Get Your Skin Ready for Summer
by Erica Metzger
Before you bare your arms and legs, follow our expert tips to get them smooth, glowing, and fuzz-free.
So the weather’s warming up, you’ve put away your sweaters and pulled out your shorts — and it’s time to pay some serious attention to your skin. Even if you don’t plan to strut around in a bikini, you still want your arms, shoulders, back, and legs to look soft and sun-kissed. Luckily, it only takes a little extra TLC to get your skin into shape.
Problem: Breakouts on Your Chest and Back
Why it happens: When your clothing traps sweat and oil — because you were working out or bundled up in layers — it can mix with dead skin and bacteria in your pores to form pimples.
The fix: Use a body wash with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to kill bacteria and unclog pores. Dermatologist Jeannette Graf, MD, suggests applying an alphahydroxy peel three nights a week. “The acids help get rid of any lingering redness once the pimples are gone.”
Problem: Dull, Scaly Skin All Over Your Body
Why it happens: If you neglected to moisturize and exfoliate regularly over the course of the cold, dry winter, you may find yourself with parched, lackluster skin come spring, Dr. Graf points out.
The fix: Two or three times a week, use a sugar scrub to gently exfoliate. Lightly towel dry, then apply a moisturizing lotion or cream, which will penetrate your skin better after you’ve sloughed off that flaky, dead layer.
Problem: Rough Feet and Cracked Heels
Why it happens: A season of stomping around in boots and skimping on pedicures can leave your soles with dry, dead layers of skin that not only look bad but can be quite painful.
The fix: In the morning apply a lightweight foot lotion to soften the skin. At night soak feet in Epsom salts for 10 minutes. Then rub them with a grainy scrub, slather with a thick cream, and cover with socks.
Problem: Rough Red Bumps on Your Arms or Thighs
Why it happens: Keratosis pilaris, also known as chicken skin, is an inherited condition in which dead cells and excess keratin (the hard protein found in hair, skin and nails) build up around follicles, clogging pores.
The fix: Use washes and lotions that contain glycolic or lactic acids in order to exfoliate dead cells and help skin absorb moisture.
Hair Removal: Legs
Why it matters: Because the skin on your legs doesn’t produce much oil, adding moisture is key to avoid irritation.
Best de-fuzzing options: For shaving, let the hair soften in a steamy shower for at least three minutes. Then use a hydrating shave cream or gel — not soap, which dries out your skin — says Diane Wood, masterbarber for King of Shaves skincare. You can also try depilatories, or creams and foams that chemically dissolve the hair help minimize stubble and give you results that last a few days longer than shaving. Always moisturize your legs afterward.
Hair Removal: Bikini Line
Why it matters: The coarse hair in the bikini area is prone to ingrowns. Sensitive nerve endings intensify the ouch factor.
Best de-fuzzing options: Removing hair from the root through waxing only hurts for a second and you won’t have to deal with regrowth for a month. For best results, make sure your hair is about one-quarter inch long. Shaving regularly, along with using an exfoliating post-shave lotion or gel, will keep the hair from curling back into the skin’s surface. Depilatories are an option here too. Avoid nicks and cuts in this sensitive spot by using a depilatory cream or gel. The results last twice as long as shaving, plus the regrowth is softer, which helps prevent in growns.
Hair Removal: Underarms
Why it matters: Your underarm hair grows twice as fast as your leg hair, so you’re constantly dealing with stubble, says dermatologist Robin Ashinoff, MD. Also, the delicate skin is easily irritated.
Best de-fuzzing options: Make sure you use a fresh razor every two weeks. Using a dull blade forces you to apply more pressure than if you were using a new one and can lead to nicks. Gently exfoliate under your arms first (deodorant residue can clog your pores) and be sure to use shaving cream.
A safe, bronzed glow is easier than ever thanks to the latest multitasking self-tanner formulas.
For your face: Jergens Natural Glow Healthy Complexion Daily Facial Moisturizer is a moisturizer, gradual tanner, andsunscreen (with SPF 20 broad-spectrum protection) in one.
For your body: Nivea Sun-Kissed Radiance offers a hint of color and also minimizes hair growth.
For instant color: L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Luminous Bronzer Self-Tanning Lotion instantly gives your skin a warm, pearlescent tint, which slowly develops into a deeper golden shade.