Oars + Alps After Sun Cooling Spray
Credit: Courtesy of Oars + Alps

These After-Sun Lotions Ease Inflammation and Boost Hydration

Bring your skin into recovery mode with the help of these nourishing body balms.
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You probably know to apply sunscreen before you enjoy a day at the beach, but protecting your skin from UV rays doesn't end once you're back indoors. With moisturizing after-sun lotions, you can continue treating or preventing dry, burned skin after spending hours in the sun. "After-sun lotions are designed to support skin that has been somewhat damaged or irritated by too much time in the sun," explains Dr. Robin Schaffran, chief dermatologist and co-founder of BalmLabs. "They are basically effective moisturizers, working to heal the skin through hydration."

These lotions either rehydrate and nourish the dermis, or contain additional ingredients that actually help counter the effects of prolonged sun exposure, says Dr. Audrey Kunin, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of DERMAdoctor. "Wearing sunscreen still allows some UV rays to reach the skin and affect cellular DNA," she explains. "There is an approximately eight to 10 hour window in which to apply a high potency antioxidant to help neutralize some of the residual free radical damage." And that's where after sun lotions come in.

Top Picks

While these lotions can ease inflammation, treat oxidative stress, and help reduce acute damage, Jason Rizzo, MD, PhD emphasizes only using after-sun lotions as one part of a comprehensive skin care plan to prevent skin cancer. "These products do not prevent or reverse the carcinogenic effects that UV radiation has on the skin," explains the clinical professor of dermatology at University at Buffalo. "They should not be used as a substitute for sun protection." To help you prepare a complete regimen ahead of your next sun-filled day, we asked the experts to recommend the best after-sun lotions. Keep reading for some of their favorite moisturizing, rejuvenating creams.

Babo Botanicals After Sun Soothing Hydrating Organic Aloe Gel
Credit: Courtesy of Ulta

Babo Botanicals

"Applying aloe to a sunburn can reduce the inflammation and redness associated with the burn. The hope is that by doing so, healing can start to kick in sooner," explains Erum N. Ilyas, MD, MBE, FAAD, who considers this Babo Botanicals gel a go-to. "It's affordable, over the counter, and easy to find," adds the board-certified dermatologist and AmberNoon founder. What's more, it's also vegan-friendly and free of parabens.

Shop Now: Babo Botanicals After Sun Soothing Hydrating Organic Aloe Gel, $14.99, ulta.com.

Oars + Alps After Sun Cooling Spray
Credit: Courtesy of Oars + Alps

Oars + Alps

"This is my favorite after-sun product," says Dr. Corey L. Hartman, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology. "It helps to cool, soothe, hydrate, and repair the skin through its array of active ingredients. Aloe vera naturally cools and hydrates, niacinamide reduces inflammation that leads to redness, and kukui oil provides antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E to help skin repair itself after UV exposure."

Shop Now: Oars + Alps After Sun Cooling Spray, $12, oarsandalps.com.

Burt's Bees After Sun Soother
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Burt's Bees

If you're looking for a more affordable product, Dr. Hartman points patients towards this aloe- and coconut oil-packed product from Burt's Bees; it will reduce redness and lessen the severity of burns.

Shop Now: Burt's Bees After Sun Soother, $7.69, amazon.com.

DERMAdoctor KP Duty Lotion
Credit: Courtesy of Dermstore

DERMAdoctor

Dr. Kunin, the founder of DERMAdoctor, recommends the brand's KP Duty Lotion to treat dryness resulting from prolonged sun exposure. The lotion hydrates and exfoliates your skin simultaneously with a blend of AHAs, BHA, urea, PHAs, green tea, and botanicals.

Shop Now: DERMAdoctor KP Duty Lotion, $38, dermstore.com.

Sol de Janeiro Bom Dia Bright Body Cream with Vitamin C
Credit: Courtesy of Sephora

Sol de Janeiro

The benefits of this product's vitamin C content will help treat sun-damaged skin, explains Dr. Kunin. The vitamin exfoliates and brightens skin, evening out its tone, while also protecting it from free radicals.

Shop Now: Sol de Janeiro "Bom Dia Bright" Body Cream with Vitamin C, $45, sephora.com.

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

CeraVe

Dr. Schaffran actually directs patients to general moisturizing lotions rather than specific after-sun iterations. CeraVe's hydrating creams are some of her favorites. This particular option provides 24-hour hydration that helps restore your skin's natural barrier without leaving a sticky residue.

Shop Now: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, $16.25, amazon.com.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment
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Aquaphor

"If someone has a sunburn, I often recommend using Aquaphor ointment to heal damaged or burned skin," says Dr. Schaffran. Rather than solely moisturizing the skin, this ointment creates a protective barrier that aids the flow of oxygen, helping the dermis heal more effectively.

Shop Now: Aquaphor Healing Ointment, $5.29, target.com.

Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel with 100% Pure Aloe
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Seven Minerals

All of our experts note that pure aloe vera is a great way to soothe sun-damaged skin on its own. This pure aloe gel is the an Amazon best seller for after-sun skin care, thanks to its five-star ingredients; the gel comes from freshly cut aloe leaves grown in Southern Texas, as opposed to powder. The product is organic and certified by the International Aloe Science Council, making it one of the strongest aloe products on the market.

Shop Now: Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel with 100% Pure Aloe, $19.95, amazon.com.

Hawaiian Tropic After Sun Lotion Moisturizer and Hydrating Body Butter with Coconut Oil
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Hawaiian Tropic

While coconut oil's ability to treat sunburns has yet to be thoroughly studied, Dr. Ilyas still recommends the ingredient for its anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. This coconut oil-packed body butter from Hawaiian Tropic can keep your skin hydrated for 12 hours, and its refreshing scent is a bonus.

Shop Now: Hawaiian Tropic After Sun Lotion Moisturizer and Hydrating Body Butter with Coconut Oil, $12.59, amazon.com.