Summer is quickly approaching and everyone is restocking their sunscreen supply in the hopes of avoiding a dreaded sunburn (though you really should be wearing it every single day, according to dermatologists).
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, some people are more prone to sunburns but that doesn't mean others aren't susceptible. "Anyone can get burned," the site states.
While sunburn symptoms may take up to 24 hours to appear, according to Mount Sinai, the medical center lists the following as signs to look out for: red, tender skin that is warm to the touch; blisters; fever, chills, nausea or rashes; and peeling skin.
People most often associate sunburn with extreme redness or peeling skin, but it can appear in these other forms as well, so it's important to be vigilant about sunscreen application (and reapplication) and monitoring these symptoms.
If you experience sunburn, it can feel like there’s no end to the itching and burning, but relief does exist — and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune! We consulted professional dermatologists to find out what actually works. Try one (or more) of these options and your skin just might find sweet relief in no time.
Best sunburn soothing products, according to skin care experts
“This is a great product for relief of mild to moderate sunburns," said Dr. Bobby Y. Reddy, an instructor in dermatology at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. "It has a lightweight formulation and absorbs easily. It's formulated without added alcohol, color or fragrances, so it's especially helpful for those with sensitive skin."
“When someone gets a bad sunburn, I usually recommend staying out of the sun completely to let it heal,” said board-certified dermatologist Rebecca Baxt, who runs BAXT CosMedical in Bergen County, New Jersey. “If you start to blister, Aquaphor is a great option.”
“The aloe in this after-sun lotion helps soothe and cool down the body. It also has shea butter to moisturize and hydrate the skin after you’ve been out in the sun for an extended period of time,” said Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified New York City dermatologist and author of the book “Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist."
“The light, cool mist of Avène Thermal Spring Water soothes sunburned skin. It helps to ease the hot sensation that results from a burn, and contains trace minerals that can decrease irritation,” said Dr. Allison Arthur, board-certified dermatologist at the Sand Lake Dermatology Center in Orlando, Florida. “It can be used as often as needed, and should be followed by application of a moisturizer.”
“The Burt's Bees after-sun soother is fast to absorb and very hydrating, which is ideal for parched, burned skin,” said Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a dermatologist based in Boston.
"Aloe vera and cucumber are great natural sunburn treatments, and this aloe gel is one of my favorites. It can be used on skin or hair, but must be refrigerated. Believe it or not, the aloe actually feels even more soothing when the gel is cool," said Edyta Jarosz, aesthetician at Schafer Clinic in New York City.
“This hand and body lotion has hydrocortisone, which decreases the inflammation associated with sunburn," said Dr. Maral Skelsey, director of The Dermatologic Surgery Center of Washington and clinical associate professor of dermatology at Georgetown University. "I like it because the urea in it is intensely hydrating and it also contains antioxidants like vitamin A and C, which help sunburned skin return to normal."
Skelsey also recommended this sensitive skin lotion. "This body lotion contains calendula, which is a healing ingredient that's great for superficial burns."
Hirsch also recommended this soothing gel. "Aloe vera is the OG after-sun ingredient. This inexpensive gel is a great one to keep around."
For more stories like this, check out:
- Should you be using a mineral sunscreen? Dermatologists share their favorites
- Dealing with dull skin? A derm suggests incorporating this product into your routine
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