How to Treat a Sunburn on Your Face Fast: 6 Steps

how to treat sunburn on face fast

Follow these five steps to treat a sunburn on your face fast:

  1. Get out of the sun
  2. Apply a cold compress for 10 minutes, three times a day
  3. Apply pure aloe vera gel twice daily
  4. Moisturize your face twice daily
  5. Take a pain reliever
  6. Drink plenty of water

 Summer is for smackin’ brews, beach days, and (if you’re reading this) sunburns. Sure, your parents spent years lecturing you about the importance of wearing sunscreen. And yet here you are with a face as red as a tomato.

We’ll spare you the shoulda-woulda-coulda of wearing SPF. The mission now is to turn your sunburn into a suntan quickly and safely without peeling. Spoiler alert: Sunburn treatments don’t technically “heal” your skin, as Mayo Clinic points out. Your body needs a few days to generate new cells to replace the burned skin.

You can, however, speed up the healing process by keeping your skin moisturized, getting plenty of rest, and staying hydrated.

In this article, we’ll walk you through five steps to treat a sunburn as fast as possible. Plus, we’ll cover some bonus tips to keep your skin healthy if you spent too much time basking under the sun.

1. Get Out of the Sun

We know what you’re thinking: “Thanks, Captain Obvious.” But it’s worth stressing: You gotta get away from those UV rays if you want to heal your sunburn fast. It doesn’t matter if you slather on SPF 100 or if it’s cloudy. Trying to treat a sunburn outside is like trying to sober up by drinking beer.

Don’t just put on a hat or sit under an umbrella. Get your ass inside and stay there. Queue up some movies and download Doordash, because you need to live like a hermit for the next few days if you want your scorched mug to health properly.

2. Apply a Cold Compress

A cold compress lowers the surface temperature of your skin and helps relieve the burning sensation. Cleveland Clinic recommends using a soft towel or washcloth dampened with cold water. Gently place the cold compress on your face for 10-20 minutes, three times per day. You can also take cold showers.

Pro tip: Never put ice on a sunburn. Ice on a burn decreases blood flow to the burnt area, which can mess up the healing process.

3. Apply Aloe Vera

Aloe on a sunburn is like an ice-cold Gatorade when you’re hungover: instant relief. That’s because Aloe vera contains aloin, which has been shown to significantly reduce skin inflammation after a sunburn. Aloe vera also keeps your skin moisturized, which is essential to prevent peeling. Plus it just feels good.

For best results, apply aloe vera to your sunburn twice a day to a clean face.

We recommended getting pure aloe vera gel straight from the plant. But if you do buy aloe vera gel from the drugstore, make sure it’s not diluted with any unnecessary dyes, fragrances, or funky preservatives.

4. Moisturize Your Face

When you’re battling a sunburn, you need to keep your skin hydrated around the clock. That’s where a face moisturizer comes in.

Sunburns zap your skin's moisture content, and a moisturizer restores hydration, helping to prevent further dryness and peeling. A good moisturizer also reinforces your skin’s natural barrier function, speeding up the healing process.

To ensure all-day hydration, moisturize your face first thing in the morning and again before bed.

Shameless plug incoming: Revival is stacked with ingredients that make it sunburn’s worst nightmare:

  • Niacinamide to reduce redness and inflammation
  • Hyaluronic acid to replenish water from the inside out
  • Squalane to lock in moisture
  • Ceramides to rebuild your skin’s protective barrier

5. Take a Pain Reliever

A sunburn literally scorches the top layer of your skin—it’s gonna hurt like hell. Do yourself a favor and pop an over-the-counter pain reliever. Your best friends here are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen.

6. Drink Plenty of Water

Sunburns pull fluids away from the rest of your body to your skin. On one hand, this helps you heal. But that process can dehydrate you in a hurry. If you’re a dude, make sure you’re drinking at least 15 cups of water every day and replenishing your electrolytes in the process.

5 Bonus Tips for Treating a Sunburn

Now that you know the basics of post-sunburn skincare routine, let’s cover some bonus advice:

  1. Steer clear of tobacco: Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco crank up the inflammation inside your body, which can thwart the healing process.
  2. Avoid alcohol: Booze dries out your skin, which is the last thing you need when your face is scorched.
  3. Avoid '-caine' products: Don’t apply any ointments that end in “-caine” if you’re sunburnt—that includes lidocaine and benzocaine. These trap heat in your skin and intensify your inflammation.
  4. Get plenty of sleep: Your skin repairs itself while you sleep, so make sure you’re getting 8+ hours to give yourself a chance to recover.
  5. Try an oatmeal bath: Oats aren’t just for breakfast. They have anti-inflammatory properties that are great for your skin. Throw a cup of oats into a cool bath along with a few heaping tablespoons of baking soda and soak for about 20 minutes. Don’t knock it till you try it.

Revival Is Your Sunburn’s Worst Enemy

It may feel like your entire face is going to peel off in one piece. But you don’t have to let your sunburn jack up your summer vibes. A few pumps of Revival will have your moneymaker feeling fresh, hydrated, and as cool as the other side of the pillow (shout out Stuart Scott).

We can’t promise you’ll go from bright red to a bronzed god overnight. But we can promise you won’t waste any money on BS ingredients you don’t need. Next time you stock up on beer and burgers for your next summer outing, throw in a bottle of Revival for good measure.

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