How To Cover Up A Sunburn

May 15, 2015 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

We all know the sun is bad for us and that we should be covered outside at all times–in SPF, hats, towels, caftans, a burlap bag, whatever you’ve got. Still, you had a little too much outdoor fun and now you’re dealing with the consequences: a hot, scarlet mess of a sunburn. We’ll spare you the lecture and get right to it: this is what you need to do in order to cover that sunburn in minutes.

1. Treat your sunburn. Don’t ignore the problem by throwing a lot of makeup on it. Your first step is to treat and soothe your burned skin. Lifestyle expert and TV personality Justine Santaniello, who is the creator and founder of Just Haves, says her “go-to cult favorite” also happens to be an affordable drugstore classic: Bio-Oil, which is recommended to treat scars, stretch marks, and uneven skin tone. It absorbs quickly into skin and will do for red, inflamed skin what 30 minutes of yoga does for your stress level–calm it down.

2. Prep your skin. Ever splash a toner that contains alcohol on your sunburn? Yeah, not a good feeling. Skincare and beauty expert Pearl Dworkin, who is the founder of Glamologie, says hydrating spritzers are a fabulous alternative to get sunburned skin ready for makeup. “When you burn your skin it gets really dehydrated and needs moisture,” Dworkin says. “A cool mist with ingredients like rose essential oil, chamomile, jasmine, vitamin C, shea butter, and aloe will add some hydration to your skin and help speed up the healing process. This will also make whatever foundations/bronzers that you use wear better on the skin. Make sure you wear a heavier moisturizer day and night to help heal the skin. When you have a sunburn you may have some peeling of your skin and by keeping it hydrated this peeling will be minimized.” Dworkin recommends Circadia by Dr. Pugliese Post Peel Balm.

3. Mix foundation with moisturizer. Both Santaniello and Dworkin agreed: when you have a sunburn, less is more when it comes to your makeup. Instead of applying a thick mask of foundation in an attempt to drown out the red in your skin, Dworkin says to keep it simple and mix a bit of foundation with your everyday moisturizer. “This will give your moisturizer a tint and be very hydrating. I wouldn’t apply heavy foundation over a burn since it may be hard to blend.”

4. Powder your nose. And your cheeks, forehead and chin. After you’ve applied a moisturizer or serum on your skin, dab mineral face powder over your burn using a fluffy brush, Dworkin says. One to try: Colorescience Sunforgettable Mineral Sunscreen Brush SPF 50. “You want to be sure to apply gently and use a mineral powder formulation,” Santaniello said. “The Sunforgettable products have easy, light application, plus they already contain SPF, which is important as you don’t want any more burns!”

5. Turn that red into bronze. Wasn’t bronze the color you were aiming for in the first place? “Bronzers are a great way to enhance and minimize the look of red skin,” Dworkin said. “Make sure you use a gold toned bronzer versus a red toned bronzer. The gold tone will tone down your redness.”

6. Keep lips light. The number one way to announce to the world that you’ve arrived and you’ve brought a major sunburn with you is to wear blindingly bright red lipstick. Dworkin recommends a light pink gloss or neutral color and Santaniello loves Colorescience Sunforgettable Lip Shine SPF 35. “I prefer a lip gloss over a lipstick for sheerer, light lip coverage,” Santaniello said. “This one has SPF built in, plus a nice hint of color.”

7. Play up your eyes. When your skin isn’t on its best behavior, break out the eye shadows and mascara and make your pretty peepers the focus to draw attention away from your sunburn. “Wear a little gold sparkle by your lash line and/or a light opalescent high-light under your brow bone,” Dworkin says. “You can also wear a little extra mascara, but stay away from pink or purple eye shadows when you have a sunburn. I’ve often thought someone had a burn on their lid when in fact they are just wearing pink eyeshadow.”

For more beauty tips, check out 10 at-home remedies to try when zits pop up out of nowhere and 7 things to consider before going platinum blonde.


Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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