What Are the Best Skin Care Products for Sunburned Skin?


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Sunburned skin is permanent, but there are a few things you can do to reduce its appearance. Skincare products that can treat sun-damaged skin include retinol and vitamin C serums. Dermatologists say sunscreens with an SPF of at least 30 are essential to prevent the effects of photoaging or sun damage.

Excessive exposure to unprotected sunlight may increase the risk of health problems such as skin cancer. Learn how to treat and prevent skin damage caused by the sun and how it can harm your health.

What is sun damage (photoaging)?

The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays are very important because they provide your body with vitamin D, which is necessary for strong bones. UV rays can cause health risks if you don’t protect your skin properly. For example, UV rays may burn the skin and reduce its elasticity, leading to premature aging, known as “photoaging.”

If UV rays penetrate deep into the inner layers of your skin, they can damage your skin cells. Over time, sun damage may increase the risk of skin cancer.

What sun damage looks like

If you’ve ever sat in the sun for too long without applying or reapplying sunscreen, then you may experience sunburned skin.

Signs of photoaging include:

  • Age spots
  • freckles
  • Loose skin
  • Melasma, which causes dark patches of skin
  • Skin hyperplasia
  • Spider veins, or red veins that appear like branches or spider webs under the skin
  • Hyperpigmentation or uneven skin tone
  • wrinkles

You may develop actinic keratoses (AKs), deep striaes, and dry patches of scaly skin. AKs are precancerous growths that can turn into squamous cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer).

The use of tanning beds that use artificial ultraviolet light may accelerate photoaging. Some people may see noticeable skin changes within a year.

Who Is at Risk?

Anyone can get sunburned skin because everyone is exposed to the sun. Some people may be at higher risk of developing health problems due to sun damage than others.

People at higher risk of sunburn include:

  • Over 50 years old
  • A family member has a history of skin cancer
  • Who has ever been sunburned
  • People who spend a lot of time outdoors
  • People who take certain medications, such as antibiotics and birth control pills, or use products that contain benzoyl peroxide
  • Have light-colored eyes, hair, and skin

How to Prevent Sun Damage?

Sun exposure is unavoidable. Still, there are many ways you can protect yourself from harmful UV rays and stop photoaging.

Apply sunscreen

Sunscreen provides the necessary sun protection. Make sure your sunscreen has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. SPF determines the sunscreen’s ability to block UV rays. The higher the number, the stronger your protection against UV rays.

Over time, sunscreen loses its protective effect. When you’re outdoors or after sweating or swimming, you’ll need to reapply every two hours.

Cover your skin and eyes

You can reduce the risk of sunburn by covering your skin. Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt to protect your skin as much as possible. Look for shade, such as in a tree, or use an umbrella outdoors if it’s too hot to wear long sleeves. Try wearing light-colored clothing, which will also help protect you from the sun.

A hat protects your face, head, and neck, providing greater coverage. Choose a wide-brimmed hat made of canvas or other tightly woven fabric.

Sunlight can also damage your eyes. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and surrounding skin from UV rays.

Avoid tanning

UV rays can come from artificial sources, such as lasers and tanning beds. Avoid indoor tanning, especially for teens who are at high risk of melanoma, the most harmful type of skin cancer.

About 10% of people with melanoma have a close relative with the disease. People with a family history of melanoma have a higher risk of developing melanoma than others, which may be due to common characteristics such as genetic changes, light-colored eyes, hair and skin, and frequent exposure to the sun.

Treatment of Solar Damage

Most sunburned skin is permanent. Still, there are a number of treatments you can try to improve the appearance of your skin.

Treatments may include:

  • Chemical peels: The healthcare provider will use a chemical solution to remove the outer damaged layer of the skin so that new, smooth skin can replace it. Chemical peels may cause permanent or temporary changes in your skin tone or scarring.
  • Cryosurgery: This is a freezing technique that helps to reduce age spots.
  • Fillers: These can improve loose skin and wrinkles on the face, hands, and lips.
  • Growth Factors and Peptides: Applying them to the face can help tighten loose skin.
  • Lasers and lights: Lasers and lights are office procedures that treat photoaging by heating skin cells. For example, photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses light and special drugs that respond to light to eliminate AKs. You may need two PDT sessions to remove the AK.
  • Microdermabrasion: This treatment exfoliates the skin, eliminating age spots, uneven skin tone, and wrinkles.
  • Moisturizer: Applying a moisturizer daily can help prevent and treat wrinkles.
  • Non-invasive radiofrequency: A dermatologist will apply a device to your skin that heats the tissue to help tighten loose skin.
  • Prescription-grade retinoids: Formulated to be stronger than over-the-counter medications, it helps reduce signs of photoaging.
  • Ultrasound: Delivers heat to your skin to help tighten it.

Skincare Products for Sunburned Skin

Dermatologists say sunscreen is one of the most important products to add to your skincare regimen to prevent photoaging. Use a broad-spectrum, waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 daily. Make sure to apply sunscreen to all parts of the skin that are not covered by the skin and reapply every two hours or as needed.

Avoid using too many anti-aging skincare products, which may irritate the skin. Instead, stick to a gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen.

A skincare routine for sunburned skin might look like this:

  • Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and pat dry.
  • Use of any medications and treatments, such as retinoids or vitamin C serum.
  • Apply moisturizer followed by sunscreen. Using a moisturizer with SPF may save time.
  • Use a lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect your lips from skin cancer.


UV rays can cause sunburn to the skin and accelerate the photoaging process. Over time, excessive unprotected sun exposure can lead to health problems such as skin cancer. Sunburned skin is permanent, but there are ways to reduce it. Treatment options include chemical peels, lasers, retinoids, and vitamin C serums.

Cover your skin as much as possible outdoors to protect your skin from sun damage. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day. If you notice any changes in the color, shape, or size of your mole or any suspicious skin growths, consult a dermatologist.

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