Cooling Ingredients, Not Total BS

Joanna Douglas
Senior Editor
July 15, 2014

Photo: Henry Leutwyler

New York City was promised a stifling summer and this humidity is really delivering. I’ve always laughed off products whose labels promised things like  “refreshing,” “cooling,” and “relief,” but when the heat grew so thick I felt like I could cut it with a knife, I realized I’d try anything to stay cool. So I went ahead and slathered these miracle products all over my body on a handful of the hottest days to see if any of them actually worked. Sure, some were totally bogus, but to my pleasant surprise, a few worked.

Urban Decay Chill Makeup Setting Spray ($30)
I sprayed this on top of my makeup—cream blush and shadow, mascara, and concealer. The extra fine mist dried instantly with, yes, a chill. Developed in partnership with SKINDINÄVIA, the product claims to have a time-release technology that cools the surface of your makeup. My face definitely felt refreshed for at least an hour post-application, and when I felt myself starting to get dewy, my makeup didn’t smudge; it felt breathable. I’ll attribute the cool factor to science and some soothing aloe vera leaf extract. Definitely adding this one to my daily routine.

Boscia Super Cool De-Puffing Eye Balm ($26)
I’m blessed with genetically puffy eyes and dark circles, regardless of how many hours I sleep or how much water I drink, so anything designed to soothe tired eyes is right up my alley. Don’t let this tiny tube fool you, it’s the best product on this list in terms of long-term cooling properties thanks to licorice root extract, a soothing antioxidant. The skin under my eyes tingled for hours—no joke. And some magical mix of botanicals made my eyes less puffy. If you sweat under your eyes, which I do when I wear sunglasses, Boscia’s Super-7-Peptide Complex actually prevents liquid accumulation. I tried this under and over my concealer without any issues, and it felt really great on my eyes before bed too. If you’re the type of person who likes to feel your products working, try this.

Jack Black Cool CTRL Natural Deodorant ($18)
My boyfriend always complains about irritation from men’s deodorant, so I thought I’d try something for dudes. This formula felt cool to the touch and lacked the stickiness of those sporty clear gel bars. It smells like Vick’s VapoRub in the bottle, but don’t worry—it fades to an appealing clean scent. For a deodorant without aluminum, I was amazed at how dry and cool my armpits remained all day. My boyfriend’s a new convert.

Davinies Su Refreshing Cream Body ($28)
Specially formulated to relieve skin after sun exposure, I rubbed this cream into my shoulders and arms after a long walk outdoors in a tank top. Added menthol and peppermint juice played in to the cool application and zingy scent, while argan provided extra hydration. It soothed my sun-kissed body, but I’d happily use it anytime I need a little pick me up.

Boscia Revitalizing Black Hydration Gel ($38)
I prefer gel products to lotion—but I didn’t expect black goop to pump out of this bottle. Turns out oil-absorbing charcoal really is a powerful ingredient, especially when paried with Menthyl lactate, a cooling agent derived from peppermint oil that creates a chilly feeling. My skin actually looked brighter and felt smoother after using this for a few days—major bonus.

L’Occitane Ice Gel for Legs and Feet ($22)
You massage this product around your ankles and under the arch of your feet with an oversized metal rollerball applicator. The product itself is more of a liquid than a gel, so you can easily rub it right in with your hands. Either way, the cypress essential oil and althea officinalis felt refreshing for about an hour.

Shaveworks The Cool Fix ($25)
I’m prone to some razor burn in the summer when I’m shaving more frequently. This blue gel goes on freezing cold to reduce bumps, irritation, and even ingrown hairs. I tried it immediately after hair removal without any burning sensation—which can’t be said for many other post-shave products I’ve tried. 

Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 70+ ($10.99)
Reapplying sunscreen is a pain, but when it feels like running through the sprinklers I’ll take it! This light mist isn’t greasy and doesn’t have a bad chemical smell. It fact, it rubs in fast to a powdery finish with hardly any odor at all. The ingredient menthyl PCA creates a long-lasting chilled effect.