Kōkua’s After-Sun Serum Is My One-And-Done Nightly Skincare Ritual

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In general, I’m a relatively lazy skincare person. I don’t wear make up — again, lazy — but I do want to look amazingly young and dewy for all eternity. As I inch closer to 40, I can’t quite get away with the do-absolutely-nothing approach to skin care that I’ve relied on for so long. I’m extremely pale, so I made peace with the need for daily sunscreen a few years ago. That necessitated a more intense nightly face washing routine than I’d been accustomed to, which left my skin all thirsty and dry. Or maybe it was the aging thing. Or maybe both! Whatever you want to blame it on, after my evening shower, my face needed… something. Thus began my hunt for a perfect single product that would hydrate my face and make it glow with a youthfulness that was, frankly, eerie. I want to be carded, for real, in every bar I go to, forever.

I just wanted to find one, perfect product to slather on at night the way I slathered on SPF in the morning, one that did everything I needed it to and didn’t cost $500. Is that so much to ask? You know and I know (now) that yes, that’s a tall order. Enter this lovely little Kōkua Sun Care Natural Hawaiian Sun Healing Serum, described as an “after-sun” serum on the brand’s website. When it appeared on my doorstep along with tubes of my favorite sunscreen, I didn’t have particularly high expectations. Oh, how pleasantly surprised I was when I found that, hidden in the dark glass bottle was the hydrating, glow-giving, complexion-brightening, and yes, affordable concoction I’d been searching for.


  • Price: $35.00
  • Sizes: Just one, a 2-ounce glass bottle.
  • When to use: After you’ve been in the sun (and when you’re done being in the sun for the day). Or, you can use it daily, regardless of how much sun you have or haven’t gotten.
  • Pro-tip: I like to put it on every night, after a shower.

The ingredients

When I first tried this product, I loved the scent and didn’t want to layer anything over it, so I checked Kōkua’s website to see if the after-sun serum was also just an everything-serum. Sure enough, they say that it’s really not just for soothing skin after sun exposure! Rather it’s “designed to double as a daily moisturizer, makeup primer, or after-sun treatment… our serum caters to all your skincare needs.” Beautiful. You can take a peek at all of the ingredients here, but the noteworthy actives in this magical hydrating serum are:

  • Vitamin C
  • Aloe vera
  • Hawaiian sandalwood
  • Hawaiian kukui nut oil
  • Hawaiian macadamia nut oil
  • Argan oil
  • Phytic acid
  • Hyaluronic acid

Kōkua also boasts that their products are all “eco-friendly and reef-safe.” Though reef safety isn’t a huge issue for the land-locked among us, it’s easy to appreciate what they are trying to do and it feels good to support a family-run, ethos-driven company.

The packaging

It’s very possible that that charming, escapist packaging is at least part of why I love the Kōkua Sun Healing Serum so much. The little, dark brown glass bottle has a pump lid that I’ve never had an issue with and a sticker that features a girl doing the hula in front of Diamond Head. Yes, even in the peak of a perfect Pacific Northwest summer, I would rather be in Hawai’i. Take me away, tiny bottle of face serum!

The results

I have some redness that I swear comes and goes with my cycle. I’m not super bothered by it, but I do notice it, and this serum seems to tame it. It also makes my face just sort of, well, glowy. You know what I mean, right? That glowy-dewy thing that we’re all after. Every face is a little different, so I cannot promise you that this will work for your particular skin. But, I can tell you that, with a super-powered combo of ingredients meant to exfoliate, hydrate and brighten, this serum and my pale, dry skin get along beautifully. I am usually not a huge fan of scented products, but the sandalwood scent is lovely and the texture of the serum itself feels luxurious and melts into my face immediately. This Kōkua serum is so much more than just an “after sun” product — it really is the one-and-done magical face product I’ve been looking for.

Pros & cons


  • Brightens
  • Hydrates
  • Soothes
  • Feels great
  • It’s pretty darn affordable for a high-quality skin care serum.


  • This, like all skin care products, probably is not for everyone. Surely there is someone out there with skin that will not get along beautifully with this serum. If that’s you, I apologize.

The final verdict

If you’re in the market for a do-everything product that does the work of a serum, moisturizer, and primer, look no further than the Kōkua Sun Care Natural Hawaiian Sun Healing Serum. It’s super soothing after days outdoors, but it’s every bit as useful and effective as a daily hydrator for me. And the glow it gives my skin? Perfection.

For skincare users who spend a lot of their sunny days in the water, you’ll be glad to know that alongside those hydrating active ingredients, Kōkua’s formulas are totally reef-safe and environmentally friendly. So, whatever body of water you’re enjoying, you’re contributing in some small way to keeping it healthy.


Fragrant, silky, affordable and functional, the Kōkua Natural Hawaiian Sun Healing Serum is so much more than it promises to be and, for me, it’s the holy grail skincare product I’ve been looking for.

Had To Share highlights the products and finds that Romper editors and contributors love so much, we just had to share in the group chat.

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