- If you're using aloe products: Don't choose a product just because it has aloe on the label. Banana Boat's aloe gel, for instance, has more water and alcohol than aloe. Instead, read the ingredient list. Be sure that aloe is listed as the only ingredient, or as close to 100 percent as possible. Try Aubrey Organics Pure Aloe Vera Gel ($9) or Lily of the Desert Aloe Vera Gel ($3). And don't forget to check the expiration date, as fresher aloe is best.
- If you're getting your aloe directly from the plant: Even if you don't have a green thumb, aloe's resiliency makes it an easy plant to grow. It doesn't need much water and requires indirect light. Simply cut a leaf off of the plant and slice open. You can leave the peel on the skin directly or rub the juice right in, as aloe absorbs into the skin about four times faster than water. Refrigerate a few leaves before using to enhance the plant's cooling features.
- Things to avoid: Oil-based products, which can seal in the heat that comes along with a burn. Also avoid alcohol-based products, which can sting and dry already-tender skin.