It happens to the best of us. Even the most careful and fanatical skincare conscious will at some point or another commit the most sinful beauty crimes of all...suffer the consequences of a sunburn. It happened to me just a few weeks ago. Yes indeed, even an eco beauty maven that creates some of the world's most effective natural skincare products can get sunburned.
I didn't mean for it to happen and I certainly applied enough sunscreen on my face and body to protect myself, but what I forgot to do was reapply. Remember that word because it's critical if you're going to spend a day at the beach, outdoors or as in my case a 4 1/2 hour hike in the California mountains of Santa Anita you must and I repeat, must reapply sunscreen after 2 hours of continued sun exposure. I know this, I preach this, yet I screwed up when it mattered and my skin suffered for it. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation a person's risk of developing melanoma doubles with up to 5 sunburns in their lifetime and just one blistering sunburn in childhood and adolescence doubles the chance of melanoma later in life. If that doesn't scare you maybe vanity will. Wrinkles are induced from UV damage and begin to thin out the tissue under the skin which eventually loses its ability to hold up and begins to sag and crinkle. A bad sunburn can speed up the process rather quickly. Most of the damage I suffered was on my nose, forehead and shoulders. Thankfully giant sunglasses saved my eyes from the sun although I looked like a crazy raccoon for about a week. Now that my secret is out I want to share how I treated my sun damage to help reverse the damage and speed up the process of getting through the pain and flaking. I hope this doesn't happen to you and that you do remember to reapply sunscreen (even if you're going to hike in sometimes shady mountains terrain) every 2 hours.
1. Access The Damage
The first thing to do is examine the areas you were burned and what type of sunburn you have. If your skin is red, blistering and super painful go to your doctor immediately. Blistering sunburns require medical attention as they can easily become infected. If your sunburn is milder than a blistering degree burn go to step 2.
2. Make A Skin Soothing Tea And Apple Cider Vinegar Compress
This is the first thing I did when I noticed I got more sun than I wanted. Mix half a cup of cool raw coconut water, 2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar and one cup of cooled green tea in a large bowl and add a clean cotton washcloth and allow to soak for 5 minutes, then wring out and place over cleaned sunburned areas. This will provide temporarily relief as well as help aid cell damage to the skin. Do this as often as you like with a sunburn and don't rinse off. After a cool shower is best.
3. Make An Anti Inflammatory Paste
This should be done before bedtime to ease pain and allow you to sleep. Mix 1 tablespoon manuka honey, 1/2 teaspoon organic tomato paste, 10 drops barbary fig seed oil (or Vitamin E) well and apply on skin. Yes, it's thick, messy and smells like pasta sauce, but the lycopene found in tomatoes will significantly quench the damage that occurs with ultraviolet exposure more so than even Vitamin E. There is also Vitamin C in tomatoes and the combination of C, E and lycopene is pretty genius. Manuka honey is extremely antibacterial and loaded with enzymes that will speed up the healing of a burn. Allow this paste to stay on your burn for about 30 minutes and rinse off gently to apply your topical treatment. Beware as I kept licking my own face, it was the sweetest pasta sauce I've ever made.
My face burn wasn't this bad, but close!
4. Apply Topical Treatments
The staple topical treatment to relieve sunburns is aloe vera and yes you can definitely use an organic aloe vera gel. I applied a thin layer on my nose, forehead and shoulders.I do not recommend using fresh aloe vera directly from the plant unless you've tried this before and your sunburn isn't blistering. If you know you won't have a reaction to fresh aloe vera then it is indeed effective for soothing purposes. If your burn has blistered you don't want to apply fresh aloe directly from the plant as certain natural microbes living on the plant could infect open blisters. (Ask me how I know this! I saw a disaster happen right before my eyes when I was a young summer camp counselor. Yuck, is what I remember most.) You may use a calendula cream or really good virgin coconut oil for your body as I did on my shoulders. The lauric acid in coconut oil is good for healthy cell immune function. I used what I knew what would work great, both our Daily Elements Defense Face Oil and our Barbary Fig Seed Oil and guess what? They worked quick and very well indeed! If you use any of these products rest assured that they will work to repair skin from damage and help procure new healthy cell growth. I feel these oils cut my inflammation time in half and two days later my skin was tanned and not peeling off in large amounts.
The day of my sunburn incident I took ibuprofen and drank a tall glass of tomato juice. Drink a fresh antioxidant rich berry juice and plenty of water, take ibuprofen and eat healthy. Some people notice fatigue after a bad sunburn and certainly this was my case so don't stress your body or immune system out by eating tons of carbs or fatty meats. Lean proteins, water dense foods and plenty of lycopene rich foods such as tomatoes, watermelon, and grapefruit all help you from the inside out.
6. Protect Your Burn
The morning after I noticed my entire face was sucked dry. I was horrified as I've been able to maintain pretty balanced skin for several years now and hadn't experienced such dryness on my face since my summer vacations in New Mexico when I was younger. Luckily I didn't have such a severe burn because I spritz myself with an active facial mist and went for it with both oil and a thick layer of Rainforest Hydration Treatment. That is a lot of moisture for me especially for warm weather. The key to managing a sunburn is to not allow your skin to dry out and of course this is the natural process to undergo after damaging and traumatizing your skin with a burn. You want to continue to replenish nutrients to skin that is basically starving for hydration and nutrients. Apply oil and reapply as often as needed. Doing this got me back to almost normal in two days. I didn't need as much oils then. Wear a hat, loose cotton clothing and avoid jeans or pants if your legs were burned. Wear a loose skirt of shorts. I hope no one is forgetting to wear their sunscreen after this!
One of the most important, if not the most important Gods worshiped by the Incas was Inti, the sun God. The Incas had so much respect for the sun as it provided them with warmth, a good crop season and sustained life. Every year their most magnificent festival was dedicated to Inti to honor and not take for granted the power the sun had in providing them with a good life. I'm going to remember that every day as I'm greeted by the sunrises that flood my bedroom each morning. Don't take anything good for granted.