Two words: aloe vera. Not only is the famous sunburn soother immensely hydrating—it’s been shown to increase the water content of the outermost layer of skin—but it also contains a compound called aloesin, which has natural brightening capabilities.
In fact, one study found that aloesin was effective in treating UV-induced and post-acne hyperpigmentation when applied four times per day for 15 days. Another study found that the topical application of aloesin can directly inhibit hyperpigmented skin from producing more melanin (and when you have an overproduction of melanin, it can lead to dark spots). Additionally, aloe contains an antioxidant protein called metallothionein, which has been found to have a protective effect on skin that’s been exposed to and damaged by UV rays.
Dark spots can happen for a variety of reasons (blemishes, ingrown hairs, etc.), sun exposure is one of the main culprits for those patches of color on the body. And yes, SPF can help prevent sun damage in the first place (and we always recommend practicing safe sun care), but using aloe vera post-sun can help prevent preexisting spots from getting darker and help them fade with repeated use.