Best aftersun creams, lotions, and balms | The Sun UK

LOOKING for a way of beating the heat? We’ve picked out the best after suns around.

There’s nothing quite like a day in the sun for a good dopamine boost. But a bad sunburn will leave you nostalgic for those English grey skies when you should be enjoying the all-too-short summer.

Prolonged sun exposure can leave your skin red, swollen and dry, with blisters and fever if it's a particularly bad burn. While nothing will help as much as avoiding it altogether by regularly applying sunscreen and enjoying the shade (check out the best sun creams around here), sometimes you slip up and you’re desperate for something to relieve the pain.

How to deal with sunburn

In order to help you best deal with the painful symptoms of your sunburn Dr Ross Perry, Medical Director of Cosmedics Skin Clinics, has given us his top six tips:

  1. Look for products containing aloe vera. Dr Perry says “aloe vera or a moisturiser containing Aloe not only soothes but aids the skin in healing and can also help prevent the peeling typically associated with sunburn”.
  2. Keep an eye out for antioxidants. In order to minimise flaking, Dr Perry advises antioxidants like vitamin C and E which help the skin to heal and minimise peeling.
  3. Keep your after sun in the fridge. Dr Perry advises that “refrigerating the cream first will make it feel even better on your sunburned skin”.
  4. If the pain is really bad, ibuprofen, paracetamol or antihistamines can help. Dr Perry does warn if you’re in pain “the take-home message is don’t get burnt and don’t try and aim for a cheeky tan either”.
  5. A cool shower or a damp cool towel can help. Sunburned skin can be extra sensitive though, so don’t rub the skin, it's better to let it air dry, Dr Perry advises.
  6. Witch hazel can be a great natural remedy. Dr Perry says you can apply witch hazel directly to the skin as it “contains chemicals called tannins, which help towards skin repair and fight against bacteria, meaning it can aid skin that's painful and burnt”.

Now that you know exactly what to do to ease the pain, read on for our round-up of the 15 best after sun creams, lotions, and balms to soothe sunburn in 2022.

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Best Hawaiian Tropic after sun: Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Air Soft After Sun

  • Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Air Soft After Sun, £6.99 from Superdrug – buy here

Hawaiian Tropic makes heavenly-scented Hawaiian-inspired suncare products that take care of the skin before, during and after it's been exposed to the sun.

This ultra-light after sun lotion hydrates the skin without leaving a greasy residue behind with a formula that has been enhanced with shea butter and aloe vera that sinks in seamlessly.

An added bonus of using this after sun is that you can skip perfume because the coconut and papaya scent in the lotion leaves you smelling lush for hours.

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Best after sun with aloe vera: NIVEA SUN After Sun Moisturising Soothing Lotion

  • NIVEA SUN After Sun Moisturising Soothing Lotion, £5 from Boots – buy here

Aloe vera is a lifesaver when you’re dealing with a killer sunburn.
The plant extract helps relieve pain and reduce redness by calming down the inflammation.

It also stimulates collagen production which helps to speed up the healing process, so you should be sure to check your aftersun counts this powerhouse among its ingredients.

This NIVEA aftersun has aloe vera and Hyaluron in its formula so it can intensely hydrate and soothe irritated, uncomfortable skin while cooling your burn.

Once applied, the effects should provide immediate relief, with hydration that lasts up to 48 hours.

Best after sun for redness: Kiehl’s Skin Rescuer

  • Kiehl’s Skin Rescuer, £31.50 from Kiehl’s – buy here

The telltale scarlet hue worn by sunburn sufferers is an immediate giveaway you’ve roasted yourself and, although you can’t turn back the clock, you can dial down the redness with a skin tone correcting product.

Kiehl’s Skin Rescuer helps to diminish the appearance of sun-stressed skin, by toning down redness and adding radiance to a dry complexion.

The deeply hydrating formula contains Mannose and Rosa Gallica to replenish the skin barrier and protect the skin from additional damage.

Best hydrating after sun: Ambre Solaire Hydrating Soothing After Sun Lotion

  • Ambre Solaire Hydrating Soothing After Sun Lotion, £6.50 from Boots – buy here

In order to rehydrate dry skin and alleviate the tight feeling that comes after sun exposure, you’ll need a deeply nourishing aftersun, like this best seller from Garnier.

Enriched with naturally-derived aloe vera, this lotion has a cooling effect on the skin while helping to maintain elasticity through deep hydration, leaving the skin feeling soft and silky.

Best after sun for sensitive skin: Eucerin Sun Sensitive Relief Soothing Regenerating After Sun Lotion Gel

  • Eucerin Sun Sensitive Relief Soothing Regenerating After Sun Lotion Gel for Face & Body, £15.40 from Boots – buy here

Sunburnt skin can feel extra sensitive, so a cream that caters to sensitive skin types will be more gentle on sore areas and cater to allergy-prone individuals.

This refreshing after sun lotion from Eucerin is easily absorbed and has a distinct cooling effect that supports skin regeneration; perfect for if you’re peeling.

Best after sun shower gel: Clarins After Sun Shower Gel

  • Clarins After Sun Shower Gel, £22 from Clarins – buy here

Nothing helps a stinging sunburn quite like a cool shower and there are cooling after sun shower gels that can make this experience even more of a relief.

The Clarins After Sun Shower Gel helps to cool and comfort irritated skin, while gently cleaning away salt, sand, and the smell of chlorine.

The aloe-infused formula is ultra-nourishing, helping to replenish skin that has been dried out from a day of swimming.

Best after sun tan extender: NUXE Sun Refreshing After-Sun Lotion Face & Body

  • NUXE Sun Refreshing After-Sun Lotion Face & Body, £19 from John Lewis – buy here

While we don’t recommend exposing yourself to sun damage, if a glowing tan has been an unexpected benefit of your burn, you will probably want to keep this radiance around as long as possible.

Not only will this nourishing after sun from NUXE prolong your tan by up to two weeks, but it also leaves your skin smelling heavenly with a fragrance of sweet orange, Tahitian gardenia, and vanilla.

Best after sun for soothing on the go: grüum Läka Soothing After Sun Mist

  • grüum Läka Soothing After Sun Mist, £10 from Lookfantastic – buy here

Just because you’ve baked yourself in the sun doesn’t mean the world stops turning and chances are you’ll be expected to get on with your usual routine.

In these cases, keeping a light after sun mist in your bag can help you soothe sore skin on the go and make it easy to go about your day as normal.

This ultra-light mist from grüum has been formulated with eucalyptus, lavender and aloe vera to cool and soothe sunburnt skin without leaving a sticky residue on the skin.

Best hydrating after sun: La Roche-Posay Posthelios Soothing After Sun Melt-in Gel,

  • La Roche-Posay Posthelios Soothing After Sun Melt-in Gel, £13.50 from Lookfantastic – buy here

Prolonged sun exposure can leave your skin dry as well as burnt and this dehydration is what causes that uncomfortably tight feeling of the skin.

This deeply replenishing after sun from La Roche-Posay is 100 percent hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic so it will deeply moisturise without clogging your pores.

Best cooling after sun

  • Piz Buin After Sun Soothing and Cooling Moisturising Lotion, £10.20 from Lookfantastic – buy here

A particularly nasty sunburn can leave your skin feeling hot to the touch, which is deeply uncomfortable.

This after sun from Piz Buin will be able to relieve sun-stressed skin with an aloe vera and mint-infused formula.

The light formula melts into the skin with ease, with vitamin E and glycerin replenishing hydration and preventing peeling.

Best after sun for after swimming: Sun Bum Cool Down After Sun Lotion

  • Sun Bum Cool Down After Sun Lotion, £16.79 from Lookfantastic – buy here

The skin dryness caused by swimming can exacerbate the discomfort caused by sunburn, so replenishing this loss of moisture will help with soreness.

Sun Bum’s Cool Down AfterSun Lotion counts aloe vera and vitamin E amongst its ingredients so it can help restore moisture loss from swimming in chlorine or saltwater.

Best vegan after sun: Glossier After Baume

  • Glossier After Baume, £25 from Glossier – buy here

Not all after suns are cruelty-free, but this Baume from Glossier is vegan as well as dermatologist-tested, fragrance-free and free from drying alcohols.

While a deliciously scented after sun is ideal for some, others will find fragrance and alcohol heavy formulas too harsh for their sun-damaged skin.

This gentle barrier recovery cream not only makes a great after sun, but also works wonders on skin that has been exposed to cold weather, mask-wearing, acne treatments, over-exfoliation, and more.

Best after sun with SPF: Bondi Sands Aloe Vera Sunscreen Spray SPF 30

  • Aloe Vera Sunscreen Spray SPF 30, £8.99 from Bondi Sands – buy here

There’s one thing that’s worse than a regular sunburn and that's a sunburn on top of a sunburn.

If you’ve made the classic mistake of baking yourself on the first day of a week-long beach holiday, you’ll need a product that can soothe your existing sunburn while protecting you from additional sun damage.

The Bondi Sands Aloe Vera Sunscreen spray contains cooling and hydrating ingredients to help with your burn, while the SPF 30 protects you from making the sunburn worse.

The non-greasy formula is water-resistant for up to four hours, so you won’t have to miss out on any swimming.

Best natural after sun: Badger After Sun Balm

  • Badger After Sun Balm, £11.99 from Holland & Barrett – buy here

All-natural, organic and formulated with shea and cocoa butter, this soothing and nourishing after sun balm helps to restore balance to the skin after a day of swimming and sun exposure.

Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a delicious scent, with a delightful tropical scent provided by organic essential oils.

Best after sun for face: Clarins Soothing After Sun Balm

  • Clarins Soothing After Sun Balm, £22 from John Lewis – buy here

Some after suns have not been formulated to be used on the face, meaning they can be a bit thicker than your usual skincare products and may cause irritation or breakouts on sensitive skin.

This aloe vera, watermelon, and shea butter infused after sun has a rich formula that nourishes and hydrates the face after a day in the sun.

In order to answer any burning questions (pardon the pun) you may have about after sun, we consulted Dr Adam Friedmann, Consultant Dermatologist at Stratum Clinics, for an expert opinion.

Is after sun good for sunburn?

Dr Friedmann says after sun “is essentially a moisturiser. The sun depletes the skin of moisture through dehydration and photodamage. Moisturising is always good and dermatologists recommend it. Also, the soothing of after sun can be quite pleasant as it calms the skin if one has overdone the sunburn!”.

Dr Friedmann advises applying the product “as soon as you get out of the bath or shower, gently pat yourself dry, leaving a little water on your skin. Then apply a moisturiser to trap the water on your skin”.

If your skin has blistered, you should leave these areas alone and avoid after sun. “If skin blisters allow it to heal untouched. Blisters form to help your skin heal and protect you from infection. With any sunburn, you should avoid the sun while your skin heals. Be sure to cover the sunburn every time you head outdoors”.

How much do I need to spend on after sun?

The prices for after sun can vary greatly, ranging from a few quid to well over £50.

Expensive doesn’t always equal better for these kinds of products and depending on your skin type and what exactly you’re after, there are great products on the market that are budget-friendly.

Can you use sun cream after the best before date?

Although for many beauty products the expiration date is arbitrary and the products like after sun are effective for long after the documented date, Dr Friedmann advises that “with regards to sunscreen, the expiration date is relevant and should be respected, sunscreens past the expiry date are unable to achieve the SPF rating stated on the container, the primary anti-ageing and anti-skin cancer effect and are not fit for purpose. That goes for both chemical and mineral sunscreens”.

How often do you apply after sun?

Dr Friedmann says how often you need to apply aftersun depends on the severity of your burn: “I’d recommend applying after sun as often as you need to remain comfortable – ranging from half-hourly for severe burns to once daily for minor sunburn”.

Can after sun prevent skin peeling?

Because your skin is damaged after sunburn, peeling skin is a way of repairing damaged cells. The peeling process can be exacerbated by dry skin, however, which is why after sun can help.

As Dr Friedmann says after sun “is essentially a moisturiser”, which means it can keep the top layer of your skin hydrated and comfortable through the skin healing process.

Can you put after sun on your face?

Dr Friedmann gives this the go-ahead unless there are certain ingredients that tend to irritate your skin: “Yes, you can put after sun on your face. However, for those with sensitive skin, it’s worth checking the ingredients before applying”.

Is after sun good for tattoos?

After sun is a popular product for dealing with post-tattoo irritation and Dr Friedmann says “yes after sun can be pretty good” for tattoos, “but Vaseline-based products are probably more effective”.

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