Ah yes, bikini season. Though we still have a little ways to go before we east coasters can start hitting the beach, in many ways that’s a good thing, because it gives us plenty of time to get our skin in shape to show off in our two pieces.
It’s not hard to achieve soft, glowing, healthy-looking skin in a matter of a month—it just takes consistency in your skin care routine. If you follow these five basics, you’ll be the belle of the beach the minute your feet hit the sand.
Exfoliation should be a key part of your skin care routine year-round, but during the summer, you want to make sure you pay extra attention to your body, not just your face. Sloughing off those layers of dead skin cells is really the first step in unearthing the gorgeous skin that’s laying in wait underneath.
FOR FACE: Ideally, you should exfoliate 2-3 times a week. (If your skin is really sensitive, start with once weekly and see how it goes.) We love St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub, $7, because it’s gentle yet effective, contains vitamin A and other antioxidants to nourish skin and is only seven bucks.
FOR BODY: During the winter, our bodies are so covered up that we (or I should say I) rarely feel the need to exfoliate on a regular basis. I tend to think of it as a special treat rather than an essential task.
Not so in the summertime, when your body is all sorts of exposed pretty much every day. In addition to giving you soft, healthy skin, summertime exfoliation is especially important in two areas: your back and…well…“down there.” There’s nothing quite as awful as having bacne at the beach, so scrubbing that area regularly is a must. And if you’re prone to blemishes and your back and/or chest, use an exfoliator that’s formulated with salicylic acid, such as Neutrogena Body Clear Body Scrub, $7, which will keep those areas under control.
The other place you want to pay special attention to is your bikini line. Whether you shave or wax, ingrown hairs are bound to crop up. Stay ahead of those suckers by gently scrubbing the delicate area regularly, either with the exfoliator you use for your body, or with a product designed especially for treating this issue, such as Bliss’ Ingrown Eliminating Pads, $38.
We’ve already established that you’ll need to amp up your face and body scrubbing for gorgeous summer skin, but you also need to kick up your cleansing routine.
FOR FACE: Wash your face both morning and night regularly with your favorite face wash. Try your very best NOT to skip this key step (even if you’ve been out until 3am and all you want to do is flop into bed, makeup removal be damned!). We are all human. However, so for (rare!) nights like these, make sure you have easy-to-use makeup wipes on hand (we love Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes, $6. It doesn’t replace or do as good of a job as a true face wash, but it’s but it’s better than nothing. And in the a.m., cleanse like champ and make sure all of your makeup from the night before has been removed.
FOR BODY: Body washing is extra effective after you exfoliate. Try one with an invigorating fragrance, such as Yes to Grapefruit’s Rejuvenating Body Wash, $9, which will make you feel refreshed and ready for your day.
We all know that keeping your skin hydrated (which includes drinking your 8-10 glasses of water a day) helps keep it soft, smooth and healthy. Moisturizing your face and body every day is a must for beach-worthy skin.
FOR FACE: After washing, apply a moisturizer with SPF ASAP. Smooth the cream into your skin while it’s still damp, as this helps lock in moisture. And DO NOT neglect your neck and decolletage! The skin there is extra thin and has fewer hydrating oil glands, which is why it’s usually the first place start to showing signs of aging. So slather your moisturizer (we love Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Moisture Facial Moisturizer with SPF 35, $9 all over that area—there’s no such things as too much!
FOR BODY: The same goes for body when it comes to sealing in moisture: apply your body lotion right out of the shower, while your derma is still damp. (You may have to stand and let your skin air dry for a few minutes, but just find a way to multi-task—perhaps you can start getting your makeup out or tidy up the bathroom a bit). Burt’s Bees Radiance Body Lotion, $13 is a great pick: it softens skin with sunflower oils and aloe and enhances skin tone with natural mica, a light-reflecting mineral that will give your legs a gorgeous and sexy gleam.
Oils are not for everyone (those who are acne-prone may want to steer clear), however, for most, they work wonders on skin. You just have to put aside any preconceived notions of greasy textures and oil-slicked faces and give them a try. They are packed with so many skin-saving essentials and antioxidants, as well as ingredients that have serious anti-aging effects.
FOR FACE: You need only this: La Bella Figura Organic Barbary Fig Seed Oil, $90. It’s a nectar of the Gods IMHO, because of its star ingredient: barbary fig seed oil. It contains high levels of vitamin E, lineoleic acid and betalains, all of which protect against free radicals, stimulate new cell growth and calm inflammation. It’s also majorly moisturizing, but not sticky or greasy—you’ll be amazed how soft and clean your skin feels after use. And you’ll glow on the inside, but because it’s all natural and totally organic, your insides will shine, as well.
FOR BODY: Body oil is a great because while it hydrates, it also leaves you with silky, radiant skin. We’re currently obsessed with Caudalie Divine Oil, $37, because it contains antioxidant grape polyphenols and ginkgo biloba, which are both great for post-sun treatment too. And the scent? Divine.
While all of these skin care tips will give you gorgeous summer skin, if you want to step up your shimmer a notch on the fly (especially if you’re fair) these instant glow-givers are the way to go.
FOR FACE: Fresh’s Twilight Freshface Glow, $36, which is lovely, light and sheer illuminating cream that adds an instant, natural-looking radiance to your face. It’s also formulated with antioxidant-rich vitamins A, C, and E, nourishing evening primrose root extract and soothing meadowfoam seed oil.
FOR BODY: Use NARS’ Body Glow, $59, which gives your body an instant, sun-kissed shimmer. It contains Monoi de Tahiti oil and fine coconut oil, which when blended together to produce a beautiful, translucent, light-chocolate-shaded shimmer.