The long, hot summer is now in the rear view and our skin is showing the effects. We look in the mirror and there are the results of our days outside romping in hot weather: dryness, flakiness and more defined sun spots. What’s a summer lover to do?
Unlike other women of her time, Elisabeth used little cosmetics or perfume… she attached far less importance to creams and emollients, and experimented with a wide variety of facial tonics and waters, from which she apparently expected better results. Elisabeth slept without a pillow on a metal bedstead, all the better to retain her upright posture, with either raw veal or crushed strawberries lining her nightly leather facial mask. She… often slept with cloths soaked in either violet- or cider-vinegar above her hips to preserve her slim waist, and her neck was wrapped with cloths soaked in Kummerfeld-toned washing water.
We found five modern-day ways to soothe and revitalize your after-summer skin and bring it back to pre-summer, spring-mist condition. No leather mask required.
- Continue to use sunscreen
You should use a sunscreen every day of the year. “Most of the sun damage we get is from cumulative incidental damage,” says Dr. Elizabeth Hale, Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at NYU and Vice President of the Skin Care Foundation. “Walking to work (or from work or to a coffee shop), driving, even sitting by a window can all add up to cumulative damage over time. Get in the habit of putting on sunscreen every single day to have the best chance of staving off skin cancer and signs of aging.” We’re not talking about the heavy, greasy, white tinted sunscreen you may have slathered on your arms and legs during the summer. We’re looking at a sunscreen/moisturizer that goes on smoothly under your makeup.
Most of the major cosmetics companies make a day cream with SPF protection. Two of our favorites, MAC Lightful C Marine-Bright Formula SPF 30 Moisturizer and Avene Eau Thermale Avène Hydrance Optimale Hydrating SPF 25 Cream have SPF protection, skin nurturing properties and will not interfere with your foundation or powder.
- Avoid alcohol based toners
If you use a toner after you wash your face, make sure it doesn’t contain alcohol. Most of them do. While alcohol thoroughly cleans your face of any dirt or residue that is left over from washing, seeing dirt on the cotton pad is immensely satisfying—you are paying a price for that squeaky-clean face. Over time, alcohol dries your skin and alters its PH balance. And alcohol is particularly drying after your skin has been exposed to sun and hot weather. Use a toner that cleans your face but doesn’t contain alcohol. Some of them even soften and moisturize.
- Use a sleep mask
Sleep masks are hugely popular in Korea (Korean skin care is all the rage right now). A sleep mask is applied before bed and rinsed off in the morning. They don’t harden like some masks but stay moist to allow thirsty skin to drink all night long. Sleep masks also create a hydrating seal so that water will not evaporate from your skin at night.
We like London-based Pixi by Petra Nourishing Sleep Mask and Fresh Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask. Pixi has fruit and flower oils to soothe, arginine to strengthen, and hyaluronic acid to plump the skin. The Fresh tea mask contains a proprietary complex of black tea ferment, black tea extract and blackberry leaf extract.
- Exfoliate twice a week
Although it may seem that scrubbing dry skin is counter-productive, it’s not. A gentle scrub twice a week will actually stimulate oil glands. More importantly, it will help to slough off the outer layer of skin, revealing newer skin cells underneath. Just remember to use a good moisturizer (or your sleep mask) before going to bed and, of course, your moisturizer with SPF during the day.
Two products that are ideal for exfoliating twice a week are Equate Beauty Blemish Control Apricot Scrub, a Wal-Mart house brand, which we love, and Olay Regenerist Detoxifying Pore Scrub Cleanser. (Our beauty editor uses the Equate scrub in the shower twice a week and swears by its efficacy. For $2.72 it’s a steal!)
- Use hydroquinone on dark spots
The summer sun will have exacerbated your dark spots, even though you may have religiously covered them with sunscreen. Most ingredients that claim to lighten them are not as effective as hydroquinone. Hydroquinone has been shown to be very effective, particularly in a product called Obagi. There is a caveat, however. Some people are allergic to hydroquinone so it should be used under the supervision of a dermatologist.
Related: Just say no to lizard skin