Ask Hannah: S.O.S.S. (Save Our Sunburned Skin!)

Are you burnt redder than a tomato? Read through for soothing salvation.
Publish date:
June 30, 2011
shoppables, skincare, summer, summer beauty, sunscreen, sunburns, ask hannah, sun safety

Natalie asked: Halp! I'm sunburnt beyond belief. I've got an achy patch of watermelon-red on my shoulder, and I've got funky semi-tan spots where my SPF was actually applied. Chances of peeling are medium to high. Plus, no matter how much schtuff I put on, my nose always burns. Got any advice in this department beyond the traditional "aloe" and "use sunscreen, idiot"?

Hannah answered: Oh no, I know how bad sunburns can be. Once at Summer Day Camp I laid out on the astro turf at a water park on my stomach for an entire afternoon, completely free of SPF, and the next day awoke paralyzed with a burnt-to-a-crisp sensation all over my formerly ghost-toned back. It was not pretty, but I learned a lesson. You've got to be super thorough. Here are a few tips to keep you from getting scorched next time (and how to soothe your fiery skin right now).

If these tips don't work, you could always try Noxzema ...


You're probably burning, and itchy. It's time to go beyond slathering a handful of aloe vera on your sore spots. First, drinks tons of water. Your body basically dries up out in the sun, so sip some water or iced tea to cool off. Next, take a bath in cooler temperature water. I don't know if there's any scientific backing to this but I find when I'm burnt, it just plain feels nice. If you want to go the extra mile, use a colloidal oatmeal product like Aveeno's Oatmeal Bath Treatment ($3.56, It doesn't have soap or fragrance and it's proven to soothe sunburnt skin.

Once you're out of the tub, take a few washcloths or a small size towel and run under cold, cold water. Wring 'em out. Then take your pure aloe vera gel and squirt it on the cloths (add some chilled green tea for even more skin goodness). Lay them over your sunburnt areas. If you want an extra chilling factor, pop the aloe vera soaked cloths in the fridge for a few minutes. Say 'ahhhh'.

Finally, for relief throughout the day, try a spritz. You can buy one like Evian's Brumisateur Spray ($5.50-$16.30 for various sizes, Spray it on your face, chest and arms throughout the gross, hot days to cool off. I like these even when I don't have a sunburn. They're extremely refreshing when it gets humid and gross, especially if you store them in the fridge.

Remember, once you peel to just keep moisturizing with aloe vera. After a few days your skin should return back to normal, and then it's time to follow my next set of tips. ...

Target Your Tough Spots

You mentioned your nose is hard to keep covered, and that's usually because our face is so exposed during the day. Plus our faces sweat a ton so any sun product we put on just slides right off. There are a lot of great products out there that are meant for those troubling areas (nose, ears, around the eyes). I've been using Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream Targeted Sun Defense Stick with SPF 50 ($20, this summer, and so far my nose has remained unburnt and freckle-free, plus it's super-moisturizing and non-greasy and its tiny packaging fits in any bag so you can swipe it on throughout the day.

And of course, there are those troublesome spots we always miss on our back. Coppertone's Sport Continuous Spray Sunscreens ($9 for SPF 50 at have a mist that covers all over and you can even spray the bottles upside down, making it impossible to miss any spots.

Cover Up With Stylish Accessories

I'm always an advocate for hats, and the wide brims seem to help to protect our eyes and faces in the Summer. Straw boaters are a favourite of mine for this kind of weather, but any kind with some sort of brim will do.

Sporting a hat I got at H&M last Summer and Ray-Bans to keep my eyes healthy and protected from the sun.

I hope these tips prove helpful, and that the burning goes away soon (typing that made me feel/sound a bit like a gynecologist, didn't it?). Now perhaps our readers can share some of their favourite sun-battling products?