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My family and I all have quite pale skin and I always try to be very careful about ensuring that we all use high factor sunscreen whenever the sun is shining. However I also like to make sure that I have a bottle of after sun in the cupboard for those rare instances when the sunscreen has rubbed off or the sun has caught one of us unaware.
Last year I purchased a bottle of Boots Soltan aftersun gel with Aloe Vera, the 200ml size. The product has been repackaged for the Soltan relaunch this season but the product itself has remained the same. The 200ml size usually retails at £5.99 but is often on offer.
The product claims to provide long-lasting moisturisation to help prevent peeling and to prolong a tan. It also claims to be non-greasy, easily absorbed and hypo-allergenic.
I was lucky enough to have several lovely, sunny holidays last year and I took this bottle of aftersun with me on every trip. As I mentioned I am usually very careful with sunscreen and rarely get burnt but my skin can still feel a little dry after a day in sunnier climates. I often just use a general moisturiser to relieve the dry feeling but if I feel there has been any excess sun and my skin feels tighter than normal then I reach for the Aftersun.
Squeezing the bottle released an adequate amount of gel. I much prefer using the gel over a lotion as it is not at all runny so is easier to apply directly to the required area without it immediately running everywhere. The gel is an attractive turquoise blue colour, the colouring is very clever as I think most of us associate blue with cooling water so the immediate impression is that this product is going to offer a soothing effect. The gel has a refreshing fragrance which I find very hard to describe. It doesn’t smell sweet or particularly perfumed; it is more fresh with a very slight medicinal smell.
The gel should be rubbed in gently. I found that as soon as it was applied to the skin there was an immediate, noticeable cooling sensation. The product contains denatured alcohol, pharmaceutical alcohol evaporates when in contact with the heat in the skin and it is the evaporation which helps the product to produce a cooling effect. I found that the gel rubbed over the skin smoothly and was absorbed slightly but it did leave a damp film over the skin which disappeared within a couple of minutes. The drying of the gel provides a lovely cooling sensation without making the skin feel tight. It is nice that the product does not have to be thoroughly rubbed into the skin because if the skin has suffered any burning it is often too sensitive to have much pressure applied, this gel can just be spread over the area and left to work. Once the skin felt dry there was no residue left and I was able to put clothes on and found there was no sticky feeling and also no stains or marks left on my clothes afterwards which I have found with some other aftersun products.
The cooling effects only last for about ten minutes but my skin did feel soft and moisturised for several hours. I do not suffer from extremely dry skin but I do tend to use a daily moisturiser and I think this gel performs as well as my normally moisturiser does but also has the added soothing effect. I can’t tell whether it prolongs a tan as I rarely progress past the stage of off-white!
Once the product had dried on my skin there was very little fragrance left, if I put my nose close to the skin I could smell it but I didn’t feel like I was walking around followed by a strong aftersun aroma.
I found that a little gel goes a long way. The bottle I have has about a third left and my family and I have used it fairly frequently on our holidays. When we have found that we have developed a sore area from too much sun and poorly applied sunscreen we have used the gel every couple of hours in the evening and have found it extremely soothing. However a small amount seems to spread a long way and I feel it seem to be much more cost effective than lotion as we seem to get through far more of that.
Looking at the other ingredients in the gel I noticed Panthenol, this is used pharmaceutically to treat mild burns as it penetrates the skin and helps to accelerate healing whilst reducing discomfort. The product states that it contains Aloe Vera which is well known for its healing effects on damaged skin as it acts as a skin conditioner.
One of the complaints I would have made about the product was the bottle design. Although it has proved hardy when travelling and has not leaked I prefer a product that sits “lid-down” so that the product is always available rather than having to shake and squeeze the bottle to get the gel to the nozzle. The new bottles appear to have addressed this problem although they do not appear to be transparent and I do like transparent bottles as you can always see how much is left.
I must admit my teenage son got his first (and hopefully only) case of proper sunburn last week, having assured me that he had used sunscreen (he won’t lie about that again!). His shoulders and back have been very red but fortunately haven’t blistered. The aftersun gel has been brilliant at really cooling the skin (and stopping him moaning) and keeping it soft and moisturised and although the skin will, undoubtedly peel, it seems to be recovering well.
I have been really pleased with this gel, it smells nice, it is a great consistency and it does a great job of calming the skin it is just a shame the cooling effect doesn't last longer.