How to treat sunburn in 6 steps

An expert’s tips for finding relief

BEAUTYcrew Beauty Editor / January 31 2023

Summer is hands down our favourite season. 

The great weather and subsequent time spent outdoors is an excellent combination for maintaining mental and physical wellness.

But racking up hours at the beach, or simply stepping out the front door for a hot girl walk, can put you at risk of sun damage or sunburn if you’re not careful. 

If you’ve been unlucky enough to be caught in the unforgiving glare of the Australian sun this summer, and paid the cost, we’re here to help.

LOOK FANTASTIC’s In-House Expert and Pharmacist Aruj Javid recently shared her no-nonsense tips for soothing and treating sunburn, stat. 


Identify how sunburnt you are

Regardless of your skin tone, everybody can get sunburnt, according to Javid. 

But when it comes to treating your sunburn, first and foremost it’s important to identify just how sunburnt you actually are. 

First degree sunburn can be red, dry, tight and sore to touch. It typically can be treated at home, and should heal in three to six days.  

Second degree sunburn is painful to touch and can result in the swelling of the skin and blisters (that can lead to scarring). It is also recommended to contact your GP if you think you have second degree burns.

Third degree sunburn is the most severe, and results in blisters and scarring. It is important to seek medical attention as this level of burn will require regular cleaning and topical antibiotics.


Pain relief

If you’ve ever been sunburnt then you know how painful it can be. 

If you’re dealing with burnt skin, Javid recommends taking a “pain reliever such as ibuprofen.”


Cool down

Sunburn is typically hot to touch, so it’s important to “cool the skin, and apply a moisturiser or aloe vera,” Javid advises.


Stay hydrated

Help your body heal and drink plenty of water. 

Staying hydrated keeps your blood oxygenated, optimising the healing process and immune response.


Apply a topical treatment

“Treat peeling skin gently,” advised Javid. 

That means resisting the urge to peel your sunburn and applying “an anti-itch or medicated cream” to speed up the healing process.


Seek medical assistance for severe symptoms

If your sunburn has the characteristics of a second or third degree burn, you will need to see a GP, or in severe cases, go to the hospital. 

“If your skin is blistered, speak to your doctor and don’t pop your blisters unless advised by a GP,” advised Javid. You should also see a doctor if you are experiencing “high fever, headache, severe pain, dehydration, confusion, nausea or chills as a result of your sunburn.” 

“Go to the hospital if your sunburn is severe and causes you to have negative side effects,” she continued.

Need to stock up on some soothing skin care post-sun? These are the best after sun care products for the job. 

Main image credit: @maudeapatow

Briar Clark got her start in the media industry in 2017, as an intern for Marie Claire and InStyle. Since then, her keen interest in fashion and beauty has landed her gigs as a Digital Content Producer and Beauty Editor with titles like Girlfriend, Refinery29, BEAUTYcrew and beautyheaven. She loves the way seemingly innocuous topics like skin care and style have the ability to put a smile on people’s faces or make them think about themselves a little differently. A big believer in self love and experimentation, Briar has made a point of becoming the Australian beauty industry’s unofficial guinea pig for unusual treatments and daring hair trends. When she’s not testing out the latest beauty launches, Briar is big on broadening her horizons, mostly in the form of food but she’s also partial to travelling to new destinations both near and far (and of course, allocating an extra bag to bring their best beauty offerings home with her).