Menthol shaving cream on sunburn: does it really work?


An easy way to get rid of a painful sunburn? Yes please.

In 2018, a woman Facebook post about his simple — but slightly messy — trick to getting rid of sunburn has gone viral, and many people are eager to find a solution to one of summer’s biggest dangers. The trick? Apply menthol shaving cream to the burn, which the poster says “takes the heat away” and soothes the skin.

While most people know that the only real cure for sunburn is to prevent it by using an effective sunscreen, it’s clear that people are still hungry for a quick fix. Over 234,000 people shared the post at the time.

But before taking a can of shaving creamKnow this: Dermatologists say it’s not a magic bullet for sunburn, although it may provide some relief.

“I’ve heard of people putting menthol on the skin, for soothing, like after shaving – that’s why it’s included in shaving gels, because menthol has a cooling effect,” said Dr Anthony Rossi, dermatologist certified by the American Board Academy of Dermatology.

Burned skin is like a wound.

His concern is that shaving foam contain additional ingredients that could irritate the skin, especially when it is already inflamed. A better choice would be to use aloe vera to soothe the skin, or a mild moisturizer. The AAD lists other tips for soothing sunburn on its websitesuch as drinking water and applying cool, damp towels to the skin.

“With a sunburn, you have active inflammation,” Rossi said. “The skin is red and it can hurt and be sensitive. So when the skin is inflamed and open like that, we want to use very bland materials to trap moisture on the skin and avoid chemical irritants. So my only concern is that these foams have all these extra ingredients that might make them better shaving creams, but not great moisturizers.”

Dr. Susan Chon, a board-certified dermatologist at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, agreed: “Burnt skin is like a wound,” she told TODAY. “You don’t want to put all kinds of stuff on it. You could probably put a lot of soothing stuff on your skin. But if you have a more severe sunburn, you’re probably better off taking some ibuprofen.”

Cindie Allen-Stewart, the woman who wrote the viral Facebook post, said she wasn’t trying to push her remedy on anyone – she just wanted to share what worked for her. In her post, she shared a photo of her sunburned back, and another photo of her back after the shaving cream treatment, which was noticeably less red.

Menthol Shaving Sunscreen
A Facebook user posted this photo showing off his sunburn cure

‘If you don’t want to try it, you don’t have to try it, but it worked for me,’ she told TODAY, adding that the two photos were taken at three interval days.

Allen-Stewart also stressed the importance of SPF to prevent sunburn in the first place. “I in no way endorse not using sunscreen,” she wrote.

Ultimately, if it works for you, it can’t hurt you. “I don’t see anything wrong with that if it relieves them,” Chon said.

Looking for something to soothe a burn, but not ready for shaving cream? Our dermatologists have recommended the following:

Sarna Anti-Itch Cream

Chon suggests Sarna as an option to soothe itchy and irritated skin.

Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion

Rossi recommends a gentle lotion like Cetaphil to lock in moisture after a sunburn.


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