YOU NEVER INTEND FOR IT TO HAPPEN. It starts out with some innocent plans—a day at the beach, a picnic outside, maybe an outdoor concert. You slather on SPF and go about your business of having safe fun in the sun. And then it happens before you even realize. Sunburn! It can happen to anyone, regardless of your skin tone or shade. The peeling isn’t cute, the tan lines aren’t cute, and of course the way your skin feels is not cute at all. So what do you do when you didn’t mean to get as much sun exposure as you’ve gotten? Here’s what we recommend to help you heal from a bad sunburn:
- Aloe. Aloe is known and loved throughout the Caribbean as an internal and external beauty must have, where it is used for everything from acne to purifying the blood. It is known internationally as a healing protectant from sun exposure, and every drugstore should have a prominent after-sun section featuring an array of aloe-based gels and lotions right now as the sunny season begins. A little chilled aloe vera gel will go in a long way, if you’re suffering from sunburn. If your skin is stinging from the sun, we recommend slathering on some pure aloe vera gel ASAP.
- Milk. Milk does a body good in so many ways, and when you’ve got a sunburn it is amazing for your skin. The fat, protein, ph, and lactic acid of milk help too soothe and remove the inflammation that sunburns cause. Some recommend using a cold milk compress on the burned area. Some recommended using powdered milk for a decadent milk bath that Cleopatra herself would approve of. Cold milk will help to reduce the swelling and pain. A soothing lukewarm milk bath might be recommended after dealing with your sunburn for a few days, to combat the peeling and dryness that will result from too much fun in the sun.
- A cool comfortable bath with additives. Okay, so you burned your skin beyond repair. Now how do you deal with the dryness, the itching, and the peeling? Take a nice cool bath. Add some baking soda to your cool bathwater or oatmeal to soothe your sunburn skin. Some traditional bubble bath formulas can be too drying for your skin at this sensitive time, so we recommend you use something gentle like Aveeno’s oatmeal-based bubble bath formulas or Oyin Handmade’s Fizzy Milk Bath.
- Rehydrate yourself. Does your skin look fried? Because of all that sun exposure, you are probably dehydrated from the inside out. Now is the time to drink lots of water. It will help your burns healed and give your body the inner hydration it so desperately needs.
- All about the butters. Average drugstore quality moisturizers are fine under some circumstances. When you have a serious sunburn, you need something a little bit more intense. Now is the time to bust out your most decadent, rich, pure and natural (if possible) body butters and deep penetrating moisturizers. Cocoa butter and shea butter will help to penetrate through the cracked, dry upper surface of your sunburned skin, to heal and soothe the epidermis underneath.
Contributing Editor, Patrice Grell Yursik is the creator of Afrobella.com, one of the first blogs to celebrate the beauty of natural hair and ladies of all skin tones and sizes. Affectionately called the Godmother of Brown Beauty Blogging, Patrice takes her readers inside unique beauty, fashion and cultural experiences.