We’re all more than aware of the importance of wearing SPF and most of us are pretty good at slathering it on when we’re relaxing on a sun lounger on holiday. It’s the day-to-day application that some of us fall short with. Yet, with the UK experiencing one of the hottest summers in years and the record heatwave showing no sign of abating, wearing SPF every day has never been more essential.
If you’ve been caught out you’ll be well associated with that scorched, tight feeling too much sun can have on your skin. Enter your trusted bottle of aftersun. Brands often tout the cooling, soothing benefits of their aftersun, but is there any difference between them and your regular body lotion?
In a nutshell, yes. “Often traditional body lotions contain oil which create a barrier on the skin and trap the heat, causing prolonged burning,” says Dr Maryam Zamani, Oculoplastic Surgeon and Aesthetic Doctor. “Aftersun on the other hand is a lighter cream or gel, which does not create a barrier and keeps the area underneath hydrated.”
Most aftersun formulas, including Coola Ecocert Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion, £30, are also packed full of aloe vera, which is renowned for its cooling and soothing powers. While there isn’t a huge amount of scientific data to show that aloe vera is one of the best soothers for sun burn, almost every skin expert recommends using the ingredient for this purpose. Although, as Dr Zamani says, it’s better to opt for light lotions or gel formulas to allow the heat to escape as the aloe soothes your skin.
What if you’re allergic or sensitive to aloe vera? Fear not, social media has the answer and it’s an unusual one. This summer one Instagram user’s post went viral after she revealed her trick of using a menthol based shaving foam to help alleviate her husband’s sun burnt back. While it’s not a technique we’ve tried and tested, it’s worth exploring if you’re unable to use aloe vera as it’s likely the menthol will cool your skin and the foam will be incredibly lightweight.
Whichever approach you take, remember it’s a good sign when your skin starts to itch as it means it’s repairing itself. But, make sure you wear plenty of sun cream the next day and seek shade where possible.