15 Best After-Sun Lotions That’ll Soothe and Hydrate Your Skin

Cosmopolitan posted "15 Best After-Sun Lotions That’ll Soothe and Hydrate Your Skin" featuring Dr. Purvisha Patel and Visha Skincare.

To care for skin after prolonged sun exposure, Dr. Patel recommends avoiding products with potential irritants (like fragrances or citrus oils) and to instead choose products that both soothe and hydrate skin, like Visha Skincare Face2Feet All Over Body Balm.

Ah, that sweet, sweet relief.

Okay, I’m going to assume (and hope) you applied your SPF, right?! (Reminder, there’s really no excuse not to when you’ve got options like sunscreens for oily skin, clear sunscreens, sunscreen sprays, and even makeup with SPF!!) But maybe—despite your best efforts—you still got burned. It happens to the best of us, and I’m willing to bet you’re dealing with a painful sunburn that may be inflamed, sensitive, and overall just really effing uncomfortable. (Severe burns can cause fever, infection, or vomiting, and in this case, it’s important to see a doc ASAP.) That’s why you should always have an after-sun lotion on hand, because as anyone who has ever had a sunburn knows, your skin wants to feel sweet relief FAST, and these bbs will do the job.

So to help narrow down the selection of after-sun lotions, balms, gels, and so on, we chatted with experts—dermatologists Purvisha Patel, MD, and Morgan Rabach, MD—for the best products and tips to soothe your skin, treat your sunburn, and even keep your skin glowing after a day (or a few) outside. And just maybe, after this time, you’ll be a little more diligent with the sunscreen. But first, here’s a sneak peek of what’s to come:

Our top picks for the best after-sun lotions in 2022

Now for the list of alllll the goods: Here are 15 of the best after-sun lotions on the market.

BEST OVERALL AFTER-SUN LOTION

Burt’s Bees After Sun Soother

EXTREMELY HYDRATING, NATURAL FORMULA

FRAGRANCED, WHICH MAY BE TOO MUCH FOR SENSITIVE SKIN

Formulated with skin-loving ingredients aloe vera and coconut oil, the Burt’s Bees After Sun Soother is one of the OG after-sun lotions on the market. Slather this bb on a mild burn, or after a day out in the sun, for instant hydration.

THE REVIEW: “After a day in the sun, I shower and then apply this lotion,” writes one reviewer, adding, “My skin loves it, it absorbs it right up, there is no greasy feel afterward, and it also helps prevent peeling because it keeps your skin moisturized.”

BEST AFTER-SUN LOTION TO APPLY RIGHT AWAY

CeraVe Hydrocortisone Cream 1%

FRAGRANCE-FREE AND QUICK ACTING

LITERALLY NONE

If you’re experiencing sunburn accompanied by itchiness, Dr. Rabach explained to Cosmo that you can use an over-the-counter steroid cream, such as this one by CeraVe, mixed with an emulsifier, like Vaseline, to soothe your skin. You can apply this immediately after the sunburn occurs.

THE REVIEW: “My doctor recommended this product to apply to a burn on my arm to prevent itching while it was healing,” writes one reviewer, adding, “It works really well and a little goes a long way.”

BEST AFTER-SUN ALOE VERA GEL

Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel

NOW 20% OFF

SOOTHING AND COOLING FORMULA

NOT THE BEST PACKAGING

Ahhh, no after-sun lotion list would be complete without the OG, aloe vera gel. In fact, because it’s so hydrating and cooling, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends it for treating your sunburns and reducing any stinging and burning that goes along with it. Bonus: For extra relief, keep it in the fridge, so it’s super cold when ya need it.

THE REVIEW: “It has the same consistency as aloe vera straight from the plant! It doesn’t leave a residue like other gels—rather, it absorbs quickly into the skin,” writes one tester.

BEST AFTER-SUN LOTION MIST

Topicals Like Butter Body Hydrating and Soothing Mist

GENTLE FORMULA IS INSTANTLY SOOTHING AND HYDRATING

TAKES A MINUTE TO DRY DOWN

Soooo when you get a burn, sometimes it doesn’t feel all that great to rub something all over your already delicate skin. Enter: This hydrating and soothing mist by Topicals. Use on areas affected by sunburn or sun exposure and feel instant relief.

THE REVIEWS: “It’s perfect alone in the day as it moisturizes but doesn’t leave you shiny,” reads one review. “My sensitive skin loved this!” reads another.

BEST DEEPLY MOISTURIZING AFTER-SUN LOTION

Fenty Skin Butta Drop Whipped Oil Body Cream

HEAVY MOISTURIZING CREAM

BETTER TO WAIT UNTIL THE BURN HAS CALMED A BIT TO USE THIS ONE

Did you get a rough sunburn that left your skin peeling? Welp, first of all, sorry about that, and second of all, your number one concern now should be keeping your skin hydrated. This whipped oil body cream by Fenty is moisturizing af, trust.

THE REVIEWS: “This cream feels so luxurious, and smells so lovely; the smell doesn’t last on the skin, but it gives my skin a nice sheen and glow especially in the sun without feeling greasy,” writes one reviewer. “Great before bedtime, or before/after laying in the sun,” writes another.

BEST GLOWY AFTER-SUN LOTION

Frankies Bikinis After-Sun Tan Enhancing Lotion

CREATES A GORGEOUS SHEEN ON SKIN

NOT BEST FOR ACTUALLY SUNBURNT SKIN

Okay, so the best part about this product is the fact that it’s a two-for-one deal: Not only will it quench and soothe your thirsty skin after sun exposure, but it’ll also give ya the most beautiful glow.

THE REVIEWS: “This lotion is like makeup for your body—it has a sheen that makes my skin glowy and soft, and it smells SO GOOD!” reads one review. “It’s super cooling after a long day in the sun and smells like a dream,” reads another.

BEST COOLING AFTER-SUN LOTION

Sun Bum Cool Down Aloe Vera Lotion

VEGAN AND HYPOALLERGENIC

SCENT MAY BE OVERPOWERING TO THOSE WITH SENSITIVE SKIN AND NOSES

Need instant relief from that sunburn?! This bb will do the job for you thanks to its cooling aloe, cocoa butter, and jojoba seed oil, which works to soothe and hydrate itchy, burnt skin.

THE REVIEW: “Putting this on after too much sun will shove much-needed moisture back into your skin, calm the itching/burning and keep your skin from peeling,” writes one tester.

BEST CULT-FAVORITE AFTER-SUN LOTION

Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream

NOT OILY OR STICKY

DOESN’T PROVIDE SUNBURN RELIEF

Didn’t get burnt, but spent a day in the sun and wanna keep your skin hydrated? Grab yourself this cult-favorite moisturizer, the Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream. It’s legit the perfect summer body cream that hydrates your skin while giving it that good good glow.

THE REVIEW: “This cream makes you sparkle—I apply it on my legs and when the sun hits them, I sparkle and feel like a mermaid!” reads one tester’s review.

BEST EVERYDAY AFTER-SUN LOTION

Alaffia Everyday Shea Body Lotion

WON’T FEEL STICKY IN SUMMER MONTHS

SHOULD USE PRODUCT SPARINGLY OR IT WON’T RUB IN ALL THE WAY

Your skin needs a good everyday lotion that’ll moisturize it and keep it glowing all season long. This shea butter moisturizer by Alaffia is the perfect consistency for warmer months due to it not feeling too heavy or greasy.

THE REVIEW: “I have finally found a lotion that my sensitive skin can handle!” writes one reviewer, adding, “I love that there is absolutely no greasy feeling afterward.”

BEST HEALING AFTER-SUN LOTION

Skinfix Remedy+ 911 Ointment

RELIEVES DRY, PAINFUL SKIN

BETTER USED ON SMALLER, TARGETED AREAS BECAUSE OF THE THICK CONSISTENCY

Irritated, peeling skin post-sunburn is the absolute WOAT. Not only does it feel just ugh, but peeling is also not the most ideal sitch to occur on places like your face. This ointment by Skinfix literally transforms dry, painful, itchy skin. Other formulas not doing the job? Rub this bb on areas that are extremely dry and get ready to be amazed.

THE REVIEW: “This product saved my skin,” writes one reviewer who burned their skin, “this product immediately took the redness and pain away, and I will always keep it with me now!”

BEST CALMING AFTER-SUN GEL

KORRES Greek Yoghurt Calming + Cooling Gel

GEL CONSISTENCY IS LIGHTWEIGHT

MORE COOLING THAN MOISTURIZING

Day at the beach leave your skin a little too red for your comfort?? Get yourself this calming and cooling gel by Korres—formulated with nourishing Greek yogurt and calming sweet almond oil—that you can slather all over your face and body for instant relief.

THE REVIEW: “I’ve been using this for a few years now and it’s legit life-changing,” writes one reviewer who came back from a tropical vacation. “Needless to say, I didn’t have a base tan. This took the sting out, and it gave me a great tan and I barely peeled!”

BEST PRE- AND POST-SUN SPRAY

Everyday Humans No Problemo Pre & Post-Sun Water

SLEW OF NOURISHING INGREDIENTS

VERY LITTLE AMOUNT OF PRODUCT

Cucumber water, hyaluronic acid, aloe, and calendula are just some of the ingredients that make this pre- and post-sun water by Everyday Humans a lifesaver after sun exposure. Mist it on whenever you need a refresh during the day, or after a day outside when you need a little cooling action.

THE REVIEW: “It’s aimed at rehydrating the skin quickly and effectively after sun exposure—or if you just need a refresh,” writes one reviewer, adding, “The cucumber water, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe, and calendula are super hydrating and calming.”

BEST HEAVY BODY AND FACE AFTER-SUN LOTION

Visha Skincare Face 2 Feet

CAN BE USED ANYWHERE ON THE BODY

SMELL CAN BE OVERWHELMING

Visha Skincare Face 2 Feet is an occlusive moisturizer packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients that will work ahhh-mazingly on skin that’s seen a little too much sun. The best part? It can be used from your head to your toes (hehe, hence the name)!

THE REVIEW: “I love how it soothes dry, itchy skin; this cream is light in texture and the scent is extremely minimal,” writes one reviewer. “It’s great quality and doesn’t leave a greasy feel,” writes another.

BEST AFTER-SUN LOTION FOR THE FACE

Osea Atmosphere Protection Cream

LIGHTWEIGHT CONSISTENCY THAT'S GREAT UNDER SPF AND MAKEUP

PACKAGING CAN CAUSE ISSUES WITH PRODUCT DISPENSION

This lightweight facial moisturizer is great for the summer due to its weightless consistency and formulation of antioxidants which are especially great for soothing skin that’s been out in the sun. Toss it on before your sunscreen and makeup.

THE REVIEW: “I apply it when I have a long day of errands planned, and I notice that it keeps my skin hydrated throughout the day, especially here in Houston, Texas, where it’s so dry and humid on a daily basis,” reads one tester’s review.

BEST ORGANIC AFTER-SUN LOTION

Coola Radical Recovery Eco-Cert Organic After Sun Lotion

APPLIES AND RUBS IN GREAT

COULD BE A LITTLE MORE HYDRATING

If you’re looking for a weightless lotion for your face and body that’ll soothe sunburnt skin without breaking you out, you have got to try this one by Coola. Sweet, sweet relief, right this way.

THE REVIEW: “Thank god I found this Coola lotion because I’d still be in even more pain than I already am,” writes one reviewer who got a bad sunburn on vacation. “It’s helping my skin recover from the sunburn, albeit a slow process, and making it possible to at least move around.”

Is it okay to put lotion on after sun exposure?

“Immediately after a sunburn—when the skin is red and inflamed— many lotions may sting and feel uncomfortable,” says Dr. Patel, adding that it’s best at that moment to use ice and take an anti-inflammatory (i.e., acetaminophen or ibuprofen) to reduce pain and swelling. Dr. Rabach has also explained to Cosmo that it’s so very important to keep your body hydrated with fluids as you can lose a lot of water when your skin is sunburned.

“As the dead skin starts to peel and the new skin is revealed, there is some epidermal water loss, and moisturizers are best used here,” says Dr. Patel. You’ll want to use an emollient or occlusive moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated.

How to choose the best after-sun lotion:

Assess the affected area

Serious note: First, assess the sunburn—if there are blisters or it’s an intense burn, see a dermatologist ASAP for wound care to prevent scarring and infection, explains Dr. Patel. If it’s a minor burn, at-home topical treatments, like the ones listed above, should help soothe the pain as the sunburn goes away over time.

Examine the ingredients

“Fragrances can be irritating on sunburn, and any ingredient with citrus oils should be avoided as they can make your skin even more sensitive to the sun or cause even more burning,” says Dr. Patel. Instead, she recommends looking for hydrating and soothing ingredients such as shea butter, aloe, hyaluronic acid, and rose hip oil.

Meet the experts:

Purvisha Patel, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at her own practice, Advanced Dermatology in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Patel is also the CEO and founder of Visha Skincare, a line of skincare products formulated to be effective for all skin types.

Morgan Rabach, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of LM Medical in NYC. Dr. Rabach has previously spoken to Cosmo about how to treat a sunburn.

Why trust ‘Cosmo’?

Siena Gagliano is a contributing beauty editor at Cosmopolitan and has two years of experience writing about beauty, fashion, and lifestyle news. She’s an expert at researching and writing skincare stories, like the differences between mineral vs. chemical sunscreen and the best clear sunscreens, and feels especially knowledgable in after-sun lotion, thanks to her personal experiences with sunburns. She regularly tests and analyzes after-sun lotions on her own skin for efficacy, while working with the industry’s top dermatologists to assess new formulas and products.



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