Is Noxzema Good for Sunburn Treatment? Research-Backed Facts

It’s summer and you’ve been basking a little too long in the glorious sunshine. Now you’re dealing with an angry red sunburn that is hot, painful and itchy. You open your medicine cabinet for relief and find a bottle of blue Noxzema skin cream left over from your teenage acne battles.

Could this vintage beauty product also soothe your crispy burnt skin? Let’s evaluate: Is Noxzema Good for Sunburn?

Overview of Noxzema

Is Noxzema Good for Sunburn

Noxzema is an iconic medicated skin cleanser and cream first developed over 100 years ago by Dr. Francis Townsend to treat sunburned skin. The classic Noxzema formula contains a cooling, tingling blend of menthol, eucalyptus, and camphor to soothe minor burns and skin irritation. 

It also incorporates ingredients like aloe vera, vitamin E, and witch hazel that reduce swelling and redness while providing some hydration. Noxzema products come in cleansers, creams, gels and more to clean and temporarily relieve distressed skin. However, Noxzema isn’t very moisturizing for severely dry, damaged or burnt skin needing intensive hydration and healing.

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What Causes Sunburn?

noxzema and sunburn

Sunburn is skin damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by sunlight. UV exposure generates free radicals that harm skin proteins, lipids and DNA while killing protective skin cells. Inflammation follows as the body rushes to heal the destruction. 

Blood vessels swell and fluid floods the skin, producing pain, stinging, redness, heat and blisters in severe burns. Peeling often results several days later as the epidermis sheds the severely harmed top layers. The more serious the burn, the higher the risk for infection, dehydration, fever and scarring later on.

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What are the Key Ingredients of Noxzema Products?

1. Menthol, Eucalyptus & Camphor

These natural plant extracts cause the skin to feel cool and tingly by activating neuronal cold receptors. The vapors also help clear up stuffy noses. However, they temporarily numb rather than heal.

2. Witch Hazel Water 

An anti-inflammatory astringent that can reduce swelling, calm irritation, cleanse away grime and oil.

3. Aloe Vera Gel 

Rich supply of antioxidants, vitamins and fatty acids renowned for repairing damaged skin cells while deeply moisturizing. 

4. Vitamin E 

Potent antioxidant that neutralizes skin-harming free radicals triggered by UV exposure to minimize destructive inflammation responsible for symptoms like painful burning. 

Noxzema often uses soap and water as carriers for these therapeutic ingredients. Some formulations also incorporate antibiotics, anti-itch relief agents like pramoxine hydrochloride, exfoliants and cleansers.

Does Noxzema work for sunburns?

Yes, Noxzema can temporarily provide soothing relief for a sunburn, even if it won’t speed up true healing. Spreading the cooling mentholated formula lightly across mild sunburns can lessen discomfort for several hours. 

The natural extracts distract nerve endings from transmitting burn sensations so the area temporarily feels less hot and itchy while products like aloe vera calm inflammation. However, Noxzema isn’t moisturizing enough for moderate to severe sunburns needing intensive, long-lasting hydration. The drying soap and alcohol content could worsen painful flaking and peeling.

Noxzema for Sunburn: Pros, Cons and Precautions

noxzema and sunburn


  • Temporarily cools inflamed skin. 
  • Lightly numbs nerve sensations transmitting burn pain/itching.
  • Witch hazel reduces swelling and redness.  
  • Aloe vera plus vitamin E soothe and initiate skin repair.
  • Allows taking a break from unrelenting burning sensations.
  • Cleanses away debris that could infect healing skin.  


  • Not moisturizing enough for moderate to severe burns.
  • Alcohol/soap ingredients potentially drying and irritating.  
  • Numbing effect wears off after an hour or less.  
  • Doesn’t accelerate true healing time frames.
  • Using too vigorously can disrupt skin blisters/peeling.  


  • Gently smooth into skin instead of heavy, vigorous rubbing.   
  • Carefully avoid broken skin or blisters to limit infection risk.
  • Don’t bandage tightly over thick Noxzema coats.
  • Discontinue use if increased stinging/burning results.
  • Avoid formulas with strong added chemicals like benzoyl peroxide.

How To Use Noxzema for Sunburn?

Is Noxzema Good for Sunburn

To maximize Noxzema’s relief potential for sunburn while minimizing adverse effects, follow these tips:

1. Gently cleanse the sunburn with mild soap without harsh scrubbing before patting skin dry. Leave blisters intact.

2. Apply a very thin layer of Noxzema over the affected area. Aloe-based and original medicated formulas suitable for face application tend to be least irritating.

3. Allow the cooling sensation to set in for 15-30 minutes as it distracts nerve endings. Reapply sparingly after numbing fades.

4. Once stinging subsides, supplement with a thicker nourishing moisturizer containing soothing antioxidants and natural oils if skin remains very dry. Don’t seal in Noxzema.

5. Repeat Noxzema application 2-3 times daily for 1-2 days only during worst period. Switch to better healing treatments afterwards.

Can You Sleep with Noxzema on your Face?

Applying Noxzema or any skin cream overnight instead of washing it off carries some potential risks:

1. Clogged pores – thick creams can clog pores leading to breakouts. Noxzema contains comedogenic ingredients.

2. Contact dermatitis – Sleeping with Noxzema repeatedly could cause red, itchy rashes from an allergic reaction or irritation over time.

3. Stained bedding/clothes – Noxzema can rub off onto fabric, especially if you toss and turn, causing grease stains.

4. Dried out skin – The drying soap and alcohol in Noxzema can over-dry your skin if left on for 8 hours overnight. This can make complexions feel tight and flaky.

Is Noxzema good for sunburn? Dermatologists thus don’t recommend sleeping with Noxzema or most creams on the face overnight. It’s best to cleanse your face thoroughly before bedtime and apply any medicated creams sparingly during your waking routine only. 

Using non-comedogenic night creams specially formulated for overnight use is safer. Sleeping with Noxzema on for a short power nap is less risky if your skin tolerates it well. But remove it after 1-2 hours to avoid negative effects. Discuss usage instructions with your doctor.

How Long do you Leave Noxzema on a Sunburn?

Noxzema should only be applied to a sunburn for 5 to 30 minutes per use. Its medicated formula temporarily cools and numbs, but isn’t hydrating enough for severely burnt skin. Reapply Noxzema gently 2 to 3 times daily during the initial painful period, ideally for just 5 to 10 minutes. Leaving it on longer than 1 to 2 hours or overnight irritates and further dries sun-damaged skin, delaying healing. So limit needed contact time.


Why is Noxzema Good for Sunburn?

noxzema for sunburn

  • Contains menthol, eucalyptus and camphor to provide a cooling, tingling sensation on inflamed skin that distracts from burning pain.
  • Has astringent witch hazel to reduce swelling and skin redness.
  • Incorporates aloe vera and vitamin E to soothe damaged skin and supply antioxidants to begin repair.
  • Can slightly numb nerve sensations in affected area for temporary relief from pain and itching.
  • Cleanses away dirt, debris and oils that could infect a healing sunburn.
  • Easy to apply thin layer gently across broad burnt areas like back and shoulders.
  • Lower cost and accessibility allows economically treating widespread mild sunburn.
  • Refreshing sensation is preferable for some people over thick, heavy moisturizers.

What are the Best Sunburn Treatments?

While Noxzema can temporarily cool the fiercest sunburn heat, other remedies heal skin better.

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pills like ibuprofen help reduce swelling and inflammation internally, accelerating recovery.
  • Protective emollients like aloe vera gel, soy milk and oil- or vitamin E-based moisturizers promote skin cell repair while hydrating for days. 
  • Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream also lessens burning and itching significantly.
  • Plus, apple cider vinegar baths stop swelling and peeling fast.  

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Top 5 Home Remedies for Sunburn

1. Aloe Vera Gel

Contains cooling polysaccharides and nutrients that reduce inflammation and begin skin cell repair. Apply liberally to sunburnt areas. 

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Add a cup to a cool bath and soak sunburnt skin to ease pain and itching while restoring pH levels. Prevents blistering and peeling stages.

3. Cucumber Slices

Place chilled cucumber slices directly on burnt skin to provide immediate cooling relief and antioxidants to heal damage.

4. Oatmeal Bath

Grind plain oats into a fine powder then add to a lukewarm bath to soothe pain and discomfort from sunburn safely. Also reduces redness and swelling.

5. Moisturizer

Frequent gentle application of fragrance-free moisturizing creams containing soy milk, vitamin E or lavender oil nourishes damaged skin cells, prevents peeling, and encourages new layer growth after sunburns.

When to Visit a Doctor?

For severe sunburns, seek medical help. Blistering, high fevers, severe pain, lightheadedness and chills accompanying sunburns require professional treatment for at-risk individuals. Topical antibiotic creams guard against infection in broken skin. Always avoid further sun exposure by covering up outdoors and watching for signs of heat stroke until the burn fully heals.

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FAQs Related to “Is Noxzema Good for Sunburn?”

Q. How long do you leave Noxzema on your face?

It’s generally recommended to leave Noxzema on your face for 5 to 10 minutes when used as a skin cleanser or mask. This allows its medicated formula enough time to penetrate pores to cleanse oil, dirt, and impurities without over-drying the skin.

For some temporary relief of minor irritation or burns, it can be left on for up to 30 minutes. But rinse after an hour at most to avoid potential redness or stinging.

Q. Is Noxzema cruelty free?  

No, most Noxzema products are not labeled cruelty-free currently. Some facial cleansers may state “Never Tested on Animals” but its parent company does conduct animal testing where required by laws. So, Noxzema can’t be considered 100% cruelty-free for those ethically opposed to animal testing.

Q. Where can you buy Noxzema?

Noxzema is sold at most major drugstores like CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Walmart. It’s also available on Amazon and from various online beauty retailers. Due to its long-standing reputation as an effective medicated skin cream, it remains widely available at affordable prices.

Q. Why does Noxzema get watery?

Noxzema contains witch hazel as an astringent, which has a naturally high-water content. Over time and exposure to higher temperatures, the witch hazel, alcohol and other thinning ingredients in Noxzema products can breakdown in texture and appear separated or watery. Shaking the bottle may temporarily re-blend it but potency declines once Noxzema expires or freezes.

Q. Is Noxzema good for your face?

Noxzema can be good for cleansing oily, acne-prone skin but isn’t hydrating enough for very dry skin. Use it sparingly as it may cause stinging on sensitive skin. Avoid the eye area. See benefits for blackheads but discontinue use if it causes redness or irritation.

Q. Does Noxzema help with sunburn?

Yes, Noxzema can temporarily relieve a sunburn thanks to its menthol, eucalyptus and camphor providing a cooling, tingling sensation on inflamed skin. This briefly distracts from and numbs the burning pain. However, Noxzema doesn’t deeply moisturize or heal skin damage. Its effects fade fast so other treatments work better long-term for sunburn recovery.

Q. What is Noxzema good for?  

Noxzema helps cleanse, refresh, and soothe mildly distressed skin. It can temporarily relieve minor sunburn, insect bites, razor irritation, and superficial skin issues like acne, blackheads, and oily complexions. Its medicated formula should not treat more severe burns, rashes, eczema, or infections. 

Q. How long does Noxzema take to work?

Noxzema typically begins working within 5–10 minutes as the menthol and eucalyptus provide a cooling sensation on affected skin. However, it only temporarily numbs and relieves discomfort rather than treating underlying conditions. Results last while product remains on skin.

Q. Noxzema sunburn hack?

Apply aloe vera gel first to deeply hydrate sunburnt skin, then use a very thin layer of Noxzema over top to briefly numb nerve pain. Its camphor and menthol relieve stinging for about 30 minutes before reapplication. Avoid using Noxzema only.

Q. Is Noxzema good for black skin? 

Yes, Noxzema can be safely used on black skin to cleanse clogged pores and blackheads. But discontinue use if it causes excessive dryness. Follow with a hydrating toner and moisturizer containing ingredients like shea butter, glycerin, or hyaluronic acid instead of heavier petroleum jelly.

Q. Is it bad to put makeup on a sunburn?

Yes, dermatologists recommend avoiding putting makeup directly on a sunburn as it can further irritate skin and clog pores leading to infection. However, mineral makeup applied gently around the sunburn area is less likely to cause adverse reactions. Allow sunburnt skin to fully heal before applying makeup.

The Bottom Line – is Noxzema Good for Sunburn?  

Noxzema does offer very short-term soothing properties thanks to its mentholated formula numbing a fiery sunburn’s discomfort temporarily. However, the thin watery cream isn’t nearly as effective at speeding up true skin healing as dedicated moisturizing sunburn creams, aloe gels and anti-inflammatory medications. 

Is noxzema good for sunburn? Limit Noxzema use to 1-2 days only during the worst symptomatic period. Then switch to more therapeutic treatments to minimize peeling and scarring. Check with your dermatologist if unsure whether Noxzema and sunburn are related for your situation. With the right supplemental care, you’ll quickly leave that lobster-hued sunburn behind!

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Hi, I'm Naznin! I really love making skin happy. I learned cool stuff about skincare and want to share it with you! Together, let's explore how to take care of our skin and feel awesome. Join me on this fun journey where we can be our beautiful selves!