How Can I Take Care of My Skin After a Sunburn? A Derm Weighs In

December 21, 2022
Alanna Martine Kilkeary
By: Alanna Martine Kilkeary | by L'Oréal
person applying sunscreen to face

So you forgot to reapply your sunscreen while on vacation, and now you have a sunburn on your face. The question that begs an answer, next, is how exactly should you proceed with your skincare routine? Are there ingredients you should avoid? Absolutely, according to Dr. Michelle Farber at Schweiger Dermatology in Philadelphia, PA. We chatted with Dr. Farber about exactly what to do in this instance — below she shares her best tips for achieving a simple, non-irritating skincare routine post-sunburn.

How Should You Adjust Your Skincare Routine if You’re Sunburned?

According to Dr. Farber, you’ll want to hold off on most ingredients except a gentle wash and a thick emollient cream or ointment. “Most importantly, you’ll want to avoid potential irritants like retinols, AHAs, BHAs and exfoliant products.” She also adds that “antioxidants can help with skin protection and healing, but certain formulations can be irritating to sensitive skin, so ask your dermatologist if you’re not sure how to proceed.”

Further, avoid doing face masks and peels. “You do not want to pick peeling skin or do anything to exfoliate until your skin is completely healed,” she says.

When Should You Return to Your Normal Routine Post-Sunburn?

Dr. Farber says waiting until the sunburn is resolved is a must. “Wait until the skin is completely healed, meaning peeling, redness and sensitivity have all resolved. This may be a few days if you have a minor burn, but could be up to a couple weeks for any second- or third-degree burn.”

Relying on a simple skincare routine is key when it comes to sunburned skin. At, we love the CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser for an extremely gentle wash, and the Youth to the People Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream for a soothing, lightweight moisturizer for everyday use.  Always listen to your skin, and consult your dermatologist if you have questions about which products are appropriate for your skin.

cerave hydrating cleanser, youth to the people superfood air whip moisture cream

“Stay hydrated, and see your dermatologist if you have systemic symptoms like fever or chills as you may need more urgent medical attention,” says Dr. Farber. “And, of course, protect your skin from the sun. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen consistently and seek shade as much as possible!” We love the La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF 60.
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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