Published on July 31, 2019

A beach day is all fun and games—until you realize that you forgot to reapply your sunscreen after your dip in the ocean. Now, in spite of your best intentions, you’re stuck with a sunburn that makes virtually everything a little painful. There’s no point beating yourself up about it—now, you just have to make sure to take the right steps to help it heal as quickly as possible.

Before you slather on the aloe, read New York City dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman’s step-by-step advice—and next time, just remember to reapply every two hours to keep yourself protected. 

What should you do immediately?

“Don’t panic! Rinse off with cool or lukewarm water, and if your whole body is affected, consider a diluted apple cider vinegar bath to calm inflammation. Then, load up on antioxidants to neutralize the free-radical exposure—try Bio-Oil for your body and Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules for your face. Both are packed with vitamins A and E, which work with the skin to promote cell regeneration. Ibuprofen or naproxen (aka: Aleve) will also help minimize inflammation and pain.” 

What about makeup over a burn?

“Extremely burned skin is damaged and needs time to heal. Stay away from any makeup, especially glittery products, as well as physical exfoliators that can damage your weakened skin barrier. (No scrubs allowed!) If you must use makeup, consider Cover FX’s Custom Drops, which can be mixed with moisturizer, or Mineral Compacts for buildable powder coverage.”

What should you do about peeling?

“It’s tempting to try to hurry up the process, but you risk getting an infection if you expose the skin underneath before it’s ready. Instead, help it heal by moisturizing it.” [Editor’s note: This is an especially good time to use a lotion without parabens, sulfates, and artificial scents due to the skin’s sensitivity. Pai’s Calendula Calming Body Cream is a great choice, since calendula is anti-inflammatory.]

Is one sunburn really bad for your skin long-term?

“The best thing you can do for your skin is to protect it—from the sun and pollution. Studies show that suffering one or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chances of developing potentially deadly melanoma later in life. My patients often associate a sunburn as an immediate reaction, but damage from the sun occurs over a lifetime and can cause wrinkles, sagging, and even melanoma.”

If your skin needs some extra soothing, try these products.

See more skincare:
The New (Under-$20!) Skincare Line That’ll Rival Glossier
Watch Out, Trader Joe’s—Everything in This Brand’s Beauty Section Is $3
Bar None: Shampoo’s Latest Form Is Perfect for Summer Travel

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