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We’ve all been there before: You apply sunscreen before heading to the beach and then proceed to fall asleep on your towel with the sound of the waves crashing behind you. Meaning, you totally didn’t reapply sunscreen after two hours and now you have a red, painful sunburn. Ouch! While you know how important it is to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher each day, no one’s perfect—slip-ups do happen sometimes. The good news is, there are steps you can take to help care for sunburned skin—as well as prevent yourself from getting another one. Below, your complete guide to handling a sunburn.
If you’re outside and realize you have a sunburn, the Skin Cancer Foundation advises getting inside, ASAP. You don’t want to expose your skin to any more sun right now.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), one of the simplest ways to help get relief from a fresh sunburn is by taking frequent cold baths and showers. Just avoid staying in the tub for too long, which can be drying—and avoid harsh soap, which could irritate your skin further. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that you can also apply a cold compress.
After hopping out of the shower, don’t completely towel off. Instead, gently pat your skin dry and apply a moisturizer to damp skin, which the AAD says can help ease sunburn-related dryness.
Aloe vera has been used since ancient times—and there’s a reason why it’s stood the test of time. Most commonly, aloe vera is used to help provide soothing relief for sunburns.
Putting tight clothes on over a sunburn doesn’t sound enjoyable, does it? The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests wearing loose, soft, breathable clothing so that you can avoid further skin irritation.
This one might sound obvious, but it’s worth repeating! Whether or not you have a sunburn, you should always seek shade, especially during the sun’s peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If your sunburn is particularly intense, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends seeking medical attention. Not sure? It’s always a good idea to play it safe.
We all forget to wear sunscreen from time to time, but applying one should be at the top of your list of skin care priorities. As well know, when you spend time in the sun without protection, you can get burned—and this can also lead to damage, which can lead to visible signs of aging down the road, like dark spots and wrinkles. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and toss it in your bag so that you always have it on hand for reapplication. Broad-spectrum sunscreen can help protect against both UVA rays (the ones that cause damage) and UVB rays (the ones that burn).
If you tend to skip out on the sunscreen because you just don’t have time in the A.M., use a moisturizer formulated with broad-spectrum sunscreen to cut down on the number of steps in your skin care routine. Try the L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Bright Reveal Brightening Day Lotion SPF 30. If you’re going to be spending an extended amount of time outside, try setting an alert on your phone so that you don’t forget to reapply every two hours.
Tanning is a skin care no-no—but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo golden color. Just use a self-tanner instead! The L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze™ Self-Tanning Towelettes for Body are quick, convenient, and offer smooth, even application. Plus, they’re individually wrapped so you can use them on the go! Just make sure to cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize before use. You can use a towelette once a day until you reach your desired level of tan, then once or twice a week to maintain the results.