Aftersun: Get cool
Asking Irish people to blind-test some aftersun products could have proved a tall order. Unless they were going on holiday -- as two panellists were, conveniently -- they might well have ended up testing sun-specific products on skin that hadn't seen a ray in months. Happily, however, the arrival of their unidentifiable pots of aftersun came immediately after an unusually hot weekend, and, as it happens, several panellists had taken a little too much sun. They felt the burn, and these were the products that banished it best.
While replenishing the skin's moisture levels is part of an aftersun's job, it differs from your regular body lotion with its inclusion of cooling ingredients such as aloe vera, mint or cucumber extracts, which all help to bring down the burn, or just cool you after a hot day at the beach. Regular body lotions will moisturise, but their emollience will serve only to seal in heat, and that's the last thing you want. Certainly, it's not what the slightly singed panellists were after. Interestingly, none of the products containing self-tan were to their taste.
Green People After Sun Lotion, €15.50, Nourish
Award-winning, and suitable for vegans and sufferers of various skin conditions, this is a product that prides itself on being super-natural but, in a blind-test situation, all of that is irrelevant if it doesn't work. Packed with aloe, mint and calendula, this lotion proved a huge hit, mainly for its ability to simultaneously cool and cosset the skin. "It smells great, gives a refreshing post-sun tingle and absorbs easily," said a panellist. "It feels heavy enough to be doing a good job without smothering, and it moisturises well -- 10 out of 10."
Nivea Sun Moisturising After Sun Lotion, €8.55, nationwide
As one of the most popular brands in suncare, this aftersun should be expected to work hard for a good price. And it does. Creamy, easily absorbed and containing enough aloe vera to soothe even the most sizzling skin, it's one for all the family. "Oh, yeah," said one scalded panellist. "The relief on burned skin is amazing. It's very cooling, but not massively moisturising, so it's best for that instant relief."
Best Cool Gel
Liz Earle Sun Shade Botanical Aftersun Gel, €15, Wilde & Green, St Anne's, Milltown, D6, or see www.lizearle.com The gel texture of this aftersun adds to the cooling effect of the cucumber and aloe content. This gel also boasts vitamin E for moisture, and lavender for its healing properties. Those who find that lotions leave them a bit sweaty will love this. "It looks like honey and it smells like the mint biscuits my gran used to make," said a panellist. "It's incredibly refreshing -- on application, your skin almost tingles."
Tesco Sun Soothing Aftersun Lotion, €6.49, Tesco stores nationwide
With aloe vera, vitamin E and bisabolol, there's plenty of cooling in this light, milky emulsion, which is an excellent price. It has the moisturising quality of a lotion, but it's light enough for those who find the usual aftersuns a bit icky. "This was light and neutral," said one panellist. "It has no fragrance, which is a plus for me, and it soaks in well."
Best Holiday Helper
Clarins After Sun Gel Ultra-Soothing, €25.50, Clarins counters nationwide
Kalahari melon extract is among the cooling ingredients in this gel, while cardamom claims to activate the skin's ability to tan. As a gel, it's more about soothing than softening, though it achieves that admirably well, also. "It cooled my skin down and absorbed quickly," a panellist said, "But my skin was nicely soft, not sticky, afterwards and I loved the holiday-like coconut smell."