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How to Save Your Skin After a Sunburn


Chances are, you know that sun exposure is one of the major contributors to anti-aging. You also likely use a daily SPF to ensure that your face steers clear of the harmful UVA and UVB rays that contribute to signs of aging (and if you don’t, you should). 

But unfortunately, when summer comes around, sometimes we slip up when it comes to protecting our skin. 

It happens to the best of us, so there’s no need to beat yourself up, but it is important to care for your skin properly post-sunburn (and even post suntan) to reduce the damage as much as possible. And of course, double (or triple) your daily SPF application to ensure that a sunburn doesn’t happen again! 

Before we get into how to treat your skin, let’s talk about what a sunburn actually does to your skin. 

Essentially, a sunburn is your skin signaling to you that severe damage has been done from overexposure to UV rays.

The redness comes from dilating blood vessels, the tightness and dryness comes from your skin losing moisture.  

Even when you solely get a deep tan and not necessarily a burn, the darkening color is a sign of damage. Your skin’s outer layer (the epidermis) will also thicken, which can result in clogged pores and acne.

If your skin starts peeling, it’s likely a sign of a second-degree sunburn. The peeling is your body’s way of getting rid of the damaged skin cells that have the potential to cause harm later down the line.

It can be tempting to exfoliate away the dead skin cells (or simply pick them), but the best line of attack is moisturizing. Peeling at it yourself can just cause more damage.


Ingredients to Apply  

Whether you’ve gotten tan, sunburnt, or are in the peeling stages after serious overexposure, here are the ingredients you want to have in your arsenal after a day of fun in the sun:


Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is probably what you first think of when you think sunburn, and for good reason.

The plant can decrease inflammation, itchiness, pain, and swelling. Plus, the polysaccharides in Aloe vera can help repair damaged skin cells and expedite the formation of new ones.

You can purchase Aloe vera in a gel, in a moisturizing cream, or you can even buy your own Aloe vera plant!


Hyaluronic Acid

Whether you have a sunburn, a sun tan, or just naturally dry skin, hyaluronic acid is great for a boost of moisture.

Hyaluronic acid also promotes cell renewal—which means your skin will look back to normal sooner rather than later.

Regardless of the season, having a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid is a great way to keep your skin soft, supple, and hydrated. Try our Hydra Qwench Moisturizing Night Cream to hydrate your skin while you sleep with a soothing lavender scent.


Coconut Oil

After a sunburn, you’ll want to moisturize as much and as often as possible, but not all moisturizers are created equal. Some moisturizers simply sit on top of your skin rather than actually penetrating the deeper skin layers.

If hyaluronic acid isn’t your thing, good ol’ coconut oil is another great (and cost efficient) option.

Some coconut oils have a natural SPF rating of 5-10, which of course is much less than the recommended SPF 50, but not too shabby for when you need extra sun protection under your sunscreen.


Jojoba Oil

This natural, iodine-rich liquid wax from the jojoba plant was used by Egyptians and Native Americans as a healing treatment for injuries. Today, you can absolutely still use it to care for your sunburn-related injuries.  

Because jojoba oil naturally contains vitamin E, it will reduce inflammation, flaking, and peeling while providing some pain relief. You can also simply purchase straight vitamin E from your local drugstore, as it will help heal your skin.


Other Tips

Avoid tight clothing

Loose, comfortable clothing is your BFF while nursing a sunburn. Tight garments can be painful and irritating,


Take an anti-inflammatory

If moisturizer and cold compresses aren’t giving you enough relief, try taking an anti-inflammatory like Advil or Alleve. Just be sure to take these as needed rather than relying on them.  


Drink lots of water 

In addition to slathering on hydrating creams and oils, moisturize your thirsty skin from the inside by drinking lots of water.


Take a cold shower

This might not sound super pleasant, but with the combined summer heat and warmth from your sunburn, a cool shower or ice bath may help cool you down and alleviate some of the pain and burning sensation you may be feeling. 

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