Looking for the best remedies for how to heal a sunburn? 1) We’re sorry! Please wear SPF next time. 2) We’re sharing our favorite tips and cures, right here.
Ouch. You just got back from a super relaxing beach day and now you’re dealing with something that’s the complete opposite of nice and peaceful. Sure, you diligently slathered on your SPF before you plopped down into your beach chair…but then the day got away from you. Or maybe you didn’t even slather SPF on at all, because you thought you’d get a “base tan” first. Either way, now the intense pain of a sunburn greets your entire body and it’s not fun. It’s time to learn how to heal a sunburn.
Before we show you how to ease that pain, it’s important to know exactly what happens to your skin when it gets burned by the sun. A sunburn occurs when the sun’s UVB (burning) rays penetrate the skin and cause DNA damage, which then sends your body into defense mode. Your body’s defense is what you associate with a sunburn: redness, pain, heat, peeling and itchiness.
So, what to do? Read on to learn how to relieve the pain fast and start your skin on its much-needed road to recovery. And most importantly, we teach you how to prevent that sunburn from ever happening again. Here are the best tips on how to heal a sunburn:
First, cool down your skin.
A sunburn means your skin is inflamed and distressed, so you’ll need to cool it down ASAP to temper the irritation and help soothe the burn. One of the best ways to do this is by applying cold liquids directly to the skin.
If you have milk in your fridge, grab it! Soak a washcloth in it and gently press it onto your burn. Milk contains lots of vitamins, including vitamins A and D, which are antioxidants that help repair skin faster.
If you’ve reached the point of peeling, don’t pick it!
Everyone’s been tempted at one point or another to peel their flaky, sunburned skin. Please don’t do this! Your skin is taking its time to peel for a reason: it was burned, and the damaged cells were told by your body to die so that they can be replaced by new, healthy cells. So if you peel off this skin before it’s ready to come off naturally, then you’re disrupting this whole natural process. And this part should go without saying, but leave blisters alone, too.
Take cool showers and drink lots of water.
You may like taking hot showers, but nothing will hurt your sunburn more than warm water. You’ll help reduce the inflammation if you use water on the cooler side (and it will probably feel much better). Also, drink a lot more water than you usually do. The moisture has just been sucked out of your skin by the sun and you’re likely to be dehydrated.
Grab the aloe and skin-soothing products (but look at the ingredients on the bottle).
You’ve heard this “how to heal a sunburn 101” tip before about applying aloe vera to a fresh sunburn, and it’s a good one! The thing you’ll want to keep in mind, though, is that not all aloe vera gels are created equal. A lot of them have extra chemicals in the formula that can actually irritate your burn. You’ll want to stick to a 100% pure aloe vera gel, or even better, aloe vera straight from the plant’s leaves.
Also, don’t hesitate to apply other skincare products that have soothing ingredients in them, like milk, honey or cucumber. Just avoid heavy creams and stick to gels that are lightweight so that your skin can still breathe. And definitely avoid both chemical and physical exfoliation until your skin is fully healed.
And now…drumroll, please…here’s how to never, ever get a sunburn again. Enter: sunscreen rules for the beach, pool and a day of sightseeing.
Now that you’ve dealt with the pain and agony of a sunburn and learned how to heal a sunburn, you’ll make sure you never get one again, right? Great! While you should be wearing sunscreen every single day (and reapplying every two hours), it’s extra important to diligently wear sunscreen when you’re out in direct sunlight for hours upon hours. Not only will this prevent future sunburns, it will also seriously lessen your chance of developing skin cancer and signs of aging.
Stick to these sunscreen rules next time you’re having major fun in the sun:
- Use SPF 30 or higher – It’s imperative to use a sunscreen with a high SPF number (SPF measures the amount of UVB “burning” rays). You’ll be much better off using SPF 30 to 50 instead of anything lower when you’re in direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time.
Here’s why: When you use a sunscreen with SPF 30, it means your skin is protected from 97% of UVB rays (and SPF 50 means your skin is protected from 98% of UVB rays). If you use a sunscreen with SPF 15, your skin is only protected from 93% of UVB rays––and when you’re out in the sun all day long, that simply isn’t enough.
Our Everyday Sunscreen SPF 50 is an ideal choice for keeping your face and body fully protected. Even better, it doesn’t smell or feel like your average high-protection sunscreen. You can also check out our Super Power Sunscreen Mousse SPF 50 for a lightweight, foam-like application. Or try our two popular mists: Antioxidant-Infused Sunscreen Mist with Vitamin C in either SPF 30 or SPF 50, or 100% Mineral Sunscreen Mist SPF 30. Both absorb quickly for a no-fuss, full-body application.
- Use a broad spectrum and water-resistant sunscreen – On top of making sure your SPF number is high enough, it’s important that your sunscreen contains broad spectrum protection. Broad spectrum means that the actives in the sunscreen will protect you from both UVB and UVA rays. Quick refresher: UVB rays are those that cause burning, while UVA (aging) rays go deeper and can cause aging, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. Thankfully, all Supergoop! products contain broad spectrum protection.
If you’re going to be swimming or sweating, it’s super important that your sunscreen is water-resistant. FYI: “Water-resistant” doesn’t mean that your sunscreen is waterproof, as there’s no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen. The best protection a sunscreen can give you is resistance to water or sweat for a certain amount of time (either 40 or 80 minutes). Our Everyday Sunscreen SPF 50 is water- and sweat-resistant for 80 minutes and our Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 is water- and sweat-resistant for 40 minutes.
- Apply enough sunscreen – No sunscreen is useful unless you’re applying the right amount, and most people don’t apply nearly enough, especially when they’re outside in direct sunlight. In order to get complete protection, you should always apply a quarter-size amount to your face and one ounce (read: a full shot glass) to your body.
- Get sunscreen on every single part of your body that’s exposed – Have the tops of your feet ever been sunburned? It’s only when it’s too late that we realize all the places we forgot to put sunscreen. Keep these spots in mind when you’re applying your sunscreen (especially at the beach): the tops and bottoms of your feet, your ears, the tip of your nose, your hands, your eyes and lips and your scalp. And don’t forget to get all the spots underneath your bathing suit, too! Our SPF mists are perfect for getting all those hard-to-reach spots.
- Reapply every two hours and right away after swimming or sweating – Sunscreen isn’t a one-and-done deal; you absolutely must reapply it every two hours for full protection. In fact, we often don’t put enough on at first to get the full SPF protection listed on the bottle, so the only way to make sure you’re truly getting adequate SPF 30 or SPF 50 protection is by applying multiple layers of SPF every two hours. Sunscreen also naturally fades and gets absorbed by the skin over time, which means you’ve got to keep reapplying to stay protected throughout the day.
If you plan on going swimming, make sure to apply a good amount of water-resistant SPF before you hit the water, then reapply generously right after you get out. (The same goes for after you’ve been sweating, too.)
- Stay underneath shade as much as possible and wear a hat – Even with sunscreen protection, you should try to stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Wear wide-brimmed hats to protect your face and scalp, and stay under the umbrella when you’re at the beach.
+Do you have a genius tip on how to heal a sunburn faster? Share it in the comments!