After Sun Cooling Gel Cool Aloe is a confounding product—it does contain the numbing agent Lidocaine for sunburn pain relief, along with anti-irritants and basic skin-repairing ingredients. However, it also has ingredients that can cause irritation, potentially increasing sunburn discomfort and causing further damage to the skin. This product includes a significant amount of alcohol, mint (menthyl lactate), papaya extract, and added fragrance—it definitely has a cooling sensation, but that's not a good thing! You've heard of a backhanded compliment? Well, this product is the sun-care equivalent!
Fragrance, whether natural or synthetic, is a problem for the skin, alcohol damages skin cells, and papaya can be irritating for those with latex allergies (Source: www.naturaldatabase.com). See More Info for additional details about fragrance, alcohol, and their effects on the skin. It also contains artificial coloring agents, which are pointless in skin-care products.
- Contains a high amount of skin-damaging alcohol.
- Contains multiple fragrant ingredients and papaya extract.
Alcohol in Skin Care: There is a significant amount of research showing that alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin, even at low levels, and causes skin cells to self-destruct. One lab study showed that a 3% concentration of alcohol (keep in mind that some skin-care products contain concentrations of 5% to 60% or greater) on skin cells, over the course of two days, increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in the cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals, resulting in more free-radical damage. The research also showed that these destructive, aging effects on skin cells increased the longer the exposure to alcohol—two days of exposure was dramatically more harmful than one day of exposure (Sources: Journal of Investigative Dermatology, August 2009, pages 20–24; "Skin Care—From the Inside Out and Outside In," Tufts Daily, April 1, 2002; Alcohol, Volume 26, Issue 3, April 2002, pages 179–190; eMedicine Journal, May 8, 2002, volume 3, number 5, www.emedicine.com; Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, April 2001, pages 109–166; Cutis, February 2001, pages 25–27; Contact Dermatitis, January 1996, pages 12–16; and http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm).
For more information on alcohol's (as in, ethanol, denatured alcohol, and ethyl alcohol) deleterious effects on skin, see our article on the topic, Alcohol in Skin Care: The Facts.
Irritation from Fragrance: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
Ease the Pain. Soothe and calm your skin with Hawaiian Tropic® After Sun Cooling Gel. Vitamin enriched, our Cooling Gel will pamper your sun-drenched skin and soothe the pain of a burn and will help prevent peeling.
Active Ingredients: Lidocaine (0.8%), Inactive Ingredients: Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice, Water, SD Alcohol 40B, Propylene Glycol, Laureth 23, Polysorbate 20, Glycerin, Allantoin (Comfrey Root), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A), Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Menthyl Lactate, Diazolidinyl Urea, Disodium EDTA, Menthol, Fragrance, Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Yellow 5 Lake, Plumeria Acutifolia (Plumeria) Flower Extract (Plumeria), Mangifera Indica (Mango) Fruit Extract, Psidium Guajava (Guava) Fruit Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Passiflora Incarnata (Passionflower) Fruit Extract, Colocasia Antiquorum Root Extract (Dasheen), Aleurites Moluccana (Kukui Nut) Seed Extract
Founded in 1969, Hawaiian Tropic remains one of the oldest brands in the sun-care aisle at the drugstore, and it seems they’re short on innovation. Overwhelmingly, this tropical-themed brand lacks the advancements in sunscreen formulas that other drugstore options (including product lines like Neutrogena and Coppertone) have long ago adopted.
Even more mind numbing is the number of sunscreens Hawaiian Tropic sells with an SPF 15 or less. At the time of this review, some of their SPF 14 (and even lower-rated) sunscreens still claim to provide broad-spectrum sun protection. This is a significant step outside of regulations, as the FDA no longer allows sunscreen products to be marketed as broad-spectrum sunscreens if they have an SPF rating of less than 15; some countries have even higher mandatory SPF rating regulations.
In the United States, when a brand chooses to sell a sunscreen with an SPF rating of less than 15, they are required to display the following warning as part of their Drug Fact Labeling:
Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.
At the time of this review, none of the Hawaiian Tropic sunscreens we tested (with ratings of less than SPF 15) bore this required label. As disappointing as it is for us to see such products still on the market, they are relatively easy to avoid by sticking to those we recommend in the Best Sunscreens (including Kids) section of Beautypedia.
Adding to the pain in our brain about this line, Hawaiian Tropic is one of the few brands that still sells tanning oils and creams; in other words, they’re selling products that actually encourage unprotected sun exposure to get a deeper tan. You might as well hand someone a cigarette at the same time—it is that bad for your skin (and your health) to tan.
They even sell "after-sun" products, which might confuse consumers if they believe any of these after-sun options can reverse or counter the sun damage. Obviously, Hawaiian Tropic knows the sun is damaging; otherwise, why would they sell products to counter the damage? In truth, the research is clear: If the skin is tan after exposure to the sun, there is harm to skin cells (and your DNA), and it’s immediate. Such damage can be partially repaired, but only to a certain extent, and only over time—and your skin has a long memory (in terms of damage) from each time it was exposed to damaging UV light, whether the sun was shining or not.
Those with sensitive skin take note: Hawaiian Tropic products are extensively fragranced—every sunscreen, body oil, and lip balm we tested contained a potent array of perfumes (including papaya extract, which can be problematic for those with latex allergies). Also worth mentioning is that there are no mineral sunscreen options available from Hawaiian Tropic, so those who are sensitive to synthetic sunscreen actives are out of luck shopping this line.
Ultimately, the Hawaiian Tropic brand is no vacation for your skin. They offer some reliable, affordable options, but sun-care products from neighboring brands on the drugstore shelves are more desirable—in more ways than one!
For more information about Hawaiian Tropic, visit www.hawaiiantropic.com .