From creams to masks, these are the best post-sun products to quench, cool & revive
While applying and reapplying enough SPF during sun exposure is, of course, vital, aftercare is just as important to prevent dryness, soothe and replenish moisture.
‘There’s nothing more dehydrating to the skin than the sun,’ explains Boots Soltan suncare expert, Clare O’Connor. ‘It’s really key to try and replace as much lost moisture as possible at the end of the day.’
Here, we take a closer look at what goes on underneath the surface and provide our top aftersun picks to help keep skin cool, calm and collected come heatwave or holiday.
What happens to skin after a day in the sun?
‘Exposure to UV radiation dries things out,’ explains aesthetic and skin doctor, Dr Sophie Shotter.
‘Our skin is a carefully maintained environment that is designed to support healthy cellular function. Cooling it and rehydrating it with moisturising skincare products is essential.’
Don’t know your UVA from your UVB? Our guide to what sun protection means should help.
What is aftersun & what does it do?
‘The main purpose of aftersun is to comfort the skin after sun exposure,’ explains Clare. ‘While replacing lost moisture is key, other attributes such as cooling and soothing are just as important.’
‘Aftersun tends to be something that’s light and easier to apply to sore skin, whereas moisturisers typically require more massaging in.’
So, why not use a regular moisturiser? ‘Aftersuns are designed to be incredibly moisturising, but should your skin be overexposed and slightly pink, the cooling effects of the aftersun may help comfort the skin, as well as soothe.’
How to use aftersun
Dr Shotter advises applying aftersun at night after a day of sun exposure. ‘You can reapply as desired. Apply to all sun-exposed areas of the body, preferably after a shower to help lock in moisture.’
How to store aftersun & post-sun products
‘If you’re feeling hot and bothered after a long day in the sun, try storing your aftersun in the fridge or another cool, dark environment for a cooling effect,’ suggests Dr Shotter.
‘The cold lotion will calm your skin down even more. Definitely don’t carry it in your beach bag and make sure both your suncream and post-sun products are within their shelf-life period.’
Suncare sorted? These suggestions should help you prepare everything else – from top to toe.
Our pick of the best aftersun products that you can find at Boots
The best aftersun products for the face
Best aftersun mask
No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Facial Recovery Aftersun
• Size: 50ml
Intensely hydrating, this mask/face cream hybrid is gently soothing and comforting. Deeply moisturising to help skin recover, it also contains Matrixyl 3000 Plus, a unique and concentrated peptide technology to help skin firmness, as well as retinyl palmitate to support the skin-renewal process.
Best aftersun sheet mask
Soltan Soothe & Moisturise Aftersun Sheet Mask
• Size: 34g
Perfect for when your skin feels dry or uncomfortable after a day in the sun, this sheet mask provides intense moisturisation to help reduce dryness. Inspired by Asian beauty rituals and enriched with aloe vera, it leaves skin feeling nourished, cooled and looking smoother.
Best post-sun tonic
Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic
• Size: 200ml
This alcohol-free toner helps refresh, soothe and brighten the appearance of parched skin. Gentle and non-drying, it replenishes thirsty skin with hydrating aloe vera, calendula, chamomile, cucumber and vitamin E, so you’re perfectly prepped for the next step in your routine.
Best aftersun tan maintainer
Lancaster Golden Tan Maximizer - After Sun Serum
• Size: 30ml
• Contains 94.7% natural-origin ingredients.
Prolong your tan for up to one month and instantly calm sun-exposed skin with this soothing serum, made with buriti oil and Lancaster's Tan Activator Complex for a golden, even tan. Its powerful combination of soy extract and hyaluronic acid enhancer also helps prevent dryness, while its discreetly shimmering texture turns from white to gold to illuminate skin instantly.
The best aftersun products for the body
Best aftersun mousse
Soltan Soothe & Cool Crackling Aftersun Mousse
• Size: 150ml
Soothe and intensely moisturise skin after sun exposure with this light mousse that satisfyingly crackles as you spread it over skin, for a cooling, tropically scented experience. It’s easily absorbed and leaves skin feeling softer, calmer and blissfully nourished.
Best aftersun spray
Sun Bum Cool Down After Sun Spray
• Size: 200ml
Enriched with soothing aloe and vitamin E, this cooling spray provides welcome hydration to gently help restore the skin's natural moisture balance. The light, non-greasy formula sinks quickly into skin, leaving it feeling soft and supple.
Best insect-repellent aftersun
Soltan Soothe & Moisturise Aftersun With Insect Repellent
• Size: 400ml
• Do not apply to irritated or broken skin
This multitasking aftersun and insect repellent hybrid soothes and moisturises skin as it protects from peeling and bugs. Perfect for helping keep alfresco dinner plans bite-free.
Best aftersun gel
Eucerin Sun Sensitive Relief Soothing Regenerating After Sun Lotion Gel for Face & Body
• Size: 200ml
• Suitable for sensitive skin
This soothing gel provides instant relief for sun-stressed skin. Its lightweight gel-cream texture melts into post-sun limbs like butter, while its comforting, unperfumed formula suits a range of skin types – even those prone to irritation.
Best aftersun for tanned skin
Clarins Soothing After Sun Balm
• Size: 150ml
This daily moisturiser prolongs your tan and provides comfort for both face and body with a unique and creamy formulation of aloe vera, watermelon and shea butter to soothe, nourish and hydrate skin after sun exposure. It also features new packaging created in partnership with Plastic Odyssey to include recycled materials and help in the fight against excess plastic use.
Looking for more holiday skin inspo? Check out our guide to the best sunscreens for a range of different skin types.