The 10 Best Sunburn Relief Gels and Lotions of 2020

Heal your skin with these cooling treatments

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First Look

Best Overall: Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel at Amazon

"Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel harvests theirs from freshly-cut, cold-pressed aloe plants, making it more potent than many competing products."

Best Lotion: Burt’s Bees Aloe & Coconut After Sun Soother at Amazon

"If you suffer from naturally dry skin and need an extra boost of hydration, this non-greasy lotion is a game changer."

Best Budget: Banana Boat After Sun Aloe Vera at Amazon

"The quick-absorbing gel is also available nearly everywhere and is a steal compared to many competing products."

Best Spray: Sun Bum Cool Down Aloe Vera Spray at Amazon

"It's a simple solution to this problem, offering an effective sunburn solution in the form of an easy-to-apply, non-greasy, and quick-drying spritz."

Best for Face: Coola Radical Recovery at Amazon

"In addition to aloe vera, it is packed with antioxidants and other high-quality ingredients you might find in your daily moisturizer."

Best Gel: SunBum Cool Down Aloe Vera Gel at Amazon

"It is gentle enough for those with the most sensitive skin, is quick-drying, non-greasy, and in addition to providing sunburn relief, will also help you maintain your tan without peeling as long as possible."

Best for Kids: California Baby Aloe and Arnica Cream at Amazon

"Safe and gentle enough for newborns, but also an effective sunburn solution for adults with sensitive skin, allergies, or eczema."

Best Organic: Pura D’Or Organic Aloe Vera Gel at purador.com

"In addition to aloe, healing ingredients also include vitamins C & E for added anti-aging benefits."

Best Oil: CocoOil After Sun Oil at anthropologie.com

"An aroma of coconut with a hint of lime will make you feel like you are vacationing in the tropics every time you slather it on."

Best Multi-Tasker: Vaseline Petroleum Jelly at Amazon

"If you don’t already have a tub in your medicine cabinet, Vaseline is available almost everywhere and costs next to nothing."

Sunburns can happen to the best of us, and according to the CDC, they do: over a third of American adults have suffered from sunburn in the last year. Keeping your skin burn-free is ideal, as this sort of inflammatory reaction to UV rays is not only uncomfortable but has been linked to skin cancer later in life. However, if you do happen to slip-up and spend a few too many hours in the sun or forget to lather on that SPF, there are a number of post-sun skincare products to ease the pain and help your skin heal from your minor (or major) sun infraction. “It is important to apply products on your skin when you get a sunburn to help alleviate the inflammation and minimize the peeling,” explains Nazanin Saedi, MD and director of Jefferson Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology Center.

When looking for a product, ingredients are key—but so is the temperature your product is kept at—Dr. Saedi maintains. “I recommend aloe vera and using it cold to help alleviate the heat sensation,” she says. What to avoid? “Any topical creams or lotions that have a topical anesthetic agent, because that will cause a potential allergic reaction.” 

Whether you prefer the consistency of a lotion, the quick-dry capability of a gel, or hydrating quench of cream, we have sourced out the best sunburn relief products on the market to help treat your burn as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel

As Dr. Saedi mentioned, aloe vera is the key ingredient you should look for in a sunburn treatment. While other products use aloe powder, a less concentrated form of the plant, Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel harvests theirs from freshly-cut, cold-pressed aloe plants, making it more potent than many competing products. Basically, it’s the equivalent to rubbing a fresh aloe vera plant to your skin, with the added benefit of other ingredients such as natural seaweed, which help thicken the aloes so it can stick to your skin. You can also use it to help relieve irritation from cuts, rashes, insect bites, scalp itchiness and dandruff, and razor burn. 

Best Lotion: Burt’s Bees Aloe & Coconut After Sun Soother

Dr. Saedi is a big fan of Burt’s Bees sunburn solution. Not only does it contain aloe vera, but unlike most sunburn relief gels, it is also powered with coconut oil, to help hydrate the skin. If you suffer from naturally dry skin and need an extra boost of hydration, this non-greasy lotion is a game-changer. It is also 99.6% natural—free of all parabens, phthalates, and petrolatum (aka petroleum jelly)—and packed with natural antioxidants and nutrients including honey and natural flower extracts.

Best Budget: Banana Boat After Sun Aloe Vera

Banana Boat After Sun Aloe Vera has been around for several decades, and it’s quite likely you slathered it on your very first sunburn. In short, it's a tried and true remedy that has passed the test of time. Dr. Saedi suggests “the original” gel over the lotion, as it is packed with soothing aloe vera. “I like it kept chilled,” she adds. The quick-absorbing gel is also available nearly everywhere and is a steal compared to many competing products. 

Best Spray: Sun Bum Cool Down Aloe Vera Spray

Sometimes it can be difficult to apply a gel or lotion to hard-to-reach areas of your body that are experiencing the wrath of the sun. Sun Bum’s Cool Down Aloe Vera Spray is a simple solution to this problem, offering an effective sunburn solution in the form of an easy-to-apply, non-greasy, and quick-drying spritz. While aloe is the key ingredient, it is also enriched with Vitamin E for hydration and cucumber extract, giving it a soothing and cooling scent. 

Best for Face: Coola Radical Recovery

If you haven’t experienced the glory of Coola sun products, you are seriously missing out. This ultra-moisturizing and lightweight after-sun lotion, which the brand describes as a “wheatgrass shot for your skin,” might be a bit of a splurge, but think of it as an extension of your skincare regimen. In addition to aloe vera, it is packed with antioxidants and other high-quality ingredients you might find in your daily moisturizer. Organic agave, rosemary extract, and oils such as lavender, sunflower, sweet orange, mandarin peel, and cedarwood are just a few of them. It is also free of any parabens, sulfates, phthalates, gluten, or oxybenzone.

Best Gel: SunBum Cool Down Aloe Vera Gel

In addition to their convenient spray, SunBum also offers an after-sun treatment in gel form. This aloe gel is also formulated with other skin-soothing ingredients—including vitamin E and tea tree oil. Reviewers rave that it is gentle enough for those with the most sensitive skin, is quick-drying, non-greasy, and in addition to providing sunburn relief, will also help you maintain your tan without peeling as long as possible. 

Best for Kids: California Baby Aloe and Arnica Cream

California Baby is the go-to product line for parents looking for clean products formulated with the very best ingredients for their little ones. Their Aloe and Arnica Cream, a subtly lavender and clary sage scented moisturizer, is safe and gentle enough for newborns, but also an effective sunburn solution for adults with sensitive skin, allergies, or eczema. While it contains aloe vera like all of the other products on our list, calendula and arnica montana add to its soothing and cooling abilities. It is also cruelty-free and allergy tested in addition to being free of any harsh chemicals, petroleum-derived ingredients, parabens, and synthetic fragrance. 

Best Organic: Pura D’Or Organic Aloe Vera Gel

purador

If you are looking for the most natural, fragrant, but effective product on the market, Pura D’Or Aloe Vera Gel is a must-have. It is the only USDA Certified Organic Aloe Vera on the market with zero artificial preservatives. We also love that the skin-soothing, nourishing, and hydrating formula is available in three scents—Jasmine, Bergamot Lime, and Lemongrass. In addition to aloe, healing ingredients also include vitamins C & E for added anti-aging benefits. While most people purchase this product for their skin, it can also be used in the hair and on the scalp.

Best Oil: CocoOil After Sun Oil

cocooil

If you prefer a body oil to a lotion or gel, CocoOil After Sun Oil is a must-try. This silky formula of nourishing and soothing ingredients—including Fair Trade cold-pressed Organic Coconut Oil, Aloe Vera Extract, and Lime Oil—will not only help relieve any pain associated with your sunburn but help repair and hydrate your skin. Did we mention it smells amazing? An aroma of coconut with a hint of lime will make you feel like you are vacationing in the tropics every time you slather it on, so you will want to keep using it even when you aren’t sun-scorched.

Best Multi-Tasker: Vaseline Petroleum Jelly

Vaseline is the most unlikely product on our list, but Dr. Saedi swears that it is a doctor’s secret after-sun weapon. “Dermatologists love Vaseline, and I recommend it if you blister from sunburn to help protect the skin barrier and to hydrate the skin,” she tells us. If you don’t already have a tub in your medicine cabinet, Vaseline is available almost everywhere and costs next to nothing. 

Since aloe vera is considered the holy grail of sunburn relief products, Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel is our top pick of all the amazing contenders, as it offers the plant in its purest form. However, there are other things to consider when choosing the right product for you, including the type of scent you like, your preference of oil, cream, lotion, or spray, or whether you want it to multitask as a moisturizer. 

What to Look for in a Sunburn Relief Lotion

Ingredients: Aloe vera is the go-to ingredient when it comes to after sun care, Dr. Saedi points out. While the majority of products we picked are aloe-based, there are a few relying on other ingredients—including petroleum jelly, coconut oil, antioxidants, and plant/flower extracts. However, if you do have sensitive skin, you should pay close attention to the ingredient list, and it might be a good idea to stick with an effective but fuss-free product like Seven Minerals


Consistency: While the goal of every lotion, cream, oil, spray, and gel on our list is primarily the same (to offer sunburn relief!) you get to choose the type of potion to slather on your skin. As with shopping for any skin or body care product, you should definitely take into consideration what feels good on your skin. For example, if you hate anything oily, stick with a lotion or cream. 


Scent: Fragrance is also a matter of preference. Some people are drawn to tropical or beachy smelling products with hints of coconut, that remind them of their favorite vacation. Others prefer something more neutral or fragrance-free. Your preference should definitely influence your product choice, and luckily, there are options for everyone. 

Why Trust Verywell

As an internationally recognized health writer and product guru, Leah Groth understands that nobody wants to waste their time or money on products that fail to rear results. Over the years, she has interviewed the world's top health experts and reviewed hundreds of items, to help readers like you discover the most effective health gadgets, goops, and aids that will help you look and feel your very best.

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sunburns. Updated April 9, 2020.