So you spent a bit too much time unprotected in the sun. Your skin has turned an unpleasant red color, it feels hot and dry, and it’s even starting to peel. You’ve got a sunburn, and it sucks.
But there’s good news! There’s a ‘miracle’ remedy out there that can help soothe your discomfort and pain: aloe vera.
Aloe vera is truly one of Earth’s gifts. The jelly substance that can be extracted from the aloe vera plant’s leaves has been used for thousands of years in traditional herbal medicine around the world.
As you are likely already aware, it’s most often used for burns and other skin problems, but did you know that it can also promote recovery from a variety of other ailments? That’s right – aloe vera has been used to promote the recovery from a wide range of ailments such as constipation, arthritis, and hair loss.
And it keeps getting better: the oil in the aloe vera plant also has powerful moisturizing effects. That means that not only does applying it to a painful sunburn lessen the pain, but it also moisturizes your skin. This promotes quicker turnover of damaged skin cells to new, healthy skin cells and lessens peeling.
But taking a trip to the drugstore can be overwhelming; there are so many ‘after-sun’ products out there, but how do you know which one to choose? Will any old product that says ‘aloe vera’ on it do the trick? Or should you be more careful
In this post, I will discuss various factors that should be taken into account when buying aloe vera products for sunburns, and will compare some of the top products on the market to discover which is the best aloe vera for sunburn.
Can I Just Use an Aloe Vera Plant?
Sure! As I mentioned, aloe vera has been used for centuries – certainly long before packaged products and global consumerism even existed!
The plant alone is immensely powerful. You can watch this short video to learn how to extract the gel from the plant yourself:
However, not all of us can have aloe vera growing in our gardens nor do most of us have the time to extract our own aloe. Additionally, completely natural aloe often goes bad within a week. The next best thing is to look for products that are as close to 100% organic as possible!
After thorough research into which products are most natural and effective, SimplySunSafe recommends Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel or Spray as the best aloe vera gel for sunburn. Keep on reading for a detailed buyer’s guide, comparison table, and in-depth reviews for the top five aloe vera products for sunburn.
To ensure that your aloe vera product is going to provide you maximum soothing and recovery, there are some key features that should be found in your product:
Organic and Natural Ingredients
The first thing to look for when shopping for aloe vera products is to look for both these keywords: ‘organic’ and ‘natural.’ You want to find aloe that is 100% natural, and as close to 100% organic as possible.
For example, many of the products listed here are 100% natural and 99.75% organic. But what’s the difference between the two words when it comes to aloe, anyway?
- Organic refers to the percentage of pure aloe vera plant that is used in the product.
- Natural refers to the percentage the other ingredients in the product that are naturally-occurring and non-chemical.
No aloe vera product will be 100% organic because this wouldn’t have good shelf-life. Minimal amounts of other ingredients are required to help keep the product fresh for a longer period of time.
Some examples of natural ingredients that are natural and normal to find are
- Citric Acid: this is a non-toxic preservative
- Ascorbic Acid: this is basically Vitamin C – it nourishes skin and also helps preserve aloe vera’s shelf life.
- Potassium Sorbate: This is a natural antimicrobial compound that is used to protect products against harmful bacteria.
- Xanthan: This is a natural thickener that makes the aloe product easier to apply
In addition to the ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ labels, it’s also key to read the ingredients list to ensure the labels are true! The first ingredient, on the list should naturally be aloe vera; it may also say ‘aloe vera juice’, ‘aloe vera gel’, or ‘aloe barbadensis’.
When water or other ingredients are listed first, that hints that they are fillers in your product.
Don’t be fooled! Try to ensure that aloe vera is the first ingredient.
Free from Harmful or Unnecessary Ingredients
In addition to recognizing which ingredients are good in an aloe vera product, it is also important to identify which ingredients are not so good in a product. Products with long ingredient lists with hard-to-pronounce chemicals are probably not products you want to buy.
Here are some of the most commonly used ingredients in commercial aloe vera products that you want to avoid at all costs:
- Lidocaine – This is a local anaesthetic that can feel good at first, but can also irritate skin and make a burn worse after the initial soothing sensation. It is also particularly harmful if you have an infection. Only resort to the use of a product with lidocaine if your doctor specifically prescribes it.
- Benzocaine – This is another local anaesthetic that can feel good at first but do more harm than good by causing skin irritation or even an allergic reaction.
- Petroleum – Products with petroleum trap the heat in your skin so skip products that contain this.
- Alcohol – Products containing alcohol are big no-nos. Alcohol will dry out your skin rather than moisturize, and it can also leave your skin feeling itchy and irritated.
You can read more on what ingredients to avoid and why, and how else to soothe a painful sunburn without harming your skin by following the guidelines provided by the American Academy of Dermatology.
Gel, Spray, or Lotion?
Now that you’ve ensured your product is natural, organic, and harmful ingredient-free, it’s time to think about which type of application you desire. This is largely based on personal preference, but here is a breakdown of the different types:
- Lotion – A lotion is the thickest option you have for aloe vera products. Lotions are often quick-absorbing so you can slather it on and go. However, lotions have the downside that they require the most rubbing. This can be a painful undertaking if your burn is more severe.
- Gel – Most natural aloe vera products will come in gel form, since what naturally comes out of the aloe vera plant is a gel! Gels are gentler on skin than lotions since they are more liquidy but some may leave a sticky residue on your skin or may not absorb too quickly.
- Spray – Spray bottles are the best option for very painful burns that you don’t want to touch. They’re also useful for providing relief to otherwise hard-to-reach areas such as the upper back. However, sprays may not always provide the same level of intense relief as a gel or lotion.
Ethical Responsibility and Sustainability
Another important factor to consider when buying an aloe product is the ethical responsibility of the company towards the Earth. What are they doing to ensure sustainability on the planet?
Aloe vera is a gift from Earth that we can use happily to relieve our sunburns or other ailments, so it’s important to thank the Earth rather than to pillage it of its natural resources and harm it further.
Look for these labels when buying an aloe vera product:
- Cruelty-free – Ensure the product is not tested on animals. Aloe vera is a gentle plant that’s been used in herbal medicine for centuries; there’s no need to test it out on innocent animals.
- Recyclable – Ensure the packaging of your product is recyclable and don’t forget to recycle it once you’ve finished using it!
- BPA-Free – It is also a good idea to look for BPA-free packaging. BPA, or bisphenol-A, is a chemical found in many everyday items such as plastic and canned food and hygiene products. It is a toxic substance that has been linked to adverse side effects in humans, particularly children and infants. The U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has various resources you can read on about the effects of BPA.
Suitable for Other Uses
As I wrote earlier, aloe vera is a gift from the Earth. It soothes nasty sunburns and has a variety of benefits for skin in general.
Not only that, though.
It has a long list of benefits for both personal and medical care. For this reason, when you purchase an aloe vera product, think about if you may get any further use out of it even when your burn has healed, and make the most of it!
Here is a list of possible alternate uses for most aloe vera products:
- Medical care – Apply aloe vera on minor burns, rashes, wounds, cuts, and bug bites to promote rapid healing.
- Skin care – Aloe can exfoliate, nourish, and restore skin; used on a daily basis, it can be used to treat acne, moisturize dry skin, reduce cellulite and stretch marks, relieve eczema and psoriasis, and even fight aging. It can also been used as an aftershave and to treat razor burn.
- Hair care – Use aloe in your hair as a conditioner to moisturize your locks and manage frizz, reduce scalp itch and dandruff, and also to fight hair loss.
Now, try to take into account all these factors when shopping for an after-sun aloe vera product to ensure you are buying the best for your skin.
However, to save you time researching and looking around, SimplySunSafe has compiled a list of the five best organic aloe vera products on the market. Below you will find a brief comparison table followed by a deeper product analysis.
Best Aloe Vera for Sunburn Comparison
|Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera||Amara Organics Aloe Vera||Beauty by Earth Aloe Vera||NaturSense Aloe Vera||Burt’s Bees Aloe After Sun Soother|
|Application||Gel or Spray||Gel||Gel||Gel||Lotion|
|% Raw Aloe Vera Plant||0.9975||0.9975||0.98||0.9975||0.996|
|Additional Ingredients||Spray: Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Potassium SorbateGel:Also has Seaweed Extract||Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Xanthan||Ascorbyl Glucoside, Xanthan Gum, Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Citrate||Xanthan, Potassium Sorbate, Ascorbic Acid, Potassium Sorbate||Water, Coconut Oil, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Honey, Citric Acid, Xanthan & many more|
|Ethical Responsibility||No animal testing, recyclable bottle||No animal testing||No animal testing, recyclable bottle, sustainable sources||No animal testing, eco-friendly & BPA-free bottle||No animal testing|
5 Best Aloe Vera for Sunburn
After thorough research into the best aloe for sunburn, which included reviewing customer feedback, examining manufacturer specifications, and participating in skincare forums, SimplySunSafe has chosen the 5 best aloe vera products for sunburn.
Each recommended product contains organic aloe vera, is ethically manufactured, and has minimal extra ingredients
Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel is SimplySunSafe’s choice for the best aloe vera for sunburn. It is 100% natural and has customers raving about its positive effects. Their aloe formula also comes as a spray, so you can choose which application you would prefer.
Seven Minerals use 99.75% Certified Organic cold-pressed aloe vera grown in the USA in their formula. Their aloe products are immensely popular for their pure, strong aloe that helps soothe sunburns quickly.
The gel is the more popular of the two products. It has a thin consistency that absorbs quickly, is easy to apply, and works as a treatment for not just for burns but for face, skin, and hair care too. Additionally, it leaves no sticky residue on skin after use and leaves skin soft.
The spray, although not as popular, is similarly quick-absorbing and easy to apply, and has the added benefit of enabling you to relieve to otherwise hard-to-reach areas of the body.
But why does SimplySunSafe choose Seven Minerals products above the others? There are two main reasons.
- The choice of a spray or gel allows buyers to make a personal choice while maintaining high quality in both products.
- The gel doesn’t contain xanthan. Xanthan is used in most 100% natural aloe vera products for its thickening properties, but it can leave a sticky residue. Seven Minerals uses seaweed extract instead as a natural thickener that leaves no stickiness.
When purchasing Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera, buyers also receive a 47-page e-book that comes with DIY recipes and beauty tips to maximize the use of the product.
The only thing to keep in mind is that since the aloe used by this company is pure, it is strong and this can cause irritation to very sensitive skin. Seven Minerals recommends applying the spray or gel to a less sensitive area of the body before putting it anywhere sensitive such as the face.
- Very positive feedback from customers
- Choice of spray or gel
- No xanthan = no stickiness
- Fast-absorbing and thin consistency
- Can be too strong for very sensitive skin
Amara Organics is a bestseller in the Aloe Vera world. It is very popular for being 100% natural with 99.75% cold-pressed organic aloe, and additionally as a result of the manufacturer’s guarantee that if customers are not satisfied, they will receive their money back, no questions asked.
It comes a close second to SimplySunSafe’s #1 product recommendation, but ultimately I still prefer Seven Minerals’ product for its innovative use of seaweed extract over xanthan and for its better value for money.
Nevertheless, Amara Organics Aloe Vera Gel is still a great option. It is free of chemicals, alcohol, and added colors or fragrances, and can be used for a variety of different functions. It can even be used on pets for any itchy patches or bald spots!
The gel has a thinner consistency which allows it to be applied smoothly, spread easily, and absorbed quickly.
Customers love that it’s scentless and that it doesn’t leave any sticky residue, and are ecstatic about its benefits for burns, acne, scars, wrinkling, and even as relief after radiation therapy.
Some buyers, however, complain of reactions to the citric acid and the strength of the aloe, so if you have a sensitive skin, you’ll want to be careful with this one too.
- Lots of positive feedback from customers
- No sticky residue
- Thin consistency for easy application
- Can cause irritation to sensitive skin
- Pricier option
Beauty by Earth’s Aloe Vera Gel is another great option. It’s 100% natural and it’s free from chemical preservatives, artificial colors and fragrances, parabens, phthalates, and sulfates.
It contains 98% pure aloe vera while the remaining 2% are ingredients that additionally promote healthy skin such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, radish root ferment, and sodium citrate.
Additionally, the product is vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, and soy-free, and the company prioritizes sustainable sources.
Buyers love the consistency of Beauty by Earth’s aloe, its moisturizing powers, and the fact that you just need a bit to cover a large part of the body.
Some buyers, however, complain of an unpleasant fishy smell and also find that their skin stays slightly sticky after application.
- Good consistency
- Great value
- Extra natural ingredients to promote healthy skin
- May have a smell
- A bit sticky
NaturSense’s Aloe Vera Gel is a popular option as well. It has a silky and fluid texture that is free of chemical thickeners, it’s easy to apply, quick-absorbing, and is also soothing, cool, and scentless.
Buyers love that the product leaves their skin feeling soft with a healthy glow and rave about its effectiveness on sunburns, acne and other skin conditions, and hair. Most also comment that it leaves no sticky residue, although some complain that the consistency is too watery which makes it tough to use.
The remaining 0.25% of ingredients preserve and protect the freshness of the product so that it lasts at least two years without being refrigerated. Besides that, NaturSense’s product is free of cruelty, gluten, fragrances, colors, aloins, and parabens.
- Easy to apply and quick-absorbing
- Relieves skin of various issues
- 2 year shelf-life without refrigeration
- Can be too watery
- Sensitive skin can become irritated
Last but not least, we had to include a lotion on this list!
SimplySunSafe believes that Burt’s Bees Aloe & Coconut Oil After Sun Soother is the best aloe vera lotion for sunburn on the market. It contains 99.6% natural aloe and has coconut oil which helps to hydrate and maintain the skin’s natural moisture. It’s also non-greasy and can be used on the face and body.
Since aloe is naturally a jelly substance, finding an aloe lotion that is primarily aloe is not always an easy task. We love Burt’s Bees’ option though since it uses a majority of natural ingredients compared to other commercial brands.
Buyers mention that it’s soft on sensitive skin, especially for chemical burns and sunburns, and comment on its effectiveness in avoiding peeling. However, the product contains a long list of ingredients which are not primarily aloe (starting with water – a filler) and also has added fragrance in the formula which may bother some users.
SimplySunSafe therefore recommends this product as the best aloe lotion for sunburn if you are looking for a lotion, but recommends considering a gel or spray instead since they are purer aloe options.
- Gentle for sensitive skin
- Pleasant smell
- Primary ingredient is water, not aloe
- Added fragrance
I wrote this guide for people searching for the best aloe vera for sunburn. Hopefully, by reading this, you have gained more knowledge about aloe vera, its uses, and what to look for in aloe vera products.
SimplySunSafe recommends Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel or Spray, but all 5 recommendations are good and highly natural alternatives based on whether you are looking for a lotion, spray, or gel.
Keep in mind that pure aloe can be quite strong for people with very sensitive skin. Remember to test out any new aloe product on a less-sensitive part of the body before applying it to your face or other sensitive areas, as if you have an adverse reaction, then you’ll know aloe isn’t for you.
However, for the majority of you, I am confident that these aloe vera products will provide you with relief from your sunburn and will rejuvenate and moisturize your skin, among its many other benefits. It hasn’t been used around the world for so many centuries for nothing, after all!
I always like to learn new things and hear about new products from other people. So if you use any of these products or know of any other aloe vera product that is great for sunburns, please share it in the comments. I will check it out and maybe even add it to the list!
Aching with more questions about aloe? Check out the International Aloe Science Council’s page to learn more and even ask an expert.