So, you’ve got a sunburn and want to know how to get rid of it. The first thing you need to know is that sunburn is technically a skin lesion that you will need to treat with plenty of patience and a little help from cosmetics. We’ve got you covered with our selection of the best sunburn creams and a few tips on how you can accelerate the process of healing your skin.
But first, let’s look at the sunburn itself:
How bad is sunburn?
The burn itself is usually not serious (the exception to this is, of course, sunstroke). Sunburn can be painful and will probably make you avoid the sun like the plague for a week–if you’re on vacation, that will mean changing your plans.
The real danger of sunburn is the amount of damage your skin cells have been exposed to. Think about it: sun radiation is a known carcinogen. If you got so much radiation on your skin that it got burned, that it is a sign that the DNA of your cells has suffered relevant damage. If you have a history of sunburn, please always check your skin for moles that are atypical and have a mole check every year with a doctor.
How long does sunburn last?
It really depends on how bad it was. If you got a bit of redness and nothing else, in three days you will probably no longer have anything. However, if the sunburn was really bad, it can last for more than a week–and the associated pigmentation can last for months.
So, how do you know if you have a “bad” sunburn? Usually, the sunburned area will look extremely red and angry. Try touching the area: if it feels extremely hot even hours after sun exposure, or if it hurts to the touch, you have a serious case on your hands.
Please remember that if you have signs of sunstroke (fever or mental confusion, for example) you need to check in with your doctor, asap.
As we’ve mentioned, sunburn is a skin lesion. Your skin is going through an inflammation process, and it’s important to do whatever you can to support it. Part of that will include finding the best sunburn cream for your needs–but that’s not at all there is to it!
How to cool down a sunburn
The most important part of treating a sunburn is making sure you don’t make things worse than they already are. This means getting out of the sun, totally. No, applying sunscreen won’t block all radiation–you really need to get out of the sun.
Eeven though sunburn is caused by solar radiation, it progresses the same way as any other burn.
The first thing you need to do is ensure you cool down the burned area. Ideally, running cold water over it for at least 10 minutes is the way to go. Yes, it will be extremely uncomfortable, because your skin will be super hot and it will feel like the water is icy. However, this is necessary to ensure that you cool down the skin and stop it from getting worse.
Then, it’s time to apply a healing lotion:
How to find the best sunburn cream for you
We’ve mentioned your skin has an inflammation process going on, so you need to make sure your skin is as healthy as possible in order to heal. We’re put together a list of must-have products to ensure you support your skin throughout this healing process:
- Cooling gel (or cooling lotion);
- Repairing cream;
- Cooling mist;
- Gentle cleanser.
Taking care of your skin will speed up recovery, but please keep in mind that it will hardly remove redness from sunburn overnight.
Start with the cooling gel–ideally, apply it immediately after cooling down the skin with water. These cooling products usually contain calming extracts such as aloe. Our favorite is Caladryl Derma After Sun and Erythema SOS Gel because it both cools down the skin and helps with itching. Some after-sun creams can also be used for this, and Piz Buin Cooling Lotion is perfect and refreshing.
Now that your skin feels cooler, it’s time to help with the healing with a repairing cream. We always love a good Centella asiatica cream for these situations, and Bioderma Cicabio Creme is perfect for healing burns.
If you’re looking for a solution to make your skin feel better throughout the day, we love a good healing and cooling mist. One great example is Sensilis the Cool Rescue Mist. Sure, it says that it’s for cooling sensitive skin on the face, but you can use it all over your body–the bottle contains 150ml and it’s super affordable.
Finally, pay attention to the products you use to cleanse your skin as it recovers from sunburn. Aggressive or heavily fragranced washing lotions will make your life harder. Pestle & Mortar Balance Spritz is a fragrance-free formula that applies like a dream, with the finest mist spray you’ll ever try.
We hope we have helped you through what is a hard process sometimes. Finding the best sunburn cream is not always easy, but there are lots of offers. Keep in mind that the best way to handle a sunburn is not getting it at all. Feel free to browse our selection of sunscreen posts to find the one you can use every day.
Pharmacy Technician & Beauty Writer