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Which after-sun texture should you choose?

Although essential, sun protection alone is not enough when exposed to the sun. Applied after a sunny day, after-sun care is crucial for rehydrating the epidermis and soothing tightness. Balm, cream, milk, lotion... There are various after-sun formulations. Which texture should you choose based on your skin type?

Published May 29, 2024, updated on June 26, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 4 min read

After-sun care: What should it contain?

Even though it is pleasant to enjoy the summer sun, we must not forget that it has several harmful effects on the skin, both in the short and long term. The immediate consequences of sun exposure include skin dryness and potential sunburn. To protect against these, the application of a sunscreen is essential. Additionally, it is beneficial to systematically apply an after-sun product on sensitized skin to hydrate, nourish, and repair it. This treatment also soothes the epidermis and prevents inflammation.

To fulfill its functions, an after-sun product must contain moisturizing, nourishing, as well as repairing and soothing ingredients. While glycerin is the most commonly used moisturizing agent, aloe vera is equally appreciated for its calming and reparative action. Nourishing agents, such as vegetable oils and ceramides, help to rebuild the stratum corneum weakened by the sun. Additionally, it is beneficial for an after-sun product to contain antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E...) that combat free radicals generated by UV exposure. Finally, this type of product should be formulated with soothing agents, such as panthenol or bisabolol, to reduce redness and swelling associated with sun exposure.

Some tips for choosing your after-sun formulation.

Once the active ingredients are verified, it is important to understand the galenic formulation of the after-sun product that is suitable for your skin type and the effect you are seeking.

  • The after-sun cream.

    With a creamy and smooth texture, the after-sun lotion is particularly suitable for normal to dry skin. Comforting, these creams provide immediate hydration to the skin and sustainably restore the hydrolipidic film. The only downside: after-sun creams tend to be relatively greasy. Therefore, their application on the face of individuals with oily and/or acne-prone skin is not ideal.

  • The after-sun balm.

    Quite similar to after-sun cream, after-sun balm is an even richer product with a very high content of fatty substances (butter, oil, vegetable wax...). It is particularly appreciated by people with dry to very dry or sensitive skin. However, due to its greasy nature, its application on the face is not recommended for oily skin.

  • After-sun lotion.

    After-sun lotion has a fluid texture and is ideal for combination to oily skin. Unlike creams or balms, this type of product contains a higher proportion of water than fat. It applies easily and penetrates the skin immediately, without leaving oily residues. However, it is important to note that after-sun lotions provide less intense hydration.

  • The after-sun mist.

    After-sun mists are distinguished by their fine, almost watery texture, providing the skin with a sensation of freshness and immediate comfort. However, they are known to be less hydrating, and their effect fades quickly, necessitating regular application in cases of prolonged exposure.

  • The after-sun gel.

    Also rich in water, after-sun gels have a higher viscosity compared to lotions. They are valued for their refreshing and light effect and are an interesting alternative for oily skin. However, due to their high concentration of aqueous ingredients (water, hydrosols...), after-sun gels provide less intense nourishment to the skin. Like after-sun mists, it is useful to reapply them regularly.


  • MOAN J. & al. Sun and sun beds: inducers of vitamin D and skin cancer. Anticancer Research (2009).

  • PIOT B. & al. Effect of the sun on visible clinical signs of aging in Caucasian skin. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology (2013).

  • BJÖRKLUND S. & al. The Effect of UVB Irradiation and Oxidative Stress on the Skin Barrier—A New Method to Evaluate Sun Protection Factor Based on Electrical Impedance Spectroscopy. Sensors (2019).


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