Is Aloe Vera Effective for Sunburn Relief?


Without broad-spectrum sunscreen, UV rays can wreak havoc on our sensitive skin, resulting in painful sunburns. Fortunately, the succulent plant, aloe vera, boasts a plethora of natural healing properties that alleviate discomfort, redness, and pain from sunburns. Read on to discover more.

The Benefits of Using Aloe Vera for Sunburns

Did you forget to apply or reapply your UV cream? If this happens and your skin turns red and itchy or even when your best efforts against sunburn fail, consider swapping out that generic after-sun lotion for natural aloe vera, a potent natural repair for sunburnt skin. If your sunburn is particularly serious, consult a dermatologist immediately.

Applying an oil-based, after-sun product on a very irritated skin can trap the heat in the epidermis and worsen inflammation. Fragrances and other chemical ingredients can further skin irritation while alcohol – an active ingredient in most after-sun products – can dehydrate already dry skin. Comfort Zone Sun Soul conscious formulas do not contain alcohol. We recommend applying these super moisturizing, repairing after-sun products only after you have applied the aloe vera and it has visibly reduced the redness. Even if you avoided a sunburn by properly applying SPF,  properly applied the SPF, you can still reap the benefits from Water Soul Aloe Vera by using it as a face and body serum before all after-sun regimens.

How Your Skin Reacts to UV Rays

Overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage skin cells, often causing them to mutate or die. When cells die, blood vessels open up to encourage the flow rate of immune cells to the affected area. This process causes the affected skin to swell and turn red, thus leading to a sunburn. Cells that survive this process may have mutated and can eventually turn cancerous, this is why it is key to reduce and stop inflammation.

The sun produces three types of ultraviolet radiation – UVA, UBB, and UVC. UVA radiation is the weakest but remains most consistent throughout the year. These long-wavelength rays contribute to wrinkles and premature aging. 

While partly absorbed by the ozone layer, medium wavelength UVB rays are more powerful than UVA rays and contribute to sunburn and skin cancers. Fortunately, the most damaging rays – UVC – are absorbed by the atmosphere before ever reaching Earth’s surface.  

Benefits of Aloe Vera

Aloe vera, or Aloe barbadensis miller, belongs to the lily family and is native to North Africa and Southern Europe. The plant’s mucilage, or clear, gel-like matter present in its leaves,  is  98-99% water and contains 75 active compounds. Aloe’s most potent properties help combat the discomfort from a sunburn while reducing any harmful, lasting side effects.


Some skin specialists may recommend short but frequent cool baths for skin relief after a sunburn. However, keeping skin hydrated can be challenging with this much bathing. We prefer to recommend Aloe, since the mucopolysaccharides in aloe vera counteract dryness and flaking by encouraging your skin’s natural production of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid allows skin to retain more water for maximum hydration. 


Topically applying the gel of aloe on sun-exposed skin releases metallothionein, an antioxidant protein. Once activated, metallothionein  seeks out potentially damaging free radicals that form in your body due to excessive exposure to sunlight and environmental stressors. Aloe boasts additional antioxidants including vitamins A, C, and E, which aid in nourishing, moisturizing, and healing the skin.

How to Use Aloe Vera for Sunburnt Skin

When caring for sunburnt skin, skip the loofah or exfoliating scrub and reach for a gentle, hydrating cleanser such as Water Soul Eco Shower Gel. Wash the sunscreen, oil, and dirt from your body in a luke-warm or cool shower. Then, follow these steps for applying soothing aloe vera for sunburn and an unscented moisturizer:

1. Gel or leaves

Fresh aloe straight from the plant is not the easiest choice but can be a fun experience if you want to try it. Aloe plants can be found at nurseries, hardware stores, or even at many groceries. Break off a piece of the leaf, or pull the entire thing, and wash thoroughly. Allow the aloe leaf to sit for 10 minutes to allow the latex to drain.

Although the gooey, yellowish alonin has analgesic properties, it can reportedly irritate sensitive and stain clothes. Handle with caution!

Use a knife to split the leaf in half. Then, rub the exposed aloe vera gel directly on a small patch of skin to first determine potential allergies. If skin doesn’t react after a few minutes, apply liberally to the sunburnt area.

Preserve any leftover gel inside the fridge and apply again after six hours.If you bought more leaves than you need for a day and want to keep them longer, scoop the gel from the rind and blend until it’s liquefied and foamy. Add vitamins C and E to keep it fresh for up to a week.

2. Tips for choosing a lotion or moisturizer

  • Dermatologists recommend using fragrance-free, silicon-free topical solutions with a high percentage of aloe.  

  • An aloe gel for skin doesn't trap heat the way oil or petroleum-based creams do. 

Avoid products containing alcohol, which can dehydrate your skin, as well as lidocaine and benzocaine, which may trigger allergies or cause skin irritation.

Sunscreen Is Still the Best Defense

  • Broad-spectrum natural sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is still the best skincare protection against UV rays, even when it's overcast or rainy.
  • Broad-spectrum products protect the skin against UVA and UVB rays. Additionally, a natural, broad-spectrum SPF provides a safe option for those with skin conditions or allergies. Support mother nature by choosing products that are free of oxybenzone, octinoxate, and other chemical filters that can harm the marine environment such as Sun Soul and Water Soul conscious formulas. Studies show that these substances in sunscreen cause coral bleaching, damage biodiversity and disrupt the reproductive cycles of other fish.
  • Apply all natural, broad-spectrum sunscreen half an hour before heading outside and reapply every two hours. A water-resistant option will go even further in offering protection while at the beach or pool.
  • Opt for lotions if your skin is dry, sticks for local areas or sprays for a faster sun protection with a lighter touch.

How to Heal Sunburns

  • Sunburned skin can feel itchy and uncomfortable. As it begins to heal, the injury can leave flakes, blisters, or exposed new skin patches on the affected area. Speed up the recovery process with these tips:
  • Don’t pop blisters or peel away the skin. Immediately consult a doctor if you develop pus. Go to a physician immediately if you develop a fever (above 38 degrees Celsius), chills, or suddenly feel sick.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing and opt for breathable fabrics like loose cotton or silk. Wait to apply makeup until the skin has entirely healed.
  • Drink plenty of water and apply a moist, cold compress for more comfort.
  • Apply aloe every few hours.