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60 Clever Uses for Salt—That Don’t Involve Cooking

From relieving rashes to removing stains to restoring household items to their original luster, salt does more than just season food.

salt shaker on black kitchen tableJiri Hera/Shutterstock

Solutions that are worth their salt


From organic home-cleaning and stain-removal hacks to beauty scrubs and throat gargles, there are so many practical applications for salt. In addition, salt makes food taste really good. For this reason, salt was once so valuable that it was used as currency, according to these surprising facts about salt. Read on for some of the very best household uses for salt that you’ve probably never heard of.

A glass of red wine, spilt on a pure wool carpet.StockCube/Shutterstock

Remove wine stains from carpet

When it comes to red wine spills, it pays to act fast. First, while the stain is still wet, pour some white wine on it to dilute the color of the stain. Then dab the spot with a sponge and cold water. Next, sprinkle the area with salt, wait about 10 minutes, and vacuum up the whole mess. Here are more homemade carpet cleaners you already have in your house.

Lots of coffee cups on wooden backgroundAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Make coffee taste less bitter

Move over, sugary lattes. If you drink your coffee unsweetened but prefer a less bitter brew, try tossing a pinch of salt into your mug. The seasoning contains sodium ions that neutralize or cancel out coffee’s bitter taste, research has found. Cooking Light recommends adding about 1/8 teaspoon of salt into the ground coffee beans before turning on your coffee maker. Salt is just one of the 10 surprising things you should be adding to your coffee.

Open refrigerator filled with different food in kitchenNew Africa/Shutterstock

Clean your fridge

You should clean your fridge every three to six months to keep it looking (and smelling) good, but elbow grease alone doesn’t always do the trick. To lift stubborn food stains and smells, scrub the shelves with 1/2 cup of salt mixed with two liters of warm water. Here are more tips on cleaning out your fridge.

Cutting board with towel and bowl on wooden background slava17/Shutterstock

Sanitize cutting boards

Countless studies have found that plastic and wood cutting boards harbor germs deep inside the grooves made by your knife. Luckily, you can keep bacteria at bay by adding one easy salt-scrub step to your washing routine. For plastic boards that you use to handle meat, sprinkle bleach and salt on the board, scrub it with a stiff brush, and rinse with hot water. Wood boards can be sanitized using salt, rubbed in with a lemon wedge, then rinsed clean. Learn which is better, plastic or wood?

Water marks on a wooden table suitable for use as a backgroundPaul Maguire/Shutterstock

Remove watermarks from wood

Glasses or bottles can leave watermarks on wood that really stand out. Make them disappear by mixing 1 teaspoon salt with a few drops of water to form a paste. Gently rub the paste onto the ring with a soft cloth or sponge and work it over the spot until it’s gone. Then, restore the luster of your wood with furniture polish. If that doesn’t work, here are 5 more things to try that might help remove those rings.

kitchen sponge close up on wood deskOleksandr Rybitskiy/Shutterstock

Restore a sponge

Hand and mop sponges usually get grungy long before they are actually worn out. To revive your sponges to a pristine state, soak them overnight in a solution of about 1/4 cup salt per liter of water. Try these 95 household uses for vinegar you never knew about, too.

MosquitoDigital Images Studio/shutterstock

Relieve bee stings

If you get stung by a bee, salt is a natural salve. Immediately wet the sting and cover with salt to lessen the pain and reduce swelling. Most bug bites and stings can be treated at home, but here’s how to know when your sting needs immediate medical attention.

Big collection of different sport shoes.Dmitri Ma/Shutterstock

Deodorize your sneakers

Sneakers and other canvas shoes can get pretty smelly, especially if you wear them without socks in the summertime. Knock out the odor and soak up the moisture by occasionally sprinkling a little salt in your canvas shoes. Don’t miss these other fixes for shoe odors.

Ear and earrings ear piercingsrisakorn wonglakorn/shutterstock

Disinfect piercings

To speed up the healing process and prevent infections, soak new body piercing jewelry in salt water. Just be sure to use the correct ratio: The Piercing Bible recommends ¼ teaspoon of non-iodized salt for each cup of warm water. You can get too much of a good thing; water with high salt content can irritate your skin, according to the site. These are the most (and least) painful parts of your body to tattoo.

The chef cooking and makes a fire in a pan. Cooking with fire. Crown food.Flame on kitchenPravosudov Yaroslav/Shutterstock

Put out a grease fire

A bucket of water is not necessarily the first thing you should grab in a fire; if you are dealing with a grease fire, water can actually cause the flames to spread. Instead, douse them in salt or baking soda, or quickly cover with a metal lid instead, per Food Network. Never combine these common household items or you could start a fire.

Baking sodaXenia Shilova/shutterstock

Use as a natural mouthwash

Store-bought mouthwash can contain toxic chemicals and other artificial ingredients. The all-natural alternative? Salt. Stir 1 teaspoon of cooking salt with 1 teaspoon of baking soda into half a cup of water, then gargle the mixture. The salt behaves like a disinfectant, killing off bacteria that causes bad breath. There are at least 12 things your bad breath may be trying to tell you.

above overhead view flat lay assortment of various cheese with traditional bread fruits glass and bottle of red wine on old wooden tableJP WALLET/Shutterstock

Keep cheese from molding

Salt’s dehydrating powers can actually help slow the growth of mold on cheese. To reduce food waste (and save money on groceries), dip a paper towel in a mixture of 2 Tbsp. salt and 3 cups of water, and then wrap it loosely around your cheese before refrigerating. Now, avoid this other sneaky ingredient that’s hiding in your shredded cheese.

A brown bottle on icePaul Tessier/Shutterstock

Chill beverages fast

Warm soda, beer, and wine can spell disaster for any party host. But if you have salt on hand, chilling those beverages won’t take long. Place the bottles and cans in a bucket of ice water and mix in a handful of salt. Once the salt works its magic, the beverages will be cold in no time. Here are some additional ways to quickly chill a bottle of white wine.

Green grass background texture .top view.Tama2u/Shutterstock

Give your lawn a boost

Perhaps the grass on your lawn has seen better (read: greener) days. For an inexpensive fertilizer, mix two tablespoons of Epsom salt and a gallon of water in a spray bottle, and apply it to the grass. Epsom salt contains magnesium, which boosts a plant’s production of chlorophyll—the pigment responsible for their green hue. Too keep your yard looking good, here are 18 things to never do to your lawn.

sick woman with sore throatsick woman with sore throat9nong/Shutterstock

Relieve a sore throat

The next time you wake up that telltale tickle, mix some table salt in a glass of warm water and gargle for 30 seconds to ease the pain. It’s not just an old wives’ tale—salt can actually flush out mucus and other irritants that cause a sore throat, research shows. Here are 15 more DIY gargles to ease sore throat pain.

Top view of color T-Shirt on grey wood plank backgroundPiyawat Nandeenopparit/Shutterstock

Prevent dye from bleeding

A new item of clothing won’t run in the wash if you soak it in salt water first. Combine ½ gallon of water with 1/3 cup vinegar and ½ cup salt, and then leave your garment in the solution for one hour. Rinse it off until the water runs clear. Now, learn how to whiten your laundry without using bleach.

Overhead view Stacking Brown chicken eggs in carton box,Fresh farm eggs with brown eggshell in cardboard packaging Natural healthy food and organic farming concept. Eggs in boxKANIT TEEBET/Shutterstock

Test for rotten eggs

Not sure about that weeks-old egg carton sitting in the back of the fridge? Place an egg in a bowl of saltwater. If it sinks, your batch is fresh. An egg that is rotten, on the other hand, will float. And next time you’re hard-boiling eggs, try this trick for perfect peeling every time.

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Protect your garden from pests

While chemical-filled pesticides can protect your garden from snails and slugs, they also pose a danger to animals and young children. For an all-natural repellent, roll the seeds in table salt before covering them with dirt. The pests will steer clear long enough to give your seedlings a fighting chance. For thriving mature plants, DIY one of these nontoxic pesticides.

Flea walking on a human skin. A tiny parasite sucking humans blood on a close up horizontal picture.Jiri Prochazka/Shutterstock

Ward off fleas

Like snails and slugs, fleas are not fans of salt. If your pup is scratching up a storm, bathe them in a salty solution instead of water and soap. And it can’t hurt to wash the doghouse or pet bedding with saltwater, too. Salt will dehydrate the pests, protecting your four-legged friend from itchy bites. Learn how to tell the difference between bed bugs and fleas.

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Make a cloudy vase sparkle again

Uh, oh—your once-beautiful bouquet has wilted, leaving cloudy deposits of minerals on the vase interior. Reach inside the vase, rub the offending ring of deposits with salt, then wash with soapy water. If your hand won’t fit inside, fill the vase with a strong solution of salt and water, shake it or brush gently with a bottle brush. then wash. This should clear away the residue. Find out why hand-washing dishes is not so eco-friendly.

Poison IvyK Steve Cope/Shutterstock

Soothe poison ivy rashes

When poison ivy erupts, salt to the rescue! Relieve the itch caused by poison ivy by soaking in a hot salt water bath. If that doesn’t work try one of these additional home remedies for poison ivy.

Empty wicker basket on a wooden background, top viewSea Wave/Shutterstock

Keep wicker looking new

Wicker furniture tends to yellow with age and exposure to the sun and elements. To keep your wicker natural-looking, scrub it with a stiff brush dipped in warm salt water. Let the piece dry in the sun. Repeat this process every year or every other year for best results. Find out more easy ways to clean your lawn and patio furniture.

Brushes and body scrub on wooden backgroundPixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Make a DIY face scrub

This homemade face mask requires just two pantry staples: salt and olive oil. Make a paste using 1/4 cup of salt and ½ cup of olive oil, and gently apply it to your skin in a circular motion. Leave the mask in place for five minutes before washing it off. The moisturizing olive oil and exfoliating salt will leave your face, hands, and even lips feeling soft and refreshed. Just be sure to avoid these 10 exfoliating habits that could do you harm.

CandlesMarySan/shutterstock

Create non-drip candles

Nothing distracts from a gorgeous candle display like messy wax drips, and believe it or not there is a right way to burn candles. To keep them from dripping, create a “shell” around the wax and trap the drips inside by using this saltwater trick. Place your candles in a large, flat dish and soak them in a saltwater solution (2 cups water and 2 Tbsp. salt) for 24 hours, then dry them well. Now when you light the candles, they won’t make such a mess.

Man puts a dirty towel, stained with grass, in a washing machineAnnashou/Shutterstock

Remove grass stains

Some laundry products are a waste of money. Before you splurge on pricy stain-lifters, try treating stubborn grass stains with lemon and salt first. Squeeze lemon juice over the stain, sprinkling on a thick layer of salt, and then rub the stain with a lemon rind and watch it fade away.

A fire burns in a fireplace, Fire to keep warm.k_samurkas/Shutterstock

Ease fireplace cleanup

Stacking wood in a fireplace is a combination of art and science. Just follow these 6 steps to build a good (and safe) fire. But how do you safely put one out? Douse the flames with salt. The fire will burn out more quickly, so you’ll wind up with less soot than if you let it smolder. Cleanup the next day will be easier, too, because the salt helps the ashes and residue gather into easy sweepings.

African American Dark brown skin Woman hand with french manicure isolated on white background. Close-up. Untouched.Red Confidential/Shutterstock

Strengthen your nails

No time to hit the nail salon? No problem. At home, mix one teaspoon each of salt, baking soda, and lemon juice in 1/2 cup of hot water, and soak your fingertips in the mixture for 10 minutes. Then, scrub your nails to rinse them off. The treatment will soften your cuticles and strengthen your nails. Bonus: Dig your nails into the rind of the lemon, and your nails will look brighter and healthier too. Read on for more tips manicurists won’t tell you.

couple goldfish in aquarium over well-arranged zen stone and nice bokeh of bubblesivosar/Shutterstock

Clean your fish tank

To remove mineral deposits in a fish tank that were caused by hard water, rub the inside of the tank with salt, then rinse the tank well. Now your tank is ready for re-use. Be careful what variety of fish you populate your tank with; some pet combos just don’t work. And when choosing what type of salt to clean with, be sure to use plain, not iodized, salt to protect the health of the fish who will inhabit the tank.

Crack In The Red CurbMizKitty/Shutterstock

Kill weeds in cement cracks

Cracks in cement allow just enough space for pesky, unattractive grass or weeds to grow—and they are tough to treat with an average weed-whacker. Try sprinkling salt and pouring hot water over the area, instead. The weeds will shrivel, leaving behind a spotless sidewalk or driveway. Discover more natural weed killers that don’t require the use of dangerous chemicals.

Broken egg on ceramic tile. Abstract macro with backlighting and shallow dof.Marie C Fields/Shutterstock

Clean up a dropped egg

You may not cry over spilled milk, but a sticky, broken egg on the floor might be worthy of a few tears. Shake some salt over the mess and leave it alone for 20 minutes. When you come back to it, you’ll be able to clean the egg right up—no scrubbing required. If you think that’s a nifty trick, check out these unusual cleaning uses for sugar.

Woman Drinking Beer Concept. Closeup of Glass of Beer with Red Lipstick Mark. Feminine MoodBlack Salmon/Shutterstock

Remove lipstick marks from glassware

Glassware with leftover lipstick stains can be a major turn-off for houseguests. To get rid of the marks fast, rub the rims with salt and toss the glasses into the dishwasher. They will shine like new in no time, guaranteed. Luckily glasses are not one of the 9 things that should never go in the dishwasher.

Fake jasmine on tableSura Nualpradid/Shutterstock

Hold artificial flowers in place

Salt is a great medium for keeping artificial flowers in the arrangement you want. Fill a vase or other container with salt, add a little cold water, and arrange your artificial flowers. The salt will solidify, helping the flowers stay put. Not a fan of fake flowers? Don’t miss these pro tips on how to fresh flowers last longer.

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Keep clothes from freezing on the line

When it comes to laundry, some things should never go in the dryer. When line-drying the old-fashioned way, try tossing a bit of salt in your next load. The extra blast of sodium will keep your clothes from freezing on the clothesline in cold weather. You can also prevent clothes from sticking to the line by soaking the rope itself in salt.

Big carpenter ants inside the nest, ant workers in colony, MoroccoPavel Krasensky/Shutterstock

End the ant parade

Strange, but true: If ants are beating a path to your home, you can intercept them by sprinkling salt across the door frame or directly on their paths. Ants will be discouraged from crossing this barrier. Here are 12 more ways to get rid of ants.

Close up portrait of a beautiful african american woman face smilingmimagephotography/Shutterstock

Whiten your teeth

There are foods that whiten your teeth, and those that stain them. But brushing your teeth with salt once a week can brighten up your smile. Yes, really! Salt is a gentle and all-natural abrasive, helping to remove stains on your teeth. What’s more, “sea salts can temporarily raise the pH in your mouth, which makes it more difficult for bacteria to thrive” and protects your gums from injury and disease, William Graves, DMD., told SELF.com.

Metal candlestick with burning candles and melting waxKonstantin Tolokonnikov/Shutterstock

Make your own brass and copper polish

When cleaning household items that are silver, take care; there are tricks to polishing silver. To shine your candlesticks or remove green tarnish from copper items, make a paste by mixing equal parts salt, flour, and vinegar. Use a soft cloth to rub this over the item, then rinse with warm, soapy water and buff back to its original shine.

fruits and food concept - close up of apple slicesSyda Productions/Shutterstock

Prevent sliced fruit from turning brown

Keep slices of fresh fruit looking, well, fresh by dipping them in a salt solution—1/8 teaspoon of salt and one cup of water—for a few minutes. Don’t forget to give them a quick rinse in fresh water, or you will be chomping down on salty fruit. The same trick works for potatoes and pears too, according to TODAY. This is what to do with other fruit that’s about to go bad.

Close-up of dustpan and sweeping broom leaning against white wallwavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Freshen up a dirty broom

An old-fashioned broom can still be a homeowner’s best friend—witness 8 things you should never do clean with a Swiffer. But a broom’s bristles can be magnets for dirt and dust. Soaking them in a bucket of hot salty water for 30 minutes will loosen up the grime. Then just wipe them off with an old cloth and leave to dry.

Dirty open oven - messy kitchen, Compulsive Hoarding SyndromIngrid Balabanova/Shutterstock

Wipe away oven spills

Chefs prize salt as an ingredient that can amp up the taste of almost any dish. Well, it can also be used to fix a home cook’s worst nightmare—oven spills. Covering a spill immediately with salt will not only stop smoke and odors from building, but the mess will also be easier to wipe up after the oven cools. For grime that has already been baked on, using a few dishwashing tabs will do the trick.

water flows into a sink in a white sink, a close-up photoAles Munt/Shutterstock

Unclog a drain

Fixing a clogged drain doesn’t necessarily require a plumber. Try this quick DIY fix: Combine 1 cup of salt with 1 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of white vinegar, and then pour it down the drain. Let it sit for 10 minutes before pouring about two liters of boiling water down the drain. Finally, turn on the hot water tap and let it flow; after a few seconds, water should be running freely down the drain. If your problem is a stopped toilet, don’t miss how to unclog a toilet without a plunger.

Four bamboo toothbrushes in a glass with copy space on a wooden backgroundRostislav_Sedlacek/Shutterstock

Extend the life of your toothbrush

The bristles on your toothbrush can last a lot longer with one simple trick. Place a new brush inside a small bowl or cup of hot water and salt—making sure the bristles are fully submerged—and allow it to soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse well with clean water, and your toothbrush is good for another few months. Experts advise replacing your toothbrush every six months, unlike these 5 everyday things that should last a lifetime.

Shirts dirty caused by roll- on deodorant on wooden backgroundTodja/Shutterstock

Brighten sweat-stained clothes

Believe it or not, that white undershirt with yellow persperation stains might not be a lost cause. Sweat-stained garments can be revived by soaking them in a pot of boiling water that’s been seasoned with a few tablespoons of salt and baking soda. Here are more ways to whiten clothes without using bleach.

Close-up view of a man who has a lot of dandruff from his hair on his shirt and shoulders.lunarts_studio/Shutterstock

Scrub away dandruff

When salt can be an effective treatment for dandruff, why bust your budget on expensive shampoo? Simply sprinkle some salt into your scalp, massage your head for five minutes, rinse, then shampoo as usual. The salt will exfoliate the dry skin on your scalp, and your hair will be squeaky clean after you shampoo. Read on for 10 more natural treatments for dandruff.

Ironed shirt hanging from an ironing board next to a hot iron. Selective focus on the ironImpact Photography/Shutterstock

Clean gunk off your iron

Minerals from hard water can accumulate on your iron’s metal plate, and that can translate into stains on your freshly laundered and ironed clothes. To get your iron sparkling clean, turn it on its highest setting, then toss a pinch of table salt onto your ironing board and press the iron over it. This trick should remove any gunk. There’s actually an art to ironing your clothes.

view from the window of a winter forestDmitry Bruskov/Shutterstock

Keep windows frost-free

You probably know that salt will decrease the temperature at which ice freezes. This doesn’t just come in handy for icy roads and sidewalks, though; it can also keep your home’s windows free of frost. Simply wipe them with a sponge dipped in salt water, and then let them dry. But when you’re out of salt, find out how a mixture of soap and alcohol can work.

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Refresh artificial flowers

Artificial flowers—whether they are authentic silk ones or the more common nylon variety—can get dusty and fade over time. But you can refresh them by placing them in a paper bag with 1/4 cup salt. Give the bag a few gentle shakes, and your flowers will emerge as clean as the day you bought them. You can also use a few vacuum cleaner tips to freshen up artificial flowers and plants.

sruilk/Shutterstock

Treat puffy eyes

Eating too much salt can make you puffy, so it may seem counterintuitive that applying salt can be a remedy to swollen eyelids. Pour ½ teaspoon of salt into a cup of hot water and stir well, then soak a few cotton balls in the mixture and press them gently against your eyes. Voila!—puffiness problem solved. Read on for 12 more tips to avoid eye puffiness.

Turkish Drink Ayran or Kefir / Buttermilk made with yogurt.Alp Aksoy/Shutterstock

Extend your milk’s expiration date

When your milk or half-and-half is approaching the carton expiration date, you can keep it fresh a few extra days longer by tossing a bit of salt into the carton and giving it a gentle shake. Some food expire faster than others. Never use these foods after their expiration date.

Drops of blood on a white cloth background.Muangsatun/Shutterstock

Erase blood stains

Blood stains are notoriously tough to remove from linens. Lifehacker recommends soaking the garment in salt water, followed by a wash in hot, soapy water, but we recommend a cold saltwater soak. Here are 11 additional ways to remove blood stains from everyday items.

Dirty Pan After a Dinner on a Table. That was the meal of a Student or a teenagerBenoit Daoust/Shutterstock

Lift food scraps from pots and pans

If your pots and pans are dotted with stubborn food stains, leave them to soak in salt water overnight. The salt will soften and lift almost any kind of residue, making those dishes much easier to clean in the morning. If your pot has been burned, that’s a different story; clean up burned-on food using these two ingredients.

Greasy And Grundy Brown Paper Bag Background Shot Close UpCarolyn Franks/Shutterstock

Clean up grease stains

To say goodbye to grungy grease stains on your carpets and couches mix one part salt to four parts rubbing alcohol and vigorously rub it into the area. In the case of carpets, rub in the direction of its natural nap. The stain should fade away easily. Here are 13 additional tips for removing grease stains from other household items.

Smoke from the chimney, heating. smoke billowing. coming out of a house chimney against a blue sky backgroundKAY4YK/Shutterstock

Clear away chimney soot

When soot builds up in your chimney, shake a generous amount of salt onto the coals after your next fire to boost air circulation, prevent chimney fires, and give flames a yellow glow. Soot builds up in heating ducts too; these simple steps can make your indoor air healthier.

wood cutting board and rusty knifewiwatchai/Shutterstock

Remove rust

Rusty knives make kitchen prep scary. Fear not: you can clean rust stains from knives with just 6 tablespoons of salt and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Combine the two ingredients to create a paste and carefully rub it onto the rusted area using a soft, dry cloth. Rinse well then dry, and your knives will look good as new. Read on for how to restore that rusted cast-iron skillet.

Mosquito sucking bloodLab Photo/Shutterstock

Relieve bug bites

For relief from the itching of mosquito and chigger bites, soak the area in salt water, then apply a coating of lard or vegetable oil. Most bites are just a nuisance, but here are the bug bites you should never ignore.

Fog car windowwildlife_nordic/Shutterstock

De-fog your windshield

Rub a bag of salt on the windshield and windows of your car each winter. The salt will decrease the temperature at which water freezes, keeping the car windows clear of ice or snow. These windshield covers prevent ice and snow from building up on your winter windshield.

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Revive faded linens

Did your favorite shirt fade in the wash? Try this: Dip a washcloth in a strong saltwater solution, wring it out, and rub the garment. Doing so should brighten its colors. This works for faded rugs and curtains, too. If your clothes are consistently fading, it could be a sign you’re using too much laundry detergent.

Modern washing machine near color wall in laundry room interiorNew Africa/Shutterstock

Stop soap spillage

No need to panic over an overflowing washing machine or dishwasher. Stop the suds from spreading by sprinkling salt over the mess until you can grab some extra towels. Consistently overfilling your machine is just one of the ways you’re shortening the life of your washer.

Household Used Broom For Floor Dust Cleaning Leaning on Brick Walligorstevanovic/Shutterstock

Give your new broom a longer life

A new straw broom will last longer if you soak its bristles in a bucket of hot, salty water. After about 20 minutes, remove the broom and let it dry. Every house needs a good broom, because there are many things in your home that should never be vacuumed.

Coffee stain in cup on wood background, with copy spacemangpor2004/Shutterstock

Remove coffee and tea stains from mugs

A bit of salt can make mugs and china cups sparkle like new again; just give each piece a quick scrub with salt and then rinse them in hot water. You’ll never believe these other ordinary household items that can actually be used to remove stains.

Sunburned man. Sunburned heavily, white skin versus very dark red and burnedDmytro Khlystun/Shutterstock

Soothe sunburns

Relieve a painful sunburn by spraying an Epsom salt and water mixture to the burnt area. The salt won’t heal the burn, but it will ease irritation and redness. Try these natural home remedies for sunburns to help you heal fast.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.