Editor’s Picks: 15 of the Best After-Sun Lotions to Soothe, Hydrate and Repair Your Skin

They're not just for sunburns.
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Best after sun lotion

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: an after-sun lotion.

You might think that after-sun products are only necessary when you've had a sunburn—but think again. Research shows that even if you don't burn, UV light can disrupt your skin barrier and trigger dryness and inflammation. Of course, it can also lead to DNA damage that you can't see, which continues for hours after sun exposure.

That's why it's a good idea to apply soothing, hydrating and reparative ingredients as soon as you can after spending time in the sun. 

Here's what to look for, and the best after-sun lotions to try now.


What to Look for in an After-Sun Lotion


This is what I like to see in an after-sun product:

  • High in humectants: Lightweight hydrating ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, honey and allantoin work to draw water into your skin, restoring moisture levels. 
  • Low in occlusives: If you've had a sunburn, anything that forms a barrier and traps the heat in your skin could lead to further skin damage. Until your skin cools down, avoid products high in occlusive oils (like mineral oil) and silicones (like dimethicone). Of course, I suggest avoiding these on your face regardless, since they can interfere with cellular renewal and trigger breakouts.
  • Low in PUFAs: Oils high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are especially important to limit during and after UV exposure, since they produce toxic free radicals when oxidized by radiation. I skip products that contain PUFA-based oils in the first five ingredients, which typically represent about 80% of the formula.
  • Low in fragrance: Whether synthetic or natural, fragrance ingredients are common irritants. 
  • Low in alcohol: While alcohol-based gels and sprays tend to feel cooling on the skin (since they evaporate quickly), they can exacerbate dryness and irritation.
  • High in anti-inflammatory ingredients: Aloe vera, arnica, propolis and Centella Asiatica are examples of ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties. (Aloe's other benefits include binding moisture, accelerating wound healing and suppressing radiation damage—no wonder it's so ubiquitous in after-sun treatments!)
  • High in antioxidants: For post-sun skin repair, look for antioxidants such as green tea, Centella Asiatica, niacinamide, vitamin C, caffeine and algae. (Niacinamide is my personal favourite because it repairs radiation-induced DNA damage, prevents photocarcinogenesis and treats signs of photoaging, like pigmentation.)

The Best After-Sun Lotions of 2021


Herbivore After Sun Skin Soothing Aloe Mist

Herbivore After Sun Skin Soothing Aloe Mist

Herbivore After Sun Skin Soothing Aloe Mist

  • Details: Herbivore After Sun Skin Soothing Aloe Mist is an all-natural face and body mist to quench thirsty skin. It instantly calms and hydrates with aloe, while spearmint essential oil creates a cooling sensation. It's free of alcohol, oils and silicones—and is even more refreshing if you store it in the fridge!
  • Key ingredients: Aloe, witch hazel, lavender oil, spearmint oil.
  • Best for: Face and body.

Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel

Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel

Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel

  • Details: Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel is a Korean-made gel moisturizer that soothes skin with high concentrations of aloe and propolis extract (a.k.a. "bee glue"). It's free of fragrance, silicone, oil and alcohol, and has a refreshing light texture. (I love it so much, I actually use this on my face year-round—not just when I've been in the sun!)
  • Key ingredients: Aloe, butylene glycol, pentylene glycol, glycerin, propolis, cucumber extract, green tea extract, allantoin.
  • Best for: Face and body.

Badger Aloe Vera Gel

Badger Aloe Vera Gel

Badger Aloe Vera Gel

  • Details: Badger Aloe Vera Gel is an organic aloe vera gel with one of the shortest and simplest ingredients lists (it's fragrance-free, silicone-free, alcohol-free and oil-free). It has a thin and spreadable consistency that absorbs quickly, and it doesn't leave your skin feeling sticky. 
  • Key ingredients: 96% aloe.
  • Best for: Face and body.

Aromatica Organic Aloe Vera Gel

Aromatica Organic Aloe Vera Gel

Aromatica Organic Aloe Vera Gel

  • Details: Aromatica Organic Aloe Vera Gel is a 99.5% natural formula that just so happens to be the number one bestselling body gel moisturizer in South Korea. It features a high concentration of organic aloe in a silicone-free, fragrance-free and oil-free gel—making it ideal to use from head to toe, especially on sensitive skin. Many of us will also appreciate the pump packaging for ease of use.
  • Key ingredients: 96% aloe, propanediol,
  • Best for: Face and body.

Babo Botanicals After Sun Soothing Hydrating Gel

Babo Botanicals After Sun Soothing Hydrating Gel

Babo Botanicals After Sun Soothing Hydrating Gel

  • Details: Babo Botanicals After Sun Soothing Hydrating Gel is a lightweight, aloe-based gel that not only soothes sunburn, but also can be used as an acne treatment, shaving cream or hair gel. It's free of silicone, oil and alcohol, and infused with plumping hyaluronic acid, anti-inflammatory arnica and antioxidant green tea.
  • Key ingredients: 75% aloe, witch hazel, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, lavender oil, arnica extract, eucalyptus oil, green tea extract.
  • Best for: Face and body.

Pacifica Sea & C After Sun Cooling Water Gel Spray

Pacifica Sea C After Sun Cooling Water Gel Spray

Pacifica Sea & C After Sun Cooling Water Gel Spray

  • Details: Pacifica Sea & C After Sun Cooling Water Gel Spray is an easy-to-apply body spray with a natural citrus-vanilla scent. It's oil-free, silicone-free and alcohol-free, and is packed with antioxidants and skin-soothers (like niacinamide, vitamin C, algae and hyaluronic acid).
  • Key ingredients: Aloe, niacinamide, vitamin C (sodium ascorbyl phosphate), apple fruit extract, algae, hyaluronic acid, glycerin.
  • Best for: Body.

Beautycounter Countersun After Sun Cooling Gel

Beautycounter Countersun After Sun Cooling Gel

Beautycounter Countersun After Sun Cooling Gel

  • Details: Beautycounter Countersun After Sun Cooling Gel is a lightweight body gel with a slight cooling sensation and no sticky residue. I love that one of its first ingredients is niacinamide, which will take down redness while helping to repair sun-exposed skin. It's silicone-free, oil-free and alcohol-free, and it smells like monoï (my favourite summer scent!).
  • Key ingredients: Niacinamide, glycerin, apple fruit extract, aloe, hyaluronic acid.
  • Best for: Body. 

Goddess Garden Organics After-Sun Gel

Goddess Garden Organics After-Sun Gel

Goddess Garden Organics After-Sun Gel

  • Details: Goddess Garden Organics After-Sun Gel is a convenient spray-on gel that applies a thin, even layer of silky hydration. It's oil-free, alcohol-free and silicone-free, and loaded with lightweight humectants (like glycerin, niacinamide and aloe). The lavender and tea tree essential oils help to cool and soothe while giving it a spa-like scent.
  • Key ingredients: Glycerin, niacinamide, aloe, lavender oil, tea tree oil.
  • Best for: Body.

Jason Soothing 98% Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel

Jason Soothing 98 Percent Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel

Jason Soothing 98% Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel

  • Details: Jason Soothing 98% Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel is a moisturizing gel that boasts one of the highest concentrations of aloe, at 98%. With additional ingredients like allantoin and provitamin B5 (and no silicones or oils), it can be used to calm and hydrate after sun exposure or shaving.
  • Key ingredients: 98% aloe, gluconolactone, glycerin, allantoin, provitamin B5 (panthenol).
  • Best for: Body.

Burt’s Bees Aloe & Coconut Oil After Sun Soother

Burt's Bees Aloe Coconut Oil After Sun Soother

Burt's Bees Aloe & Coconut Oil After Sun Soother

  • Details: Burt's Bees Aloe & Coconut Oil After Sun Soother is a non-greasy lotion made with 98.9% natural ingredients. It's ideal for dry skin because in addition to the usual humectants (like glycerin and aloe), it locks them in with coconut oil. (So if you tolerate the latter, it can be applied to your face as well as body.)
  • Key ingredients: Coconut oil, glycerin, aloe, sunflower seed oil, beeswax, fatty alcohol, shea butter, vitamin E.
  • Best for: Face and body.

Holika Holika Aloe 99% Soothing Gel

Holika Holika Aloe 99 Soothing Gel

Holika Holika Aloe 99% Soothing Gel

  • Details: Holika Holika Aloe 99% Soothing Gel has the highest concentration of aloe on this list—99%—in a light and jelly-like moisturizer. The other 1% is comprised of soothing plant extracts like Centella Asiatica and cucumber. (And there are no dyes in here—the green is the colour of the bottle!)
  • Key ingredients: 99% aloe, lotus flower extract, Centella Asiatica extract, bamboo extract, cucumber extract.
  • Best for: Face and body.

California Baby Aloe & Arnica Soothing Spray

California Baby Aloe Arnica Soothing Spray

California Baby Aloe & Arnica Soothing Spray

  • Details: California Baby Aloe & Arnica Soothing Spray is not just for babies—this natural mist can be used by all ages, especially if you have sensitive skin. What makes it unique is the infusion of anti-inflammatory arnica and soothing calendula in a base of hydrating glycerin and aloe. It's made without alcohol, oils or silicones, and lightly scented with lavender and sage essential oils.
  • Key ingredients: Glycerin, aloe, arnica extract, calendula extract, lavender oil, clary sage oil, allantoin.
  • Best for: Face and body.

SheaMoisture Green Coconut & Activated Charcoal Body Jelly Moisturizer

SheaMoisture Green Coconut Activated Charcoal Body Jelly Moisturizer

SheaMoisture Green Coconut & Activated Charcoal Body Jelly Moisturizer

  • Details: Shea Moisture Green Coconut & Activated Charcoal Body Jelly Moisturizer is a refreshing body gel with a jelly texture. Unlike most after-sun products, it doesn't contain aloe—instead, it soothes and softens with coconut juice and activated charcoal beads that melt on contact. To cool down hot skin, just pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes before you use it.
  • Key ingredients: Glycerin, sodium PCA, shea butter, allantoin, coconut fruit juice, charcoal powder, fractionated coconut oil, green tea extract.
  • Best for: Body.

Little Barn Apothecary Coconut + Mint Cooling Mineral Mist

Little Barn Apothecary Coconut + Mint Cooling Mineral Mist

Little Barn Apothecary Coconut + Mint Cooling Mineral Mist

  • Details: Little Barn Apothecary Coconut + Mint Cooling Mineral Mist is an all-natural face and body mist that can be used to cool skin down either after-sun or post-workout. The short and simple ingredients list includes aloe, coconut pulp and Dead Sea salt, with peppermint essential oil for a cooling, minty sensation.
  • Key ingredients: Aloe, coconut extract, sea salt, jasmine, peppermint oil.
  • Best for: Face and body.

Kerstin Florian Natural Aloe Gel

Kerstin Florian Natural Aloe Gel

Kerstin Florian Natural Aloe Gel

  • Details: Kerstin Florian Natural Aloe Gel is a lightweight, non-sticky gel for all-over use. Recently reformulated, it hydrates and heals with sea kelp, arnica, calendula and allantoin in an aloe vera base. This formula is also fragrance-free, silicone-free, oil-free and alcohol-free.
  • Key ingredients: Aloe, propanediol, glycerin, sea kelp, arnica extract, calendula extract, allantoin.
  • Best for: Face and body.

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