Looking Like A Lobster? Here's Your Ultimate Sunburn Survival Guide

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Slathering on high-SPF sunscreen, and reapplying it every 80 minutes is the best approach to summer. But, sometimes even the most vigilant people end up with the occasional sunburn.

Like any other injury, sunburn requires some very careful treatment. For the quickest, most painless recovery, follow this sunburn survival guide.

Immediately After Your Burn

Once you realize you've overdone it, pop some ibuprofen. It will act as an anti-inflammatory and reduce the swelling, pain, and redness a bit.

Next, take a cool bath spiked with some milk, as the fat and proteins in milk help to calm your skin. An oatmeal bath will also feel very soothing. If you don't have access to either of these things, a cold compress will help to cool down your skin and reduce the puffiness.

Pick up an over-the-counter cortisone cream and aloe gel as well, and apply it as needed.

The Days Following Your Burn

Remember, sunburn can lead to severe dehydration. Be sure to keep your fluid levels up with water and h2o-packed foods (think: fruits, veggies, etc.). Keep your skin quenched as well. Creams with antioxidants, like vitamins C and E are your friend. Plus, something with soy or aloe gives an extra boost of healing power.

Stay Away From:

  • Fragranced or chemically-based products, as they can actually irritate the skin more. 
  • The sun, unless you're covered up.
  • Exfoliants. Your skin's already been through enough.
  • Hot showers. Steaming hot water can actually make sunburn worse.

While you can't avoid peeling, you can make it as painless as possible by simply staying moisturized. Here's a few great options for you to use.

COOLA ER+ Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion $32 (Sephora)
KORRES After Sun Greek Yoghurt Cooling Gel for Face and Body $26 (Sephora)
CLINIQUE After Sun Rescue Balm with Aloe $24.50 (Ulta)

The worse your sunburn is, the more likely you are to experience an itchy phase of healing. If this happens, you'll want to: wear light, breathable fabrics, use a cortisone cream or skin-calming oatmeal bath, or even take a low dosage of children's Benadryl.

Long After Your Burn

Ultraviolet light damages the skin, which can ultimately lead to premature aging or even skin cancer. In other words: sun damage sticks around long after the sunburn fades. So, you're going to want to continue treatment longterm. 

Antioxidant-rich products (like those below) are a great choice for counteracting UV-induced damage. They help to stimulate collagen production, lighten sunspots, and lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Neova DNA Total Repair $99 (Neova)
Elizabeth Arden RX Triple Protection Factor SPF 50 $56 (dermpro)
Dr. Brandt Xtend Your Youth Face Cream $59 (dermstore)
dermalogica Intensive Moisture Balance $43 (dermalogica)

Let's face it: sunburn is inevitable sometimes. Even the best of us end up with red splotchy skin, no matter how vigilant we are with SPF usage. But, fortunately, sunburn survival isn't as hard as it seems. Follow these simple guidelines, and you should feel better in no time. However, if your sunburn blisters or doesn't seem to go away after weeks, consult your doctor or dermatologist.