How To Soothe Sunburn Discomfort: The Hottest Tips For Cooling Down

Sep 7, 2022
How To Soothe Sunburn Discomfort: The Hottest Tips For Cooling Down

You spent an awesome day on the beach. You joined that softball team and hit it out of the park. You celebrated the season by playing outside with your giggling kiddos. However you spent it, your sunny day was perfect. 

Until you came home, noticed your skin was looking a little red, and realized that—as our moms would put it—“You got a little sun today, hon.” 

Knowing how to prevent sunburns and treat them when they happen is an important part of keeping your skin protected, helping it heal, and reducing the risk of sun cancer and other skin damage in the future. With some top tips, you can learn how to shield your skin and keep it comfortable when burns occur—so you can return to enjoying those blissful sunny days.

Preventative Steps for Sun Safety and Healing

The first step to keeping your skin protected from the sun is to prevent sun damage from occurring in the first place. However, preventative care can also help keep your skin safe while it’s healing, allowing you to keep further damage from happening at the same time.

Here are our top tips for sun safety, both before and after sunburn:

#1 Stick to the Shade—Or Make Your Own

No one wants to hide inside and miss all the fun. Whether you’re halfway through a vacation (lucky you!) or rocking the real world with your expertly planned summer picnic, you can still participate in outdoor activities while protecting your skin. 

Try giving your skin extra protection from direct sun exposure by sticking to the shade. Something as simple as finding a shady tree to sit under can help reduce the risk of sunburnt skin. 

If you can't count on shade where you’re going, consider bringing your own. Depending on your outdoor space, you might want to create shade with:

  • A beach or dining umbrella
  • A shade sail
  • An outdoor canopy
  • A shade tent

A little extra effort to create shade can protect you (and your friends and family) from the sun’s UV rays.

#2 Rock a Sunhat

Is there anything more chic than a big, beautiful, floppy sun hat? From Audrey Hepburn to Beyoncé, stylish women know the power of this iconic and practical option. 

In fact, people have been using straw hats to protect their skin from the sun as far back as the middle ages. Today, the American Cancer Society recommends hats as a way to protect your face from sunburnt skin, and thus lower your risk of sun cancer.

To give your face and neck some extra sun protection, find yourself some protective clothing such as a sun hat in a style you love. When hunting for your perfect sunhat, consider:

  • Density of weave – A loosely woven hat may look super chic, but a denser weave will block more sun. Try shining a flashlight through the hat to see how much light it blocks. The more light it blocks, the more it can protect your skin.
  • Breathability – Whether you’ll be rocking a sun hat on the beach or a mountain hike, pick a hat whose material feels good against your head and allows your scalp to breathe. 
  • Brim broadness – Much like a bigger tree gives more shade, a broader brim can give you more protection from the UV rays.

#3 Protect Your Skin with Sunscreen

When it comes to protecting yourself from sunburns, sunscreen is a classic for a reason. The American Cancer Society recommends covering your exposed skin with sunscreen to reduce your risk of sunburn, and the various health risks that can accompany it.

Even if you have a darker skin tone and don’t burn easily, sunscreen can help to protect you from the other side effects that come with sun exposure, like sun spots, wrinkles, and skin cancer. No matter your skin tone, sunscreen can be an effective option to protect your skin which is why it’s number one on our list of summer beach essentials.

When selecting a sunscreen, it’s important to pay attention to:

  • When to apply (and reapply) – Pay attention to instructions on the sunscreen packaging to know how often to apply it. As a general rule of thumb, apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you go outside, and re-apply every two hours. However, certain factors—like whether a sunscreen is water resistant or sweatproof—may mean you need to apply more often.
  • SPF level – You should apply a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 when out in the sun, regardless of your skin tone.
  • Expiration date – While it may be tempting to use up that old bottle of sunscreen, always check the expiration date first. It’s better to buy a new bottle now than have to slather on the aloe vera tomorrow.

On a personal note, think of what you like when selecting a sunscreen:

  • Do you prefer spray-on sunscreen or a lotion?
  • What scent do you like?
  • What size packaging fits easily in your purse, beach bag, etc.?

When you choose a sunscreen that fits your life and preferences, you might find yourself using it more often—and the more you use it, the more it can help your skin stay safe and healthy.

#4 Shield Your Face Every Day with an SPF Moisturizer

Many of us remember to protect our skin when launching into outdoor adventures but forget to give ourselves that same essential protection on a day-to-day basis. 

One of the easiest ways to work skin protection into your daily routine is to add a tinted sunscreen or a moisturizer with SPF to your morning beauty practice.

Using tinted sunscreen or SPF moisturizer daily can not only help different complexion types maintain their glow—it also gives consistent sun protection that can help prevent sunburn and support healthy skin in the long run.

When choosing a tinted sunscreen or SPF moisturizer, consider how they’ll fit into your existing beauty routine—and whether they check all the boxes for sun safety. 

For example, the Honest® tinted sunscreen offers SPF 30 in 9 different shades, meaning you can easily swap it out for both your facial sunscreen and your foundation. If you choose a moisturizer, however, you may want to choose one that layers easily with other makeup.

Lastly, if you already have sun damage, a tinted sunscreen can be a good option to cover up any redness and protect your skin while you heal.

#5 Know the Symptoms of Sunburn

Maybe you get carried away with some outdoor exercise, or your kids are just having too much fun at the pool party. No matter how many protective measures you take, sometimes sunburn still happens. 

Knowing how to spot the symptoms can help you know when it’s time to step inside and take steps to help your skin heal.

Sunburn occurs when your skin has had too much exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. As a result, your skin may show symptoms such as:

  • Skin that appears pink or red
  • Skin that is sore or painful to touch
  • Skin that feels warmer than usual
  • Headaches and eye soreness

It’s important to note that more severe sunburn symptoms can require medical attention. Seek advice from your medical provider right away if you notice more serious signs that accompany your sunburn, such as:

  • A fever
  • Blistering skin
  • Swelling
  • Fainting or confusion
  • Dehydration

Tips to Soothe Your Skin When Sunburn Happens

As soon as you notice sunburn symptoms, it’s a good idea to seek shade or shelter and take some time out of the sun. If that redness doesn’t fade when you get out of the heat, however, there are steps you can take to find some sunburn relief.

So, what helps sunburn symptoms dissipate? The tips below can help you to find some cool comfort for your skin (and help speed up the healing).

#6 Apply a Soothing Lotion or Gel

When you’re wondering what helps sunburns, putting something else on your skin might sound like the last thing you want to do. However, if your skin feels hot or sore after too much sun, a soothing lotion or gel designed for soothing sunburns can provide some sweet relief. 

The Mayo Clinic recommends:

  • Using an aloe vera gel or lotion – Aloe can help soothe your skin after a mild sunburn. However, experts caution that aloe vera gel should not be used with deep cuts or severe sunburns.
  • Applying a calamine lotion – If your skin is itching or peeling, calamine could help to calm your symptoms. This soothing lotion works through a combination of purified water, bentonite magma, calcium hydroxide, and glycerin. You can gently apply it to your clean, sunburned skin up to three or four times a day. 
  • Avoiding products that contain alcohol – Products containing certain types of alcohol can be drying and irritating, especially to sunburned skin that’s already sore and peeling.

For additional relief, try cooling your chosen product in the fridge before applying it to your skin.

#7 Pop a Painkiller to Ease Soreness

Another option to help soothe the aftereffects of sunburn is to treat pain and soreness with over-the-counter painkillers. 

The Mayo Clinic recommends:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetaminophen

For best results, painkillers should be taken as soon as possible after you notice your sunburn.

You can also find topical products, such as gels and lotions, that contain pain relievers you apply directly to the sunburned area.

Easily available at many drug stores, painkillers can serve as a helpful and accessible option for those wondering how to help a sunburn during its most tender stage—often, the hours right after it appears.

#8 Drink Extra Water

Ever come in from a long day at the beach and felt like your body was calling for a drink? It’s no wonder why—if you’ve been out in the sun for extended hours, your body might need some help with hydration, and that’s especially true if you’re sunburned. 

To avoid dehydration, try to drink extra water for the first 24 hours after a sunburn.

If you prefer a beverage with more verve, you can also hydrate with any non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated drinks. For example:

  • Herbal iced teas
  • Your favorite fruit juice
  • Lemon water
  • Seltzer water

Whatever signature water-based beverage you prefer, try to nourish your body with extra liquids while you recover.

Honest: Good for Your Skin, Good for Your World

Once you know how to protect your skin and how to help sunburn when it happens, you’re on your way to enjoying more sunny days without the downtime. But as you search for ways to soothe your skin, it’s also important to find products that are good for you and the world.

At Honest®, we care about preventing future damage to your skin—and the planet. That’s why we’re dedicated to creating high-quality, clean, sustainable products that work. Like you, we’re invested in building a sustainable future and a socially conscious culture.

From tinted sunscreen to moisturizer with SPF, we offer products to help protect your skin now and tomorrow by marrying beauty products with SPF protection.

Find your new favorites for sun safety with Honest.


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True or false: Dark-skinned people don't need sunscreen. Winchester Hospital. (n.d.). Retrieved June 6, 2022, from,spots%20and%20wrinkles%E2%80%94and%20cancer%20

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We aim to provide you with the most honest and credible information possible. This article was reviewed for accuracy by The Honest Team and was written based on trusted sources that are linked at the bottom of the article.