What to Do If You Get a Sunburn Before Your Wedding

Nothing ruins your day-of look quite like red, blistering skin.

Woman sunbathing in a bikini by the water

Jovana Stojanovic / Getty Images

It’s no secret that everyone wants to feel and look their best on their wedding day. In the months and weeks leading up to the big day, many brides- and grooms-to-be choose to prioritize their health, focus on good nutrition, drink plenty of water, and follow detailed skin care regimens. One thing they may forget to do? Watch out for the sun's harmful rays. Lathering on SPF daily, especially when spending time in the sun, should always be part of your daily routine, but mistakes happen. Whether you spent too long in the sun trying to get a tan for your nuptials or neglected to reapply sunscreen during an overcast afternoon, anyone can end up with a sunburn before their big day. 

Whether you end up with a slightly pink tint or blistering skin, there’s no question that a sunburn can interfere with how you look and feel on the wedding day. While the red appearance definitely presents an aesthetic issue, it’s also uncomfortable, itchy, or straight up painful. And even if your burn starts to fade by the time you tie the knot, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jenny Liu says you might still be dealing with peeling.

Although the best way to treat a sunburn is preventative (applying and reapplying sunscreen), there’s no need to panic if a scorching burn has developed on your face or body leading up to your wedding. We consulted the experts to learn about the best tips to reduce the discoloration and alleviate the burning sensation. Here’s what to do if you get a sunburn before your wedding day.

Meet the Expert

  • Dr. Jenny Liu, M.D., is a board-certified dermatologist based in St. Paul, Minnesota. She’s been a dermatologist for 12 years but has been working in the skin care industry for 20 years.
  • Ile Bailey is a licensed esthetician with 13 years of experience and the owner of Ile Esthetic based in Santa Monica, California.

Reduce the Inflammation

Once you detect a sunburn anywhere on your body, the first step requires bringing down the inflammation. The best way to soothe burnt skin is layering on aloe vera, according to licensed esthetician Ile Bailey. Loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties, aloe vera helps moisturize the skin and prevent peeling. Plus, the clear gel feels incredibly cooling on the burn. While aloe vera lotion may help, the natural gel form has a more highly concentrated amount of aloe, which is more effective at treating your burn, the esthetician notes. For best results, apply the gel on the sunburned area after you shower and as needed throughout the day.

Another anti-inflammatory alternative to try is oats, says Bailey. Draw a bath and pour colloidal oatmeal in the tub, which is a type of oatmeal that dissolves in water. Oatmeal eases the discomfort of irritated skin, restores your skin’s natural barrier, and repairs the flaky patches. Other solutions that relieve your skin entail cold compresses and cool baths or showers. If the burn is severe, Liu advises heading to your dermatologist for a prescription medication.

Consider Anti-Itch Remedies

Itchy skin is a sign that your sunburn is starting to heal, but no one wants to spend their wedding day scratching. To reduce this sensation, you can whip up a few anti-itching remedies at home. The American Academy of Dermatology Association shares that oatmeal baths can also help ease itchy skin. You can also create a mix of oatmeal and milk, add the paste to a cold compress, and apply to the affected areas. Holding a wet, cold cloth on torched skin for about five to 10 minutes at a time can also cause the itch to subside, according to the AAD. For store-bought solutions, rub a dollop of fragrance-free moisturizer or apply cooling agents, such as menthol or calamine.

Moisturize Your Body

Once your skin starts to peel, Liu recommends moisturizing your body with a cream that protects the skin’s barrier. Barrier creams are particularly effective at treating sunburns because they act as a shield that blocks potential irritants, allowing the skin to repair itself. Plus, barrier creams lock in moisture, so your skin won’t look or feel dry and flaky. For a soothing effect, look for creams with ingredients, such as centella, niacinamide, aloe, and oats, according to Liu. The AAD instructs sunburned individuals to apply the moisturizing agent after you finish taking a bath or shower, so the water stays on your skin longer.

Avoid Skin Care Actives

While certain skin care products, such as aloe vera and barrier creams, can diminish your sunburn, other items at your local drugstore might exacerbate the condition. Both Liu and Bailey advise removing active products, like retinol and chemical exfoliants, from your skin care regimen until your skin has fully healed. According to Healthline, using a strong topical, like a retinol, can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Meanwhile, chemical peels may cause redness that lasts up to a few months, which definitely won’t help improve the discoloration associated with your sunburn. 

Stay Out of the Sun

It likely goes without saying, but if your skin is already sunburned, you should avoid direct contact with the sun. If you must spend time in the great outdoors, be sure to rub on plenty of sunscreen. Even if you aren’t laying out for hours on end, Liu encourages everyone to wear sunscreen on a daily basis. The dermatologist recommends choosing a sun tan lotion with Vitamins B and C3, which is found in the Banana Boat Protection + Vitamins line, to prevent sunburns, reduce the indirect effects of the sun, and support the skin’s barrier function.

Drink Water

In addition to applying moisturizing agents on the surface of your skin, hydrating the inside of your body is just as important. To accelerate the healing process, you’ll need to guzzle down even more water than usual. Generally, the more you hydrate, the less likely your skin will peel. The National Academy of Medicine suggests drinking between nine to 13 cups of water every day, so try adding another cup or two to your daily total intake.

Rely on Color Correction

If all else fails, makeup will do wonders at hiding the rosy hue. Using a coverup or concealer with a green tint will help mask the flushed skin, according to Liu. Since green sits opposite to red on the color wheel, green makeup products will neutralize redness. To finish off your look, put on a light coat of foundation to avoid aggravating your sunburn even more.

Consult Your Makeup Artist

If your sunburn is still apparent by the time you say “I do,” talk to your makeup artist about your skin concerns. “Let your makeup artist know the situation and have them use a foundation that won’t further irritate the compromised skin,” Bailey says. Trust that your beauty team will know the best products to mask the sunburn.

Related Stories