So, we all know that sunburn is something that should be avoided at all costs. I mean, at this point, using sunscreen is a no-brainer. Plus, we know the havoc exposing ourselves to sun damage can wreak on our skin, in addition to all the other summertime skin mistakes that you may be making.
But even the folks who are on their sunscreen A-game sometimes walk away from the beach a little (or a lot) burnt. Whether every nook and cranny on your back wasn’t covered in sunscreen (lookin’ at you, significant others) or a new layer wasn’t applied in time, the fact of the matter is: Shit happens. So, for if a sunburn shows up your body, despite your diligent care to avoid it, we asked three Philly skincare pros to spill on their top tips and tricks for treating, healing and dealing with it. Below, Ashley Richardson, esthetician and owner of Green City Beauty, Emily Watson, esthetician and founder of BeautyxEdit, and Naomi Fenlin, owner of About Face Skincare and certified medical esthetician, have shared their dos and dont’s of sunburn care.
Do act fast
As soon as you spot some redness, it will best suit you to get out of the sun and start treating it immediately. Richardson prioritizes timely intervention to “help to reduce the amount of damage being done to the skin’s cells, which will help the skin heal itself as quickly as possible.”
Do hit up CVS for some Aleve
Immediately following a sunburn — so like, when you realize how red you actually are — the experts say it’s best to reach for some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs because, girlllll, your skin is all sorts of inflamed and you’ve got to calm it down. Fenlin’s go-to is Aleve, but mentioned Advil and Motrin as being equally trusty. Fenlin says your OTC anti-inflammatory of choice will “help with your discomfort by minimizing your skin’s inflammatory response to the sun.”
Don’t reach for Aquaphor (or coconut oil, or butter, or honey)
Fenlin suggests avoiding these products and any other old wives tales regarding sunburns. “All of these things will trap your body’s heat and exacerbate your discomfort.” And that’s what we’re trying to avoid, right? Instead, Richardson suggests reaching for some good ol’ fashioned aloe or this Rescue and Relief Spray from CV Labs. “Because it’s a spray, it’s especially helpful after a sunburn because you don’t have to rub anything in,” she says.
Do pamper yourself with a fancy-schmancy cooling mask or cool bath
SkinCeuticals PhytoCorrective Masque is Naomi Fenlin’s pick for a mask, while Richardson and Watson are both fans of a nice cool bath to cool down your skin, for comfort’s sake. Just make sure to pat your skin dry, rather than rubbing it with a towel, which will only make matters worse.
Don’t forget to moisturize
On the eve of your burn, and the next few nights, while your skin is still all sorts of red and painful, Watson says to gently moisturize the skin with an unscented lotion (her picks are Cerave or Cetaphil). But even after the burn your skin has returned to its normal hue, Watson says, “The underlying skin has been compromised and it’s still delicate,” so continue moisturize any sensitive areas.
Do keep your water bottle close
“Skin cells are the body’s natural defense to moisture loss, but UV rays impede this function, putting you at risk for dehydration,” says Watson, who suggests adding a squeeze of lemon or lime into your water to spice up your daily dose of eight glasses a day. Fenlin adds that drinking tons of water will help keep your skin primed to heal and regenerate itself.
Don’t you DARE pick your face
Pickers, you know who you are — don’t do it! “Our skin has a natural repair process, and when it’s ready to shed damaged skin, it will,” Watson shares. And, despite the fact that picking is super satisfying, “Picking your skin off before it’s ready complicates the healing process and prolongs your suffering,” says Fenlin. As a precautionary step, Watson suggests patting moisturizer onto your sun-burnt areas rather than rubbing it on to prevent rubbing off skin unintentionally.
Don’t pile on the make up
Hasn’t your skin been through enough? Watson suggests giving your skin a break from things like fragrance-laced makeup and other chemicals-laden products, which can inhibit the healing process. But not everyone can confidently walk around bare-faced so, if you MUST use face makeup, Watson suggests using “a tinted moisturizer rich in antioxidants and free of synthetic fragrances and other irritants like, Juice Beauty’s Stem Cellular CC Cream, which also contains SPF for added protection.”
Do pay attention to your plate
“When UV rays hit the skin, they produce damaging free radicals that impede normal cell function. I’m a big believer in beauty from the inside out and antioxidant-rich foods like fruits and veggies capture these rogue atoms and prevent premature aging,” says Watson, who grazes on summer berries and tomatoes to boost her antioxidant count. Richardson reminds us that antioxidants can be found in skincare products as well so, when it comes to moisturizers, she suggests looking for products with ingredients like ceramides or antioxidants such as Vitamin C or E, which she says can help to address inflammation.
Do pay attention to the area well after the redness has faded
As Fenlin reminds us, “A history of sunburns — one or more blistering sunburns before the age of 18, or recurrent sunburns as an adult — increase your risk of developing skin cancer.” Watson, a big advocate of frequent skin checks, adds, “Early detection of suspicious lesions can be the difference between cancer and no cancer.” She encourages your to inform your dermatologist of any areas that were burned in the past so they pay close attention to those spots during the exam.