The dangerous sunburn hacks you should NEVER try… from mouthwash to sour cream

WE all love nothing more than a compliment on our golden tans – even if we've only caught the sun in our back gardens.

If you've spent too long in the sun this week, it's likely you'll be looking a little pink – but experts have warned against following social media trends when it comes to treating your sunburn.

It's important that as temperatures rise you protect yourself with adequate sun protection such as sunscreen and hats.

But if you have ended up a little bit burnt from topping up your tan – it's important to get relief for your skin.

Sunburn can be extremely painful and result in tenderness, blisters, swelling and even headaches, nausea and fatigue.

According to Melanoma UK, it only takes one blistering sunburn to double a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life, with 90 percent thought to be caused by exposure to sun and UV light.

One expert has slammed dangerous sunburn hacks doing the rounds on social media and says more care needs to be taken when it comes to sun protection.

Stephanie Taylor, Health and Wellbeing Expert at StressNoMore gives her verdict on some of the weird viral hacks circulating recently to prevent and get over sunburn.


Mouthwash is usually used to prevent gum disease and leave your mouth feeling minty fresh, but not for some TikTokers.

One revealed she fills a spray bottle with mouthwash and sprays it directly on her sunburn to calm the sting.

Stephanie said: "This is a very bizarre and extreme way to relieve the pain of sunburn and is absolutely not a fail-safe method.

"While the menthol or eucalyptol in the mint flavours may have cooling properties, it's the 26.9 percent alcohol content in the original flavour, plus ingredients such as benzoic acid, that are problematic.

"That’s because repeated or prolonged exposure to either product can result in drying or cracking of the skin as well as redness and itching. You’d end up back at square one."

Sour cream

While most people would leave the sour cream for dipping tortilla chips, some users have been using it on sunburn.

One user instructs others to spread it all over their sunburn and leave it on for an hour to eliminate all traces of sunburn.

Stephanie said while the lactic acid in sour cream can help promote new skin cells – there are better methods than using things out of your fridge.

She said: "For sunburn, it's best to stick to traditional products containing ingredients that soothe and relieve pain caused by sunburns such as aloe vera, coconut oil or soy-based moisturisers and keep hydrated.

"You can even put your after sun or moisturiser in the fridge for that cool hit."

Sun soothers: What to do if you have sunburn

You’ve slathered on the SPF, put your best straw hat on and you’ve still managed to get burnt.

As Stephanie states there are things you can do if you've gotten burnt in the sun and here are some remedies.

LloydsPharmacy Pharmacist Anshu Kaura said taking care of your skin after you've been in the sun should be a vital element of your routine.

"Using an aftersun or a rich moisturiser will help reduce and prevent sun damage whilst re-hydrating dry, damaged skin.

"You should use after sun after any sun exposure, whether you have signs of damage or not", Anshu said.

Here are some tips for coping if you're burnt:

  • Use products with aloe vera which will naturally cool stressed skin
  • Use high moisturising products and as anti-reddening lotion
  • Take a cold shower – this will provide instant relief
  • Drink plenty of water to keep dehydration at bay
  • Wear clothes that cover your burnt bits
  • Make sure the sunlight isn't hitting your skin through windows – try closing the blinds

White vinegar

The popularity of white vinegar has hit the roof in recent years as many people now use it for cleaning.

But in a bizarre twist, some TikTokers have used it on sunburn.

Stephanie said you should "absolutely NOT" use white vinegar on your skin.

"Vinegar has extremely high acidity and PH levels of around 2 or 3.

"By putting undiluted vinegar on your skin, it can damage the skin's fragile barrier and result in more pain and inflammation, plus potential chemical burns if exposed to bare skin for too long.

"Aside from that, if you are suffering from extreme sunburn, this will really sting and can cause extra pain and discomfort."

Sun contouring

Sun contouring has previously be criticised as it leaves your skin exposed to the sun.

The trend is to use sunscreen like makeup to contour your face.

Stephanie said this is incredibly dangerous for your skin.

She said: "While this may have some short-term effects for facial tanning, the long-term effects could be dangerous and result in skin damage, early signs of ageing or even skin cancer.

"In the summer, apply SPF 50 sun cream or moisturiser to your face every day to protect your skin from sun damage.

"This won't prevent you from tanning but could prevent long-lasting and irreversible skin damage."

Staying safe in the sun

Skin types vary from person to person, but when it comes to protection, using the right SPF for you is key.

LloydsPharmacy pharmacist Pareena Patel explains the difference in skin types and how UV exposure can affect us differently.

Pareena explains: “People with lighter skin tones are much more likely to experience skin damage from UV rays and are more prone to getting skin cancer as a result of sun exposure.

Sunburn damages your skin and can lead to cancer, experts warn

While it’s important to have fun in the sun, you also need to be mindful of how dangerous the sun is for our skin.

Prof. Jonathan Roos and Dr Rachna Murthy, founders of FaceRestoration say each case of sunburn has potential to increase our risk of skin cancer, and it is important to understand that it’s not only big days by the sea that can cause damage.

They state: "Risk builds incrementally with each exposure to UV rays, so it’s necessary to be sun savvy in daily life – when travelling to work, walking the dog, picking up your post – whenever you’re outside.

"It's essential to wear sun protection every day(even when it’s cloudy), this healthy habit reduces probability of the damage that can lead to skin cancer."

In situations where you may be unsure about the amount of SPF to use or when it may have worn off and needs replenishing, physical sun blockage can be sourced from hats, sunglasses and UV proof clothing, the experts say.

They also suggest staying in the shade during peak sunshine hours from 10am –3pm.

"Sun exposure can cause the skin to become dry and lose moisture as well as essential oils, resulting in flaky and prematurely wrinkled skin.

"Following sunburn the skin becomes red and if severely burnt can develop fluid filled vesicles or blister. With prolonged sun exposure, the skin can be permanently damaged as patches of actinic keratosis, that feel like sandpaper.

"This can be a warning sign of increased risk of skin cancer", they added.

"However, people with darker skin of every ethnicity aren’t exempt from the damaging effect of the sun’s UV rays .

“People with darker skin usually have higher levels of pigments in their skin, known as melanin."

Melanin is a substance which causes your skin to tan and plays a role in blocking UV rays.

"There is a limit to how much melanin can protect the skin against UV rays, and so people of all skin tones should wear SPF", Pareena added.

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