The Teatotaler is an idiot. Despite my recent decision to forgo trying to achieve a sun-tan — due to a family history of skin cancer and desire to keep my skin youthful for as long as possible — I slipped up. I took an accidental nap on the beach before asking my roommate to slather sunscreen on my back.
That evening, I took a break from berating myself to catch up on my Twitter feed. As if the Twittersphere was paying attention to mundane details of my life, I saw that one of the homeopathic accounts I follow had posted about natural ways to soothe a sunburn…with TEA! How relevant!
The article revealed that applying cold black tea to a sunburn can ease the pain and tightness that comes along with killing a layer of your living cells (can you tell I’m still frustrated with myself?).
Upon further Googling, I found that several other sites, as well as that of Mother Earth News magazine, confirmed the benefits of topically-applied tea for sunburned skin. Something about the tannic acid and other compounds found in black teas.
One of the sites recommended using earl grey, and since it isn’t my favorite to drink and I have a whole bunch of it on hand from an English tea variety box, that’s what I used. I filled a pitcher with cool water and immersed three tea bags in it. It took much longer to steep to its normal color in the cold water, about 15 minutes.
I then faced the challenge of how I was going to apply a liquid to my back without making a colossal, staining mess. I ventured into my outdoor shower and essentially dumped it over my shoulders. I then sopped up the remaining tea into a dish towel and draped it over my back.
The coolness of the tea itself was soothing initially, and, after all was said and done, it definitely reduced that awful feeling of tightness that sunburns often bring. And it kept me from having to stifle a scream when I rolled onto my back in my sleep.
Ultimately, though, I’d recommend just remembering to wear sunscreen.