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The Best Sunburn Remedies That Aren’t Advil & A Cold Compress

Even if you don’t love the sweltering heat, the summer season still has some pretty sweet perks. You get out of work relatively earlier than usual (“pending manager approval”), there’s suddenly the option to spend every free moment at the beach, and it’s just about time to use all that saved PTO time for a well-deserved vacation. But there’s also a downside to those seaside weekends and days at the pool: the risk of sunburn. Because forgetting to apply SPF happens to the best of us.

So why, exactly, are sunburns enemy numero uno for summer? Not only do they leave behind stinging patches of red (a general ouch factor), too much unprotected time in the sun can lead to blisters and even sun poisoning. This is why we put together an arsenal of burn-fighting weaponry as a just-in-case. Some Advil, extra H2O, and a cold compress can help — but the creams, gels, and mists ahead will do an expert job of soothing your skin and getting it back in good shape.

If your first instinct is to slap some heavy body butter on your scorched skin — don’t. According to Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, founder of Capital Laser & Skin Care, you should avoid using the thickest lotions you can find because, while your skin is probably thirsty, these creamy butters can lock in the burning sensation. Instead, apply a light lotion that will moisturize, but not add fuel to the fire. For an extra dose of chill, let it sit in the fridge beforehand.

Coola ER + Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion, $32, available at Ulta Beauty.

Aw, good ol’ aloe vera. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll probably hear it for years to come: This stuff is a winner. Celebrity aesthetician Joanna Vargas loves it, too, saying, “The skin keeps burning for hours after you come out of the sun, so you need to stop it by putting aloe gel on it.”

Banana Boat Soothing Aloe After Sun Gel, $5.49, available at Walgreens.

When just the mere thought of touching your burned skin is painful, an aloe mist can swoop in to help. They’re not quite as calming as thick gel formulations, but you’ll definitely get some much-needed refreshment.

Hampton Sun Continuous Mist Hydrating Aloe, $31, available at Revolve.

Celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau explains that you need to avoid over-moisturizing the skin, as that could actually make things worse: “Many people want to apply lotion hourly in an effort to moisturize and heal the skin, but if you apply too much lotion, the heavy oils in the lotion can create a barrier and trap heat in the skin, keeping it red longer,” she says.

Kiss My Face Olive and Aloe Moisturizing Lotion Spray, $9.99, available at Target.

Your lips are crazy-sensitive to sun exposure — and they’re easy to forget. If you get a burn there, you have our sympathy and our top drugstore pick for easing the pain.

Vaseline Lip Therapy Aloe Vera Lip Balm Tin, $3.49, available at Target.

The surprising thing about this product isn’t how quickly it soothes (within seconds) — it’s the texture. It’s a dry oil that covers a lot of ground with just one spritz. Meaning, it’ll really last.

Sun Bum Cool Down Spray, $11.99, available at Ulta Beauty.

Rouleau recommends using a lightweight lotion that contains antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and plenty of vitamins. “Because sunburn is the ultimate sign of free radical-induced inflammation and skin damage, it may help to lessen the damage that is occurring deep within the skin and encourage repair,” she says.

Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Moisturizer, $39, available at Sephora.

Burns don’t just happen on your arms or legs, as we all know. If your face suffered, slap on this sheet for some moisturizing magic.

TonyMoly I’m Real Aloe Mask Sheet, $3.75, available at Ulta Beauty.

There are many ingredients besides aloe vera that have been proven to ease the pain. Honey and dairy products, like yogurt and milk, are easy DIY treatments, but if you’re not into concocting your own potion, get this serum.

Bare Republic Daily Recovery Milk & Honey Serum, $11.99, available at Target.

Feeling the burn can lead to feeling the itch. If your redness has gone down, but you can sense that peeling and prickling are on the way, Dr. Doris Day says you can lessen the intensity by using a 1% hydrocortisone cream. Within minutes, your skin won’t feel like it’s about to crawl off your body.

Aveeno Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream, $5.09, available at Target.

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