Have a Sunburn? These Products Can Help Soothe Your Scorched Skin

A woman applying aloe vera to her shoulder sunburn.
Luluart/Shutterstock

Sunburn is a literal pain in the neck, and it can also cause permanent damage to your skin. Thankfully, you can minimize the damage with the help of a cheap aloe moisturizer. Here are some of the best sunburn treatments.

How Do These Products Treat Sunburns?

All sunburn treatment products are moisturizers. They’re simply a formulation of plant oils. But before you grab whatever moisturizer is handy and start slathering it on your shoulders, you should consider the fact that some plant oils are more suited for sunburns treatment than others.

Most sunburn products are made with aloe, which is better for sunburns than typical moisturizers for four key reasons (we also list a shea butter product which shares the same benefits as aloe, but it’s a bit heavier on the skin and more moisturizing):

  • It’s Healing: A sunburn isn’t like a regular burn. When skin cells are abused by UV light, they mutate and die off. This triggers an immune response, which is where the redness, pain, and peeling of a sunburn come from. Aloe can encourage cells to heal faster, which reduces the immune response.
  • It Minimizes Pain: Unlike other plant oils, aloe gel contains glycoproteins, which helps to reduce pain. And as long as a sunburn doesn’t hurt, you’re less likely to scratch at it or be distracted by it throughout the day.
  • It Reduces Peeling: This goes along with the healing aspect of aloe. Your body peels off damaged or dead skin to make room for new skin. By healing damaged skin before it has a chance to die or peel away, you can avoid the giant, cartoonish flaps of dead skin that come with a sunburn.
  • It’s Antibacterial: Aloe is also a light disinfectant. It kills germs, viruses, and fungus. By applying aloe to a sunburn, you can avoid any nasty microbes that thrive on dead, dirty, or damaged skin.

Now that you know why aloe and shea butter are effective sunburn treatments, it’s time to pick out a product. There are a ton of different sunburn products on the market, so we’ve taken the time to find a variety of great options for everybody’s needs.

The Cheapest Option: Banana Boat Aloe Gel ($4)

The Banana Boat Aloe Gel
Banana Boat

Everybody’s used Banana Boat aloe gel at some point in their life. It’s super cheap, and it helps sunburns heal. There isn’t much more to it. This product is ideal for just about any situation, and it’s so cheap that you can just leave it in the cupboard in case you ever come home with a sunburn.

The Natural Option: NaturSense Organic Aloe Gel 12oz ($14)

The NaturSense Organic Aloe Gel
NaturSense Organic

If you’re trying to avoid dyes, chemicals, and funky preservatives, then check out the NaturSense organic aloe vera gel. It’s a natural, straightforward aloe product with the healing power that you’d expect from any other aloe gel.

Just keep in mind that, because the NaturSense aloe gel is free of stabilizers and thickeners, it comes out a bit thin. It’s more of a thick juice than a gel, which some people may not be a fan of.

For Super Cool Relief: Australian Gold Freezing Gel 8oz ($6)

The Australian Gold Freezing Gel
Australian Gold Freezing Gel

While the cool feeling of aloe can hasten a sunburn’s healing process, it won’t immediately rid you of your pain. That’s why the geniuses at Australian Gold decided to add lidocaine (yeah, the dentist drug) to a bottle of aloe vera and spearmint.

The Australian Gold Freezing Gel is a great product for anyone that can’t stand the feeling of a sunburn. Like any aloe-based moisturizer, it kicks off the healing process, but it’s also got the added power of cool spearmint and nerve-numbing lidocaine.

The No-Rub Option: Green Leaf Aloe Spray 8oz ($13)

The Green Leaf Aloe Spray
Green Leaf Naturals

While you should always apply some form of moisturizer after a sunburn, rubbing down your damaged skin can be a bit painful. Not to mention, it can be hard to reach back and shoulder sunburns without the help of a very thoughtful friend.

Thankfully, you can skip the process with Green Leaf Naturals organic aloe vera spray. It’s just plain organic aloe, without any weird chemicals. And for $13, it’s a no-brainer.

For Shea Butter Fans: NOW Solutions Shea Butter 16oz ($11)

The NOW Solutions Shea Butter
NOW Solutions

If you’ve ever used shea butter, then you know that it’s a miracle cream. It’s great for deep miniaturization, acne, blemishes, scars, and even sunburns. The thing is, shea butter is very thick, and it’s difficult (painful) to apply to a burnt area.

That’s why we suggest using the NOW Solutions shea butter as a sunburn treatment. It’s a whipped solution, so it’s a lot easier to apply than other brands of shea butter. Just keep in mind that it’s still 100% shea butter, so it’s going to feel a lot heavier on your skin than aloe or other moisturizers.

For Coconut Fanatics: Burt’s Bees After Sun Soother 6oz ($7)

The Burt's Bees After Sun Soother
Burt’s Bees

Alongside shea butter, coconut oil is another popular miracle cream. But, it’s a lot easier (and more comfortable) to apply than shea butter, as it’s a bit thinner. The Burt’s Bees After Sun Soother is a great sunburn treatment that combines the healing power of aloe and coconut oil, so your skin can bounce back as fast as possible.

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is a writer for Review Geek and its sister site, How-To Geek. Like a jack-of-all-trades, he handles the writing and image editing for a mess of tech news articles, daily deals, product reviews, and complicated explainers. Read Full Bio »

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