Skincare Sunday: How to repair sunburn

It shouldn’t happen, but even with the best planning and an SPF 50, we can still forget to re-apply, miss a bit, or fall asleep in the sun. NEWBY HANDS explains how to mend your suntan mistakes


Get out of the sun

Even a full sun-block doesn’t protect skin once it’s burned – the only answer is to get out of the sun and keep the skin covered until it fully heals (even in the shade, you risk reflection from sand or sea). Too often I see otherwise beauty-smart women applying SPF to already-red skin, thinking they have the problem under control, but no SPF provides total coverage – plus, heat exacerbates the burn.

Cool down the heat

As with any type of burn, skin holds onto heat and that leads to more long-term damage. Taking a cool shower or bath certainly helps, or, for a smaller area, use a cold compress (even better, soak it in chilled, soothing chamomile tea). Keep all after-sun products and repairing skincare in the fridge or minibar, and focus on using cooling gels and lotions (chilled sheet masks are excellent) rather than oils or heavier creams that can hold onto the heat. Anything with aloe is especially good for placating sunburned skin – try De Mamiel Dewy Facial Mist or Soleil Toujours Organic Aloe Antioxidant Calming Mist; both are great to keep chilled and on-hand.

Calm the inflammation

Whether caused by sun, pollution or stress, inflammation is the key cause of long-term damage, so it’s important to soothe any inflammatory reaction ASAP. Taking an anti-inflammatory painkiller not only takes away much of the discomfort but also works to calm skin from the inside. Externally, while after-suns are excellent – and under-rated, more of which below – I recommend also using face-care on any areas of bad sunburn, as the levels of anti-inflammatories and antioxidants in them will be higher. Again, opt for light gels and serums, not oils. Anything with vitamin C is good (I love Dr Sebagh Pure Vitamin C Powder Cream), especially layered with a treatment serum; Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair is incredible at healing red, inflamed skin, while Dr Nigma Talib Serum N°1 is excellent at calming and hydrating – use both chilled and liberally.

Repair and hydrate

Always buy an after-sun when you purchase your SPF. Formulated like the best skincare, these not only cool and hydrate but have a cocktail of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories specifically blended for post-sun skin. One of the best pieces of advice I got from a skin scientist was to keep using them post-vacation until the product is finished, as this ensures the skin gets the full benefits of their potent ingredients.

The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown.