SPECIAL OFFER: - Limited Time Only!
(The ad below will not display on your printed page)
Summerize it! Swapping turtlenecks for plunging necklines can be nerve-racking. Sagging skin, sunspots, and lines and wrinkles plague more than just your face, especially since you're probably not moisturizing and protecting this delicate area as often as you should. And that's a major no-no, as the skin on the neck and chest is only half as thick as the skin on your face and has less underlying fat and fewer sebaceous glands. This means the skin burns quickly -- and heals slowly.
But don't throw in the towel just yet. By covering your entire neck and chest with a broad-spectrum sunscreen (to combat both UVA and UVB rays), you're allowing your skin to focus on repairing itself. Sun exposure slows the process of cell turnover (the skin's natural function of healing itself by bringing new cells to the surface), so protection is essential, as are skin treatments with ingredients that can reverse sun damage and stimulate collagen growth, including antioxidants and alpha-hydroxy acids. Before long, you'll feel better about V-neck blouses and pretty T-shirts.
Summerize it! We wish this weren't true, but unsightly bumps and breakouts aren't limited to the skin on your face. Let's start with those little hard bumps on the backs of your arms. This common condition, called keratosis pilarsis, is caused by hair follicles that haven't exfoliated normally; the skin cells then pile up and form little bumps. According to David E. Bank, MD, dermatologist and founder and director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, in Mount Kisco, New York, those with keratosis pilarsis tend to have sensitive or eczema-prone skin, so harsh acne treatments only exacerbate the problem. The key, Dr. Bank says, is finding the right balance between gentle and aggressive exfoliation. If your skin is too sensitive to tolerate a chemical exfoliator, such as a body wash with salicylic acid, then mechanical exfoliation, such as a loofah or grainy scrub, applied with a moderate amount of pressure is a better option.
Similarly, if you're experiencing mild "backne," or breakouts on the back, "consider looking 6 inches higher for the source of the problem," advises Dr. Bank. Often particles from hairstyling products migrate to the back and neck, joining forces with extra sweat and leading to clogged pores. Body washes with salicylic acid do wonders at decongesting these pores, as does cutting back on the number of styling products you use.
Summerize it! Whether you're in shorts, a bathing suit, or a skirt, smooth and silky legs are a hot-weather must. With so many hair-removal options out there, how do you choose the best method for you? Consider for how long you want your legs to stay smooth, suggests Cindy Barshop, owner of Completely Bare Spa, in New York City. Shaving offers the most immediate results, especially with the newest razors, which feature shaving gel or cream built around the razor -- but regrowth is also the quickest. Depilatories, which use a chemical ingredient to dissolve hair both above and just below the skin's surface, usually take three to five minutes to work (coarse hair may take longer), and the regrowth time is about twice as long as shaving. Waxing gives you the longest period between regrowth and the smoothest results for coarse hair, but the ouch factor can be significant. To minimize pain and ingrown hairs, Barshop says to "make sure you have at least a half-inch of hair to remove, apply the wax in the direction of growth and pull it up in the opposite direction, keeping the wax as close to skin as possible as you pull."
Summerize it! A little extra color will not only make you feel summer ready but it will make you look slimmer, too. Just get your glow the smart way -- skip the sun baking and grab a bottle of self-tanner. "No one will be able to tell the difference with the right prep work and application," insists Barshop. Apply the self-tanner on one section of the body at a time, smoothing along your skin in an up-and-down motion. You'll need a partner to make sure it's applied to your back evenly. Save the knees and elbows for last and dilute the tanner with a little body lotion since these parts are naturally darker than the rest of your skin. Want to speed up the process? Wear rubber gloves so you don't have to stop to wash your hands between sections (otherwise you'll stain your palms). "And you can use your blow-dryer on the cool setting to dry faster," notes Barshop.Never Let 'em See You Sweat
Want to make your antiperspirant work harder now that it's sizzling hot outside? "Apply it at bedtime," says Dr. Bank. The reason, quite simply, is that too much sweat dissolves the active ingredient (aluminum salt) and since we sweat more in the morning, it makes sense to apply it right before you turn in for the night. If you shower in the morning, just make sure not to use soap on your underarms; otherwise you'll wash the product away. For severe, uncontrollable sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis, see a doctor for stronger formulas. New to try: Soft & Dri Conditioning Silk Anti-Perspirant Deodorant, $2.49, contains aloe vera and silk powder to heal and soothe irritated skin. Secret Clinical Strength Anti-Perspirant/ Deodorant, $9.99, is applied at night and has timed-release odor-fighting capsules. Mitchum for Women Clear Gel Sensitive Skin Fragrance Free, $3.63, has the highest amount of active sweat-busting ingredients yet doesn't irritate skin; Vitamin E and aloe help to moisturize.
Summerize it! Got cellulite? Join the club. This lumpy, bumpy fat, trapped in the dermal layer (near the surface of the skin), plagues 80 to 90 percent of adult women. Since cellulite can get progressively worse, eating a diet rich in antioxidants will help prevent the deterioration of cells and connective tissue and keep skin healthy. Similarly, creams and lotions packed with antioxidants and moisturizing ingredients will hydrate and even temporarily plump the skin for improved texture and smoothness. You can also give yourself a lymphatic massage, a technique that stimulates the lymphatic system (which is responsible for removing toxins from the body) and can also help improve circulation and drain water retention in these trouble zones, says Anka Bulai, massage therapist at Exhale Spa, in New York City. Bulai recommends that you apply your treatment cream using a succession of light, stroking motions (also called "effleurage" massage) up and down the area or try gently pinching the skin in circular motions to increase circulation. Another idea? Camouflage the cottage-cheese effect with a skin-slimming application of self-tanner.
Before you slide your tootsies into those strappy summer sandals, a little post-winter foot care is in order. Don't think you can get away with slapping on a few coats of polish. "You just can't put polish on dry, cracked feet," says Sava Spa owner Joanna Czech, who has worked on Uma Thurman's lower 10. Here, Czech's perfect pedicure routine: 1. Exfoliate dry, calloused spots with a buffing tool (one with a handle is easiest to use). 2. Soak feet for 10 minutes in warm water with a few drops of essential oils, such as peppermint or eucalyptus, which are both invigorating and antiseptic, to soften the skin. (Czech also adds a handful of ground sage to help control sweating during the summer.) 3. Once the feet are softened, a second buffing will soften the skin further. "Your feet will look sexier when they're shiny and smooth," notes Czech. Afterward, apply a quick-absorbing lotion to your skin, including the heels and ankles. 4. Now you're ready to tackle the toenails. Trim them with clippers, file away rough edges with a cardboard emery board and use a white block to buff the toenails. "Buffing them makes polish adhere better and last longer," says Czech. 5. Apply oil to hydrate the nails and push the cuticles back. Use an astringent (Czech likes Sea Breeze) on a cotton swab to remove any oil from the nail, then apply polish. Anything goes during summer, so try a bright shade or keep it simple with your favorite neutral.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, June 2007.