Let’s be frank: sunburns suck. Why are sunburns so pervasive on vacations? It’s simple. For many of those who are, let’s say melanin-challenged, vacations are the only time their skin sees the sun—especially in the winter months. This puts vacationers at particular risk in Hawaii, because our white sand beaches reflect 25% of the sun’s rays, giving our sun-worshippers that much more UV exposure. Because we’ve seen (and helped our guests avoid!) so many cases of sunburn, we feel particularly qualified to offer some sunburn-avoidance and treatment techniques for zipping, touring, or whatever amazing activity you’re enjoying in one of the sunniest destinations in the U.S.
AVOIDING SUNBURNS IN HAWAII We know. You told your friends you’re going to Hawaii, so what’s the point of even coming back if you’re not as golden as a honey-glazed ham? You can still get color while being smart about it. 1. Reflect on reflection. Remember that sand reflects the sun’s rays – you can still get burned if you’re under an umbrella, so use sunscreen regardless! The same goes for the reflection from water. This seems like a no brainer, but don’t forget to reapply liberally after spending time playing, swimming, or snorkeling in the water! 2. The higher you go, the more protection you need. Exploring high altitudes can also increase your risk of getting burned. 3. Block smarter. Wondering which sunscreen to use? Try reef safe, broad-spectrum sunscreens that block both UVA and UVB rays and are at least 30 spf, and use at least enough to fit in a shot glass! It may seem like a lot, but your skin will thank you. NOTE: Consider buying your sunscreen in Hawaii, it’s one less thing to pack and you’ll find plenty of reef-safe options! In 2018, the state banned sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate, both known to harm coral reefs, so be sure to avoid sunscreen with either of those chemicals, so both you – and our coral reefs – are taken care of. 4. Wanna protect it? Cover it! Wear hats, sunglasses, and clothes to cover the parts of your body you don’t want burned. Black clothing is not a great option for this. (Hello, heat stroke!) 5. Learn to love the shade. We know this is hard, but LIMIT YOUR TIME IN THE SUN! Remember if you don’t play for too long the first day, you can actually enjoy yourself the rest of your vacation.
HOW TO DEAL WITH SUNBURN So, let’s assume you ignored the above advice and spent a couple of hours playing in the sun with inadequate protection. Your skin starts to feel itchy, your face feels flushed, and when you look in the mirror, a giant tomato stares back. What do you do? Let’s begin with the obvious: get out of the sun. 1. Schedule activities wisely. Avoid being in full sun for the next day or two while giving your skin a chance to heal. Vacation time in Hawaii means endless outdoor activities, but try to not plan these between 10 am-4 pm while the sun is the strongest. Consider a sunrise or sunset excursion or a hike into one of Hawaii’s many lush rainforests. If you must venture out into the sun, cover up with a wide-brimmed hat and lightweight UVA/UVB sun-protection clothing. 2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. If you’re sunburned, it most likely means you’re also dehydrated and your body is working hard to cool itself down. Drink more water than usual and while the skin is damp, gently apply a moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid or aloe vera. Do this a few times each day. 3. Pop an anti-inflammatory. Aspirin, Ibuprofen, or Advil will help reduce swelling as well as pain. (We know you’re on vacation, but please avoid using Pina Coladas or other adult beverages to wash them down! This can irritate your stomach lining, lead to kidney problems, and increase drowsiness.) 4. Be cool. Take a short cool or lukewarm shower, or apply a cold compress when possible. Do not apply ice directly to the sunburn as it could cause frostbite or skin damage. (Frostbite in Hawaii? Inconceivable!) 5. Wear tightly woven clothes to protect your skin. This makes the sun less likely to break through and increase the burn. If you hold the fabric up to a bright light, you shouldn’t see any sun come through.