It's easy to forget about protecting your skin when the sun feels so good shining down on it. It's almost inevitable that you will get a sunburn this summer. Excited to hit the beach, you'll apply a layer of sunscreen before frolicking under the sun, swimming and lying out on a towel for the whole day. Feeling fine, you'll go home only to start realizing your skin is tingling and turning red. As the hours go on it will be more and more painful to sit on plastic chairs or wear tight clothing of any kind.
Learn how to prevent and treat sunburns before you cause irreversible skin damage (and a whole lot of pain).
Stay out of the sun. If you're going outside, cover up skin with a hat, light linen tunic, or use a beach umbrella to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. Also avoid being outside at the hottest times around late morning and early afternoon.
Most sunscreens only block UVB rays and not UVA, which can still cause skin cancer and age skin. Those that do block UVA rays only block a small amount on the spectrum. If you're concerned about not getting enough vitamin D, take a supplement and stay out of the sun.
How to properly apply sunscreen. Since it's nearly impossible to stay out of the sun all the time, make sure you wear sunscreen when heading outdoors (even if it's cloudy!). Apply lotion generously 15-30 minutes before going outside so it can be absorbed into the skin. Ask a friend for help doing hard to reach places and don't forget to put some on your face, ears, neck, and the tops of your feet.
Buy the highest SPF you can in a waterproof form and make it sure it says it blocks both UVA and UVB rays on the label. Consider an oil-free variety if you tend to have acne prone skin. Reapply sunscreen every two hours while outdoors and immediately after swimming or sweating (even if it's says it's water-resistant). Read the label for specific instructions and follow them carefully. Don't forget lip balm with SPF in it!
Check out Burt's Bees' tried-and-true Res-Q Lip Balm SPF 15, available at Shoppers Drug Mart & Pharma Plus for $4.
How to care for a sunburn. It's easy to forget about skin care when the sun is shining, but once you get a sunburn you need to take care of it quickly. Soak your burn in cool (not freezing) water to calm down the burning. Apply 100% Aloe Vera after bathing and reapply as often as needed. To reduce residual pain try taking an oatmeal bath or apply a cold green tea compress or cucumber slices to cool off skin and reduce swelling.
Try to wear soft, loose clothing that won't rub against your skin too much. Avoid the sun and really hot showers until the skin has healed. When the skin stops peeling try using a natural moisturizer without any perfume to promote healing.
And never forget to wear sunscreen again!