Summer is, probably, the season where you spend the most time outside. This is great for so many reasons – nature is wonderful, the sun makes you happy (legitimately), the warm weather feels nice – but it also has its downsides. One of the worst things about spending hours outside is the possibility of getting a nasty sunburn. Who among us has not spent the day at the beach or the pool or on a hike, happy and carefree, only to leave feeling burnt, hot, and in pain? If you say you’ve never gotten a sunburn on your face, you’re lying. Even if you’re super strict with sunscreen, it happens.
A sunburn feels terrible and is legitimately awful for your skin and health, but on the superficial side? It also looks pretty bad, especially when it’s splashed in blotches over your cheeks, on your forehead, at the tip of your nose, maybe even on your eyelids. It usually goes away pretty quickly, so it’s easy enough to endure on a regular basis, but what if you have somewhere fancy to go? What if you have a date? What if you just want to look your best and you feel like you can’t because your skin looks like a lobster?
I get it, and I’ve been there. I once got a very bad sunburn on my face two days before a wedding and I was mortified. Luckily, I got it to chill out and get better before then, and I managed to cover up what was left. But I’ve seen some pretty terrible attempts at hiding a sunburn in my lifetime. Last summer, I had to stop myself from approaching a girl who was bright red, yet had still slathered a light foundation all over her face – which promptly stopped at her jawline in the most obvious way. I just wanted to give her advice! My boyfriend said no. So, since I can’t do stuff like that, I’ll write about it. It’s not always possible to completely hide a sunburn on your face, but you can at least try, and make sure you’re trying the right way. Here are a few tips on how to cover up a sunburn quickly.
1. Apply something soothing ASAP.
The very first thing you need to do when you get a sunburn is treat it – like, as soon as you possibly can. The longer it sits there doing it’s thing with nothing on it, the worse it’s going to get and feel. My favorite soothing treatment is aloe vera, but not the giant neon green tub you can buy at the store (this often doesn’t even have real aloe in it) – the actual plant, cut open to reveal the wonderful soothing nectar that is aloe vera. Put it on your face directly and let sit for a while, or make aloe vera ice cubes for extra cold relief.
2. Take a cold shower, then treat it more.
Speaking of cold, you should take a cold shower as soon as you can. The cool water will help soothe and treat your sunburn, and it will feel really great. Once you get out of the shower, treat it more – the above graphic shows some great natural ideas, which are really your best bet.
3. Take Tylenol.
Sunburns hurt, mainly because your skin is inflammed. It’s puffy, it’s red, it’s sensitive, and it’s freaking out. Help with the inflammation by taking a pain-killer like Tylenol. This helps heal your sunburn and makes some of the swelling go down. Since the swelling is a big part of how red the burn looks, this is one of your first steps in hiding it.
4. Moisturize heavily, look for something with vitamin C.
Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster, $19.50, Sephora
Your best bet for healing and hiding a sunburn is to moisturize a lot. Your skin is dry and peeling and red and itchy – it desperately needs hydration. Moisturize before bed if it’s nighttime, then again in the morning before applying makeup. Try to find a moisturizer with Vitamin C, which is especially helpful for treating something like this.
5. Use a hydrating sheet mask before bed or right when you wake up.
Like I said: give your poor skin as much hydration as you can. A hydrating sheet mask is a great way to really add moisture in a super concentrated way. Apply one before face cream before bed, or in the morning before applying makeup to really give it a boost. I love these rubber masks from Dr. Jart+, which work so, so well. But if you don’t want something like this, any paper sheet mask will work.
Dr. Jart+ Hydration Lover Rubber Mark, $12, Sephora
6. Do not peel it.
I know that the urge to peel your burn can be real, but please don’t do it. It’s only going to make the peeling worse, which is going to make your skin look worse. Apply moisture like the above suggestions said, then move on without peeling.
7. Put on sunscreen!
Yes, you need sunscreen even if you’re not really spending much time outside, even if you have a hat on, even if you already have a burn. Actually, especially if you have a burn! More sun on top of that will just make things way worse. Put an actual sunscreen on before applying any makeup. I love Hawaiian Tropic Face Lotion because it never feels sticky or weird, it doesn’t have a bad smell, it isn’t oily at all, and it’s hydrating.
Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Sunscreen Face Lotion, $7.99, Target
8. Start with a green color-correcting primer.
A green color corrector is made for getting rid of redness – so, it’s a really great option for hiding a sunburn. Start your makeup routine with a green color correcting primer. It will help blur your skin and get rid of some of the redness (it’s not a miracle worker, but it really does help), and it will keep any other product on longer. I’m a big fan of Milani’s Prime Correct. It feels soothing and it’s really light.
Milani Prime Correct Face Primer, $13, Milani Cosmetics
9. Treat especially bad spots with green color-correcting concealer.
After applying a color correcting primer, spot treat with a green concealer. This is a great way to cover up a minor sunburn – green corrects redness and concealer is obviously meant to hide imperfections. Just be careful of how much you apply – you don’t want it to be too obvious. You can just get a single green concealer, but I love this Tarte palette. The colors are great, the coverage is good, and it offers more.
Tarte Wipe Out Color Correcting Palette, $45, Sephora
10. Use a tinted moisturizer.
It’s hard to put heavy makeup over a sunburn, so I usually suggest a tinted moisturizer or BB cream. It’s lighter, more hydrating, and doesn’t have as much of a matte coverage, which can look really weird and obvious on a sunburn. This Coola BB cream is one of my favorites – it feels light and doesn’t look cakey or heavy. It also has SPF 30, which is great, especially if you’re already burned.
Coola Rosilliance Organic BB Cream, $52, Sephora
11. Or mix your foundation with moisturizer.
If you don’t have BB cream or tinted moisturizer, and you’re in a pinch, you can always mix your foundation with moisturizer. It will thin it out, leaving your skin more hydrated and looking more luminous.
12. Choose a foundation with yellow undertones.
If you really want to use foundation, then stick with one that isn’t too heavy – and you probably shouldn’t use the same shade you use when you aren’t burnt. Instead, opt for a foundation with yellow undertones, which will help cancel out the redness.
NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation, $49, Sephora
13. If you have this foundation on hand, it might be worth a shot.
If you’re set on foundation, you might want to try Too Faced Born This Way. A few months ago, the internet collectively freaked out about these before and after photos of a woman who covered up a bad sunburn with this foundation. It’s worth a shot! It’s also worth noting that this is an amazing foundation even if it doesn’t cover up your burn.
Too Faced Born This Way Foundation, $39, Sephora
14. Add bronzer.
It might sound weird to add bronzer on top of a burn, but it’s actually a good way to add some glow and shape to your face. Dust it on gently – not too much – and it will help your skin look more luminous.
Becca Sunlit Bronzer, $38, Sephora
15. Don’t use too much makeup.
Here’s the truth: it’s hard to cover up a sunburn. In some cases, it might be impossible, and trying might make things look a lot worse. So, if you’re really burnt, stick with treatment and moisturizer, and ride it out. Or, just don’t cake on the makeup. Try one or two products and leave it be.
How do you hide a sunburn? What are your favorite summer products? Let us know in the comments.