May 9, 2021

Beauty: after-sun lotions – soothing, but not miracle cures

I’m more likely to use after-sun when the family’s feeling hot and sticky, as opposed to burnt

I have mixed feelings about “after-sun” products. I realise people feel better for knowing that it’s on-hand in a (usually preventable) sunburn emergency and, like a bucket by the bed of a sick child, that it provides comfort and reassurance. But it has little real effect. What we’re usually paying for is standard moisturising body cream or cream-gel, perhaps one containing a little soothing aloe vera, instantly and temporarily to cool the skin and to help prevent it from drying out, cracking and peeling. Which would be fine, except many people seem to regard after-sun as an antidote to sun damage, when in reality it can mean little more than shutting the stable door after the horse has roasted. That said, the British weather can bring nasty surprises, so if you should find yourself accidentally overexposed, take two ibuprofen, apply after-sun and, if possible lie, still wet, in front of a fan.

Massage is usually intolerable on sunburned skin, so a spray or mist that’s been stored in a cool place is often ideal. A good no-touch option is Vaseline Spray & Go Aloe Fresh (£2.89), which sprays easily and evenly when held upside down, horizontally or with greasy fingertips (you can also chase a fugitive toddler with it and still manage an even coat). It’s a pretty good moisturiser for all but dry skins (my male partner loves it year-round), there’s no need to rub it in and it can be stored safely in the fridge (never freeze aerosols, by the way).

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