunburn can also be treated with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, a cool shower, and any rich, thick moisturizer, Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, previously told ishonest. An over-the-counter hydrocortisone ointment may also help reduce itching.

And because sunburn can be dehydrating, get plenty of water after you’ve gotten too much sun. If you’re experiencing symptoms like chills, fever, and painful blisters, you likely have a more serious burn and should see a doctor ASAP.

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