Never let ’em see you sweat. And never let ’em see you burn.
In summer, your face faces two challenges: looking shine-free and polished in the heat and getting protection from the sun.
Terrific new and cult-favorite products can keep you beautiful—and safe—until Labor Day and beyond. We consulted dermatologists and beauty experts and tested hundreds of cleansers, exfoliators, serums, moisturizers, masks, sunscreens, self-tanners, and makeup—so you don’t have to.
Here our top tips and picks.
Five Great Cleansers
Summer’s humidity makes complexions grimier than at any other time of year. Start by washing your face with lukewarm water twice a day with a mild but thorough cleanser such as Philosophy Purity Made Simple High-Foaming Daily Cleanser ($21.50 to $34.50 at Nordstrom); it’s light and smells, as the name implies, pure. Prefer a bar? We loved Cor Silver Soap ($14 to $125 at corsilver.com), which is mild and lathers nicely.
Sunny Walia, assistant professor of dermatology at George Washington University, recommends Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser ($8 to $11.50 at drugstores) and Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash (about $6.50 at drugstores) for drier skin; she uses Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser (about $7.50 at drugstores) for her own oily skin. “Olay and Neutrogena have nice ones, too,” she says.
Seven Excellent Exfoliators
Dermatologists recommend exfoliation, particularly in summer when oil production and skin-cell turnover is greater.
There are two ways to exfoliate: mechanically, with a grainy scrub you massage on and rinse off, and chemically, with microdermabrasion or a chemical peel. The goal is to rejuvenate skin, improve its texture, and prep it to take in moisturizers, self-tanners, and other products better. Remember to treat your neck and upper chest—and hands.
“People forget about their hands all the time,” says DC dermatologist Tina Alster.
Alster uses Gerber baby washcloths, available at Wal-Mart and Kmart ($4 for 12), and a Clarisonic skin-care brush ($195 at Nordstrom) to exfoliate. “They’re both great,” she says. “The Clarisonic comes with body brush attachments, too.”
Bethesda dermatologist David Green, a big exfoliation fan, uses Buf-Puf facial sponges (around $5 at drugstores). “Do they provide long-term improvement like chemical peels do?” he says. “Yes.”
We tested and loved the gel-like Boscia Smoothing Facial Polish ($25 at Sephora); Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser, which does double duty ($35 at Nordstrom); and Clinique Pore Minimizer Thermal-Active Skin Refiner ($28.50 at Macy’s), which opens and then shrinks pores.
For lips—they need gentle exfoliation, too—we liked Philosophy Kiss Me Exfoliating Lip Scrub ($15 at Nordstrom).
How often should you exfoliate?
“You can overdo it,” says Walia. “I’m very oily, so I do it three times a week. If you’re very dry, I recommend once a week using my homemade remedy: cornmeal and honey.”