How to Restore Your Skin and Hair After a Long Day Outside

It happens to even the most diligent sun protector: You spent a little too much time basking in the sunshine, and now your skin and strands are paying the price, feeling dry, dull, and damaged. Here's how to recover fast.

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Summer: It's all fun and games until you get a sunburn. Even if you don't see red, a long day of UV exposure can leave your skin feeling parched and tight, and your hair like straw. What's done is done, but experts say what you do next will determine just how fast your skin and strands bounce back. So, next time you've gotten a little too much vitamin D, here's how to kick-start the healing process.

Skip bath time. A long soak can remove surface lipids responsible for keeping the moisture in your skin and your strands feeling smooth. In other words, it can further dehydrate your skin and hair. So, skip the bath and opt for a quick, cool shower, says Howard Sobel, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. Then apply moisturizer while skin is still damp.

Rehydrate right. To soothe and repair skin (and prevent peeling), look for a moisturizer that contains lipids such as linoleic acid, cholesterol, or ceramides, which will help seal up skin's damaged barrier, so skin can hang on to moisture. Also, check labels for soothing anti-inflammatories such as aloe and topical antioxidants, which help neutralize skin-cell-damaging free radicals that come from UV exposure. Find them all in Clinique After Sun Rescue Balm with Aloe ($24.50, clinique.com).

Soothe the burn. If your skin is throbbing and an angry shade of red, Sobel suggests applying compresses soaked in a mixture of half ice water and milk to stop the swelling. You can also take aspirin or Advil every four hours to take down inflammation, he says.

Stop the itch. First comes the sunburn, then comes the annoying itch. That's because skin's surface contains nerve-fibers that are activated during the healing process. To get some relief, Sobel says you can apply an over-the-counter topical cortisone cream. Or, try a moisturizer with a topical anesthetic such as CeraVe Itch Relief Moisturizer ($15, amazon.com).

Revive fried strands. Quench thirsty strands with a deep conditioning mask that contains rich butters to moisturize and protein to repair damaged spots. Try Aveda Sun Care After-Sun Hair Masque ($27, nordstrom.com). To soften rough, dried-out ends, apply a few drops of a hair oil when hair is damp from the shower, or apply to dry hair. Try Suave Moroccan Infusion Styling Oil ($6, walmart.com).

 

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