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Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment
If you have a tub, take a relaxing, cool soak with Aveeno's Soothing Bath Treatment, which contains 100 percent natural colloidal oatmeal. "It's a great anti-inflammatory ingredient, and the skin will feel more comfortable and look less red if you spend at least 20 to 30 minutes in a cool oatmeal bath," Ciraldo says.
Besides moisturizing skin and bolstering skin repair, Michelle Henry, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City, adds that colloidal oatmeal can also soothe what is known as "the Hell's itch — an extremely painful, unrelenting itch that may happen, though very rarely, a few days after the sunburn." Just when you thought it couldn't get worse.
Oh, and if you're a staunch shower person, Ciraldo also points out the benefits of a cool rinse, which lowers the amount of blood flow into injured skin layers.
$7 (Shop Now)
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Eau Thermale Avène Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream
Eau Thermale Avène's Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream comes to the rescue for many scenarios, including razor burns, stitches, diaper rash, and — you guessed it — sunburns. Ingredients like sucralfate and zinc oxide form a barrier on top of skin to provide further irritation and "activate the skin's microbiome to heal damaged skin," Mona Gohara, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale, tells Allure. "These little powerhouses called beta defensins start the signaling process for skin cells to regenerate themselves." Consider this a catalyst for your sunburn-healing process.
$28 (Shop Now)
- 3 / 9
Cortizone 10 Maximum Strength Anti-Itch Creme
Gohara says nothing gets past Cortizone 10 Maximum Strength Anti-Itch Creme, a truly beloved staple that contains one percent hydrocortisone to reduce swelling and itching on a short-term basis. If it doesn't help, you might have to consult a dermatologist for a stronger prescription.
Jessie Cheung, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Cheung Aesthetics and Wellness in Chicago, adds that aspirin and other over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, can also ease discomfort and redness by decreasing the inflammatory response.
$4 (Shop Now)
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- 4 / 9
Burt's Bees Baby Diaper Rash Ointment
Gohara recommends popping diaper rash cream, like Burt's Bees Baby Diaper Rash Ointment, into the fridge, and then applying it to your burn. She says zinc oxide is good for skin-barrier repair, and this formula has a 40 percent strength — plus sweet almond oil and shea butter to seal in moisture.
$8 (Shop Now)
- 5 / 9
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
Henry stresses the importance of replenishing your skin's fluids, both internally and externally, while it's fighting the damage caused by UV rays. So besides drinking ample amounts of water, Henry recommends gently patting your skin during showers and quickly slathering a gentle moisturizer while your skin is still a little damp to help lock in moisture. She likes the CeraVe line, including the ceramide-rich CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, and says to "continue moisturizing your skin even during the peeling stage of a sunburn."
$16 (Shop Now)
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Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating 100% Hydrogel Mask
Gohara is a fan of dipping a hydrating sheet mask, like Neutrogena's Hydro Boost Hydrating 100% Hydrogel Mask, in cold whole milk. The proteins found in dairy are anti-inflammatory and calm redness, and slapping on a sheet mask is convenient and probably already a part of your skin-care routine. It doesn't have to be for your face only — you can easily shift the mask around and target other areas, too.
- 7 / 9
Amara Beauty Aloe Vera Gel
If you happen to have an aloe vera leaf that you can cut and scoop sap out from, amazing. For everyone else, Henry recommends Amara Beauty's Aloe Vera Gel, or any 100 percent pure aloe product you can find at your local drugstore. "The cooling effect of the gel from this cactus plant can speed up the healing of first- and second-degree burns," she says. Just make sure to avoid buying anything that contains alcohol, as she says it can negate aloe's moisturizing and soothing effects.
$18 (Shop Now)
- 8 / 9
Cannuka After Sun Care
Unlike most of the products in this roundup, Cannuka's After Sun Care is a cooling gel specifically formulated to soothe sunburnt skin. "This has the 'kitchen sink' of skin-calming ingredients,"
Ciraldo notes. "The combination of CBD (derived from hemp), manuka honey, and aloe vera calms and soothes the skin, while hyaluronic acid hydrates peeling skin." Go forth and get some instant relief.
$38 (Shop Now)
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Isdin Isdinceutics Flavo-C Ultraglican Daily Antioxidant Serum
Cheung recommends applying a topical vitamin C, like Isdin's Isdinceutics Flavo-C Ultraglican Daily Antioxidant Serum, which has been "shown to counteract some of the DNA damage [caused by UV rays]." She likes this particular serum because it comes in small ampoules, so the vitamin C is fresh with each application and doesn't lose stability with constant exposure to light and air.
New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Howard Sobel previously told Allure that, due to its highly acidic nature, vitamin C triggers the skin "to heal itself by accelerating the production of collagen and elastin," so skin stays firm and plump.
If you'd like to further boost your skin's healing process, pair it with a sunscreen formulated with DNA repair enzymes, like Isdin's Eryfotona Actinica 100% Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50+.
$38 for 10 ampoules (Shop Now)
The other night, I found myself with a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad sunburn (as the fabled Alexander would put it). Now, a burn is painful enough on its own, but — as I learned — it’s especially bad at night. As I tucked myself into bed, sinking into what suddenly felt like sheets made of sandpaper, my skin screamed. That night, I woke up every hour or so in pain, continuously hosing myself down with aloe vera. It was especially annoying, because I’m usually a good sleeper. I sleep through thunder, knocking, sirens — but even my super-strength REM was no match for this burn. Sunburns disrupt sleep in a couple different ways, says Ted Lain, MD, a dermatologist and Chief Medical Officer at Sanova Dermatology. “There is inflammation in the skin that causes the heat, as well as the pain from nerve irritation,” he explains. “The skin feels tight and uncomfortable because it has lost its barrier function, or its ability to retain hydration and protect itself from the environment.” Even worse, you might feel extra-exhausted after being in the sun. That’s because the body is sending fluid to your burnt skin’s surface, dehydrating you, which can tire you out, says Marisa Garshick, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Cornell-New York Presbyterian Medical Center. Plus, your body is working hard at regulating your core temp, draining your energy even more. And yet, you’re unable to nod off and stay asleep.Luckily, there are things you can do to rest a little easier, even when your skin feels like it’s smoldering. The doctors gave me their best tips in exchange for the promise that I’d reapply my SPF more frequently next time. Take an ibuprofen or acetaminophenThese two meds (which can be found in the brands Tylenol and Advil, respectively) will help with the symptoms of a sunburn, as they reduce swelling and inflammation, says Dr. Lain. He adds that ibuprofen has been shown to increase sun sensitivity, though. So if you’re planning on getting any more sun, you may want to stick with Tylenol so you don’t do more damage. Side note: Although there was a brief point in March when health authorities were warning against taking ibuprofen due to concerns regarding COVID-19, the research did not bear out, Dr. Garshick notes. The World Health Organization agreed in April. Use aloe My instinct was correct! “Aloe vera gel is cooling and helps temporarily with discomfort, as do numbing sprays and gels,” Dr. Lain says. “These may be most appropriate if the sunburn is causing nighttime awakenings. But just be careful to follow manufacturer’s directions on how and when to apply the numbing sprays, since overdoing it may lead to a dangerous absorption.” Moisturize This is an important one, says Dr. Garshick. Not only will it help the skin repair itself, it can help with hydration and overall comfort. She recommends a lighter-weight cream in the first 24 hours after a burn, then something heavier after a few days, when this skin is starting to peel. But she advises against exfoliating to accelerate the peeling, or picking at blisters. Pick the right PJsLight cotton PJs or silks are the best fabrics, since they’ll cause less friction against the skin, Dr. Lain says. “Certainly not wearing pajamas is also an alternative,” he adds, which brings us to… And the right sheetsIf you’re going to sleep au naturale, go for cotton or silk bedsheets. Bamboo works too. Dr. Garshick recommends avoiding flannel, wool, and most synthetic fabrics, unless they’re moisture-wicking. Only sleep in the buff when the sheets are clean, she adds. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrateRemember when we mentioned burns are dehydrating? Dr. Garshick recommends keeping a glass of water by the bed, and drinking a little more than you usually would before you nod off. It can also help to take a cold shower right before you head to bed to cool down your body, as it can be hard to fall asleep when you’re too warm. Turn on the A/C before bedYes, it’s not great for your electric bill, but Dr. Lain recommends anything that will cool the skin. A fan works too. When in doubt, go to the doctor If your burn is causing extreme blistering, or is accompanied by symptoms such as severe pain, a high fever, or nausea, it’s worth having a doctor or dermatologist take a look to rule out sun poisoning or heat stroke. “I usually will tell people to have a low threshold for going to the doctor,” Dr. Garshick says. “If you’re in enough pain it’s really noticeable, it’s reasonable to contact a dermatologist. Some people might be taking medicines that are making them more sensitive to the sun, and they might not be aware of it.” If a burn is really severe, your doc might prescribe a short course of steroids, a corticosteroid cream, or a prescription grade moisturizer. Dr. Garshick says she also might give patients a friendly reminder to keep slathering on the sunscreen. “People sometimes think, ‘okay, I’ve done my damage,’ after a burn,” she says. “But when the skin is somewhat injured, it’s more susceptible to further damage.” Lain adds: “Sunburns cause lasting damage to the DNA in the skin cells… This is why sunburns cause so much inflammation and discomfort — it’s the body’s mechanism to persuade you to avoid doing this again!” I certainly found my sleepless night convincing. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Who Needs Bikinis? One-Pieces To Buy InsteadHow To Heal Your Scorched Skin — FastThe Aloe Vera Products That Will Heal Your Sunburn
I am obsessed with all things Rihanna, and when I learned that the sunscreen in her new Hydra Vizor Moisturizer ($35) was coral-reef safe, my first thought was, "cool." My second thought was, what does that mean? If you're curious too, we're breaking it down for you. Basically, there are certain chemicals formulated in sunscreens that contribute to the destruction and decay of coral reefs, which nobody wants. If you're interested in protecting both yourself and the oceans, we found 12 good options. Whether you want a spray sunscreen or something light for your face, these products will keep you protected fun the sun and help keep the oceans that much safer. Every little thing we can do to help keep our planet healthy is a yes from us, and, spoiler alert, some of your tried and true favorite sunscreens are on this list. Keep on reading to shop our picks. Related: Chemical and Physical Sunscreen: What's the Difference?
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