The key to turning sunburn into a tan is to heal sunburn as fast as possible. Intense sun exposure strong enough to create sunburn dehydrates the top layers of skin cells. If you do not treat sunburn immediately, more than the first layer of skin will peel off. The faster you cool and hydrate the skin, the less you will peel, and the quicker your skin will turn golden brown.
Cool sunburned skin immediately. Step into a very cool shower or splash cool water on affected skin, right after you come in out of the sun. Cooling the burn minimizes damage to skin layers.
Apply aloe vera gel to the burn after you have showered. You can use the store-bought kind or use the juice directly from the aloe vera plant. Alternatively, you can spray the burn with diluted lavender or eucalyptus oil. Mix just a few drops to a cup of water and pour into a clean spray bottle. Shake well before using. Both lavender and eucalyptus are good for mild (first-degree) burns of any kind.
Wear loose, soft clothing that will not chafe the skin. Your skin will be fragile. To turn the burn into a tan, you must treat the skin delicately. Chafing or rubbing might damage deeper skin layers.
Apply aloe vera gel, lavender, or eucalyptus again before you go to bed. This will help your skin heal more during the night.
Take another cool shower the following morning. Apply a gentle, hypoallergenic moisturizer to the sunburned areas.
Moisturize as often as necessary each day after you get the sunburn, and drink plenty of water. Sunburns dry out the skin immensely. Staying hydrated inside and out keeps too many skin layers from dying and peeling.
Stay out of direct sunlight until your sunburn has healed. Sunburn on top of sunburn will delay the tan.
Make sure skin is clean before applying aloe vera gel.
Vitamin E supplements may help your skin heal faster.
To keep your tan from fading, continue your moisturizing regimen.
Do not put these crèmes or gels on severe, deep blistering sunburns. Instead, severe burns should be kept clean and sterile to prevent infection. You may need to see a doctor if the sunburn is very bad.
Do not pick at peeling skin--you may cause more damage.
Do not place ice directly on skin to cool sunburn. It might feel nice but will damage and dry out the skin.