Summer's Dirty Little Skincare Secrets

When the heat is on, turn summer skin from "eww" to "ooh" with our expert tips.
Summers Dirty Little Skincare Secrets

The summer sun can lift your mood, make your backyard seem larger, make your workday seem shorter — and really do a number on your skin and body. We found fixes for everything from chafing to wild beach hair, plus three lifesavers to get you through the sticky spots.

1. Thighs rub and chafe. You’re committed to staying fit, but it’s really hard to walk two miles or bike a loop when upper thigh friction leaves skin red and irritated, especially now that you’re wearing shorts. Same thing can happen when legs are bare under skirts or dresses, or on the delicate skin under your bra line. The solution: A little-known godsend called BodyGlide Anti-Chafe, sold in sporting and bike stores. Also indulge in a warm (not hot) bath with Farmaesthetics Blue Spruce Mineral Salts. Founder and owner Brenda Brock, whose products are scooped up by Martha Stewart and a roster of other celebs, says the salts settle and soothe skin that is irritated or inflamed from rashes or chafing. “Even gardening can expose unprotected skin to poison ivy, oak, or other irritating plants that thrive in summer, and can cause itching, rashes, and swelling,” says Brock. “Soaking in a bath with the mineral salts will really help.”

2. Feet are peeling. Bad news when you want to show off your coral pedi and sexy new sandals and you have what looks like athlete’s foot — peeling, dry skin — around your toes and on your soles. Patsy Manning, an avid athlete and bootcamp-style personal trainer in Montclair, NJ, encourages her class members to bring flip-flops to slip on after workouts. “If you leave your sneakers and sweaty socks on, your feet stay hot and moist, and fungus can grow,” says Manning. “It’s important to air your feet out.” Shop for foot cleansers and creams that contain peppermint to keep skin cool and comfy.


3 Pretty Little Secrets
  • For feet: Farmaesthetics High Cotton Body Dust, with cornstarch, can help prevent fungal infections. “Keeping skin dry is key,” says Brock, “but we bump up the effectiveness of the dust by adding sage, thyme and lavender.” Sprinkle in tennis shoes before sports, under arms or on inner thighs.
  • For hair: Paul Mitchell Color Protect Locking Spray with sunflower extract. Uber athlete and boot camp trainer Patsy Manning loves this for the beach.
  • For sun protection: Naturopathica Lavender Protective Moisturizer SPF 17 can transport you to a field of summer lavender. Contains zinc oxide — the old favorite for lifeguards’ noses — but blocks damaging UVA and UVB rays without a white chalky feel.
3. You’re sick of applying sunscreen. You’re already sweating by the pool or lake, or on the walking path, and now you feel greasy and gloppy on top of it. You’d like sunscreen to go on a little less like the protective barrier it is, with a lighter touch, but still be effective. We tried new Neutrogena 50 SPF Wet Skin Sunblock Spray (no need to dry off in between reapplications) and love the scent and quick absorption. Spritzing it on could easily become a healthy addiction — great since millions of skin cancers are diagnosed in the United States every year. “By now, using sunscreen should be as automatic as putting a seatbelt on when you get into a car,” says Jeffrey Dover, MD, immediate past-president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. Try Wet Skin for boating, biking and hiking, too.

4. Your hair looks brassy and feels like straw. That’s what happens when you take your salon-soft hair and expose it to sand, surf, wind and other elements. Apply a protective comb-in conditioner or color-shielding spray to damp hair before you head out into the sun, and reapply after swimming. And if you really want to make amends, treat yourself to a luxe conditioning treatment at a salon. The Spa at Trump in SoHo, New York City, offers a salon menu with Healing Hair Therapies. The Calming Scalp Massage uses argan oil, a Moroccan secret, to hydrate; the Keratin Treatment helps quench parched, chemically treated hair.

5. You’re so busy coating yourself with SPF, you forsake all beach makeup. Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm SPF 20 is really practical, goes on smooth and comes in colors like Sunny Berry and Fresh Plum. And don’t forget a fresh coat of nail polish — when you’re wearing only a swimsuit, nail color is a great eye-catching accessory.

6. Your face is breaking out. Even a sweaty bike helmet strap can rub skin the wrong way. “Keeping skin clean is always important, but during summer, when heat and sweat can aggravate even the most perfect complexion, take extra steps," advises Brock. "Exposure to city grime and wearing hats, glasses and sunscreen can cause concentrated areas of irritation and breakouts." She suggests wiping her Pure Complexion Tonic over the bridge of your sunglasses, and on the mouthpiece of your cell phone to swipe away bacteria.

7. You got a burn, and now it’s peeling. “Peeling skin is your body letting you know that you damaged your skin cells. You never want to pick at peeling skin because it can cause infections and possible scarring,” says Lisa Jaconi of cult favorite brand and spa Naturopathica in East Hampton, NY. Soothe your skin with a moisturizer containing shea butter or aloe vera and definitely, definitely stay out of the sun until you’re healed. “Any time you’ve gotten too much sun, use aloe immediately after to release inflammation before skin bubbles or peels,” says Brock.

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