We need less shit to worry about in summer, not more. After all, it’s the season to kick back with a cold one, relax and just enjoy not freezing your nads off for a few months. Well, yes, but it’s no time to slack on your skincare routine, either.
With all the sweet perks of the season come some pretty hefty grooming challenges that can wreak havoc on your appearance if not adequately prepared. Fortunately, we’ve compiled all the mandatory steps for a blemish- and burn-free face into one handy guide. This is summer grooming as easy as ABC.
A – Antioxidants
While in the sun, a broad spectrum SPF 30 will shield you from around 97 per cent of 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 Dr Nicholas Lowe. Why? “They contain antioxidant vitamins A, C and E to help offset the damage caused by sun exposure.” So don’t ignore that orange twist in your negroni next time.
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.
Many beard oils contain insect-repelling oils like citronella, black pepper or bog myrtle. Add to that the fact that they soften, condition and tame whiskers from the inside out and you’ve got yourself a win-win situation.
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 topical cream in your wash bag just in case.
If you’re susceptible to cold sores, 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 Dr Denise Mortimore.
D – Dry Shampoo
Sun, heat and the friction caused by your go-to baseball cap and other summer hats can stimulate the scalp’s sebaceous glands to produce more oil, making your mop look lank and greasy.
Remedy the problem in an instant with a dry shampoo. Applying to the roots where hair tends to be greasiest will also help keep your hair smelling fresh and clean.
E – Emergency Measures
Luggage gone AWOL? Forgotten to pack shaving cream? Fear not. In a pinch 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.
Conditioner, meanwhile, makes a superb emergency shave cream and moisturiser can be used as a styling aid. Bear Grylls would be so proud.
F – Fragrance
Most of us have heard at one time or another that the best place to apply a fragrance is on ‘pulse points’ (where the blood flows closest to the surface of the skin such as the wrists). This is generally bad advice, but particularly in summer as the heat created by these areas intensifies the scent making strong, amber, vetiver or wood-based notes seem overpowering.
As well as sticking to two or three sprays in areas like the collar bones, Richard Hawkins, director of education and training at French skincare brand Guerlain suggests opting for a lighter concoction. “Ones with fresh citrus notes like lemon, bergamot and grapefruit are perfect for summer,” he says.
G – Grease
You don’t need to spend long on public transport to know that heat stimulates the skin’s oil glands, making a shiny T-zone (the area of the face comprising the forehead, nose and chin) a real risk in summer.
To see off shine and avoid face-based nasties like clogged pores and spots, use mattifying, oil-absorbing products such as a face wash, exfoliator and 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 horny (the outermost layer). No jokes, please.
When these levels drop (because of sweating, scorching sun and the odd summer cocktail) skin becomes dry and tight, so make sure you’re adequately hydrated from within by eating plenty of fruit and veg, which release moisture slowly and steadily.
I – In-Flight Grooming
At around 12 per cent humidity, the typical aircraft cabin is drier than most deserts. As a result, the process of hopping across borders can be exceptionally turbulent for your face.
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 products designed to replenish lost moisture and reduce puffiness.
J – Jet Lag
Aside from making you irritable, sleep disturbance can leave your skin looking washed out and tired. So to minimise the visual effects of jet lag, you need to plan accordingly.
“Cutting down on sugar really helps,” says Warren Braxx, a member of Virgin Atlantic’s cabin crew. It’s also wise to eat according to the time zone you are flying to, rather than the one you left.
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 doubly susceptible because we don’t wear lipstick. At least not in public.
Shield your smackers this summer with a balm that has a built-in SPF, which will not only reduce your risk of skin cancer but also keep them soft for a potential holiday romance.
L – Lobster Skin
Overdone the sun and cooked your skin? It may be funny to laugh at yourself (or rather, your mates) looking a little pink, but this process damages DNA and can lead to dangerous cell mutations.
Calamine lotion, painkillers and multivitamins that include A, C and E will help soothe your skin, ease the pain and neutralise dangerous free radical molecules created by the damage. Just 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.
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 you’re worried, see a doctor or book yourself in for a high-tech screening service.
N – Nudity
Parts of the body that rarely see the light of day are especially vulnerable to sun damage. So if you’re 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 every 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 to remove dead 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 the kind of stuff that will turn you from Danny Devito to Oliver Cheshire overnight. Kind of.
Amino acids, antioxidants, lysine (essential for the synthesis of collagen) and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, all come together to make these tiny, bead-shaped seeds the perfect skin food. So get scoffing.
R – Rashes
Your grooming arsenal might get you ready for a few holiday snaps of an evening, but in the day sunlight can react with a host of common ingredients that can lead to skin sensitivity rashes and burning. And no #filter is going to fix that.
When 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 you’re hitting the beach. “Even the best fragrances are well documented to cause skin sensitivity and, when coupled with the sun’s UV rays, can cause unsightly pigmentation,” warns Sally Penford from 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.
As well as the general guideline of using at least an SPF 30, Penford stresses the importance of opting for one that defends against both types of sun damage. “Both UVA (those that age) and UVB rays (those that burn) can cause cancer, so wearing a ‘broad spectrum’ sunscreen with antioxidants is essential.”
T – Travelling Light
Unless you’re flying in business class, space is almost guaranteed to be at a premium when heading abroad. And that goes for your luggage as well as your seat.
Travel smart and pack light by decanting grooming products into travel bottles and your signature scent into a refillable atomiser. Alternatively, keep an eye out for travel-sized editions of fragrances that come in below the 100ml carry-on allowance.
U – Unkempt Feet
There are few summer grooming faux pas as unforgivable as peeling off your socks to reveal a set of mangled man-hooves. If you plan on diving into the pool (or into this season’s assortment of sandals, for that matter) — take action.
If a manicure feels like a step too far, as a minimum you should use a file or battery operated mineral roller to buff 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. We’ll pause to let you gag. These annoying warts that develop on the soles of the feet are caused by a virus lurking damp floors.
The best way to avoid picking one up as a holiday souvenir is to 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
Contrary to popular belief, sweat itself doesn’t smell. A clear, odourless liquid mostly made up of water, salt, proteins and oils, it only takes on a pungent tang when mixed with bacteria that live in places like your arm pits.
If you want to stay fresher for longer, extend your manscaping to your underarm hair or, if you’re feeling particularly brave, have them waxed. “You’ll generally feel cooler, fresher and cleaner,” says Andy Rouillard from male grooming salon Axiom Bodyworks.
X – X-Rated
If you’re set on wearing budgie smugglers rather than swim shorts this summer (more power to ya), the least you can do is 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 body hair trimmer – ideally, one that’s been specially designed for pubic topiary – a razor and a hefty dose of courage (not the Dutch kind – it won’t end well).
Y – Yoghurt
Everyone has their own old wives’ tale for tackling sunburn, but before you let someone pee on you (oh wait, that’s jellyfish), consult the science books first.
Without any after-sun lotion to hand, slather on some plain yoghurt and leave for 10 minutes, allowing the probiotics to restore the skin’s natural barrier, before gently wiping with a cold cloth and patting dry.
Z – Zzzzzz
Whether it’s because of the moon’s natural wax and wane during summer or daytime beer garden sessions spilling into the early hours, longer days and shorter nights take their toll on your skin.
According to research, the optimum time for the body to repair itself is between the hours of 11pm and 3am. If you’re not regularly getting your eight hours, help supercharge this window with a night cream packed with skin-strengthening nutrients.