From harmful UV rays to heat waves, the summer months can wreak havoc on your appearance if not adequately prepared.
So, if you’re keen to soak up the sun and bask in the heat of this most glorious of seasons, then read on for our ultimate guide to summertime grooming.
A – Antioxidants
Of course, sunscreens shield you from the bulk of the sun’s UV rays, but the ones that get through can still trigger the creation of harmful, skin-ageing free radicals.
The solution? “Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables,” says dermatologist Nicholas Lowe. “They contain antioxidant vitamins A, C and E to help offset the damage caused by sun exposure.”
B – Bugs
To ward off annoying midges and mosquitoes, you could get lost in a mist of gross-smelling chemical sprays, or you could pull on the power of facial hair by opting for a beard oil that contains insect-repelling oils like citronella, black pepper or bog myrtle.
Portland General Store’s Black Fly Beard Oil features the first two while Cahoonas Chin Sporran Elixir Beard Oil is big on bog myrtle.
C – Cold Sores
There’s a reason cold sores often erupt on holiday: the sun. A known immune system suppressant, intense sunlight allows the virus that causes the blisters to reactivate, so pack a tube of Zovirax Cold Sore Cream just in case.
Steering clear of foods like peanuts, soybeans, chocolate, oats and wholewheat may help too. “These contain high levels of an amino acid called arginine, which can precipitate cold sores,” says nutritional therapist Denise Mortimore.
D – Dry Shampoo
Sun, heat and the friction caused by caps and other summer hats can stimulate the scalp’s sebaceous glands to produce more oil, making your thatch look lank and greasy.
Remedy the problem in an instant with a dry shampoo like Bumble and Bumble Pret-a-Powder or Batiste Original Shampoo, applying to the roots where hair tends to be greasiest. Doing so will also help keep your hair smelling fresh and clean.
E – Emergency Measures
Luggage gone AWOL? Forgotten to pack shaving cream? Fear not. At a push you can clean your teeth with a slice of lime dipped in salt, treat spots by dabbing them with neat vodka and create a basic body scrub from salt and olive oil.
Hair conditioner, meanwhile, makes a superb emergency shave cream. Bear Grylls would be so proud.
F – Fragrance
Heat intensifies fragrance, making strong, amber, vetiver or wood-based scents seem overpowering. So think about switching to a lighter, fresher, more summery eau de toilette.
“Ones with fresh citrus notes like lemon, bergamot and grapefruit are perfect for summer,” says Richard Hawkins, director of education and training at French skincare brand Guerlain.
Try Tom Ford’s Portofino Neroli, 4711, Dior’s Eau Sauvage, Acqua di Parma Colonia or Geo F Trumper’s Extract of Limes. And for an extra hit of freshness, keep the bottle chilled in the fridge.
G – Grease
With heat stimulating the skin’s oil glands, a shiny T-zone (the area of the face comprising the forehead, nose and chin) is a real risk in the summer.
To see off shine, use a mattifying, oil-absorbing moisturiser like Murad’s Oil-Control Mattifier SPF15 or Clinique For Men’s Oil Control Mattifying Moisturiser.
H – Hydration
Skin that’s properly hydrated has 80 per cent water in the dermis (the deepest level), 70 per cent in the epidermis (the middle layer) and 13 per cent in the outermost or ‘horny’ layer (no jokes, please).
When moisture levels fall below these ideal levels (because of sweating, scorching sun and the odd summer cocktail), skin gets dry and tight, so make sure you’re adequately hydrated from within.
Eating plenty of fruit and veg is the best way to stay hydrated, as these release moisture slowly and steadily.
I – In-Flight Grooming
The low humidity in aircraft cabins can rob skin of essential moisture, leaving it dry and tight.
Make sure you drink plenty of water (at least one large glass for each hour in the air), go easy on dehydrating tea, coffee and alcohol, and freshen skin with a product like This Works In Transit Spray-On Moisture, which is ideal for long-haul flights.
J – Jet Lag
Crossing time zones is hard on skin because sleep disturbances leave it looking washed out and tired. The best way to minimise jet lag is to eat and sleep according to the time zone you arrive in, rather than the one you left, even if that means being temporarily hungry or having to stay awake.
“I have found cutting down on sugar really helps with jet lag too,” says Warren Braxx, a member of Virgin Atlantic’s cabin crew.
K – Kissers
Lips are especially prone to sun damage because they lack melanin – the pigment that protects skin against the sun – and men’s are especially susceptible because we don’t wear lipstick.
Protect your kissers this summer with a balm that packs a sunscreen, like Nivea Soothe & Protect Lip Balm SPF15.
L – Lobster Skin
Overdone the sun and (quite literally) cooked your skin? It may be funny to laugh at yourself looking a little pink, but this process damages DNA and can lead to dangerous cell mutations.
Calamine lotion, painkillers and an antioxidant A, C and E vitamin supplement will help soothe skin, ease the pain and neutralise dangerous free radical molecules created by the damage.
Avoid slathering on greasy creams and body moisturisers as these prevent the skin from cooling.
M – Moles
Although melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) is almost twice as common in young women as in young men, more men die from it because they don’t spot the signs early enough. With this in mind, keeping an eye on any moles is essential.
According to consultant dermatologist Dr Adam Friedmann, warning signs to look out for are changes in size or colour, irregular edges, itching, bleeding or moles that become asymmetrical in appearance.
If worried, see a doctor or book yourself in for a high-tech screening service like the ones at The Mole Clinic, which can detect visually abnormal formations.
N – Nudity
Parts of the body that rarely see the light of day are especially vulnerable to sun damage – so if baring all at Cap d’Agde this summer, pop a high-factor sunscreen in your beach bag.
Sprays tend to be easier to use than creams (you can reach your own tricky bits for starters) and provide better coverage by cutting through body hair.
O – Ocean
Swimming in the sea might be good for the soul, but it’s not so good for the skin. Particularly bad is drying off in the sun afterwards, since rapid evaporation and salt residues can dehydrate the skin, leaving it susceptible to sun damage and premature ageing.
Towel dry instead and, if there’s a beachside shower, wash with fresh water first before settling down in the sand.
P – Polish
Just like a car, your own bodywork needs a little TLC now and then; especially if you’re about to reveal it to a horde of holidaymakers.
The simplest and fastest way to improve the look and feel of your skin is to use an exfoliating body scrub like Aesop’s Geranium Leaf Body Scrub to remove dead skin cells and smooth out dry patches. Focus on extremities (i.e. your arms and legs), where the skin is often driest.
Q – Quinoa
The middle-class’ favourite superfood doesn’t just taste great in a summer salad – it’s also loaded with amino acids, antioxidants, lysine (essential for the synthesis of collagen) and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, making it the perfect skin food.
R – Rashes
Sunlight can react with a host of ingredients commonly found in grooming products, often leading to skin sensitivity rashes and burning.
If sunbathing, steer clear of acne preparations containing benzoyl peroxide or skin creams with AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), and leave the eau de toilette at home if hitting the beach.
“Fragrance is well documented to cause skin sensitivity and, when coupled with the sun’s UV rays, can cause unsightly pigmentation,” warns Sally Penford of The International Dermal Institute.
S – Sunscreen
Choosing the right sunscreen is as important as choosing the right life insurance; in fact, given the dangers of sunburn, sunscreen is life insurance.
Penford recommends opting for one that offers protection against the sun’s ageing UVA rays and burning UVB rays: “Both UVA and UVB rays can cause cancer, so wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen with antioxidants is essential.”
For high protection, try Dermalogica’s Sport Broad-Spectrum SPF50.
T – Travelling Light
When space is at a premium, pack light by decanting grooming products into travel bottles (Swissco and Muji both do good ones) and your signature scent into a refillable atomiser, such as Sen7’s matte black version.
Alternatively, keep an eye out for travel-sized editions of fragrances like Bottega Veneta Pour Homme Art of Travel, which comes in a pocket-sized 20ml bottle especially for summer.
U – Unkempt Feet
There are few summer grooming faux pas quite as unforgivable as gnarly feet. Key to getting your paws sandal-ready is to ensure any dry skin that’s been building up over winter and spring is removed.
The easiest (and most fun) way to do this is with Emjoi’s Micro Pedi Man Hard Skin Remover: a battery operated mineral roller that buffs away dead skin in the same way an electric sander removes old paint from skirting boards.
V – Verrucas
Where there’s a swimming pool, there’s a verruca just waiting to happen. These annoying warts that develop on the soles of the feet are caused by a virus picked up off damp floors, so wear flip-flops or sliders when you’re walking around swimming pools or in communal areas.
They’ll help you avoid other nasties like athlete’s foot, too.
W – Wiffy Pits
If you want to stay fresher for longer, simply trim your pit hair. The longer it is, the more moisture it’ll retain and the more odour-causing bacteria it’ll harbour.
If brave, think about having them professionally waxed. “You’ll generally feel cooler, fresher and cleaner,” says Andy Rouillard from male grooming salon Axiom Bodyworks.
X – X-Rated
If there’s nothing we can do to convince you not to wear budgie smugglers this summer, at least see to your trunkline. A tidy ‘downstairs’ will not only save any unsightly overspill, it’ll also leave you feeling cooler and fresher.
Arm yourself with a decent body hair trimmer – ideally one that’s been specially designed for pubic topiary.
Y – Yoghurt
Burnt to a crisp and without any after sun lotion? Try slathering a little chilled yoghurt onto the affected area.
Simply apply, let it sit for ten minutes and wash off with cool water before patting the skin dry. Plain yoghurt is better than a fruit-infused one, obviously.
Z – Zzzzzz
Longer days and shorter nights take their toll on the skin. According to research, the optimum time for the body to repair itself is between the hours of 11pm and 3am.
To look your best with minimum effort, apply a night cream such as Baxter of California’s just before bed.