Country Lore: Vinegar, the Natural Sunburn Remedy

A reader shares some family lore about what might seem an unlikely natural sunburn remedy.

| June/July 2009

natural sunburn remedy

Who ever would have thought an acidic fluid like vinegar would be such an effective natural sunburn remedy?


I started law school last summer and thus went from spending 20 to 40 hours per week outside to only 20 to 40 minutes a week. During my between-term break, I needed to catch up on some yardwork. I completely forgot to put sunscreen on the first day and, after about eight hours outside, my lily white skin had turned tomato red.

My wife thought I would be in misery, but I remembered a natural sunburn remedy from my mom that has been part of our family lore for generations: Use vinegar to season a tan.

After getting out of the shower, I applied some vinegar (any type works, but apple cider vinegar seems to be the best) liberally to all the affected areas. The next morning I had a couple of pink spots left on my face, but everywhere else was tanned as if I had spent a careful week with sunblock. I was in no pain whatsoever.

Though I would never recommend forgetting the sunblock, vinegar is an incredible first-aid remedy for dealing with a sunburn.

Jeramee Sikorski
Battle Creek, MI

aastha mehra
10/7/2013 6:40:21 AM

Very informative post here. You can also read more at:

star glover
7/14/2012 1:05:52 AM

Is the vinegar supposed to sting a lot when applied? Also, can I use a moisturizer after? Thanks a bunch for the tips!

5/30/2012 9:04:04 AM

This is such a great blog post! Very good information! Appreciating the hard work you put into your site and detailed information you present. It’s awesome blog.

7/20/2011 1:16:01 PM

I hope this apple cider vinegar trick works, I came home last night from the beach and thought my sunblock was working and apparently not. I went from a very white boy to a red tomato boy the next morning. So now, 12 hours later I am red and hurting and I am putting apple cider vinegar on the red areas...lets see if this really works !!

8/4/2010 10:05:05 AM

There is now a product on the market that includes vinegar, aloe, and vitamin e. It's called Chrispy Critter After Burn Gel. You can find it at It works like nothing I've used before. My sister-in-law also used it on her bug bites and she said that it relieved the itching better than anything she had tried.

lyn pepler
6/2/2009 9:15:12 PM

Thank you for sharing(and remembering)that wonderful information! Just after getting the latest issue, and reading your letter, we had a gathering/annual BBQ on a lovely sunny day, and got a sunburn as a result of not wearing the sunscreen. I remembered your tip and tried it as soon as I got home that evening. It's so amazing! Never have I had a tan, I am a red head, so I burn easily. My skin looks great, and no pain! I will remember the sunscreen next time we go out, but it would have been pretty uncomfortable had your letter not touched my eyes.

mother earth news fair


Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!