Editor’s Picks: 18 of the Best After-Sun Lotions, Gels and Sprays to Calm, Hydrate and Repair Your Skin

They're not just for sunburns.
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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, gel or spray.

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 cause inflammation. Even scarier: The DNA damage continues for hours after sun exposure. Of course, heat, wind, salt water and chlorine will all dry out your skin, too.

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, plus the best products to try.

What to Look for in an After-Sun Product

In general, 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 occlusive silicones/oils: 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. 
  • 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.
  • Anti-inflammatories: Aloe vera, arnica, propolis and Centella Asiatica extract 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!)
  • Antioxidants: For post-sun skin repair, look for antioxidants such as niacinamide, vitamin C, caffeine and algae extract. 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, Gels and Sprays

Herbivore After Sun Skin Soothing Aloe Mist

✓Silicone-free ✓Oil-free ✓PUFA-free ✓Alcohol-free ✓Cruelty-free

Herbivore After Sun Skin Soothing Aloe Mist

Herbivore After Sun Skin Soothing Aloe Mist

Herbivore After Sun Skin Soothing Aloe Mist is a simple, 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!

Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel

✓Silicone-free ✓Oil-free ✓PUFA-free ✓Fragrance-free ✓Alcohol-free ✓Cruelty-free

Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel

Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel

Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel is a fast-absorbing gel moisturizer from Korea that packs 80 percent aloe vera and 10 percent propolis extract (bee "glue"). Since it's fragrance-free and non-sticky, you could use this one to soothe your face as well as body. (I've also been applying it in place of moisturizer!)

Badger Aloe Vera Gel

✓Silicone-free ✓Oil-free ✓PUFA-free ✓Fragrance-free ✓Alcohol-free ✓Cruelty-free

Badger Aloe Vera Gel

Badger Aloe Vera Gel

Badger Aloe Vera Gel is a 96 percent aloe vera gel with a short and simple ingredients list. It has no scent, and a thinner, spreadable consistency that absorbs fast and doesn't leave your skin sticky. Plus, it's suitable for both face and body.

Pacifica Sea & C After Sun Cooling Water Gel Spray

✓Silicone-free ✓Oil-free ✓PUFA-free ✓Alcohol-free ✓Cruelty-free

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 is an easy-to-apply body spray with a natural beachy scent. I love that it contains not just aloe vera but also vitamin C, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and algae extract to repair sun damage and restore moisture. 

Beautycounter Countersun After Sun Cooling Gel

✓Silicone-free ✓Oil-free ✓PUFA-free ✓Alcohol-free ✓Cruelty-free

Beautycounter Countersun After Sun Cooling Gel

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!

Goddess Garden Organics After-Sun Gel

✓Silicone-free ✓Oil-free ✓PUFA-free ✓Alcohol-free ✓Cruelty-free

Goddess Garden Organics After-Sun Gel

Goddess Garden Organics After-Sun Gel

Goddess Garden Organics After-Sun Gel is a convenient gel spray containing glycerin, niacinamide and of course, aloe vera. This one is more hydrating than most aloe products (although it can be slightly sticky). The lavender and tea tree oils offer additional cooling and soothing benefits.

Jason Soothing 98% Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel

✓Silicone-free ✓Oil-free ✓PUFA-free ✓Cruelty-free

Jason Soothing 98 Percent Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel

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. 

Aromatica Organic Aloe Vera Gel

✓Silicone-free ✓Oil-free ✓PUFA-free ✓Fragrance-free ✓Low-alcohol ✓Cruelty-free

Aromatica Organic Aloe Vera Gel

Aromatica Organic Aloe Vera Gel

Aromatica Organic Aloe Vera Gel is a minimalistic K-beauty option featuring 95.2 percent organic aloe vera in a colourless gel—making it ideal to use all-over. Many of us will appreciate the fact that it comes in a sturdy glass bottle with a pump.

Babo Botanicals After Sun Soothing Hydrating Gel

✓Silicone-free ✓Oil-free ✓PUFA-free ✓Alcohol-free ✓Cruelty-free

Babo Botanicals After Sun Soothing Hydrating Gel

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.

Burt’s Bees Aloe & Coconut Oil After Sun Soother

✓Silicone-free ✓PUFA-free ✓Alcohol-free ✓Cruelty-free

Burt's Bees Aloe and Coconut Oil After Sun Soother

Burt's Bees Aloe & Coconut Oil After Sun Soother

Burt's Bees Aloe & Coconut Oil After Sun Soother is a non-greasy lotion made with 98.6 percent natural ingredients. It contains glycerin, aloe vera, honey extract and coconut oil—and if you tolerate the latter, it can be applied to your face as well as body. 

California Baby Aloe & Arnica Soothing Spray

✓Silicone-free ✓PUFA-free ✓Alcohol-free ✓Cruelty-free

California Baby Aloe Arnica Soothing Spray

California Baby Aloe & Arnica Soothing Spray

California Baby Aloe & Arnica Soothing Spray is not just for babies—anyone could use this natural mist. Besides aloe vera and glycerin to hydrate, it soothes with calendula extract, and takes down inflammation with arnica extract.

Hampton Sun Hydrating Aloe Continuous Mist

✓Silicone-free ✓Oil-free ✓PUFA-free ✓Cruelty-free

Hampton Sun Hydrating Aloe Continuous Mist

Hampton Sun Hydrating Aloe Continuous Mist

Hampton Sun Hydrating Aloe Continuous Mist is a hydrating body spray that dries down without stickiness. The oil-free and fragrance-free formula contains aloe vera, glycerin and vitamin E, along with menthol to naturally cool you down. 

Pacifica After Sun Body Spray

✓Silicone-free ✓Low-PUFA ✓Alcohol-free ✓Cruelty-free

Pacifica After Sun Body Spray

Pacifica After Sun Body Spray

Pacifica After Sun Body Spray is a naturally scented body mist made with glycerin, olive oil esters, aloe vera and vitamin B5 (panthenol). It's also spiked with caffeine, which helps protect skin from photodamage. Choose from two scents, Coconut Vanilla and Pineapple Flower.

Holika Holika Aloe 99% Soothing Gel

✓Silicone-free ✓PUFA-free ✓Alcohol-free

Holika Holika Aloe 99 Soothing Gel

Holika Holika Aloe 99% Soothing Gel

Holika Holika Aloe 99% Soothing Gel has the highest concentration of aloe vera on this list—99 percent—in a jelly-like moisturizer. Its other ingredients include Centella Asiatica, cucumber and watermelon extract. (Also, there are no dyes in here; the green is the colour of the bottle!)

SheaMoisture Green Coconut & Activated Charcoal Body Jelly Moisturizer

✓Silicone-free ✓Low-PUFA ✓Cruelty-free

SheaMoisture Green Coconut Activated Charcoal Body Jelly Moisturizer

SheaMoisture Green Coconut & Activated Charcoal Body Jelly Moisturizer

Shea Moisture Green Coconut & Activated Charcoal Body Jelly Moisturizer is a refreshing body gel with a jelly texture. Unlike most other after-sun products, it doesn't contain aloe vera—instead, there's glycerin, shea butter, allantoin and coconut juice to cool, hydrate and soften. It also has beads of activated charcoal, which disappear as they melt into your skin.

Little Barn Apothecary Mineral Mist

✓Silicone-free ✓Oil-free ✓PUFA-free ✓Alcohol-free ✓Cruelty-free

Little Barn Apothecary Coconut + Mint Cooling Mineral Mist

Little Barn Apothecary Coconut + Mint Cooling Mineral Mist

Little Barn Apothecary Mineral Mist can be used either after-sun or post-workout. The short, natural ingredients list includes aloe vera, coconut pulp extract and sea salt. Coconut + Mint cools skin down with peppermint oil, while Coconut + Pear contains a blend of pear-scented essential oils.

Alba Botanica After Sun Gel

✓Silicone-free ✓PUFA-free ✓Cruelty-free

Alba Botanica After Sun Gel

Alba Botanica After Sun Gel

Alba Botanica After Sun Gel is a body gel that contains 98 percent pure aloe vera. Compared to other brands, it has more of a liquid texture. It can also double as a shaving gel and after-shave.

Kerstin Florian Sun Aloe Gel

✓Silicone-free ✓Oil-free ✓PUFA-free ✓Fragrance-free ✓Alcohol-free ✓Cruelty-free

Kerstin Florian Sun Aloe Gel

Kerstin Florian Sun Aloe Gel

Kerstin Florian Sun Aloe Gel is a light, non-sticky gel for both the face and body. Besides aloe vera, it includes algae and arnica extracts, plus coconut fatty acids and allantoin to hydrate and heal your skin.

Shop Editor’s Picks

Have you tried any of these after-sun products?
Which one is your favourite?

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