Kick off the sunny summer season with our comprehensive after sun care guide.
You may have heard about wearing sunscreen and soothing burns with aloe vera, but do these measures actually work? Moreover, is it possible that some after sun care could do more damage than good? Let’s dive in.
We’ve packed everything you need to know to face the sun with confidence into this complete guide. Enjoy research on sunscreen, aloe vera, and more on the benefits of skin soothing ingredients to add to your after sun care arsenal.
What is AfterSun?
AfterSun is just like it sounds. It’s a gel, lotion, or balm designed to be used after prolonged sun exposure.
After long hours spent in UV rays, the job of an after sun product is to moisturize and hydrate overly sun kissed skin. For this reason, after sun care products typically include ingredients like sun care favorite, aloe vera and fruit extracts, herbal extracts, and natural essential oils.
How Does AfterSun Work?
Aftersun care is designed to refresh, replenish, and hydrate.
An aftersun commonly contains natural antioxidant ingredients alongside skin hydrating, soothing botanicals. These ingredients may help support healthy skin nourishment and normal inflammatory function.
The skin is the human body’s largest organ. It’s characteristically like an onion with multiple layers designed to protect our internal skeleton, muscles, and organs.
The outer layer of the skin, the epidermis, is the layer of the skin that protects the inner layers by retaining proper levels of moisture, collagen, and elastin. Damage to this important outer layer can wreak havoc on the skin’s ability to produce the beneficial chemicals needed to keep skin looking fresh.
In sum, excessive sun exposure can result in premature skin aging and damage to healthy skin cells.
The Lowdown On AfterSun For Sensitive Skin
After sun for sensitive skin is out there, you just need to take a long look at the ingredient list.
In an interview with Get The Gloss Beauty & Health, Dermatologist Dr. Terry Loong explained, “Sensitive skin normally has impaired barrier function (..) hence chemicals, toxins or environmental triggers can enter the skin and trigger a reaction, causing redness, swelling, blistering or pain . This is when we see skin "react" and we label it "sensitive". Sensitive skins therefore risk damage from UV rays which could make them prematurely age."
For this reason, once you’ve chosen after sun care take a look at the label. Note any preservatives, additives, perfumes, or big words you can’t pronounce. All of these factors could point to the product being more chemically based and potentially irritating for the skin.
Aloe Vera AfterSun: The Quintessential Sun Warrior
Aloe vera isn’t just a single plant. It’s actually a whole plant species and genus.
In fact, there are over 500 types of aloe vera plants that thrive in hot, dry conditions and produce vibrant red, green, and yellow flowers.
If you cut up one of the plant’s succulent leaves, there’s a thick, clear gel on the inside of the plant that is beloved and used by many for a wide range of uses.
What Can the Aloe Vera Plant Be Used For?
Aloe Vera For Sunburns
Aloe vera is commonly used as a tool for after sun care. Conveniently, research supports the use of aloe vera for sunburns, perhaps the plant’s most well-known use.
If you’ve ever wondered “why does aloe vera work?”, researchers were determined to figure it out.
In a study published in Molecules in 2018, they found that the plant’s active chemical, aloin, was the ingredient behind the plants ability to help support normal inflammatory function 
Aloe Vera For Burns
If you’re the clumsy type and recently got a minor burn while cooking or camping, aloe vera can help. Aloe vera for burns has been comprehensively in clinical trials .
However, if you suffer a significant burn, be sure to head to your primary care physician to make sure aloe vera would be suitable for your ailment.
Aloe Vera For Vitamins & Nutrients
Did you know that the aloe vera plant is actually edible? The plant’s water and vitamin rich content makes it ideal for hydration, antioxidants, and more.
Keep in mind, if you decide to consume aloe vera, make sure to take the proper precautions. First, make sure it’s indeed a standard aloe vera plant and not an unknown variant. This will mitigate the risk of the plant being poisonous.
Try to soak the plant in water if it’s too tough to chew, and enjoy!
How to Use the Aloe Vera Plant
You can use the aloe vera plant in a variety of forms including our favorites: naturally or incorporated into sprays and after sun care.
You can grab an aloe plant and remove a stem of the plant from the very base using your hands or a knife. Carefully rip or cut the stem open and spread directly onto the skin, or take a bite if you’d like.
Store the remaining fleshy parts of the plant that you don’t use in the refrigerator to keep fresh and cool.
Aloe Vera Spray
Aloe vera spray is a great option if you’d like to buy your aloe vera in product form. When shopping for a spray aloe vera product, try to find one that has minimal ingredients or single ingredient aloe vera at best.
We’re big fans of sprayable aloe because it coats the skin with an even, light mist of aloe vera. This allows the skin to still breathe while it cools off.
Store in the refrigerator for an extra cooling sensation.
After Sun Spray Aloe Vera
After Sun Spray Aloe Vera contains natural aloe vera alongside other natural skincare superheroes and essential oils. This is our favorite method of using aloe vera because it doesn’t rely solely on one ingredient to get the job done.
An all-natural sun spray can contain natural essential oils, arnica, CBD, and any other natural botanical that lends itself to hydrating and soothing.
Do’s & Don’ts Of Finding The Best AfterSun Product
Do: Go Lightweight.
The best after sun product will be lightweight and contain natural ingredients.
Choose an after sun product that is either a light weight gel or mist. Think of the beloved natural sun warrior, aloe vera. It’s a naturally lightweight gel that coats the skin while still allowing heat to escape.
Unfortunately, today some products marketed as “aftersun” tend to be overly thick and oily. Additionally, if the aftersun product you choose contains unnatural chemicals or fragrance, this could also be an irritant for the skin. This kind of product can actually be more harmful than helpful.
In an article for the Independent, skincare expert Michaella Bolder shared, “After-sun formulas tend to have rich, thick consistencies containing oils, which create an emollient barrier on top of the skin trapping in the heat in the upper layer of the epidermis and exacerbating the inflammation and ‘burn’ feeling on your face” .
Don’t: Go Without Sunscreen.
We want to leave you with the option of foregoing after sun care completely by lathering on sunscreen.
It didn’t feel right to write a whole article on after sun care without mentioning to wear sunscreen. All day. Everyday. Even on cloudy days. Here’s a few tips and things to note:
- Proven Benefits: The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been well-documented and researched to protect against wrinkles, skin cancer, and so much more.
- Sunscreen Indoors: Dermatologist Dr. Michele Green shared that sunscreen indoors is a necessary evil to protect against blue light and UVA light that can come through glass windows.
- Re-Apply & Repeat: Be sure to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours for continued protection.
- SPF Action: Try to wear an SPF of at least 30, which is said to block 97% of the sun’s UVB rays.
In Conclusion: Your Guide To After Sun Care
We hope this article helps you rethink your after sun care and put a little more thought into protecting your skin this summer. If you’d like a recommendation on the best after sun spray, we’ve got one.
Here, at Indigo Harper, we create holistic skincare infused with natural aloe vera extract. But we don’t stop there. We incorporate arnica, ylang ylang, tea tree, and more into our aloe vera after sun spray (it’s seriously one of our favorite products). We use only organic, cruelty free, and paraben free ingredients for all of our products. The cherry on top? View private third party lab results (COAs) on all products.
If you have any questions about aloe vera and want to learn more, don’t hesitate to reach out. Also, comment and let us know, do you like using aloe vera after sun exposure?
The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product.