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- If a lazy day in the sun is leaving you feeling more sun-kicked than sun-kissed, you should treat your skin with cooling after-sun products that will hydrate, nourish, and soothe your skin.
- Make’s Succulent Skin Gel is our pick for the best after-sun skin-care product to cool down crisped skin.
- But word of advice for the future? Wear and reapply sunscreen!
SPF is the foundation of skin health, but despite our best efforts, even the most careful among us have ended up a few stages past sun-kissed after a day at the beach, and not all sunburn remedies are created equal.
While broad-spectrum UV protection should be part of everyone’s daily skin- and body-care routines, regular sun exposure strips the skin of essential oils, leading to dryness and flaking. Even worse? Sunburns can have long term changes on the skin’s collagen, which can lead to fine lines and deep wrinkles over time. Even just one fun day of sun, chlorine, and salt can have negative effects if you don’t use and reapply sunscreen.
Fortunately, there are tons of soothing skin-care solutions, like herbal and calming infusions with cactus extract, watermelon, and Greek yogurt to jolt a wave of cooling comfort and hydration to angry skin.
So if you’re feeling burned instead of bronzed, we’ve found the best after-sun skin-care products like refreshing gels and vitamin-packed masks to help cool things down and begin the healing process.
Remember – rays today, raisins tomorrow.
Here are the best after-sun skin-care products you can buy:
- Best after-sun skin-care product overall: Make Succulent Skin Gel
- Best affordable after-sun mask: Sephora After-Sun Mask – Watermelon
- Best after-sun lotion for sensitive skin: Coola ER+ Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion
- Best luxury after-sun mask: Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask Extreme Detoxifying Hydrator
- Best after-sun gel for immediate relief: Korres After Sun Greek Yoghurt Cooling Gel for Face and Body
Updated 5/24/19 by Jada Wong: Updated formatting and links.
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
The best after-sun skin-care product overall
Like a greenhouse in gel form, Make’s Succulent Skin Gel is the best option for replenishing skin quickly with gentle aloe and chamomile.
With discreet packaging and no discernible scent, Make’s Succulent Skin Gel is an unassuming powerhouse for irritated skin. Packed with ultra-lightweight and non-sticky gel, it combines a bouquet of natural skin soothers like cactus extract, aloe vera, prickly pear, chamomile, and more with anti-inflammatory agents like amino acids and beta carotene.
This gel lived up to the test in my trials and became a staple in my beach bag after multiple long beach days in LA and NYC. The gel absorbed almost instantly into my skin without feeling sticky or oily, and got rid of that tight feeling excess sun can cause.
However, for the severely burnt, this formula will help to replenish your skin’s hydration levels, but it will not provide immediate relief, as it doesn’t include the cooling agents that other products on our list offer. It’s still our best pick because it has anti-inflammatory properties and provides long term relief.
If you’re wondering why you should rub a garden on your face, Adrienne Penna, Director of Technology and Trends for Make beauty told Well+Good that “these plants’ water-storing pads contain a gel that, when applied to the skin, offers powerful soothing and hydrating benefits.”
And according to Sarah Steifvater at PureWow, “It’s rich in the amino acid taurine, which helps stop free radicals and muscle tissue damage, and it’s high in a rare form of antioxidants called betalains, which have hydrating and anti-aging properties,” so at a very reasonable $25, Make’s Succulent Skin Gel is a lot of bang for the buck.
Pros: Lightweight, affordable, fragrance, paraben, and cruelty free
Cons: Does not include a cooling agent for immediate relief
Buy Make Succulent Skin Gel at Need Supply for $25
The best affordable after-sun mask
For a wave of hydration that won’t break the bank, Sephora’s Watermelon After-Sun Mask will calm burned skin with cooling bio-cellulose.
So it’s no surprise that beauty mecca Sephora has jumped on the bandwagon and added a Watermelon After-Sun Mask to its expansive line of masks. In addition to cooling watermelon, the mask uses bio-cellulose for even more hydration and feels more soothing than usual cotton.
As a bonus, it also comes with an added sheet for your décolletage, which did a great job of soothing the often-forgotten chest area as well. At only $5, it’s become a staple in my post-beach routine.
It’s more than just the fresh scent or fun color that’s driving the watermelon trend. Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City told Fashionista that “watermelon is loaded with antioxidants, like vitamin A, vitamin C, and lycopene” and that “watermelon may be useful for preventing free radical damage from UV light and other environmental exposures, as well as brightening and evening complexions and promoting healthy collagen production.”
The mask has already earned more than 1,000 loves on Sephora, and according to the site, “In a consumer test on 22 volunteers, after 28 days of use, 100% of women said the After-Sun Mask had an instant cooling effect and 96% of women said the mask soothed their skin after sun exposure.”
A few of the low reviews noted that the mask felt a bit “sticky” once removed. But for me, once I removed the mask after 15 minutes as instructed, it was actually easy to massage the excess formula into my skin and I had no need for rinsing.
Pros: Affordable, includes a soothing face and décolleté mask
Cons: One-time use, so it’s not a long-term solution for multi-day irritation
Buy Sephora After-Sun Mask – Watermelon at Sephora for $5
The best after-sun lotion for sensitive skin
Made with organic ingredients and a range of soothing botanicals, COOLA’s Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion is like green juice for easily irritated skin.
Though agave is usually thought of as a margarita ingredient and not a skin-care element, COOLA’s Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion has found the perfect blend of healing botanicals that even the most sensitive skin can handle.
Combining agave’s natural moisture binding elements with aloe vera, rosemary extract, lavender, sunflower, sweet orange, mandarin peel, and cedar wood, the mask is formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, or even gluten to help calm redness and reduce inflammation for sensitive skin.
Expert reviewers from Refinery29 to Condé Nast Traveler call this lotion a skin-saving must-have, and it’s earned positive reviews across the board with multiple users on Sephora and Ulta noting that it prevented or reduced peeling caused by burns.
A few users noted they preferred the cucumber scent used in other Coola products to the more cedar-based scent in this product that is a byproduct from the oils used, but the calming effect of the natural ingredients outweigh the slight difference.
Pros: Organic and formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates or gluten
Cons: The cedar smell might not appeal to all
Buy Coola ER+ Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion at Sephora for $32
The best luxurious after-sun mask
- Peter Thomas Roth
With a soothing gel consistency and natural ingredients, Peter Thomas Roth’s Cucumber Mask is the best way to get refreshing relief and help skin bounce back.
One of my year-round favorite products, Peter Thomas Roth’s Cucumber Mask is like spa water for the skin and the perfect companion to sun hangovers (or just hangover-hangovers).
Ultra gentle and packed with extracts from cucumber, papaya, chamomile, pineapple, sugar maple, sugarcane, orange, lemon, bilberry, and aloe vera, the mask has a gel consistency that’s easy to apply for instant refreshment. Although the gel is green in the jar, it applies clear and can even be a great flight refresher that won’t scare other passengers.
I’m obsessed with all of the Peter Thomas Roth skin-care products, but I use the Cucumber Mask weekly as a quick way to de-puff from weekend cocktails and leave it in the fridge for quick beach cool downs. It’s light, has a very clean and minimal scent, and takes only 10 minutes to work, so it’ll leave you as cool as a-you-know-what.
The mask has earned over 10k saves on Sephora and is a perennial summer favorite of beauty experts. Even the travel gurus at Travel & Leisure named it a must-have for post-vacation recuperation. But beauty does have a price, and this one will clock in at the highest on this list at $52. Still, it’s enough to last for the whole season.
Pros: Ultra calming and gentle
Cons: More expensive than other options on this list
Buy Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask Extreme Detoxifying Hydrator at Sephora for $52
The best after-sun gel for immediate relief
If your skin feels hot to the touch, Korres After Sun Greek Yoghurt Cooling Gel will help to instantly comfort skin with ultra-healing Greek yogurt.
The idea of lathering dairy on your skin at the beach might seem counterintuitive, but Korres After Sun Greek Yoghurt Cooling Gel is a beauty after-sun staple that is rooted in old Greek medicines.
According to Korres, “In Greece, this cherished ingredient is used by families and villages for their own unique recipes and beauty remedies that have been passed down from generation to generation.”
Unlike other options on this list, the Cooling Gel is designed for instant relief and will begin to calm parched skin immediately, making it the best choice for the seriously burnt. It’s also great at reducing the irritation of stinging burns.
However, since the product does include real yogurt, it might be best to leave this one in the refrigerator rather than your beach bag for freshness and extra cooling power.
Pros: Instant relief and gratification
Cons: Dairy ingredient makes it better to leave this one in the fridge
Buy Korres After Sun Greek Yoghurt Cooling Gel for Face and Body at Sephora for $26
Check out our other great skin- and body-care buying guides
- Shutterstock/Alena Ozerova
There are several ways to achieve smooth legs, hair-free underarms, and a groomed bikini line, but the fastest, easiest, and least painful is generally by shaving. That’s why we gathered up our top picks for women’s razors based on research and testing.
Here are our top picks for women’s razors:
- Best women’s razor overall: Gillette Venus Extra Smooth
- Best subscription-based razor for women: Billie Starter Kit
- Best razor with built-in shaving cream for women: Schick Intuition Sensitive Care
- Best women’s razor for bikini line: Noxzema Bikini Shave and Trim
- Best women’s razor for travel: Gillette Venus Snap
- Best women’s facial razor: Schick Silk Touch-Up
There are amazing shaving creams to be found at just about every price point. Whether you’re shopping drugstore brands or fancy ones, you should pay close attention to the ingredients before making a purchase – especially if you want to avoid dry, angry skin.
Here are the best shaving creams for women:
- Best shaving cream for women overall: Eos Shaving Cream for Sensitive Skin
- Best travel shaving cream for women: Meant The Do-All Conditioner
- Best shaving gel for women: Aveeno Positively Smooth Shave Gel
- Best menthol shaving cream for women: Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Shaving Cream
- Best “men’s” shaving cream: Barbasol Soothing Aloe shaving cream
It’s good for your skin to remove makeup every night, but it can be a pain without the right makeup remover.
We’ve done our research and tested the best makeup removers on the market to come up our top recommendations. Whether you’re a devout double cleanser or prefer removing makeup on the fly, there’s something on this list for everyone.
Here are the best makeup removers you can buy:
- Best overall: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water
- Best cleansing oil: Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil
- Best cleansing oil solid: Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Original
- Best foaming cleanser: Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Face Wash
- Best cleansing wipes: Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water Cloths
- Best milk cleanser: Avène Eau Thermale Gentle Milk Cleanser
When it comes to body-care products, scrubs are oftentimes overlooked in favor of lotions and body wash. But the exfoliating treatments should be included in your skin-care routines if you want to silky smooth skin. While you can also scrub away dull, dry skin by using loofahs or dry brushes, nothing will leave your skin feeling squeaky-clean quite like a good body scrub.
Here are the best body scrubs you can buy:
- Best body scrub overall: Herbivore Coco Rose Body Polish
- Best coffee body scrub: Frank Body Original Coffee Scrub
- Best salt body scrub: Ole Henriksen Rub n’ Buff Transforming Salt Scrub
- Best sugar body scrub: Tree Hut Coconut Lime Shea Sugar Scrub
- Best gel body scrub: Neutrogena Body Clear Body Scrub
If smooth, supple skin is what you’re looking for, then the Fresh Life Body Oil is the bottle you want to reach for.
Here are the best body oils you can buy in 2019:
- Best body oil overall: Fresh Life Body Oil
- Best all-natural body oil: Jao Goe Oil
- Best body oil that’s not oily: Herbivore Jasmine Glowing Hydrating Oil
- Best luxury body oil: Kypris Body Elixir Inflorescence
- Best budget body oil: Burt’s Bees Body Oil
Whether you’re new to the exfoliation game or a seasoned skin-care pro, Glossier’s Solution is the exfoliator you should be reaching for. Its powerful mix of acids dissolves dead skin cells and improves your complexion, giving your face a gorgeous glow.
Here are the best makeup removers you can buy:
- Best overall: Glossier’s Solution
- Best drugstore exfoliator: Simple Kind to Skin Smoothing Facial Scrub
- Best exfoliator for daily use: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
- Best exfoliator for sensitive skin: Juara Radiance Enzyme Scrub
- Best exfoliator for uneven skin tone: Ole Henriksen Transforming Walnut Scrub