So, despite your best efforts (or, let's be real, you just plain forgot to SPF up) this weekend, you OD'ed on outdoor time and now have the painful, seared, angry red skin to prove it. The kind of burn where the mere act of putting cloth against your skin causes you to howl in agony. No fun.
While you may be making vows now about your future sunscreen use, that doesn't do your singed skin any good right now. You need relief and you need it right this second. According to Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, D.C., your first course of action upon realizing you've been burned is to get your pink self out of the sun, pronto. "Drink plenty of water to rehydrate, because a lot of water is lost through the skin, and take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine like Advil," she adds.
While your first instinct might be to slather on the thickest, most hydrating body butter you can find, Dr. Tanzi says to avoid that urge: Thick creams can be occlusive, and actually trap the heat, she says. Instead, apply a light moisturizing lotion, preferably one that's been pre-chilled in the fridge, to cool and hydrate the skin. And, while it might seem played out, according to celebrity aesthetician Joanna Vargas, aloe really is the best post-sun treatment. "The skin keeps burning for hours after you come out of the sun, so you need to stop it by putting aloe gel on it," she says. Having trouble sleeping? Vargas says she has taped open aloe leaves to burn sites on her body to sleep in — she claims it really works to take down inflammation right away.
But aloe, Advil, and water aren't your only (sun)burn triage options — we asked Vargas to help us concoct some at-home, all-natural treatments you can do to soothe and repair your damaged dermis. Click through to see how to take the sting out of your sunburn and pamper your skin, all at the same time.
Soothing Aloe Mask
3 tbsp aloe vera juice
1 tbsp aloe vera gel
2 drops rose oil
Combine ingredients in a small bowl, then apply with cotton ball to damaged area for 20 minutes. Cools the redness and speeds the healing of the skin.
Cooling Yogurt Remedy
1/2 cup yogurt
2 tbsp honey
Apply for 15 minutes, then rinse with tepid water. Honey hydrates while the yogurt takes the inflammation away.
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 avocado, peeled and pitted
Apply for 15 minutes, then rinse with tepid water. Avocado is an anti-inflammatory that hydrates and provides essential vitamins, while the olive oil softens sun damaged skin immediately.
Cucumber Chamomile Compress
1/2 cup chamomile tea
1 tsp rosemary
1 tbsp milk
3 slices cucumber
Apply compress for 20 minutes to affected area. Cucumber cools and takes away inflammation, as does the chamomile, milk, and rosemary.
Illustrated by Gabriela Alford