Hopefully by now you know all about the dangers of the sun and you're lubing up with your shot-glass of sunscreen whenever you venture outside. But even with the best of intentions, many of us will face an occasional sunburn here and there. Below are some tips to help minimize the pain and walk away almost unscathed.
1. Cool it off fast. Skin care expert, Paula Begoun, recommends applying cool (not cold or icy) water to the burn immediately and then reapplying on and off for several hours. Allure editors say you can also soak in cool water bath -- just be sure to avoid harsh soaps, bubble bath and any fragranced skin care products.
2. Apply soothing aloe. The aloe vera plant is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help calm a painful sunburn. It also has moisturizing properties to help you avoid the tell-tale peeling that come along with a sunburn. Experts recommend using a pure aloe gel rather than an aloe-based lotion.
3. OTC meds can help with the pain. Experts say an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, like aspirin or ibuprofen, helps to reduce pain and swelling.
4. Protect from further damage. Antioxidants protect against free radical damage caused by the sun. Allure editors suggest applying antioxidant face creams and body lotions after the sunburn has calmed and the peeling has subsided. Mary Lupo, MD, a dermatologist in New Orleans, tells Shape magazine that increasing vitamin C intake can also help.
5. Try some natural, home remedies. Sometimes those old wives' tales work better than anything else. Not all of the home remedies you hear about have been proven, but it doesn't hurt to try. Check out this article from Prevention magazine for lots of tips and tricks with ingredients you can find in your cupboards.
6. Take a break from the sun. Don't add fuel to the fire by going back into the sun. Editors at Allure magazine say your skin needs a couple of days off to recover. At the very least, wear protective clothing, such as a hat, and broad-spectrum sunscreen.
7. Don't repeat. Study after study shows that unprotected sun exposure leads to skin cancer, sun spots and premature aging. Any color from the sun -- whether it be bronze or red-- is evidence of injury to the skin. In order to protect your skin and keep it youthful, wear adequate protection and reapply it frequently. For sunscreen recommendations and application tips, see our sunscreen report.