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Traditionally, one of the most popular herbal remedies for sensitive, sunburnt summer skin is aloe vera gel. Cica and tea tree, however, are equally powerful! Widely used as calming agents in a number of skin care products, they come with proven soothing and healing benefits alongside expert control of inflammations and mild breakouts. Cica, in particular, is a K-Beauty staple that can replenish moisture and strengthen skin barriers on top of fighting bacteria, making it a godsend for sensitive skin.

In this summer heat, it’s a no-brainer that I would want to try out AROMATICA’s Cica Calming Gel and Tea Tree Calming Gel. Although not normally an outdoors type, I’ve been doing a fair bit of hiking this season, so giving skin a quick, hydrating cool-down has become a priority. At the same time, the constant mask-wearing has resulted in red, irritated patches on my face, along with a general feeling of tightness and itchiness. These after-sun gels, which are formulated to bring relief to both face and body, appear to be just the ticket.

Would my faith in AROMATICA (I’m a big fan of the brand’s Rose Absolute Eye Cream) be rewarded or tested? Read on for the low-down on my two weeks of usage, as well as for a final comparison between these two summer coolers!

The Product: Packaged in a medium-sized pump bottle and coming in a minimalist, all-vegan formula, this jelly-like calming gel contains a whopping 84.4% cica extract, and is infused with aloe vera leaf extract for an extra calming boost. Both ingredients work together to soothe and hydrate skin, as well as to restore its suppleness.

Thoughts and feelings: Smelling strongly of all-natural herbal goodness, this gel already made a winning first impression. Applying it post-shower after a long walk on a sunny day leaves the skin on my body cooled down, blissed-out and calm. It’s basically the skin care equivalent of popping a mint when the mid-afternoon slump hits – a much-needed refresher! Although the cooling effect dissipates pretty quickly, regular use brought definite benefits: patches of redness began to fade, and overall the skin on my body felt less prone to itchiness and irritation. The formula does leave a slightly sticky after-feel, but this does not derail from its positive qualities.

On my face, it left the same cooling, soothing sensation, but redness and roughness remained a problem, fading slightly upon usage only to flare up after a few days. As a lightweight moisturizer with calming benefits, however, this passed the test. It provided a true hit of hydration at the start of a skin care routine, or whenever a mid-day pick-me-up was needed.

The Product: Packaged similarly to the Cica Calming Gel, this comes in a milkier formula that’s clear when dispensed onto the palm. Packed with 84.3% Ecocert-approved organic tee tree extract as well as aloe vera extract and tea tree leaf essential oil, the jelly-like product is designed to cool skin, calm irritations and control sebum production.

Thoughts and feelings: There was a slight tingle and numbness to the skin upon application, indicating that this is a stronger alternative to the cica version. It faded fairly quickly to a pleasant, soothing touch. What I noticed after 20 minutes was that the cooling, calming effect lasted longer than with the Cica Calming Gel. Rubbing it onto my overheated skin, especially after a post-exercise shower, brought instant relief while bringing down redness and irritations a notch. However, given that it tingled slightly at first touch – tea tree is known to be more aggravating than cica even though both are calming agents – this would probably be my back-up rather than go-to choice.

Since it was stronger than expected, I tried it on my face only rarely. I would imagine that on slightly less sensitive complexions than mine, it could potentially tackle irritations and redness effectively. As for reducing oiliness, I didn’t notice any significant effects given my short period of use on face, but it certainly didn’t dry my skin out. In fact, it was moderately hydrating!

Cica vs. Tea Tree – Final Verdict

These two after-sun gels worked largely similarly in cooling and calming skin, but there were subtle differences when it came to feel, performance and suitability for skin type. The Cica Calming Gel comes with effects that last for a shorter while, but (minus the initial discomfort) is a safer bet for the face. The Tea Tree Calming Gel is more potent but may not be gentle enough for hypersensitive complexions. For me, it’s not a difficult choice – I’d go for the cica rather than the tea tree version, simply because the former agrees more with my skin. This is merely a personal preference as both are without doubt high-performance products that live up to their promises. The cica version has been enthusiastically welcomed into my skin care cabinet!

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