You already know how important it is to wear (and re-apply) sunscreen whenever you're outdoors. But there's one more step to complete your suncare routine....
You might think that after-sun is only necessary when you've had a sunburn.
That's why it's a good idea to apply soothing and hydrating ingredients after you've spent time in the sun.
Two of my favourites are aloe vera and niacinamide. Aloe vera has been shown to accelerate wound healing, protect against radiation damage, reduce inflammation and bind moisture. Niacinamide can help repair radiation-induced DNA damage, prevent photocarcinogenesis and treat signs of photoaging (like pigmentation). Other good ingredients to replenish lost moisture include glycerin, allantoin and coconut oil.
Just keep in mind that if you do get a burn, you'll want to stick with lightweight gels or sprays to cool your skin down. Thicker, oil-based moisturizers are best for skin that is dry, tight or shedding. You don't want to use anything occlusive on a burn as it could form a barrier that traps the heat in your skin.
Ready to see the best after-sun lotions I've found? The formulas below have the best ingredients—with no dyes, silicones or undesirable oils, and little to no fragrance!
The Best After-Sun Lotions
Herbivore After Sun Skin Soothing Aloe Mist
Herbivore After Sun Skin Soothing Aloe Mist is a lightweight and all-natural liquid hydrator in a spray format. The aloe water soothes and hydrates, while spearmint essential oil creates a cooling sensation. It's even more refreshing if you store it in the fridge!
Burt’s Bees Aloe & Coconut Oil After Sun Soother
Burt's Bees Aloe & Coconut Oil After Sun Soother is a fast-absorbing, non-greasy lotion made with 98.6 percent natural ingredients. It's high in coconut oil, glycerin, aloe vera and honey extract, and can be used on both face and body. I find if you get a little pink after sun exposure, this takes it down by the next morning.
Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel
Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel is my top pick for your face. It's a fragrance-free gel moisturizer with 80 percent aloe vera and propolis (bee "glue"). Not only does it soothe and hydrate, but the propolis has additional anti-inflammatory benefits.
Beautycounter Countersun After Sun Cooling Gel
Beautycounter Countersun After Sun Cooling Gel is a lightweight gel with a slight cooling sensation and no sticky residue. I love that one of its first ingredients is niacinamide; it also has propanediol, glycerin and aloe vera. And it smells like monoï, my favourite summer scent!
Kerstin Florian Sun Aloe Gel
Kerstin Florian Sun Aloe Gel is a light, non-sticky gel formulation for the face and body. Besides aloe vera, it includes algae and arnica extracts, which have anti-inflammatory and cell-regenerating properties. The coconut fatty acids and allantoin help hydrate and heal your skin.
Hampton Sun Hydrating Aloe Continuous Mist
Hampton Sun Hydrating Aloe Continuous Mist is a hydrating and cooling body spray. The oil-free and fragrance-free formula contains aloe vera, glycerin and vitamin E, along with menthol to naturally cool you down. You can also mist it on your face.
Jason Soothing 98% Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel
Jason Soothing 98% Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel boasts 98 percent aloe vera juice along with gluconolactone, glycerin, allantoin and vitamin B5. This one has a classic gel texture, and isn't sticky once it sinks in.
Alba Botanica After Sun Gel
Alba Botanica After Sun Gel is a body gel that contains 98 percent aloe vera and has been certified for purity. Due to the high amount of the star ingredient, it has somewhat of a liquidy texture. It also doubles as a shaving gel and after-shave.
Goddess Garden Organics After-Sun Gel
Goddess Garden Organics After-Sun Gel is an easy-to-apply gel spray containing glycerin, niacinamide and of course, aloe vera. I find it more hydrating than most aloe products (although it can be slightly sticky). Instead of synthetic fragrance, it's scented with essential oils, which also offer cooling and soothing benefits.
Badger Aloe Vera Gel
Badger Aloe Vera Gel is a simple 96 percent aloe vera gel with few other ingredients. It has no scent and a thinner, spreadable consistency that absorbs fast and doesn't leave your skin sticky. You could use this on your face or body.
Pacifica After Sun Body Spray
Pacifica After Sun Body Spray is an aloe vera body mist that comes in two naturally-derived scents, Coconut Vanilla and Pineapple Flower. The formula features plenty of hydrating and reparative ingredients, including glycerin, olive oil esters, aloe vera, vitamin B5, caffeine and salicylic acid.
Aromatica Organic Aloe Vera Gel
Aromatica Organic Aloe Vera Gel is the most minimalistic product here, with only four ingredients including 95.2 percent organic aloe vera (and no synthetic fragrances or preservatives). The packaging is a glass bottle with a pump, and you could use this all-over.
Little Barn Apothecary Coconut + Mint Cooling Mineral Mist
Little Barn Apothecary Coconut + Mint Cooling Mineral Mist is a cooling and hydrating body mist with a short, natural ingredients list. There's aloe vera, of course, and coconut pulp extract, Dead Sea salt and peppermint oil. It's ideal to use after-sun as well as post-workout.
Babo Botanicals After Sun Soothing Hydrating Gel
Babo Botanicals After Sun Soothing Hydrating Gel is a non-sticky gel moisturizer with 75 percent aloe vera plus witch hazel, glycerin and hyaluronic acid. It also has several essential oils and botanical extracts, including arnica, lavender, green tea and eucalyptus.
California Baby Aloe & Arnica Soothing Spray
California Baby Aloe & Arnica Soothing Spray isn't just for babies—the whole family can use this after-sun mist. It soothes with aloe vera and calendula extract; hydrates with glycerin; and takes down inflammation with arnica extract.
Holika Holika Aloe 99% Soothing Gel
Holika Holika Aloe 99% Soothing Gel has the highest concentration of aloe vera, 99 percent, in this jelly-like moisturizer. There are no dyes in here—that's the colour of the bottle! It does have a trace amount of fragrance but it's way less than one percent.
Shea Moisture Green Coconut & Activated Charcoal Body Jelly Moisturizer
Shea Moisture Green Coconut & Activated Charcoal Body Jelly Moisturizer is a lightweight body gel with a jelly texture. Unlike most after-sun lotions, this doesn't contain aloe vera; instead, there's glycerin, shea butter, allantoin and coconut juice to replenish lost moisture. (It also has beads of activated charcoal, which don't really have a benefit in a moisturizer, but they disappear once it's rubbed in.)
Eco Tan Coconut Body Milk
Eco Tan Coconut Body Milk is an all-purpose lotion that can be used after sun exposure or as a daily face or body moisturizer. The first ingredient is aloe vera, followed by glycerin, coconut oil, fatty alcohols and macadamia oil. I absolutely love the lightweight but nourishing texture!
Badger After Sun Balm
Badger After Sun Balm is an all-natural hydrating balm in a portable tin. I wouldn't use this right away on a sunburn, as the olive oil, beeswax, jojoba oil, cocoa butter and shea butter may be too occlusive (and trap heat). But on dry, tight or peeling skin, it will act as a more intensive moisturizer.
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