Summer is here (please never leave!) and whether we’re jetting off to a sun-soaked destination or simply dodging the rain to sit on the British beaches, we Beauty Geeks are all about the SPF! This being said, sometimes we do get caught out… a good book, a cocktail, an oh-so comfy lounger, a snooze in the sunshine… before we know it we have a touch of sunburn. When it’s too late to avoid this holiday horror, we need something that can calm our red and irritated skin. Could Institut Esthederm’s After Sun Repair be the answer?

The Claims

This after-sun face cream promises three things:

  1. To soothe and calm red and irritated skin
  2. To reduce fine lines and wrinkles
  3. To extend the life of our golden tan

With this product claiming to be more than just a short-term fix for sunburn, we’re interested to see if the ingredients will deliver!

A little bit about sunburn first!


When we suffer sunburn, our lobster-red appearance is thanks to inflammation: the blood vessels in our skin dilate, allowing more blood to be pumped closer to the skin’s surface. Why? The UV rays in sunlight can actually damage DNA in our skin cells and our body responds by producing lots of inflammatory molecules, which increase blood flow to the skin. UV light is thought to increase the permeability of our blood vessels too, making it easier for immune cells and fluid to leak into the surrounding tissue. This not only makes our skin look puffy, but immune cells can also be triggered to release nasty compounds that cause further damage and pain… we all know that prickly feeling!

The Science behind the Bottle

Dextran Sulphate


This was a new compound for the Beauty Geeks to investigate, but we did find some evidence of anti-inflammatory prowess. Research demonstrated that dextran sulphate can significantly block ‘plasma exudation’ and ‘leukocyte accumulation’. In simpler terms, it can reduce the leakiness of blood vessels and stop immune cells from gathering at the affected site. While this does look like a promising way of calming post-sunbathing redness, the results were attained using injections (ouch!) rather than topical application. We’ll need to see more data before we get too excited, but the potential is definitely there.

As the sun can also dry skin out, we were glad to learn that dextran sulphate is a water-loving hydrophile. This means that once it is absorbed into the skin, it should help to increase moisture levels by clinging onto precious H2O… hopefully avoiding flaking dry skin situations!

Centella Asiatica


The active extracts from this plant have been used for many years to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and even burns because of its healing properties. But as Institut Esthederm claims that centella can firm the skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, these are the properties we were most keen to investigate! As we get older, the collagen in our skin is degraded by enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and our skin gradually loses its springiness. Laboratory tests have shown asiaticosides (centella compounds) to both rev up collagen production and decrease the expression of MMPs. With production increased and degradation decreased, we can expect collagen levels in our skin to rise. We think this should allow centella to deliver some skin-firming action just as the product claims!

Although the product claims to prolong a golden tan, we think this ingredient might actually be counter-intuitive. Studies carried out on UV-exposed skin showed that madecassoside (another active centella compound) can inhibit the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for a tan… this seems to go against the product promise!

Glycerin


Dextran sulphate should deliver a hit of moisture to the skin, but glycerin is yet another hydrating molecule in this product! As a humectant, glycerin binds water and sinks into the stratum corneum to have a moisturising and conditioning effect on the skin, leaving it feeling softer and smoother – just what we need after a day in the sun!

The Verdict


On the whole, this product was fairly impressive. Dextran sulphate has the potential to reduce the inflammation associated with UV exposure, centella looks like a savvy skin-firming ingredient and glycerin will leave our sunkissed skin a little bit softer! When it comes to prolonging our tan, it doesn’t look like there’s much in this bottle to prolongue your golden glow (and centella’s madecassosides could actually have the opposite effect). The moisturising properties of the product could help keep dryness at bay and work against flaking and peeling. What we haven’t seen much of is an anti-ageing punch! Moisturisers like glycerine do help plump out the skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, but we like to see ingredients a little more savvy in today’s anti-ageing market!

A 50ml bottle costs £38, which we think is quite pricey. However, we were happy with the research we found behind dextran sulphate and centella. If you’re looking to soothe some sun-sensitive skin, this could be the product to reach for!

You can buy Institut Esthederm’s After Sun Repair HERE! 

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AQUA/WATER/EAU*, GLYCERIN, CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC
TRIGLYCERIDE, CYCLOPENTASILOXANE, CETEARYL ALCOHOL,
CYCLOHEXASILOXANE, DICAPRYLYL ETHER, DIMETHICONE, DIPROPYLENE
GLYCOL, GLYCERYL STEARATE, PEG-100 STEARATE, XYLITOL, AMMONIUM
ACRYLOYLDIMETHYLTAURATE/VP COPOLYMER, CETEARYL GLUCOSIDE,
CETYL ALCOHOL, CREATINE, METHYLPROPANEDIOL, PENTYLENE GLYCOL,
BUTYLENE GLYCOL, TRILINOLEIN, 1,2-HEXANEDIOL, CAPRYLYL GLYCOL,
OLEOYL TYROSINE, PROPYLENE GLYCOL, DISODIUM EDTA, FRAGRANCE
(PARFUM), TOCOPHERYL ACETATE, GLYCYRRHETINIC ACID, TRIOLEIN,
TRIPALMITIN, OLEIC ACID, ORYZANOL, PENTAERYTHRITYL TETRA-DI-T-BUTYL
HYDROXYHYDROCINNAMATE, HELIANTHUS ANNUUS (SUNFLOWER) SEED
OIL, TRILINOLENIN, SODIUM HYDROXIDE, LINALOOL, HEXYL CINNAMAL,
HYDROXYCITRONELLAL, AMINOETHANESULFINIC ACID, CARBOMER,
MEDICAGO SATIVA (ALFALFA) EXTRACT, SODIUM LACTATE, TRISTEARIN,
SODIUM DEXTRAN SULFATE, POLYSORBATE 20, LIMONENE, CARNOSINE,
MORUS ALBA LEAF EXTRACT, ACETYL CITRULL AMIDO ARGININE,
ASIATICOSIDE, BENZYL BENZOATE, MADECASSIC ACID, DISODIUM
ADENOSINE TRIPHOSPHATE, TRIARACHIDIN, GERANIOL, ASIATIC ACID,
CITRONELLOL, LAMINARIA DIGITATA EXTRACT, ARTEMIA EXTRACT,
PHENOXYETHANOL, TOCOPHEROL, BHT, PALMITOYL TRIPEPTIDE-1,
POTASSIUM SORBATE, COPPER GLUCONATE, LECITHIN, MICROCOCCUS
LYSATE, PALMITOYL TETRAPEPTIDE-7, SODIUM METHYLPARABEN, ACETYL
HEXAPEPTIDE-1, DEXTRAN.
* CELLULAR WATER (AQUA/DISODIUM ADENOSINE TRIPHOSPHATE/CARNOSINE/MINERAL SALTS)