5 Things That Make You More Likely To Burn In The Sun

It’s safe to say that pretty much everyone has experienced at least one sunburn in their lives, and it’s easily one of the most unpleasant feelings ever.

By Alena Hall

sunburn sensitivity

Unsplash/Ash Edmonds

But what was it about those times that turned you a painful shade of red when other times, you fared just fine or, dare we say, accomplished a pretty even tan? Maybe it was due to poor sunscreen application (or none at all… SMH). Maybe you were vacationing closer to the equator after a dark, cold winter spent indoors.

Or maybe you fell victim to a sun sensitivity without even knowing it. Below are five of the most common things that make you more likely to burn in the sun. Word to the wise: You’re best off avoiding these guys on particularly sunny days.

1. Common Medications

sunburn sensitivity


There are quite a few drugs that come with sun sensitivity warnings, and if you’re not super diligent with your sunscreen application, you could run some serious sunburn risks. Antihistamines like Benadryl, oral contraceptives (AKA birth control pills) and pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) all increase your likelihood of burning in the sun. So regardless of whether you’re popping these frequently or you’re having a rough day on your beach trip, lather up extra carefully.

2. Certain Foods

sunburn sensitivity


Even healthy foods can up your chances of getting an unwanted burn. If you tend to eat a lot of celery, dill, fennel, figs, lime, parsley or wild carrots on your tropical vacays, that SPF needs to be kept on hand at all times. Celery specifically contains compounds called furanocoumarins, which make your skin more photosensitive. And the strong acid content of citrus fruits like lime is what makes them so risky.

3. Alcohol

sunburn sensitivity


We love drinking Coronas on the beach as much as the next person, but downing alcohol in the blazing sun definitely further increases your risk of suffering from a painful sunburn. That’s because the ethanol in alcohol metabolizes into acetaldehyde, which can cause carcinogenesis (a long word for the beginnings of skin cancer). White wine is the worst adult beverage to drink in the sun.

4. Essential Oils

sunburn sensitivity


Oils and perfumes help us smell extra lovely during the sweaty summer days, but certain scents actually exacerbate sunburn. If you’re all about your favorite spritz, check out that ingredient label. Bergamot, bitter orange, lavender, lemon verbena, musk, rosemary and sandalwood all change the way your skin reacts to the sun. It might be worth opting for a “sunny day scent” that avoids each of these essential oils to keep your skin happy.

5. Active Skincare Ingredients

sunburn sensitivity

Unsplash/Charisse Kenion

How ironic — all of those expensive products we splurge on for the sake of beautiful skin can lead to the worst sunburn ever. If you’re using any anti-acne product containing an alpha-hydroxy acid (glycolic acid) or beta-hydroxy acid (salicylic acid), you’re going to need major sunscreen coverage. If you’re using any anti-aging product containing a retinol, you’re also going to want to up your SPF game. Basically, any product that is trying to surface a newer, fresher layer of skin faster is going to be a problem on those beach days.

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This article originally appeared on Swirled.