Summer is about lightening your beauty routine: ditching your foundation and blush for a simple swipe of bronzer; letting your locks succumb to their natural waves. The flip side to warm weather's unbuttoned ease is the number it can do on your looks.
"Harmful UV rays are the most obvious culprit in causing wrinkles and brown spots, but they can also make your skin and hair appear dry, so you look older than your years," says dermatologist David H. McDaniel, MD, director of the Anti- Aging Research Institute in Virginia Beach, VA. Then there's the havoc high humidity and heat can wreak on hair texture (hello, frizz!) and color (hello, brassy!).
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We talked to leading dermatologists and dug through a mountain of research and products to offer summer-friendly tips guaranteed to keep every part of you looking gorgeous and young all season long.
1. Try a caffeine-packed apres sun treatment
A topical jolt of caffeine significantly reduces UV-induced roughness and wrinkling in mice, according to one study. A more recent finding shows it might even help curb skin cancer by suppressing ATR, a protein that enables precancerous cells to survive and replicate. The research is preliminary, but applying a cream that contains about 1 percent caffeine after sun exposure couldn't hurt. Try: Topix Replenix CF Anti-Photoaging Complex SPF 45 $35; skinstore.com).
2. Boost post-sun hydration
Reduce UV-induced dryness from sun exposure by slathering clean skin with moisturizer and covering with a warm, damp towel for 5 minutes. "The heat activates the lotion's ingredients, which keeps skin supple," says New Orleans dermatologist Mary P. Lupo, MD, professor of clinical dermatology at Tulane University.
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3. Strengthen nails with a supplement
Take 2.5 mg of the B vitamin biotin daily. "This supplement helps prevent breakage from too much exposure to salt and chlorine," says Jin Soon Choi, owner of Jin Soon Natural Hand and Foot Spas. Research shows that a daily dose of the nutrient increases nail thickness by 25 percent, making nails less apt to split and tear.
4. Get younger hands with moisturizer
During the day, use a hand cream containing the lightener kojic acid to soften brown spots. Try Hollywood Hands Professional Anti-Aging Hand Treatment $16; drugstores). At night, apply a hand cream that contains skin-firming retinol, suggests Baumann. Try Sally Hansen Age Correct Retinol Hand Cream $6.50 drugstores). Be sure to wear a sunblock with an SPF of at least 15 as well; these ingredients make skin sensitive.
5. Spot treat pimples with a cotton swab
When applying benzoyl peroxide to blemishes, use the tip of a cotton swab to precisely dab it on. This prevents the medication from stripping your self-tanner, says Nicole Weigand, spa director at the Beverly Hills Hotel Spa by La Prairie.
6. Self-tan from head to toe
To look longer and leaner, apply self-tanner everywhere, says Dera Enochson, creator of Xen-Tan, a company that makes self-tanners. "A uniform color helps elongate, but focusing just on your legs or arms can make you look shorter and stockier.”
7. Exfoliate heels in the shower
Maximize results for smooth, sexy feet by using a pumice stone on calluses and rough spots at the end of your shower. "The extra time in the water softens dead cells and makes them easier to remove," says Choi.
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