There are two things we’re sure of.
- Daily sun protection is completely essential. Use SPF! Wear hats! Find shade! Always! You can never be too careful when protecting your skin from UV and the damage it causes.
- Sometimes, slip ups - and sunburns - still happen. It’s annoying and inconvenient and we very much suggest doing everything in your power to avoid it, but if you’ve managed to get burnt, there are some things you can do to help soothe your skin.
With that in mind, we’ve asked Dermal Therapist Yadira Cauchi to talk us through the whole thing on the condition you promise to never let it happen again. Deal? Deal!
Let’s get into it.
The Healing Process
First things first. You need to know what you’re up against.The duration of your sunburn will differ for everyone, depending on how severe your burn will be. Yads notes that mild sunburn typically lasts three days, moderate (the kind where your skin starts to peel) can be closer to five days, and severe can last over a week.
Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to speed up that timeline, either. However it is possible to prevent it getting worse by “looking after your skin, upping your hydration, wearing SPF, staying out of the sun and making sure you rest."
What You Can Do To Soothe Sunburnt Skin
Okay, it’s time to heal! While this won’t necessarily speed up recovery (sorry), it will help calm irritation and replenish your irritated skin. Yadira recommends a four-step-process.
1. Cool Off
“Spending too much time in the heat can cause all sorts of issues for your skin,” says Yadira, noting that redness and dehydration are both typical. “You will want to reduce the heat in your skin by cooling it down. You can do this with ice, cool face cloths, jade rollers, or even with a bag of frozen veggies you might have hiding in your freezer – depending on the area that’s been overly exposed of course!”
2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
When your skin has turned bright red, you may think sun damage is purely on the outside, but that’s not true. You should be working on calming your skin from the inside out, advises Yadira.
“If you do end up sunburnt you have effectively compromised your skin barrier and therefore your skin will lose hydration,” she notes. “It’s important to drink adequate amounts of water post too much sun exposure and re-hydrate the skin gently.”
3. Give Your Skin Time To Heal
Don’t forget that sun burnt skin is damaged skin. Your skin is red and raw and is going to need some time to heal. That’s normal! Take a step back from your usual routine and give your skin what it needs to heal right now.
“Post sun is not the time to use any type of abrasive scrub, chemical exfoliants or cleansers that might irritate your skin further,” explains Yadira. “It is very important to give your skin the time it needs to heal and repair itself – and yes, this may mean staying out of the sun completely.”
“It is never a good idea to expose damaged/sun burnt skin to the sun,” Yadira tells us, recommending you cover up completely - or as much as possible - and making sure to layer up with SPF whenever you’re outdoors.
The Skin Care You Should Reach For While Sunburnt
Sunburnt skin will very much appreciate some serious moisture. “Look for one with ingredients such as ceramides or oat that are thick, creamy and soothing,” suggests Yadira. Keeping on top of your application is always a good idea. Aim to reapply three or so times a day to help replenish your irritated skin.
We couldn’t end an article about sunburn if we didn’t mention the OG skin soother, aloe vera. “Aloe-vera based products are great to soothe sunburn and they are well loved for their anti-inflammatory and cooling effects for post-sun skin,” Yadira tells us. Slather it on and then follow with moisturiser to help calm restore your skin.
Note! If you’re severely sunburnt or require specialised skin advice, always ALWAYS chat to a doctor first.