As much as we might welcome the hotter weather forecast for this weekend, sweltering, sticky days — and nights — can be a challenge.
Alice Jaffe asked experts to assess some products that claim to keep you cool or safe in the sun. We then rated them…
Cool gel pillow pad, £19.99, argos.co.uk
Claim: This pad, which you attach to your pillow with the straps provided, uses ‘sealed gel packs that react to your body heat to create a dry cooling sensation’ — although how is unclear.
It is also said to help with ‘headaches, sunburn, hot feet and hot flushes, and to combat high temperatures caused by ailments or medication’.
Expert verdict: ‘In theory, a cooling effect on your skin could help you sleep better and keep comfortable in the heat,’ says Dr Susan Mayou, a consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic in London. ‘Certainly, cotton — which this pillow pad is made from — is a great fabric for hot nights as the natural fibres wick away moisture.
‘However, there is no explanation to substantiate any cooling claims regarding the gel pads here. A similar effect could be gained with a wet flannel, instead of spending almost £20.’
Ebb Sleep CoolDrift Luxe, £399.99, amazon.co.uk
Claim: Based on ‘decades of research by world-renowned sleep researcher Dr Eric Nofzinger’, this headband cools the forehead as you sleep. A fluid flows through it from a bedside controller via a wire.
The maker claims it can ‘reduce metabolic activity in the frontal cortex’ so you experience deeper, more restorative sleep. If you don’t benefit after using it for 14 nights, you can claim your money back.
Expert verdict: ‘Your brain uses 20 per cent of the body’s energy to function, which means that your head is naturally one of the warmest areas of the body,’ says Matthew Walker, a professor of neurology at University College London.
‘When we sleep, there’s a natural decline in brain and body temperature and therefore reduced brain activity.
‘In theory, cooling the brain may speed up this process and aid sleep. However, so far this has not been proven with this headband.
‘In fact, a clinical trial [published in the journal Sleep in 2018] showed that while the headband could reduce brain activity, it was no better than the sham headband [which did not cool the forehead] in terms of improving sleep.
‘There are, however, some positive reviews from users. I suspect that this might be because wearing the headband distracts the mind and helps it relax. It is expensive for what it does; I would suggest that those who struggle to fall asleep try meditation instead.’
Bullet and Bone Cooling Recovery body wash, £6.64 for 250ml, amazon.co.uk
Claim: The manufacturer says this body wash can ‘rapidly lower body temperature and aid muscle recovery after a workout’.
Ingredients include menthol, eucalyptus and peppermint which create a ‘powerful cooling effect’, and magnesium to ‘combat muscle fatigue and promote recovery’.
Expert verdict: ‘Anything that contains menthol will activate sensory receptors in the skin called TRPM8, producing a cooling sensation,’ says Dr Mayou.
‘However, I am not sure how a body wash could permeate deeply enough through the skin to help with muscle repair — perhaps that is a claim too far.
‘Eucalyptus adds a nice aroma, but it won’t cool you down. Magnesium is often used to ease aching muscles, but there is little evidence that it has a significant effect.
‘At best, you will get a temporary cooling effect on the skin, which may help if you’re feeling hot and sweaty.’
Dzine Stay Cool ice towel, £7.99, dzine.gifts
Claim: You soak this towel in water and squeeze out any excess, then shake it for ten seconds to ‘activate the cooling effect’, says the maker.
It is made from polyester, and the weave and air spaces within the material are said to create a cooling effect when wet.
Expert verdict: ‘We know that a damp material can help reduce body temperature and wick away sweat,’ says Dr Mayou.
‘As moisture from the skin evaporates, the surface will cool.
‘However, there is not enough of an explanation of how this technology works — it may not do much more than a standard wet hand towel, which would cost considerably less.’
Menthoderm 1%, £5.76 for 100g, sk1n.co.uk
Claim: This cream contains menthol to ‘soothe and cool heated, dry, irritated and itchy skin conditions’ such as sunburn.
Expert verdict: ‘This is an excellent product and achieves exactly what it says it will, in terms of a cooling effect,’ says Dr Mayou.
‘Menthol activates the TRPM8 sensory receptors in the skin, which results in this sensation.
‘The fact that it is available in three strengths (0.5 per cent, 1 per cent and 2 per cent) will also make it useful for different skin types, and account for the severity of the condition.
‘This would be beneficial for anyone with heat rash or sunburn, both of which cause hot skin, discomfort and itching. Apply it before bed for temporary cooling relief at night.’
Shiseido WetForce Clear Stick UV Protector SPF50+, £28 for 15g, escentual.com
Claim: As well as offering SPF50 protection that lasts for 80 minutes, this sunscreen is said to have special technology which makes its protective veil ‘even stronger as it comes into contact with water and perspiration’.
You apply it liberally to the face and neck, and activate the WetForce technology by exposing the skin to water for 15 minutes, or perspiration for 30 minutes.
Expert verdict: ‘There is no doubt that perspiration affects the coverage from any non- water-resistant sunscreen,’ says Dr Mayou.
‘It is a common misconception that water resistance is only needed when you’re swimming — sweat can affect sunscreen, too.
‘When it comes to continuing to protect skin from the sun, despite perspiration caused by hot weather, the claims regarding the technology appear to be positive.
‘However, the firm doesn’t specify which active ingredients provide this added protection. It is expensive, too.’