A top choice for those who want an organic formula that doesn't feel too sticky.
Soothes skin after time spent in the sun, with its cold-pressed organic aloe vera that doesn't contain any artificial additives. Quick absorbing. Can also be used to treat various skin issues.
It's somewhat watery. Contains xanthan, a sugar-based thickening agent.
A generously sized bottle that's moisturizing.
Ample 16-ounce portion that moisturizes and helps protect tanned skin, thanks to the nourishing formula that includes vitamin E, aloe vera, and panthenol. Has a pleasant "summery" scent and comes in a convenient pump bottle.
Though it contains natural oils, it also contains parabens and alcohol. Feels a bit sticky or tacky until it totally absorbs into the skin.
Pain relief gel for users with moderate burns or worse.
Aloe gel formulation that blends in soothing ingredients such as calendula, echinacea, as well as hydrating hyaluronic acid. Texture is smooth and silky. Hypoallergenic formula is 98% natural.
Pain relief may not last as long as other formulas.
This highly moisturizing lotion wards off both discomfort and skin peeling.
Combines aloe and coconut oil in a substantial formula that absorbs surprisingly quickly. Includes other soothing ingredients. More than 98% natural, and its finish isn't tacky or greasy. No petrolatum, parabens, or phthalates.
Some customers disliked the scent of this thick formula.
Contains a variety of natural ingredients in a formula specifically geared toward sun-lovers.
The combination of all-natural ingredients and soothing oils in a water-based solution makes it lightweight and quick to absorb. Not tested on animals.
The scent is a bit on the strong side. A good alternative to aloe vera, but not the most moisturizing.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Whether you’re working on a tan or just spending time outdoors, caring for your skin after sun exposure is key to keeping it healthy. With a good after-sun lotion, you can prolong your tan or soothe skin that’s suffered a burn and keep your skin looking and feeling as good as possible.
There are a wide array of after-sun lotions on the market, so finding the right one for your needs can be difficult. You have to decide what type of formula, ingredients, and other features work best for your skin. If you’re not sure what to look for, making sense of all the options can definitely be overwhelming.
Sun exposure can potentially do serious damage to your skin, including dark spots, wrinkles, dryness, burns, blisters, and even skin cancer. To limit that damage, always wear sunscreen when out in the sun. An after-sun lotion can’t undo sun damage, but it can help your skin repair itself to make sure that it’s as healthy as possible.
Nearly all after-sun lotions contain hydrating ingredients to help replenish some of the moisture that’s lost due to sun exposure, as well as restore skin elasticity. Not only does staying moisturized help fight the signs of premature aging, but it can also prolong the life of a tan and limit peeling if you’ve suffered a sunburn. For burns, an after-sun lotion can cool down the skin with soothing ingredients, too.
The sooner that you apply after-sun lotion after you’ve been exposed to the sun, the better. After-sun lotion should be applied to clean skin, so take a shower or bath to wash away any sand, chlorine, or saltwater residue. Damp skin absorbs after-sun lotion more easily, so simply pat your body dry with a towel before massaging the lotion into your skin. Use gentle rubbing motions to avoid irritating your skin.
Reapply the after-sun lotion whenever your skin begins to feel dry, dehydrated, or tight.
After-sun lotions come in a variety of formulas. The right formula for you depends on your most pressing issue after sun exposure.
Lotions are the most common type of after-sun product. They’re usually fairly creamy but have a lightweight, liquid consistency that easily absorbs into the skin. Most after-sun lotions are all-purpose products, so they work well whether you have a tan or suffer a burn. They offer moderate hydration and can often soothe inflamed areas.
Creams are an ideal option if your skin is feeling particularly dry after sun exposure. They’re thicker than lotions, so they tend to be more moisturizing. After-sun creams are ideal if your main goal is to extend the life of your tan.
Gels offer an even lighter consistency than lotions, so they soak into the skin very quickly. After-sun gels are good for sunburned skin because they often contain a high amount of aloe vera, which is very soothing and calming. An after-sun gel also offers light moisturization to help with dryness and boost skin elasticity.
Mousses are an extremely lightweight and easily absorbed formula for after-sun skin care. They can hydrate and soothe the skin, and they are often suitable for even the most sensitive skin. An after-sun mousse works well for burns, as well as extending a tan.
Sprays are the easiest after-sun product to apply, and the liquid consistency allows them to soak in so quickly that you can feel the results almost immediately. After-sun sprays are usually packed with cooling and hydrating ingredients that keep skin from peeling or feeling tight.
When you’re choosing an after-sun lotion, it’s important to consider the ingredients. You should choose a formula that can hydrate, soften, soothe, and calm the skin after sun exposure, so look for products that contain at least some of these ingredients:
Aloe vera: Aloe vera is one of the most common ingredients in after-sun lotions. It’s a natural ingredient that comes from the aloe plant, and it’s highly effective for treating sunburn. That’s because it has glycoproteins that aid in reducing inflammation and swelling. Aloe vera also contains lidocaine, a common numbing agent that can help relieve the discomfort of a sunburn. Aloe vera can also form a protective barrier over the skin to lock in moisture and prevent peeling.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help protect your skin from the free radical damage associated with sun exposure. It also helps reduce inflammation and restore some of the moisture that’s lost during sun exposure.
Shea butter: Shea butter contains a wide array of antioxidants and vitamins that can promote healing for skin that’s been exposed to the sun. It’s also highly moisturizing, so it can reduce dryness and make the skin feel less tight.
Almond oil: Protein-rich almond oil contains vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats that are helpful for the skin after sun exposure. It can fight free radical damage, hydrate the skin, and soothe the itching and swelling associated with sunburn.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely effective at reducing inflammation, which makes them an ideal ingredient for after-sun lotions. They can also help prevent the skin damage that results from sun exposure, like fine lines and wrinkles, and boost the skin’s moisture content to keep it from feeling dehydrated and tight.
Some after-sun lotions may contain only one of these key ingredients, while others feature a blend of the ingredients. In most cases, the more ingredients that are included, the more benefits the product will have for your skin after sun exposure.
Many after-sun lotions contain fragrances to make the products more pleasant to use. They often have tropical-inspired scents that are reminiscent of the beach or pool. If you’re just looking for a lotion to help prolong your tan, scented formulas are usually fine.
However, if you have sensitive skin or you’ve suffered a sunburn, it’s best to opt for a fragrance-free after-sun lotion because synthetic fragrances can irritate the skin.
After-sun lotions usually range in price based on whether they contain natural or synthetic ingredients, as well as the size of the bottle. You can typically expect to spend between $3 and $30.
Synthetic formulas, which may also contain a few natural ingredients, are the most budget-friendly after-sun lotions. Small bottles that are less than eight ounces in size usually run from $3 to $8. Bottles that are larger than eight ounces usually run from $8 to $12.
All-natural formulas are typically the most expensive after-sun lotions. A small bottle that contains less than eight ounces usually costs $10 to $15, while a larger bottle that contains eight to 16 ounces usually costs $15 to $30.
A. For the best results, apply an after-sun lotion immediately after you come in from the sun. Waiting until your skin becomes red, itchy, or inflamed only delays your relief and can make your peeling and blistering worse.
A. For sunburned skin, using an after-sun lotion that contains aloe vera is your best bet because it can reduce inflammation and help cool the skin. Avoid any after-sun lotions that contain petroleum jelly, which can actually prevent the heat from escaping your skin, as well as lidocaine or benzocaine, which are likely to irritate your skin further.
A. After-sun lotions tend to be heavier moisturizing products, so they are not the best option for your face if you have oily skin. If you plan to use the product on your face, look for a formula that’s non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog the pores. For a sunburn, pure aloe vera usually works well for the face.