So You (Eek) Got A Sunburn? Here's How To Heal It, Fast

Nobody is perfect — not even a beauty editor. We may preach the gospel of SPF and slather on the stuff with fervor, but sometimes we slip up. We openly admit that there have been times when, despite our best efforts, we've gotten sunburned — whether it was because of the medication we were on or just that we waited a bit too long to reapply.

So, now what? We asked Santa Monica-based dermatologist Karyn Grossman, MD, how to treat the burn and start healing your skin, ASAP.

Immediately After Your Burn
"The first thing to do is get out of the sun as soon as possible," Dr. Grossman says. "It's amazing how many people who are sunburnt go back out [into the sun]." It's true — just think about how many times you may have gotten a little pink on vacation, and then hit the sand in your bikini the next day. "Your skin has already told you, 'That's enough,'" Dr. Grossman says. "It's time to stop."

This doesn't mean you have to sit indoors while everyone else is out frolicking in the ocean. Go outside — but cover up everything. "Stay under an umbrella, wear a hat," she says. "You need to be totally covered, so your skin gets no more sun."

Once you're out of the sun, Dr. Grossman suggests taking a cool bath spiked with some milk. "Milk proteins help calm your skin," she says. Not into it? Draw yourself an oatmeal bath, which is also super-soothing. (Gold star if you combine the two.) "Also, pick up an over-the-counter cortisone cream and an aloe gel, and apply as needed," she says. "You'll also want to stock up on Advil or Ibuprofen. It decreases inflammation while helping to decrease the pain."

In The Days Following Your Burn
Again, stay the hell out of the sun unless you're covered up. Got it? Good.

Now, stay hydrated. That means drinking a ton of water, but also keeping your skin quenched. "Try an eczema-relief cream — like the ones from Aveeno or Aquaphor — or some coconut oil," says Dr. Grossman. But wait a day or so — putting something like coconut oil on your skin when you've just gotten burned could actually trap heat in the top layer, making the inflammation worse.

When it comes to your skin-care regimen, Dr. Grossman says to strip it down to the bare essentials. "Stay away from exfoliation and active ingredients," she advises. "Your skin has already been traumatized." And if you blister or peel, leave it alone. Your skin is doing its thing to heal itself. Trust the process.

"If you make a mistake and burn, own it and be a part of your solution," Dr. Grossman says. "Then learn from it, so you don't do it again." Sure, it could lead to wrinkles and age spots, but every sunburn you get also increases your risk of skin cancer. "It's a health issue, not a vanity issue," she says. We completely agree.
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