There are various ways to protect our skin. Wear sunscreen! Sit under an umbrella! Wear a hat! In the long-term, exposing your skin to too much sun can cause skin cancer and wrinkles. And in the short term? The terrible, horrible and so-painful sunburn, which is why it’s important to prevent your sunburn from peeling. Not only do they hurt, but they also make you look swollen and red.
When a sunburn starts to peel, it’s your body’s way of getting rid of sun-damaged cells and protecting you from skin cancer (thanks, body!). The problem is, though, it’s itchy and uncomfortable and no one likes seeing their forehead skin flake off into their glass of rosé.
I’m just as guilty as the next girl of forgetting to re-apply — I’ve fallen asleep on the beach and woken up with a viscously bright red stomach/face/chest, and have then had to live with the pain for days afterward. Trust me, it’s horribly unpleasant and not cute.
For anyone who, like me, has made this mistake, the best (and really only) thing you can do is treat your skin the right way after the fact. Here are seven things you can do to prevent your skin from peeling.
1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Sunburns dry out your skin, so it’s important to keep them extra, extra hydrated so they don’t start to peel. Fight the problem from within by drinking lots of water to make up for the fluid loss you experienced while exposing your skin to the sun.
Keep your skin hydrated from the outside too. This after sun lotion, from Clinique, has aloe vera in it and will help minimize peeling. Apply generously, and then apply some more.
3. Try A Home Remedy
If your regular moisturizer isn’t cutting it, try applying whole milk, mint leaves, or apple cider vinegar to the affected area to reduce pain and swelling. Taking an oatmeal or baking soda bath may help, too.
4. Avoid Exfoliators
Exfoliators can pull off dry skin before it’s ready, which will irritate the fresh skin underneath it. Ouch! Use moisturizing body wash instead, and try to stay away from shaving and waxing the area until it’s healed.
5. Try Aloe Vera Stalks
While moisturizers and creams that include aloe vera can be incredibly effective in helping a sunburn, your best bet is to go straight to the source. Buy a stalk of an aloe vera plant from your local organic grocer, or buy your own potted version to keep at home — it’s easy to maintain and makes for great decor! Cut into the leaves and rub the silky (ok, slimy) liquid directly onto the burn. Trust me, it feels amazing.
6. Stay Out Of The Sun
This one should be a given, but don’t expose already-burned skin to more sun. Let your body heal before getting back to the beach. If you absolutely must be back out under the rays, make sure you cover your burn completely with high-SPF sunscreen and wear a sun hat or long sleeved cover up, depending on which part of your body you’ve torched.
7. Don’t Pick At Your Burn(s)
I know, I know — it’s so, so tempting to peel the skin off yourself, especially if it’s gotten to the point of being dry and flaky. But resist the urge, because picking at the dead skin before it’s ready will only make things worse. If you need extra motivation to keep your hands to yourself, use this Burt’s Bees moisturizing hand kit to keep them busy.