There are some summer memories we want to take with us into fall. A nasty sunburn is not one of them. As Labor Day approaches, and we begin sending summer off in style by soaking up the last of the sun’s rays, it’s easy to get caught up in the fun and forget to reapply that SPF. But when last weekend’s fun stays with you throughout the week, the result can take the form of a nasty — and often painful — sunburn. Trust us, the last thing you need is to head into the office with a cherry red face or peeling skin.
If you’ve fallen victim to summer’s unfortunate scorching kiss, heal and hide any burn flawlessly with these simple tips from our experts.
1. Treat the burn first
As anyone who’s suffered from a sunburn knows, treatment is key to healing. Most burns can stay red for a week, says Dr. Debra Jaliman, dermatologist and author of Skin Rules. To soothe a sunburn, Dr. Jaliman suggests using a fragrance-free aloe vera gel as the aloe contains anti-inflammatory properties which help reduce pain and stimulate skin repair. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams will also reduce inflammation. According to Dr. Jaliman, hydrcortisone creams constrict blood vessels and make the sunburn appear less red. Ingestible medicines such as aspirin or ibuprofen will also help reduce inflammation and soothe pain — just make certain to eat beforehand so you don’t upset your stomach, she warns.
And Romy Soleimani, Beauty Director at Large at Beauty.com agrees. Proper skin prep and treatment is key before even reaching for the foundation. “The better you prep, the less makeup you will probably need,” says Soleimani. “For starters, I’d recommend a good face moisturizer which will rehydrate your skin, keeping it supple and flake-free.” She suggests a mask like Avene’s Soothing Moisture Mask (Drugstore.com, $26), which is great for speeding up the healing process. “This mask is perfect for sensitive skin and rich in Avene thermal water which works to quickly restore your skin’s barrier,” she says.
2. Neutralize the burn
Now, when it comes down to actually masking the burn, makeup can be a huge help. Whether on your face or your body, there are ways to hide redness so you aren’t a walking stop sign.
“Primers with a green tint can be great for post-sunburned skin because they will neutralize redness in addition to smoothing pores and helping foundation last longer,” says Soleimani. Some of her favorites are Koh Gen Do’s Makeup Color Base in Green (Beauty.com, $48) because it tones down redness and has UV protection — a key aspect in preventing further burns — and Smashbox’s Photo Finish Color Correcting Primer in Green (Beauty.com, $16) because it smooths pores, neutralizes redness and contains anti-oxidants to treat damaged skin.
After applying the primer and blending into the skin, Soleimani suggests trying a hydrating BB cream to create a clean palette. She prefers one with SPF protection like Tarte’s BB Tinted Treatment with SPF 30 (Beauty.com, $36), which protects, provides good coverage and is light enough to let skin breathe.
But when it comes to makeup for a burn, less is more. Avoid blush and lipstick with lots of red or pink because it will draw attention to a burn, says Soleimani. “A great tip is to actually use the natural redness in your skin as a blush,” she says. “You can use it to your advantage by applying light coverage everywhere on your face and leaving a little of the natural redness on your cheeks as your blush. Just make sure you are concealing the sides of your nose and just before the apples of your cheeks, so it looks intentional!”
For burns on the body, the same idea still holds true: Prep then cover. “Load up on a body moisturizer because it will help the healing process and prevent peeling,” says Soleimani. “It’s especially important to apply before bed when our skin cells are renewing and preparing at a faster rate,” she explains. If you choose to use a body makeup, we recommend Youngblood Mineral Illuminating Body Tint (Ybskin.com, $38), for its lightweight finish. Just be sure to pat and not rub when applying to avoid further irritation.
3. Watch certain ingredients
All the treating and hiding in the world won’t make a lick of difference if you end up further irritating your burn. Certain ingredients found in skin care products and makeup can do just that. Dr. Jaliman suggests avoiding makeup with silicone as these ingredients actually block pores and make it difficult for the skin to breathe.
Soleimani also advises that the gentler the product the better. “Avoid products with acne-fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid, which can sting irritated skin,” she says. She also warns against using products with harsh detergents or alcohol which can irritate and dry out your skin further.
Bottom line: Once burned, be gentle on your skin and keep it hydrated to avoid peeling. But as always, the best treatment for a burn is to prevent it in the first place by applying sunscreen and often!