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19 summer beauty essentials and tips for 2021

From a lemony body wash to self-tanning butter, I'm adding these items to my beauty rotation ASAP.
Illustration of four different beauty products to buy before the end of the summer and a beauty blogger holding up makeup
PixelsEffect / Getty Images / Athena Club / Sephora / Valentino Beauty / Ulta

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As a beauty editor for over 20 years, I’ve tested tons of warm weather products. I’m happy to report there’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to the rest of this summer: from a razor so gentle on the skin you won’t need shaving cream, to a hair mask made of volcanic ash that removes product buildup with one squirt.

Ahead are 19 summery beauty essentials you’ll love long after the season is over.

Best warm weather beauty products

Athena Club’s Razor

A razor isn’t something I normally get excited about — until now. Unlike most lightweight disposable options, this razor’s handle is covered in silicone for a non-slip grip and has a metal core, giving you just the right amount of heft and control when you glide the blades over your skin. The stainless steel five-blade comes with skin guards to prevent irritation and is surrounded by a water-activated hyaluronic acid and shea butter serum, which serve as a built-in shaving cream (just be sure to wet the blade before using). You get two blades in the kit and there are eight colors to choose from — I’m loving mint, one of their two special edition colors for summer.

Milk Makeup Lip + Cheek Cream Blush Stick

There’s no other way to say it — I’m obsessed with this 2-in-1 cream stick that doubles as a sheer blush and lip tint. This product, which contains mango butter and avocado oil, is super hydrating and blends easily — simply dot onto your cheeks and blend with your fingertips (then watch as your cheeks get an instant healthy flush) or swipe onto your pout and rub your lips together for a hint of color. It comes in this tiny two-inch bullet that slips easily into a small summer bag.

Sand & Sky Australian Pink Clay Deep Pore Cleanser

I’ve been wearing sunscreen daily since Memorial Day and have been fastidious about washing it off at night ever since my dermatologist says sunscreen is often mixed with pore cloggers like dirt and oil. My new go-to facial wash from Sand & Sky has a 5.5 pH — meaning it’s got a similar pH to skin so it won’t trigger breakouts or result in redness or sensitivity — and contains macadamia oil and silica-rich pink clay to replenish moisture. Luffa plant and finger lime extracts gently exfoliate, while witch hazel helps control the oilies and tighten pores.

Kneipp Body Wash May Chang & Lemon

I’m obsessed with testing body washes and it didn’t take long to fall in love with this plant-based cleanser, partly because it smells like Pledge (in a good way), but mostly because it’s loaded with skin-soothing moisturizers my dermatologist swears by — including almond and primrose oils and shea butter. But what really caught my eye was an ingredient I’d never heard of before called May Chang, an essential oil that gives this body wash its lemon scent while also helping cleanse and tone the skin. Summer bonus: May Chang has been known to work as a natural bug repellent.

Clear & Pure Lip Balm

No matter the season, I’m constantly hydrating my lips, so you can imagine how excited I was to discover a lip balm worthy of joining my two other lip hydrators, one that’s 100% natural and filled with extra virgin olive oil, beeswax and a water-based honey that makes the balm super hydrating and allows for a smoother application. The hard part is choosing from the 10 flavors — but I’m loving the coconut and vanilla right now.

Coola Refreshing Water Cream Sunscreen

I try to find a great new sunscreen every summer, and this season is no different. The one I’m loving caught my eye because it not only has all the crucial bells and whistles (it’s broad-spectrum and has a SPF of 50), but because it contains two star ingredients that dermatologists swear by to help support skin’s moisture and increase hydration — hyaluronic acid and coconut water. The unique delivery system makes application simple — remove the cap, pump the top, and watch how a measured amount of blue (yes, blue!) cream gets released from the small opening — and mess-free.

Bliss Clear Genius Body Acne Spray

If the thought of breakouts on your chest, shoulders or back has you passing on tank tops or sleeveless dresses, consider this acne-fighting spray that’s made for those hard-to-reach areas. It contains ingredients including 2% salicylic acid (to remove pore blocking dead skin cells), witch hazel (to reduce inflammation and redness), zinc PCA (to lessen sebum secretion), niacinamide (a vitamin B3 derivative that reduces swelling and redness) and Cica (a leafy green herb that soothes irritated skin). Shake the bottle and spray — and there’s no rubbing required. This product also does a good job of preventing acne, so if you’re susceptible to breakouts in a specific area, spot treat at night for clearer skin in the morning.

Laura Geller Prep Stick Lip Scrub

Exfoliating your lips is one of those beauty rituals you know you should be doing. I’ve been waiting for something truly easy (read: not messy) to come along to bump this action up on my beauty to-do list — and here it is: a lip bullet filled with exfoliating sugars and avocado oil to keep lips moist. Although the manufacturer claims it comes fragrance-free, I swear I detect a delicious fruity smell.

Mario Badescu Coconut Body Scrub

The skin on the bottom of my feet, chest, and back of my shoulders gets a little rough in summer, so I try to exfoliate these areas three times a week in the shower. I prefer a mushy and more granular paste, which is why I’m so in love with this scrub. What makes it stand out from others on the market: it contains six different-sized beads (including two different sizes of pumice) that swim in an emulsion of skin-shedding salicylic acid and moisturizers like rosehip, meadow seed foam oil and vitamin E. You simply apply it to damp skin anywhere you have rough or dry patches, massage in a circular motion, then rinse.

Valentino Beauty Brow Trio Eyebrow Liner

When I first used this brow color, I thought there was no way it’s going to make my list of favorite new products. Don’t get me wrong — the sleek dark fuchsia and gold packaging is stunning and the fact that you get three products in one (brow comb, pencil and liner) is impressive. But it has this super micro brush that I thought would leave thin, awkward lines in my brow hairs — wow, was I wrong! I was amazed to see how beautifully and naturally the product adhered to my hairs as I stroked the formula onto my brows. Two maintenance tips: be sure to shake the pen before using and store it flat to prevent the ink from drying out.

Sun Bum Revitalizing 3-in-1 Leave-In Hair Conditioner

I grew up with my mom spritzing Johnson’s No More Tangles into my hair after days at our town pool, which helped remove all the knots and snarls on my head. This summer, I’ve discovered a grown-up version of this product: a leave-in conditioner that not only eliminates tangles, but provides UV protection to safeguard my hair color and condition and soften my strands with coconut and sunflower seed oil. It also contains vitamin E and potassium-rich banana leaf, peel, flower and pulp extract to nourish and protect hair from harmful free radicals, along with a quinoa protein to strengthen.

LAFCO’s Chamomile Lavender Hand Sanitizer

Fact: I hate hand sanitizers and the way they make my skin feel (read: dehydrated!). That was until I discovered this new disinfectant from LAFCO, the luxe Italian company known for its candles and diffusers. The light gel formula has a smooth texture, almost like a hand soap, and is made of 70% plant derived ethyl alcohol and moisture retaining ingredients like glycerin, aloe vera and ginkgo biloba. There are two scents — one that features notes of grapefruit, ginger and raspberry, and the second (my favorite) which is made of lavender, chamomile and sage. Unlike most products in this category, the bottle looks beautiful in a bathroom or bedroom and, at 13 ounces, will last through many hand sanitizing sessions.

Jupiter Purifying Hair Mask

If you’re looking for something to remove salt, chlorine, sunscreen and excess styling product from your hair, this foaming mask will do the job. Designed to be used once-a-week, it’s made of a mineral-rich volcanic ash that lifts and removes buildup while hydrating your strands with argan oil. (It also contains biotin, a vitamin B7 that’s known to stimulate keratin production and help with hair growth.) The mint-scented foam squirts out of the bottle in the shape of a ribbon — simply apply to damp or dry hair and leave on for five minutes.

Type: A The Innovator Aluminum-Free Deodorant

An aluminum- and alcohol-free deodorant that’s activated by sweat and absorbs instantly? Yep! Made with charcoal (to draw out bacteria and toxins that cause odor) and spirulina (a blue-green algae that has anti-inflammatory properties), this deodorant comes in a squeeze applicator that has three slits on the top to dispense just the right amount of cream. It glides on clear so won’t stain your clothes and comes in two scents — Vanilla Almond Milk and Fresh Rain + Bergamot.

Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Butter

I’m often wary of self-tanners for all the obvious reasons, but this gradual self-tanner allows you to build color slowly. Its vegan blend is loaded with good-for-your-skin ingredients including hydrating coconut, eucalyptus, chia seed, peppermint oil and vitamin-rich avocado, all of which help prevent skin dryness. There’s also vitamin C-enriched grapefruit to brighten and even out your skin tone and soothing aloe vera to help reduce redness. It’s fast absorbing and non-sticky — expect your glow to appear in four to six hours.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Face Palette

Summer is all about ease and it can’t get any easier than this 3-in-1 face palette that features a bronzer, highlighter and blush. Start by sweeping the bronzer over your cheekbones for a sun-kissed look, then add the highlighter to the inner corners of your eyes and/or on your upper brow bone area. Finish by swiping the blush on the center of your cheeks and over the bridge of your nose. It comes in a portable slim case with a mirror that can be easily slipped into any small bag and in three shade palettes: Italian Summer (for fair tones), Off to Costa Rica (for medium tones) and Tropical Getaway (for darker tones).

Alba Botanic Ocean Surf Repair & Refresh Shampoo

Formulated with hair-repairing marine botanicals and tropical extracts such as kelp, algae and sea lettuce, this plant-based shampoo is a great find for anyone who deals with dry hair in the summer. It’s created with 100% vegan ingredients and doesn’t contain any synthetic fragrances, artificial colors, parabens, phthalates, sulfates or petrolatum to damage your hair. I love that the bottle is made with 100% recycled materials and that the scent is slightly fruity — refreshing, but not overpowering. Note: This shampoo's so high in demand, it's temporarily out of stock — so get on that waiting list ASAP!

BL+ The Serum

There are a lot of pricy serums in the market — and this is one of them. But hear me out. Ever since I incorporated this product into my skin care routine, I’ve had people tell me — repeatedly — how great and glowy my skin looks. Scientists at this Iceland-based company recognized the importance of maintaining a properly functioning skin barrier and created a product that stimulates collagen and protein synthesis and prevents the formation of an enzyme that breaks down collagen. Simply apply a few drops to your face and neck after cleansing. You’ll feel an immediate tightening effect and unlike many serums, it doesn’t leave behind any stickiness. It took about a week to notice a difference in my skin — my only regret is that I didn’t discover this product sooner.

Essie In The Cab-ana

Summer is the one time when I love wearing bright polish on my toes and this gorgeous turquoise shade checks all the boxes. It gives off a happy summer vibe — but it’s not too lively that you can’t wear it to work. Its blue/green base matches pretty much any color in my wardrobe, so I don’t find myself switching shades with summer outfits. It’s not a new color from Essie — but I’ve newly discovered that it's a great color that draws compliments anytime it’s on my toes (which, so far, has been pretty much all summer!).

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