After a day spent basking in the sun, nothing is worse than noticing the hot, uncomfortable sensation of sunburn. A common remedy for sunburn is Aloe Vera, and this ingredient is often found in aftersun products and treatments for sunburn. At Hawaiian Tropic, we’ve got over 50 years experience in sun care and skin protection, so we’ve drawn on our knowledge to put together this guide to the benefits of Aloe Vera.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe Vera is a type of cactus-like, succulent, short-stemmed shrub which grows in tropical and subtropical climates, particularly in Africa, southern Europe and the Middle East. It has thick, fleshy leaves that are serrated, with small white teeth around the edges.
Aloe Vera is often used as an ornamental plant, grown in rockeries or indoors in pots. It requires relatively little water, but flourishes best in warm environments. When the aloe’s thick green leaves are cut into, they secrete a clear gel. This gel is a key ingredient in many skin care and medicinal products. It can be toxic when ingested in significant quantities, but has many uses when applied onto skin.
Why does after sun contain Aloe Vera?
Aloe Vera has a cooling and hydrating effect which can relieve the symptoms of sunburn. It prevents the skin becoming even more dry, leading to peeling and blisters, and it also provides relief from soreness. Aloe Vera is a core component of many after sun lotions and creams, and is often combined with other ingredients which can help cool and soothe the skin, such as cucumber and peppermint.
How does Aloe Vera help sunburn?
In recent years, scientific studies have shown that the clear gel from Aloe Vera leaves contains a compound known as ‘aloin’. This compound has notable anti-inflammatory properties which are useful in treating first and second-degree burns as well as sunburn, cooling the skin and making it feel less sore.
The hydrating and moisturising properties of Aloe Vera gel are also an important aspect of how it can help sunburn. When the skin is damaged by over-exposure to the sun, the upper layers of skin cells are damaged or killed off, creating dryness and, potentially, peeling. Aloe Vera is easily absorbed into the skin and has a high water content, so it’s great for restoring hydration. The enzymes in Aloe Vera gel also act as mild exfoliants, helping to rid the skin of some of the dead cells and leave it smooth and refreshed.
How to use Aloe Vera to help sunburn
If you have an Aloe Vera plant in your house or garden, it is possible to use the pure gel from its leaves to treat sunburn directly. However, for most of us, the best, easiest & most fuss-free way to access the benefits of Aloe Vera gel is by using a product which contains it as an ingredient.
Thankfully, there are plenty of brilliant aloe vera-based gels and lotions available which are specially formulated to give you the benefits of Aloe Vera, often alongside other soothing and moisturising ingredients like Vitamin E. You can maximise the benefits of these products by first having a quick shower or bath with cool or lukewarm water, and then gently patting yourself dry before applying the product. This will help trap as much hydration as possible in your skin.
How often should you apply Aloe Vera to sunburn?
If you’re using Aloe Vera gel from the plant directly, or an Aloe Vera based after sun product, to treat sunburn, you really can’t apply too much! There are no adverse effects to using Aloe Vera gel or after sun lotion, so apply a thick layer all over your body for maximum benefits, any time you’ve been exposed to direct sun for an extended period of time. Once the product has sunk in, feel free to apply another layer to ensure that your skin gets the maximum amount of hydration. Just remember to let it dry before getting changed.
How long does it take for Aloe Vera to soothe sunburn?
Some of the benefits of Aloe Vera will be felt immediately after you apply it. The gel will cool your skin, giving you some immediate relief from sunburn . The benefits aren’t just short term however; applying a generous amount of Aloe Vera gel, or an Aloe-based product, will have a sustained effect by restoring moisture to your skin and preventing dryness and peeling in the hours and days after getting burnt.