Ways You're Making Your Sunburn Worse Gallery

Summer is lush with fun opportunities to sit outdoors in the sun. There are backyard barbecues to enjoy where you can devour all kinds of delicious seasonal food — some healthier than others. Your friends are hosting parties where you can sip cool cocktails in the summer heat. You're going on beach days in search of your base tan.

Seriously, there's so much to do in the summer. Enjoying yourself under the beaming sunshine, you might forget about the strength of the UV rays hitting your skin. And once you return home after the warm-weather festivities, you might realize your skin has turned an unwelcome shade of pink.

You got sunburned. Maybe you forgot to wear sunscreen. Maybe you wore sunscreen, but somehow the sun scarred you anyway. No matter the situation, it's imperative that you take care of your skin after a bad burn.

There's a lot you can do to ease the pain of your sunburn — moisturizing with natural products, for example, and staying hydrated. But there are also some unfortunate mistakes that could make your sunburn worse.

Getting Citrus on Your Skin

Be careful next time you're squeezing a lime or a lemon. If you get even a squirt of citrus on your skin, you can increase your risk of getting dangerously sunburnt. The juice from citrus, such as oranges, grapefruit, or limes, can cause phytophotodermatitis, a skin condition of increased sensitivity to the sun. It only affects the skin that has experienced direct contact — but you may want to avoid sipping margaritas while you're sitting outside.

Wearing Perfume or Cologne

So you have to be sunburnt and smell bad too? Not necessarily — not all perfume and cologne scents pose a threat. But certain oils used to make certain scents can cause phototoxicity, which is a reaction to UV light that causes inflammation of the skin. If bergamot, sandalwood, or lavender is used in your scent of choice, keep in mind that they can increase your risk of experiencing skin damage from the sun.

Not Drinking Enough Water

You need to be drinking enough water this summer (and really all year round). Your skin was just roasted underneath the harsh sun and needs to rejuvenate. Water is an essential ingredient for that process. How much water do you have to drink? Here's what nutritionists have to say.

Taking Hot Showers

Ouch, that even sounds painful. Not only will taking a hot shower put you through lots of unnecessary pain, but it'll also dry out your skin and increase the chances that you'll peel. Take cold or lukewarm showers instead.

Using the Wrong Aloe Products

Some skin care products made with aloe contain chemicals and other ingredients that may serve to irritate your sunburn rather than soothe it. Any product containing alcohol or chemicals that dry out the skin could do more harm than good. The best aloe is the simplest aloe. Use the kind that comes directly from the plant. But if you can't get your hands on the pure stuff, use a gel sold in stores with minimal added ingredients.

Not Treating Your Sunburn

One of the biggest mistakes you can make while treating a sunburn is assuming that it will heal without any help. While it will eventually get better, you can accelerate the process and drastically reduce your risk of blistering and scars just by giving your sunburn a little TLC. Moisturize at least once a day and eat lots of hydrating healthy foods.

Peeling or Picking at Your Skin

Sunburn or no sunburn, it's a bad idea to pick at your skin. Doing so could cause acne due to the bacteria beneath your fingernails and on your hands in general. But trying to accelerate the process of your skin peeling off after a burn is even worse. Practice some patience and let the skin flake off naturally. This will help your skin to heal effectively before the outer layer of dead skin is gone.


Exfoliation is a technique often used to remove dead skin cells. But when the outer layer of your skin is scathed from the sun, you may want to avoid using any harsh methods of removal on your skin. Not only will it likely be painful, it will also expose your already-damaged layers of skin to whatever harsh chemicals are included in your exfoliating product. If you want to practice skin care while you have a sunburn, try a soothing face mask or an all-natural moisturizer.

Wearing Tight Clothes

You'll probably avoid wearing tight clothes regardless — when you have a sunburn, it hurts. But that pain is a warning sign of damage you're doing to your skin. You want to allow your skin to breathe with minimal abrasion that could make inflammation worse.

Covering Your Burn With Makeup

You know what's worse than suffering the embarrassment of a visible sunburn? Suffering the physical pain of making your sunburn worse by piling on makeup. You want to let your burn breathe. Plus, the germs from whatever sponge you use to apply your makeup could cause an infection or irritation.

Using the Wrong Sunscreen

Who knew there was a wrong way to wear sunscreen? You should definitely be applying it often — more often than you'd think. Just make sure that the kind you're using doesn't have lots of chemical ingredients. These can be irritating to the skin. Instead, opt for a sunscreen with a high concentration of zinc oxide, which can help to soothe your burn.

Applying Butter or Coconut Oil

Butter will not help ease your sunburn — that's an old wives' tale. And though coconut oil can be good for your skin in other scenarios, avoid smearing it on your sunburn. Both of these fatty substances can suffocate your skin and trap your body heat. This can increase the severity of existing inflammation and slow down the healing process.

Staying in the Sun Longer

Even if you put on sunscreen, avoid sitting under direct sunlight until your burn heals completely. You should also keep in mind that sunburns can take a couple of hours to start showing symptoms. So as soon as you notice warning signs, it's time to seek shelter from the sun.

Not Taking Pain Killers

Pain killer medication is good for more than just headaches. These over-the-counter medications can work wonders to reduce your discomfort when you've been sunburnt. Some pills, such as ibuprofen, double as anti-inflammatory medication, which helps reduce redness and swelling.

Eating the Wrong Foods

It sounds strange, but the food you eat can actually have a huge effect on your skin. The cells that make up your skin require a sufficient supply of the right nutrients to stay healthy. After you've damaged it, the largest organ in your body needs all the nutrition it can get to build up new cells and repair. Food has a lot more to do with your skin than you realize — certain foods can actually increase your risk of breakouts.

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