This Is My Skincare Routine Whenever I Get a Sunburn
I burn every time the sun hits me, so here are the products I use to soothe and protect my skin as it heals.
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Skin Type: Dry and sensitive
Skin Concerns: Dryness and frequent sunburns
Southern Italian genetics be damned, there's not a day I spend in the sun that I don't come back with some kind of burn. Even a mere 15 minutes spent walking to the store in the heat leaves me with an awkward T-shirt tan line, with or without the application of sunscreen. My English fiancé, who spent most of his life under the cloud cover of London, makes fun of me for constantly reapplying my SPF 100 when we're at the beach; he can somehow get away with using just SPF 30. So when summer rolls around each year, I prepare myself for the inevitable burns and try to minimize the damage to my skin as much as possible.
This season, I asked the pros for advice on what products I should stop using as soon as I get a burn. According to Nava Greenfield, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York, I should avoid potentially irritating products with alpha or beta hydroxyl acids (which remove dead skin) as well as those with strong fragrances. "Anything you apply will penetrate deeper than normal and be more absorbed into your bloodstream due to the impaired skin barrier during a burn," Dr. Greenfield explains.
Similarly, Debra Jailman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist, tells HelloGiggles that while it's tempting to wash dead skin away, scrubs and peels can be too harsh for sunburned skin.
"Many [scrubs and peels] are made with acids and make your skin more sensitive to the sun," she explains. "If you’re using products that may cause sun sensitivity, you are doubling the chances of a reaction due to sun exposure if you use peels or harsh scrubs."
So with my scrubs and exfoliants put away for the season, these are the products I am using throughout the day to help soothe burns and protect my skin from further damage.
For a while, I was starting my morning routine with a face moisturizer that contained SPF and then calling it a day, but Dr. Greenfield notes that these products aren't the most effective at preventing sunburn.
"A combo SPF-moisturizer will not usually provide as much coverage as it claims, and especially during the summer months it's important to be very diligent about sun protection when the sun is the strongest and UV rays are most damaging," she says.
Now, I apply my moisturizer first and a face sunscreen after. Typically, I use Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion because it contains hyaluronic acid, which helps with my dry skin.
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After my moisturizer dries and absorbs into my skin, I apply Coppertone's Pure & Simple Face Sunscreen with SPF 50 and pop it in my bag so I can reapply throughout the day as needed.
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Dr. Jailman also notes that a lip balm with a minimum of SPF 30 is crucial if you're spending all day in the sun. The one I tend to gravitate toward is the Coola Liplux SPF 30 because it hydrates my lips just as much as it protects them from UV rays.
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Finally, to try and combat the sun as best as I can, I apply a sunscreen that is also moisturizing. Lately, I've been in love with SUPERGOOP! Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50. It doesn't feel greasy, and I never leave the house with anything less than SPF 50 for thorough sun protection.
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When I get home at night, I'll hop right in the shower to douse myself with cold water for some immediate relief. After, rather than opting for the classic green goop to soothe my burns, I'll use Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Weightless After Sun Gel Lotion. It contains aloe vera and is far less sticky than many other sun-soothing alternatives that usually end up getting all over my sheets. I also love how this lotion smells like a day at the beach with a cocktail in hand.
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From there, I mix some Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil serum into my Cetaphil Daily Advance Ultra Hydrating Lotion (which is formulated specifically for sensitive skin) and rub it all over my body. If a burn is particularly bad, I'll rub a few extra drops of the oil directly on top of it. Dr. Jailman recommends that people with burns use hydrating products like these that have antioxidants, such as vitamin C, since they "reverse free radical damage from the sun."
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I add the oil to my moisturizer for the next few days until I stop peeling. Once that's over, I continue on with my routine as normal, just minus the oil since I no longer need that extra boost of hydration post-peeling.