The Best After-Sun Products for Bronzed (Not Burned) Skin

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Disclaimer: While this is an article about the best after-sun products, it would be bad beauty behavior of us to not first preach the importance of daily sun protection. UV damage is no joke, and it’s essential to wear broad-spectrum coverage every single day, rain, hail, or shine. 
But we get that things happen, so if you have accidentally gotten a little too much sun—or maybe it’s just hot out, and you want some sweet relief—we’re here with some of the very best after-sun products to have you feeling cool, calm and nourished. 

“When caring for the skin after sun exposure, I recommend soothing, nutrient-rich ingredients like aloe vera, cucumber, or hyaluronic acid,” says aesthetician Melanie Grant. “My advice is to apply a cool compress, drink plenty of fluids, and apply a lightweight fluid or lotion rich in humectants, plant oils, and antioxidants.”

Meet the Expert

Melanie Grant is a skin expert and advanced esthetician with clinics in Los Angeles, Sydney, and Melbourne.

Ahead, we’ve compiled an edit of the best after-sun products on the market. Keep scrolling to shop our picks.

Best Overall: Burt's Bees Aloe & Coconut Oil After Sun Soother

4.6
After Sun Soother with Aloe and Coconut Oil

Burt's Bees

What We Like
  • Accessible

  • Natural formula

  • Hydrating

  • Provides antioxidant protection

What We Don't Like
  • Scent may be overpowering for some

Who else recommends it? Cosmopolitan and Verywell Health both picked Burt's Bees After Sun Soother. 

What do buyers say? 92% of 8,100+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

The hero ingredient in this iconic Burt’s Bees formula is aloe vera, a plant extract that’s proven to assist with skin healing post-burn. There’s also coconut oil to help with moisture retention, adding a tropical scent. Both clean and cruelty-free, this affordable lotion is an effective option for sunburnt skin that’s equally pleasant to use. A big win in our books!

Type: Lotion | Active Ingredients: Aloe, coconut oil | Scent: Floral | Size: 6 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Budget: Sun Bum After Sun Cool Down Lotion

Sun Bum Cool Down Hydrating After Sun Lotion

Amazon

What We Like
  • Soothes skin

  • Hydrating

  • Cooling formula

What We Don't Like
  • Takes a while to absorb

This ever-popular lotion from Sun Bum also champions aloe vera for accelerated skin healing, plus cucumber to calm and reduce swelling. Despite the fact it’s a lotion, it also serves up some pretty impressive hydration, likely thanks to the inclusion of cocoa butter and jojoba oil. While it is designed for use post-sun exposure, we’d happily use it as our summer body moisturizer, too!

Type: Lotion | Active Ingredients: Aloe, vitamin E, cocoa butter | Scent: Coconut | Size: 3 fl. oz. or 8 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Drugstore: Hawaiian Tropic Lime Colada After Sun Moisturizer

Hawaiian Tropic Lime Colada After Sun Moisturizer

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Smells delicious

  • Hydrating

What We Don't Like
  • Scent may be overpowering for some

A drugstore classic, Hawaiian Tropic has long been associated with all things sun exposure (if you haven’t tried their sunscreens, you’re missing out). We especially love the Lime Colada After Sun Moisturizer as it’s refreshing and enriched with vitamins and aloe vera—plus, it smells like a cocktail!

Type: Lotion | Active Ingredients: Shea butter, cocoa butter, aloe vera | Scent: Lime coolada | Size: 16 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Splurge: Sisley Paris After-Sun Care Tan Extender

After-Sun Care Tan Extender

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Helps prolong tan

  • Luxurious feel

  • Hydrating

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

If you favor luxury beauty, you’ll be a big fan of Sisley’s After-Sun Care Tan Extender. The milky lotion is packed with aloe vera to care for skin that’s had a little too much sun, plus plant-based glycerin, shea butter, and vitamin E to improve hydration. As a bonus, there’s also a small amount of DHA (the active ingredient in self-tanners) to build a light, bronzed tint as well.

Type: Cream | Active Ingredients: Andiroba oil, alpha-bisabolol, shea butter, stevia leaf extract, plant glycerin, alkekengi calyx, vitamin E acetate | Size: 6.76 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Face and Body: Coola Radical Recovery Eco-Cert Organic After Sun Lotion

Coola ER+ Radical Recovery After Sun Lotion

 Courtesy of Revolve

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Non-greasy

  • Non-comedogenic

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

If you’re looking for a formula you can use on both your face and body, look no further than Coola’s Radical Recovery Organic Lotion. Not only does it have a feather-light texture that’s easily absorbed, but it’s also bolstered with fatty acids via the inclusion of sunflower oil to lock in moisture (without contributing to breakouts). The inclusion of essential oils also gives it a wonderful scent, too.

Type: Lotion | Active Ingredients: Organic agave, aloe vera, rosemary extract, lavender oil, sunflower oil, sweet orange oil, mandarin peel, cedarwood | Scent: Lavender | Size: 5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Face: Osea Atmosphere Protection Cream

Osea Atmosphere Protection Cream

Courtesy of Bluemercury

What We Like
  • Great for the face

  • Replenishes skin barrier

  • Provides antioxidant protection

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

“This lightweight moisturizer hydrates while providing barrier protection against the environment,” says Grant. “It’s rich in antioxidants and omega-rich oils, meaning it’s a great way to replenish delicate skin that’s seen too much sun.” Ideal for dry skin types, it can be used as either a dedicated treatment or as an everyday moisturizer underneath sunscreen and makeup.

Type: Cream | Active Ingredients: Shea butter, macadamia oil, avocado seed oil, algae | Scent: Minimal | Size: 2 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Gel: Korres Greek Yoghurt Calming + Cooling Gel

Korres Greek Yoghurt Calming + Cooling Gel

Amazon

What We Like
  • Cooling

  • Lightweight

  • Hydrating

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Greek skincare brand Korres is a firm favorite of ours, and the Yoghurt Calming + Cooling Gel is no exception. The yogurt component means it’s rich in probiotics (which have been shown to bolster the skin microbiome, especially post-sun exposure), while the calendula helps soothe and replenish. Because it’s a gel, it’s quickly absorbed as well—a must if your skin is tender to touch. 

Type: Gel | Active Ingredients: Greek yogurt, calendula, sweet almond oil | Size: 5.07 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Mist: Everyday Humans No Problemo Pre & Post-Sun Water

Everyday Humans No Problemo Pre & Post-Sun Water

Courtesy of Target

What We Like
  • Easy mist format

  • Cooling

  • Travel-friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note it feels sticky

Whether you want something portable or just want to pep up your skin while you laze by the pool, the Post-Sun Water Mist from Everyday Humans is seriously lush. One of the hero ingredients, cactus water, is thought to be a super-hydrator, while after-sun MVP aloe vera soothes and speeds up skin repair. Our top piece of advice? Keep it in the fridge for an ultra-refreshing moisture hit on hot, sticky days.

Type: Mist | Active Ingredients: Cactus extract, cucumber extract, aloe juice | Scent: Aloe | Size: 2.5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Sensitive Skin: Avène Cicalfate+ Restorative Protective Cream

Avene Cicalfate+ Restorative Protective Cream

Avene

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Safe for very sensitive skin

  • Can use on face and body

What We Don't Like
  • Leaves a white cast

“This multi-purpose salve is rich in copper and zinc sulfate to prevent the risk of infection, and Avène’s signature thermal spring water to soothe and soften,” Grant tells us. “It’s such a versatile product to have on hand, especially if you’ve accidentally had too much sun and are experiencing blistering or peeling as a result,” she adds. 

Thick and occlusive, this French pharmacy favorite is a great spot treatment for especially vulnerable skin that’s red, inflamed, or broken. Bonus: it’s also great on cuticles, angry pimples, minor cuts, and dry patches. 

Type: Cream | Active Ingredients: Zinc, copper sulfate, thermal spring water | Scent: None | Size: 1.3 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Oil: Augustinus Bader The Body Oil

Augustinus Bader The Body Oil

Courtesy of Violet Grey

What We Like
  • Luxurious feel

  • Potent

  • Boosts radiance

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

While not specifically for skin that’s seen the sun, Grant can’t deny the restorative powers of this powerhouse body oil from Hollywood favorite-brand Augustinus Bader. “Deeply nutritive, this oil is full of plant-based actives like argan, olive oil, squalane, and TFC8 to minimize the look of cellulite, stretch marks, and pigmentation—useful if you’ve had too much UV exposure.”

With its silky texture and luminous finish, it’s also an absolute treat to use. If you can handle the eye-watering price tag, you will not regret it.

Type: Oil | Active Ingredients: TFC8, squalane, vitamin E, argan oil | Scent: Woody | Size: 3.38 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Daily Use: Topicals Like Butter Body Hydrating and Soothing Mist

Topicals Like Butter Hydrating and Soothing Mist

Sephora

What We Like
  • Easy mist format

  • Soothes skin

  • Non-greasy

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Body care brand Topicals is seriously buzzy right now, and we can see why. Like Butter specifically is a spray-on moisturizer rich in hyaluronic acid, centella asiatica, and niacinamide to give it serious skincare benefits. It’s dermatologist-tested and will assist with calming down the redness associated with sunburn. It’s also super hydrating but not sticky, making it a great everyday product for your body. 

Type: Oil | Active Ingredients: Centella asiatica, rhubarb, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid | Scent: None | Size: 3.4 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Ointment: Skinfix Remedy+ 911 Ointment

Skinfix Remedy+ 911 Ointment

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Multi-purpose

  • Clinically-proven results

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • Very thick

If you’re looking for a rich, multi-purpose balm that can be used on burns, cuts, dry patches, flakes, and just really dry skin, this is it. The 911 Ointment is jam-packed with plant oils and butters (like cupuaçu, shea, jojoba, and coconut oil) to lock in moisture. There’s also 5% allantoin, a derivative of urea that accelerates the regeneration process of damaged skin inflammation, making it ideal after UV overexposure. However, it is rich, so if you’re breakout-prone, keep it away from your face. 

Type: Ointment | Active Ingredients: Allantoin, cupuaçu butter, shea butter, jojoba, aloe vera, coconut oil | Scent: None | Size: 1.8 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Scent: Banana Boat Soothing Aloe After Sun Gel

Banana Boat

Walmart 

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Cooling

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Bottle can leak

An OG summer skin savior, Banana Boat’s Soothing Aloe Vera Gel is simple, refreshing, and, best of all, affordable. It contains aloe vera extract to help with skin healing, while the bouncy gel texture feels extremely soothing, especially if it’s been refrigerated beforehand. It does, however, contain some alcohol, so keep it as a “sometimes” skin treatment as opposed to your daily moisturizer. 

Type: Gel | Active Ingredients: Aloe vera | Scent: Sweet, fruity | Size: 8 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Final Verdict

When it comes to products that provide sweet, sweet relief after getting too much sun, the Burt’s Bees Aloe & Coconut Oil After Sun Soother checks all the boxes. It’s packed with skin-loving ingredients like aloe and coconut oil to soothe and rehydrate the skin, it boasts an all-natural formula, and it’s incredibly affordable. Our faces deserve the same attention as our bods, and the Coola Radical Recovery Eco-Cert Organic After Sun Lotion is another must. Its fatty acid-rich formula works hard to lock moisture back into the skin, plus it’s non-greasy and non-comedogenic, so you can trust that it won’t cause a breakout. And finally, because sprays are just as effective (and less messy) than lotions, we’re big fans of Everyday Humans No Problemo Pre & Post-Sun Water. It’s soothing, hydrating, and cooling, helping to quench and calm our sun-stressed skin.

What to Look for in an After-Sun Product

Benefits Specific to Your Needs

Not all after-sun products are created equal, so you’ll want to shop for a formula that’ll address your specific needs. “Some are designed to soothe and moisturize skin that is dry and inflamed after UV exposure, whereas others contain self-tanners designed to provide you with lasting color,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King. Classic soothing after-sun lotions are great options for relieving dryness and cooling the skin down after a day in the sun, but for a more intense sunburn, opt for products that contain burn-soothing ingredients like aloe.

An Antioxidant-Rich Formula

We touched on some of the key sunburn-soothing ingredients above, but Dr. King suggests looking for a product that’s also rich in antioxidants, as these will help neutralize free radicals from UV rays. Think: vitamins C and E.

She also recommends products with DNA repair enzymes, which help to repair damage caused by UV rays. These may not be found in many after-sun products, but they’re ingredients to keep in mind for when your skin has calmed down.

Non-Sticky Texture

If you’ve ever slathered yourself in pure aloe vera gel after getting too much sun, you’re well aware of just how uncomfortably sticky it can be (despite being, you know, incredibly soothing). There are plenty of products on the market that contain a high percentage of aloe vera in addition to ingredients that give the formula a much more comfortable texture. Lotions and creams, as well as sprays, tend to have a smoother feel and won’t leave behind as much residue as pure aloe.

FAQ
  • How long does after-sun lotion last?

    If it’s in the form of a classic body lotion, after-sun lotion can generally last for two to three years as long as it’s stored out of direct sunlight and in a cool or room temperature area. Store-bought pure aloe vera gels typically last for about two years if stored in the same way but can last up to five if they’re kept refrigerated or frozen.

  • How often should after-sun lotion be applied?

    While you can apply most after-sun products as often as needed for relief, King says if the product contains hydrocortisone, it shouldn’t be applied more than three times per day and shouldn’t be used for more than a week at a time. If your after-sun product contains a gradual self-tanner, she recommends applying it once daily until you reach your desired shade and then using it every few days to maintain your color.

  • Is after-sun lotion good for sunburn?

    It depends on the formulation, says Dr. King, who recommends choosing products that contain aloe vera and soy for their abilities to soothe burns and combat inflammation. “For areas that feel particularly uncomfortable, a 1% hydrocortisone cream can also be helpful,” she says.

  • How do you apply after-sun lotion?

    Dr. King recommends applying after-sun lotions and gels with your fingers, as you would with a traditional body lotion. “But be sure to wash your hands afterward if the lotion contains hydrocortisone, as well as if it contains self-tanner so your fingers won’t stain,” she says.

How We Researched

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

Why Trust Byrdie

For this round-up, we worked with a qualified skin expert for their best picks, plus consulted a bunch of peer-reviewed studies to break down the very best ingredients found in topical products. Byrdie contributor Emily Algar also lives in Sydney, Australia, so she has had her fair share of sun exposure (cringe) over the years.

Meet the Expert

Dr. Hadley King is a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist who specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology. She’s also a clinical instructor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough after-sun products from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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  5. Mukherjee PK, Nema NK, Maity N, Sarkar BK. Phytochemical and therapeutic potential of cucumber. Fitoterapia. 2013;84:227-236. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2012.10.003

  6. Yu Y, Dunaway S, Champer J, Kim J, Alikhan A. Changing our microbiome: probiotics in dermatologyBr J Dermatol. 2020;182(1):39-46. doi: 10.1111/bjd.18088

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  8. An investigation into multifaceted mechanisms of action of allantoin in wound healingJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2017;76(6):AB40. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2017.04.176

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