At long last – it’s finally summer! After what feels like an eternity of icy mornings and drippy noses it’s time to shed the woolly coats, dig out your sandals and soak up the sun. Sunshine is especially precious to those of us in colder climates such as the United Kingdom, all we need is a wink from the sun before we’re topless on the beach heating up the barbeque.

People with lighter skin tones often relish this rare chance to soak up the sun’s rays and get a healthy tan, so much so that we skip the sun cream altogether – and are left with painful, tender sunburns and embarrassing swimsuit lines. UK residents very rarely get to see the sun, so it’s essential that when we do we take care of ourselves and our skin.

Here’s all you need to know about how sunburns actually happens, how to treat them, and how to avoid looking like Mr. Krabs the next time you’re out sun worshipping.  

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How Does Sunburn Actually Occur?  

The color of our skin is determined by how much melanin we have in our skin. How much melanin your skin produces is all down to your genetics, and while we all have more or less the same number of melanocytes (the cells in your body that produce melanin) all bodies vary in how much they produce melanin and in what colors. Darker skin tones produce more melanin, and lighter skin tones produce less. When you expose yourself to the sun, the skin’s receptors sense sun exposure and produce more melanin to protect itself from harmful UV rays.

While your skin does work to protect itself, using a high spf is essential in making sure your skin does not burn. Sunburn usually doesn’t present until after a few hours of sun exposure, so you may have no idea that you’re getting burnt until it’s too late. Not only that, overexposure to the sun without spf protection greatly increases your risk of developing skin cancer. Be sure to apply a high enough spf regularly to prevent painful, and sometimes dangerous sunburns.  

Sunburns occur when your skin has become overexposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays, and your skin doesn’t have enough time to react before it is already damaged. Skin cells become so overexposed to radiation that this causes apoptosis, which is essentially skin cell suicide. The body then reacts to heal the damage by flooding the area with blood, causing that attractive lobster-red sheen. 

How to Treat a Sunburn

Most important factors to keep in mind when treating a sunburn are to reduce inflammation, and to keep the area moisturized. Anyone who has gotten a sunburn knows the grossness (or for some, the gross satisfaction) of seeing the dead skin flake and peel off. Dehydrated skin slows the healing process even more, so keeping the skin moisturized is essential in cutting the lifespan of your sunburn. 

How CBD Can Help  

When applied topically to the skin, CBD could have a huge range of benefits. It may help to clear active acne and prevent further breakouts, while also contributing to relieving dry skin conditions by emolliating the skin with essential fatty acids. It’s no surprise then that CBD oil is equally helpful in treating painful sunburns. CBD interacts with the receptors in your body that cause pain and inflammation, and because of its naturally anti-inflammatory properties may help speed up sunburn recovery time. CBD oil also contains a wide range of skin-essential elements like omega 3 and omega 6, as well as linoleic acid. It is this combination of factors that helps treat the pain and inflammation associated with a sunburn, while also conditioning and treating the skin to keep it moisturized.  Look for skin lotions and salves containing CBD to reap these skin-saving benefits. 

Ultimately, the best way to treat a sunburn is to NOT GET BURNT IN THE FIRST PLACE. While many of us strive for a healthy golden tan in the summer months, with spf 30 you can achieve a gradual (and healthier) tan while still protecting your skin from burning. Dermatologists recommend using at least an spf 30, which blocks about 97% of the sun’s rays when applied properly. Use broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both burn-causing rays (UVB) and skin-aging rays (UVA). Although UVA rays don’t burn the skin they do cause more long-term damage, and can also pass through windows and glass (terrifying, I know).

Wearing sunscreen everyday – especially during sunny weather – is the top anti-aging tip recommended by dermatologists. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that average adult needs about one ounce (or a shot glass) of sunscreen to cover your whole body. Be sure to apply a higher spf to your face to protect the delicate skin on your lips and around your eyes, which is more susceptible to damage. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours to prevent painful sunburns – and the unfortunate burn lines that come with them.



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