The 12 Best After-Sun Products, According to Dermatologists may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here.
The best after-sun products are made with gentle, anti-inflammatory ingredients to soothe skin.
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By now, most of us are probably familiar with the negative effects the sun's ultraviolet rays can have on our skin: sunburn, skin damage and an increased risk of skin cancer chief among them.


Wearing SPF 30+ sunscreen and sun-protective clothing can help shield you, but what you put on your skin ‌after‌ sun exposure is important, too, says Brendan Camp, MD, a Manhattan-based dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology. That's where after-sun products come in.

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After-sun lotions, gels and sprays can help address the skin changes that may occur after a long day at the beach or pool, including dryness, sunburn and peeling skin.

"While after-sun products can't reverse the effects of a sunburn, they can help restore moisture to the skin and assuage the sensitivity and heat associated with a sunburn," Dr. Camp says. "Anyone who has spent a long day in the sun or has developed a sunburn can benefit from the use of an after-sun lotion."

Here, find the best after-sun products, and learn what to look for in an after-sun lotion.



Many of these products contain fragrances or plant extracts. If you have sensitive skin, try any new product on a small area of skin first to see if you have a reaction. If you develop a rash or itching, stop using the product.

How We Chose

We chatted with dermatologists, who broke down the most important features of an after-sun lotion or product. Our top picks are based on their criteria, including:

  • Ingredients
  • Consistency
  • Free of potential skin irritants

Find more information on how we choose and review products here.


The Best After-Sun Products

1. Sun Bum Cool Down Aloe Vera Gel

Best Overall

Sun Bum Cool Down Aloe Vera Gel

This gel smells great, absorbs quickly and is safe for everyday use.


  • Cooling
  • Absorbs quickly
  • Contains aloe vera
  • Thousands of positive reviews


  • Not as hydrating as some other after-sun products

Hands down, this product by Sun Bum received the most acclaim for use after a long day in the sun. It's a gel consistency that instantly cools inflamed or burning skin.

It's also infused with skin-nourishing ingredients like aloe vera, which is among the best natural remedies for sunburn because of its anti-inflammatory properties.


It has a light texture and absorbs very quickly into the skin so you can carry on with the rest of your day without worrying about stickiness.


Store this product in the fridge before using it for an extra cooling effect.

‌2. Vaseline Intensive Care Aloe Soothe Body Lotion

Best on a Budget

Vaseline Intensive Care Aloe Soothe Body Lotion

Vaseline with aloe is a great combination for soothing skin.


  • Budget-friendly
  • Comes in a large container
  • Super hydrating
  • Contains aloe


  • Has a strong scent
  • May not be best for people with sensitive skin

There's no reason to break the bank on an after-sun product. This lotion is very affordable, can be purchased at most drugstores and comes in a giant bottle that may just last you the entire summer.



"This is a simple and inexpensive option to soothe irritated skin after sunburn or excessive sun exposure," says Jason Miller, MD, dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in Freehold, New Jersey. "This is also a good choice for post-sun dryness or peeling, and safe to use for several weeks."

‌3. SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Mask

Best Splurge

SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Mask

A little goes a long way with this hydrating cream mask with cucumber.


  • Intensely hydrating and nourishing
  • Contains soothing ingredients like cucumber


  • Expensive
  • Comes in a small container

This intensive, calming botanical face mask by SkinCeuticals rehydrates and soothes irritated skin.


"[This pick] contains highly concentrated botanical extracts, a calming dipeptide and hyaluronic acid to intensively soothe and replenish temporary skin reactivity," says Michele Anzilotti, MD, dermatologist and medical director of SkinLab by Tribeca MedSpa in NYC.

"It also cools on contact, comforts skin sensitivity and restores natural radiance and smoothness," she adds.


You can use it as a mask — rinsing it off after 15 minutes or more — or leave it on your skin, like a moisturizer.

‌​​4. Sun Bum Cool Down Hydrating After Sun Lotion

Best Lotion

Sun Bum Cool Down Hydrating After Sun Lotion

This product is the lotion version of our "best overall" pick.


  • Relieves stinging
  • Absorbs quickly
  • Hydrates skin


  • Runny consistency
  • Bottle top comes off easily

Thanks to a slew of hydrating and soothing ingredients, this after-sun lotion has what it takes to relieve red, swollen and burning skin that can result after a day in the sun.

Not only does it contain aloe — which has been proven to soothe sunburnt skin — but it's also rich in vitamin E and hydrating cocoa butter. It also carries a nice beach-y scent that's fresh — relaxing and not too overwhelming.

5. Seven Minerals Aloe Vera Gel

Best Gel

Seven Minerals Aloe Vera Gel

An organic and cooling gel is a great option for soothing burnt skin.


  • USDA-certified ingredients
  • Absorbs rapidly
  • Ideal for daily use


  • Some reviewers say it goes on sticky

If you're looking for an after-sun product that's more of a gel consistency, consider this one by Seven Minerals. It contains USDA-certified ingredients, including aloe vera that's cold-pressed, which makes it more potent, according to Dr. Camp.


The company invests in third-party testing to ensure its purity and the product comes in a very large bottle that should last you several months at least.

6. Avène Restorative Protectant Cream

Best for Face

Avène Restorative Protectant Cream

This pick is gentle enough to use on your face, as it won't clog pores.


  • Won’t clog pores
  • Clinically proven effective
  • Travel-friendly bottle


  • Pricey
  • Comes in a small bottle

‌While not marketed as an after-sun lotion, Dr. Camp likes to recommend this hydrating cream to his patients looking for relief after sun exposure.

It's calming and helps soothe irritated skin through its combination of nourishing ingredients and thermal spring water, he notes. It's also safe to use on your face and helps accelerate the recovery process of sun-damaged skin in the areas of dehydration, burning and premature aging.

7. Neutrogena Sun Rescue After Sun Rehydrating Spray

Best for Body

Neutrogena Sun Rescue After-Sun Rehydrating Spray

A spray is a convenient option that you can reapply easily throughout the day.


  • Sprays on evenly
  • Easy to apply
  • Hydrates skin


  • Doesn’t last as long as a lotion

A lotion or cream can be tedious to apply all over your body (not to mention sticky). That's why we recommend this after-sun rehydrating spray by Neutrogena.

It goes on smoothly, takes only seconds to apply and absorbs instantly. It's vegan and contains hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin to lock in moisture and leave your skin hydrated.

This pick is great for a beach vacation or in the middle of summer when you know you'll be getting your fair share of sun.

8. Burt’s Bees Aloe and Coconut After Sun Soother

Best With Aloe

Burt's Bees Aloe and Coconut After-Sun Soother

An all-natural choice, the coconut and aloe in this pick are sure to please.


  • Contains natural ingredients
  • Contains aloe
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties
  • Instantly hydrates


  • Some reviewers say the scent is too strong, which may not be ideal for sensitive skin

Burt's Bees is known for skin-friendly products that contain gentle and nourishing ingredients, so it's no surprise its after-sun soother fits the bill.

In addition to aloe vera (which can help soothe irritated, sunburnt skin), it also contains coconut oil, which soothes and provides moisture simultaneously, Dr. Miller says.

"Coconut oil also can have anti-inflammatory properties to help relieve redness or discomfort," he adds.


9. Glossier After Baume

Best for Sensitive Skin

Glossier After Baume

Use this cream with or without sunburn for instant hydration and cooling.


  • Non-comedogenic
  • Can be used on face or body
  • Intensely hydrating
  • Vegan


  • Pricey
  • Comes in a small container

Those with sensitive skin will want to be especially careful when it comes to an after-sun product, as your skin may already be at risk of irritation. This is even more true when it comes to applications involving your face.

We like this heavy-duty face cream from Glossier that contains plant-based moisturizing ingredients like glycerin and cupuaçu butter that help hydrate and protect the skin's barrier.

10. La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water Mist

Best Mist

La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water Mist

Try this mist with antioxidants to keep you cool after a day in the sun.


  • Made from clean ingredients
  • Ideal for sensitive skin
  • Contains antioxidants


  • Doesn’t last very long
  • Not as hydrating as lotion

A mist can be a great addition to your after-sun care because it's hydrating and soothing without weighing your skin down in any way. It also feels really nice on skin that's hot from being out in the sun for long periods of time.

"The thermal spring water in this spray, along with minerals and antioxidants, such as selenium, keeps skin hydrated, cool and moisturized," Dr. Camp says.

Spray it on clean skin, before you apply moisturizer.

11. Coola Radical Recovery Eco-Cert Organic After Sun Lotion

Best for Sunburn

Coola Radical Recovery Eco-Cert Organic After Sun Lotion

If you're already pretty burnt, this product can help protect your skin.


  • Ideal for use on sunburn
  • Organic ingredients
  • Goes on smooth
  • Non-greasy


  • Doesn't provide a cooling effect
  • Pricey compared to other options

While no product can actually reverse the effects of a sunburn, after-sun lotions like this one by Coola can help replenish moisture to the skin as well as provide a soothing effect — thanks to nourishing ingredients like rosemary extract, lavender and sunflower.

This pick is ideal for all skin types (including oily and dry skin) and has a pleasant smell, with notes of organic and natural orange, mandarin peel and cedarwood.

12. Badger After Sun Balm

Best Natural

Badger After Sun Balm

The organic blue tansy and lavender in this balm smell great and are also anti-inflammatory.


  • USDA Organic
  • Contains natural ingredients
  • Highly moisturizing


  • Pricey for the small size

Badger is known for its all-natural products that are free of artificial and potentially harmful ingredients like parabens, fragrances, dyes and synthetic chemicals.

So if you're looking for an after-sun product that's as natural as it gets, give this one a try. It contains organic blue tansy and lavender, which not only smell amazing but also provide anti-inflammatory benefits.


What to Look for in an After-Sun Product

Here are some features dermatologists recommend looking for when shopping for an after-sun product:

1. Ingredients

Dr. Anzilotti recommends the product be free from potentially irritating ingredients, such as alcohol, salicylic acid, glycolic acid or retinol.

"The product should be oil-free and non-occlusive so that it doesn't lead to breakouts and should ideally help decrease redness," she says.

Look for gentle, anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe vera, coconut oil and cocoa butter.

2. Consistency

Consistency matters when it comes to an after-sun product because it needs to go on smoothly and absorb well in order to ensure you'll use it regularly.

Dr. Camp recommends avoiding products that are too thick as they may limit the exchange of air and heat from the skin's surface and, in doing so, trap heat within the skin, making sunburn feel worse.

3. Free From Fragrances or Extracts (for Sensitive Skin)

Those with sensitive skin need to be cautious, as these products often contain multiple plant extracts and fragrances that can cause allergies in some people, Dr. Miller says.

"If itching or rash develops after application, consider seeing your dermatologist," he notes.

Tips to Help Soothe Skin After Sun Exposure

In addition to using after-sun products, here are some pointers from dermatologists to help care for your skin after sun exposure.

1. Stay Hydrated

Time spent in direct sunlight can lead to dehydration, so it's especially important to hydrate after sun exposure to replenish all the liquids you lost, notes Dr. Camp.

2. Avoid Scratching or Peeling

If you get a sunburn, you might find yourself feeling itchy. Avoid scratching at all costs, as this will only further irritate your skin and make you uncomfortable. Likewise, resist the urge to peel sunburnt skin.

3. Use Cold Compresses

Dr. Camp recommends applying a cold compress — either an ice pack wrapped in a towel or a cool washcloth — to your skin to help keep it cool, which will reduce redness, swelling and itching. Keep the compress on your skin for no more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time.




Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.