Shaving creams often contain ingredients that can help moisturize the skin, provide a cooling effect, or reduce skin irritation. However, they are not the best option for sunburn relief.

This article explores how some shaving cream ingredients may help relieve sunburn symptoms. It also discusses how to prevent and treat sunburn and answers some frequently asked questions.

There are no publicly available studies into the effects of shaving cream on sunburns.

However, shaving creams contain soaps or surfactants that can easily cause irritation. Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension of the liquid they are in, making the liquid easier to mix with water and work up into a foam.

Moreover, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology states that soap can increase the pH level of the skin. This can worsen symptoms of eczema.

Another common shaving cream ingredient is fragrance. Research shows that fragrances can cause allergic contact dermatitis or increase short- and long-term irritation.

Shaving cream instructions usually indicate to rinse it off after use. Therefore, leaving it on the skin may not be beneficial, because the soap ingredients can increase irritation.

However, some of the ingredients in shaving cream may help soothe the skin.

Using menthol shaving cream for sunburn treatment

The authors of a 2018 study researched the influence of a topical gel containing menthol on body temperature. The study participants reported that the menthol provided a cool sensation but that it did not affect their core temperature or arterial blood flow.

Another 2018 study found that menthol can stimulate the receptor channels in the body and desensitize them. This could result in short-term, local pain relief.

It is of note, however, that there are no studies showing menthol can help recovery from sunburn or provide intense moisture to the skin.

Some shaving creams contain ingredients that may help sunburn. These ingredients include the following:

Vitamin E

A variety of skin care products contain vitamin E, which has a number of benefits for the skin. These include:

Some older research suggests that vitamin E may help with sun damage. However, more studies involving humans are necessary, as most existing research has been conducted on animals or human cells in a laboratory.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera has humectant properties. Humectants, such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and propylene glycol, add hydration to the skin, often by attracting water from deeper skin layers to the epidermis, which is the outermost layer.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) states that using a moisturizer containing aloe vera or soy can help relieve sunburn.

It is important to note, however, that research into the effects of aloe vera on sunburn is limited.

Shea butter

Many moisturizing products contain shea butter. Some people use it as a replacement for shaving cream.

Shea butter can help:

The moisturizing properties of shea butter may help soothe sunburn. However, more research into the effects that shea butter has on sunburn is necessary.


Chamomile is a popular ingredient in herbal medicine. It has anti-inflammatory properties. Also, older research suggests it may help with eczema or mild inflammatory skin conditions, including sunburn.

However, more evidence-based research is needed to support the use of chamomile as a treatment for skin conditions.

Green tea

Green tea contains antioxidants and polyphenols.

A 2016 meta-analysis found that polyphenols may protect the skin from sunburn and UV damage. However, the researchers point out the need for further studies into the efficacy and potential side effects of polyphenols.

According to the AAD, a person recovering from sunburn should:

  • protect themselves from further skin damage by limiting sun exposure
  • use hydrating and moisturizing products, such as an after sun lotion
  • drink plenty of water
  • take cool showers or baths
  • wear clothes that cover the skin, while outdoors
  • consider using ibuprofen or aspirin

The AAD also suggests that it is possible to prevent sunburn by:

  • choosing broad-spectrum sunscreens that protect against UVA and UVB rays
  • using sunscreens with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher
  • choosing water-resistant sunscreens
  • wearing sun-protective clothes
  • seeking shade

It is also important to use sunscreen frequently and generously. The authors of a 2019 study interviewed 12 people who experienced unexpected sunburn after applying sunscreen. The participants reported that they thought they had applied enough sunscreen.

If a person’s skin is itchy, raw, or blistered, they should seek immediate medical attention.

It is also advisable to contact a doctor if over-the-counter (OTC) treatments are not effective. A doctor may prescribe pain relief medication, antibiotics, or creams that can alleviate the symptoms faster than OTC treatments.

Below, we answer some of the most common questions about shaving cream and sunburn.

Does shaving cream reduce sunburn?

There is no scientific evidence that using shaving cream can reduce the symptoms of sunburn.

However, some shaving creams contain hydrating and moisturizing ingredients, such as aloe vera and vitamin E. These ingredients may help soothe irritation caused by sunburn.

Products such as after sun lotions often contain similar ingredients and are likely to soothe sunburn more effectively than shaving cream.

Does menthol shaving cream really help sunburn?

There are no studies that prove menthol shaving cream can reduce irritation caused by sunburn.

Is there anything more effective for sunburn than shaving cream?

Yes. According to the AAD, a person can try:

  • taking cool showers or baths
  • using moisturizers
  • drinking water
  • covering the skin and limiting further sun exposure

There are many shaving cream products with hydrating and moisturizing ingredients that can help reduce irritation on the skin. Some shaving creams also contain cooling ingredients, such as menthol.

However, shaving cream is not the best option for sunburn relief. Alternatives include using moisturizing and hydrating creams, taking cool baths or showers, and limiting sun exposure by wearing protective clothing.

People with blistering, raw, or very itchy sunburns should consult a doctor to find an effective treatment.