You got a Sunburn, What Do You Do Now?

You got a Sunburn, What Do You Do Now?

Amy Peterson
Jul 25, 2019

So, you had one too many bottomless mimosas and fell asleep on Steve's Boat in the middle of the day... in your bathing suit... for 2 hours. Now you are precisely the color of a lobster and everything hurts.

Yep! You're sunburned. At least Steve is cute though, right? I mean that hair! And that Scoops Ahoy Uniform! (Wait, sorry- Wrong Steve, guess who binged Stranger Things on Netflix this weekend?!)

According to a CDC Survey, 50.1% of all adults aged 18–29 years reported being sunburn at least once in the past 12 months (CDC, 2012). So you're not alone. But what do you do now?
People will try pretty much anything to get rid of the pain, regret, and embarrassment that come with sunburns. I've heard of everything from applying shaving cream to raw potato slices or sprinkling corn starch in your clothes.


But first, what is sunburn?

Sunburns are caused by prolonged exposure to Ultraviolet light and characterized by redness, pain, and swelling. Solar Radiation comes from sunlight (and sunless tanning booths). There are several types of UV light. "Ultraviolet A (UVA) is the type of solar radiation most associated with skin aging. Ultraviolet B (UVB) is associated with sunburn. Exposure to both types of radiation is associated with developing skin cancer" (Mayo Clinic, 2018). Check out our blog The 4-1-1 on UVA & UVB Radiation for more on these bad boys.

In the future, please try your best to prevent getting sunburn. But for now, use these 7 tricks to help your skin calm the #^@% down.


Your skin is damaged. It basically has a radiation burn. Do everything you can to protect it from further damage. Go under the awning on Steve's Boat and find some shade. Wear loose fitting and full-coverage clothing. Invest in a chic, long-sleeved tunic and some linen pants. A wide brimmed hat is a great way to protect your face, scalp, ears, and neck from the sun, plus you will look super chic.

Apply sunscreen with calming properties as well as SPF protection. Higher Education's HIGHER EDUCATION SPRING BREAK® Oil-Free Sunscreen SPF 30 contains Matricaria Flower Extract. Commonly used to relieve inflammatory skin conditions, Matricaria calms sensitive skin, provides antioxidant protection, soothes, and moisturizes. It also helps prevent the growth of acne bacteria. HIGHER EDUCATION SPRING BREAK® also contains Cucumber Fruit Extract that helps repair dry damaged skin. Cucumber contains Vitamin K, which imparts skin elasticity and is credited with moisture regulating, soothing, anti-itching, healing, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Whatever you do, do not continue to lay out with a sunburn! And definitely don't sport a bikini again the next day. Give your skin time to heal.


Take a cool shower or, if you can stand it, an ice bath. This will stop the burning and hopefully prevent you from getting blisters. Once you are out, apply a cold compress to your sunburn. Grab an ice pack and wrap it in a soft cloth. Hold it on your skin for 20 minutes at a time. Being cold is uncomfortable but resist the urge to put on sweats. Letting your body cool down is essential to stop the burning.


Aloe Vera isn't just the cold torturous goop that your mom used to make you put on after the beach; it is actually the most common remedy for Sunburn. And here's the thing... it actually works. Researchers have noted a significant reduction of "UV-induced erythema (sunburn) after 48 hours" when using Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera even displayed superior anti-inflammatory effects to hydrocortisone gel" (Rueter, 2008).

When you are shopping for an Aloe Vera gel, try to get as close to the real thing as possible. Look for a paraben and dye free gel. If you have access to an actual Aloe Vera bush, that's even better. Cut open the leaf and use the goo on the inside to apply directly to your sunburn.

Don't like the gooey sticky mess that Aloe creates? Do what I do. Apply Aloe, turn on a fan, and lay or stand in front of it until you dry.

Pro-tip: store your Aloe in the fridge to help you cool down!


When you are sunburned, your body is fighting heat and inflammation. These two things can cause dehydration and even heat stroke. If you really did fall asleep on a boat in the middle of the day, there is a good chance that you are also dealing with a hangover. Scope out our blog The 4 Things that Dehydrate Your Skin During the Summer Months for the skinny on what dehydrates you during the summer.

Drink as much water as you can. Make a goal for yourself. Drink 3 liters of water a day if you are hung over or sunburned. Also make sure that you are replenishing your electrolytes. Grab some coconut water or electrolyte tablets. Electrolyte deficiency causes headaches and muscle aches. Rehydrating will help your body regulate its temperature and bring everything back into homeostasis. It will cut your recovery time down drastically.

If your dehydration persists, you may want to look into a seeing a doctor or scheduling an appointment at an IV Spa. IV Spa's are boutique spas that offer vitamin drips specifically formulated to improve your health. They are popping up all over the country (very trendy rn). Most of theses spas offer a 45-minute infusion designed to help you rehydrate. They even have specific formulas to get rid of Hangovers. They can be a little pricey, but desperate times....


Did I mention that your skin is dehydrated?

Continue your journey to rehydration by grabbing a moisturizer that has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. It's best to stay away from thick greasy creams that will trap in heat. Instead opt for a gel moisturizer like DOUBLE MAJOR® Hyaluronic Acid Gel Moisturizer. It is a light gel that packs a ton of hydrating power. This soothing gel glides on and gives the skin a dewy finish. It contains Ginger Root Extract that increases circulation and acts as an anti-inflammatory to help reduce redness. It is also an antioxidant. DOUBLE MAJOR® is a great summer moisturizer regardless of whether or not you are sunburned. It adds hydration without feeling heavy on the skin or clogging your pores.


Sunburns hurt! A great way to calm this pain is to take an over the counter anti-inflammatory like Advil or Motrin. They will reduce the inflammation and stop your skin from screaming while you are trying to sleep.

Another anti-inflammatory is CBD. Cannabinoids, derived from Hemp or however you can get them in your state, are a great anti-inflammatory. Although it is usually used for muscle/joint pain and anxiety, "experimental efforts over the last two decades have unambiguously confirmed that cutaneous cannabinoid signaling is deeply involved in the maintenance of skin homeostasis, barrier formation and regeneration" (Tóth, 2019). One study even found that CBD had "the potential... as a therapeutic target for UVB-induced sunburn, in particular pain" (Moore, 2013).

So apply a calming CBD ointment directly to your sunburn or tincture it up!


Once your sunburn becomes a little less angry. Try out HIGHER EDUCATION EASY A® Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Pads. These little round wipes contain Allantoin. Allantoin is a moisturizing ingredient derived from the root of Comfrey herb. It has strong therapeutic properties that help soften, protect, and SOOTHE irritated skin. These wipes are especially great after you remove your make-up and before you apply moisturizer at night. The healing properties will work while you sleep. Be sure to use a gentle hand while your skin is sunburned. No scrubbing necessary here!

Depending on the severity of your sunburn, you may need to take it easy for a few days. Working out or going out might make you feel awful! Take time to heal! Lie around in that big t-shirt dress with Aloe and Ice packs on you and catch up on your favorite show.

As you lay there, think about how you can prevent getting a sunburn next time. Treat sun exposure like any other harmful substance. "It can hurt you, use it responsibly." Remember sunburns at all life periods can increase the risk of melanoma (Dennis, 2008).

You know all of this already, but every once in a while we all need a little reminder. I'm so sorry that this reminder had to come in the form of a red-hot sunburn!

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