Planning your hen-hol, honeymoon or just seeking some sun before the wedding count- down begins? Some time ago, my gorgeous author friend Belinda Jones asked me to help solve some queries from her readers concerning their summer beauty woes. These were posted on her website www.va-va-vacation.com. More about that later but for now I thought it might be helpful to share my Summer Skincare Solutions….
This is easy. Just apply your suncream in the buff before you leave the hotel room. Aim to use at least a teacup full and remember often forgotten bits like your ears, tops of feet and bikini line. By creaming up before heading out you won’t get scorched en route to the beach. You should also ease into your tan: instead of dropping your case off and legging it to the beach for as much sun- time as possible, try to limit to your- self to just 30 minutes of sun exposure (with sunscreen) on day one to get your tan started safely. Use the rest of the day to familiarise yourself with the beach bar and its clientele from a shady spot. If you’re worried about staying pasty for too long, apply fake tan before you leave home.
Tsk, tsk. Sunkissed skin looks healthy (even if the skin scientists do say it’s a sign
of cellular damage) but scorched skin just looks sore and unsightly. If it’s your face that’s burnt, I‘d either smother it in cold natural yoghurt quick smart (no really) or apply a generous helping of your regular aftersun like a face mask. Let it sink in for twenty minutes or so then wipe the rest away with a tissue. If it’s your body sporting the lobster look and even peeling your bikini off is agony, I’d recommend you sink into a cool (not freezing cold) bath laced with baking soda for about ten minutes. This should take some of the heat away and start to soothe your skin. Just lie back and wallow without even attempting to scrub your skin clean then step out, blot dry with a soft towel and apply an overly generous dose of aloe-vera loaded aftersun straight from the hotel room fridge. Jason’s Aloe Vera Gel, £9.30 gets extra points for being paraben-free and easy-on-the-eye on top of its ability to tackle your tender skin. Not to put the dampeners on your holiday spirit, but it might be worth laying off the, er, spirits and sipping room temperature mineral water for the rest of the day too.
Yep, flip-flops and wedges (have you seen the lust-worthy ones at Ugg?) cry out for pretty feet to fill them. It’s actually really easy to make an instant difference to the state of your soles too. Try this ten minute pedi: Trim your toenails slightly curved then gently buff the surface to smooth any ridges. Scrub off any hard and dry skin from your heels, balls of your feet and side of your big toes using a foot file then once the cloud of dry skin has subsided, soak them in lavender oil laced warm water. Blot dry, massage in some foot cream then sandwich the brightest colour you can find be- tween layers of base and top coat. I’m head over (smooth) heels for OPI’s I Eat Mainely Lobster, £10, a zingy burst of coral. Keep scrubbing those heels every couple of days and smother them in Compeed Overnight Cracked Heel Cream, £4.99 before hitting the duvet. That should see your tootsies smoothly through the summer.
Does the skin look like goose bumps? It could be Keratosis Pilaris, a build-up of keratin forming hard plugs under the surface. Whilst not a serious medical problem, if you’ve been craving a Heidi Klein Kerala V Neck mini dress those pesky bumps can threaten to put the dampeners on your happy holiday shopping mood. All you can do is try to reduce skin dryness. Shower in cooler-than-you-normally-would water, and for less time than usual. If the mirror has steamed up, your shower was too long! Use a non-foaming oil like Molton Brown’s Renew Ambrusca Cleansing Shower Oil, £23, pat your skin dry then pile on the body cream whilst your skin is still slightly damp. Make it a sunscreen with an SPF30 to be on the safe side – and keep it topped up whilst you’re outside. A pro-facial will feel relaxing and your skin will definitely look better but personally I’d DIY and save my money for the holiday.
Tans-in-cans have come a long way since your streaky experience. Nowadays, bronz- ing is about subtlety, rather than looking like you’ve spent a month in The Maldives. The new fakes are more often than not a cinch to apply and simply enhance your natural skin tone rather than mask it. Most (not all) smell pretty good too. The key to foolproof faking is all in the prep. You need to get rid of any dry patches via body scrubbing otherwise the tanner will stick to them and make your colour uneven. When it comes to application, start at your feet and work up in small circular motions using a tanning mitt. So which ones would I recommend? James Read Bronzing Mousse, £25 and Fake Bake’s Flawless Self Tan Liquid, £23 for sure.
You’ve been making hay while the sun shines…. on top of your head! Salt water, sand, chlorine, hotel hairdryers and the scorch of straighteners – your hair takes a seri- ous beating on holiday. Remember that your hair needs sunblock too to stop it from drying out and your colour from fading. Top up helpings of a moisturising hair protec- tor like Wella Professionals Sun Protection Cream for Coarse Hair, £11.90, during the day and keep long hair tied back in a bun or even better, hidden under a headscarf. Back from the beach, use a post-sun specific shampoo to get the gunk out then treat it to a hair mask that’ll repair sun-scorched hair. I’m a devoted fan of Kerastase Soleil Masque UV Defense Active Anti-Damage Concentrate, £22.55 and regularly enjoy a ‘Joan Collins’ moment (as I like to call it) sipping G&T on a sunny balcony whilst my hair is pampered under a smothering of this intensive conditioner. Twenty minutes later and any residue is ready to be rinsed away leaving my hair a doddle to comb through.
Talk about a summer bummer. It’s okay to hide a dimpled derriere back home but if it’s an itsy-bitsy bikini you’ve got your heart set on you need to start about two months before you go on your holiday. Just rubbing in an expensive cream and crossing your fingers won’t do much except dent your souvenir budget. Some creams do contain in- gredients that stimulate circulation and aid skin firming but you need to combine them with the right diet (that means cutting down on caffeine, alcohol, wheat and dairy,) daily body brushing and regular exercise to see results. The beauty of Clarins Body Lift Cellulite Control, £37 is that it comes with an accompanying self-massage tutorial which shows how you can apply it even sitting down. (Well, after all that exercise a girl needs a rest!) When it first launched 89% of testers boasted less cellulite within two weeks of use. Gotta be worth a go.
Do you really need to wear deodorant on the beach? I get that shifting positions on
a sun lounger can be an exhausting and sometime sweaty business but just a quick dip should cure that, no? If you just can’t bear the thought of going bare, I’d opt for a natural deodorant – one without parabens, synthetic ingredients, fragrance or chem- icals which may cause a skin reaction in the sun – something like Weleda Wild Rose Deodorant, £12.95 or a crystal stick which comes highly recommended by a Beauty Ed pal of mine, PitROK, £6.95. Both are naturally sweet-smelling and should give you the confidence you crave. Might you be the kind of girl whose idea of fully dressed on the beach includes wearing fragrance? Unless it’s an alcohol-free one it could react with the sunlight and stain your skin. Perhaps you could try the deodorant version of your fragrance instead..?
I know they sound high and when you’ve spent all year stuck inside a stuffy office you want to make the most your precious two weeks in the sun. Don’t be tempted by really low factors though – chances are, you’ll be cramming a whole year’s sun exposure into that fortnight so practising safe sun is absolutely essential. Shop for sunscreens that boast Broad Spectrum protection (ie. they guard against both UVA and UVB rays.) UVA rays penetrate more deeply and are responsible for ageing. In the UK, UVA protection is measured with a star rating. The more stars (ranging from 0 to 5) the greater the protection. UVB rays do the tanning – but also the burning – and are measured by the SPF number. As far which SPF to splurge on goes, start out with a high number for the first few days before switching a bit lower. If you’re fair and liable to burn easily, SPF50 has your name all over it. If you’re olive-toned and tend to tan quite easily, start with SPF30 before downgrading to SPF20. Even if your skin’s naturally dark, play it safe with SPF15.
Okay, so in the future you should apply an spf-infused eye cream. The skin around your eyes is thinner than anywhere else on the face and is particularly vulnerable to burning and wrinkling. Clinique’s Superdefense SPF20 Age Defense Eye Cream, £30 feels very ‘desert island diva eat your heart out’ to apply. It’s so glamorous! And should you go sans sunglasses, your peepers will still be fully protected. But back to your ‘unfortunate tan incident.’ First up, exfoliate gently to buff off some of the tan from the rest of your face so your DIY sunglasses aren’t so noticeable. Then, tie your hair back and mist an aerosol foundation that’s a shade darker than your skin all over from about six inches away. Pur Minerals Summer Collection Liquid Veil, £26, is suddenly going to become worth every penny you paid for it. Use a make-up sponge to tap and blend it into your skin to create an even tone. That’ll sort you out for the rest of the day. Before you hit the duvet, dab on some miracle-working James Read Sleep Mask Tan, £25. Phew! You should be instagrammable again by the morning…
This Q&A first appeared in www.va-va-vacation, a website created to accompany SUNLOUNGER, an ebook bursting with jet set short stories from over 40 of the hottest names women’s fiction, brought together by my practically life-long BFF Belinda Jones. SUNLOUNGER and SUNLOUNGER 2 are still available to download from Amazon today. I guarantee you’ll find a short story to match your sun-drenched destination of dreams – the Amalfi Coast, Hawaii, St Barts, Santorini etc…. Oh, and my Bridesman Nigel May (obvs not a woman but a too-good-to-leave-out author) has sneaked some stories in there too!
Back to Belinda though, you’ll truly thank me if you pack one of her paperbacks in your suitcase. She has twelve travelicious books under her belt to choose from, all based around dreamy destinations and dripping with sunshine, romance and ad- venture. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve read I Love Capri (my absolute fave not least because I joined her on the research trip.) Her books stretch from steamy Havana to the captivating canals of Venice, the turquoise lagoons of Bora Bora and beyond. The perfect way to spend your days lying horizontal on a beach towel… I do it all the time!