Whoever coined the phrase "It's not the heat, it's the humidity," obviously never visited Canada in July. The two elements are mutually inclusive, often colluding to wreak havoc on hair and reducing meticulous makeup jobs to little more than imperceptible eye smudge. But it seems unjust to lament the heat (and, yes, the humidity, too) after suffering through so many months of subzero temperatures and chapped lips/cheeks. With the right products, a strategic beauty plan and a few expert tips, there's no excuse for falling victim to summer's steam. Here's how to play it cool.
Striking the right makeup balance can be a challenge in the summer, when sweaty skin can prove an inhospitable surface for pressed powders and heavy foundations. Diana Carreiro, makeup artist and hair stylist with P1M agency in Toronto, suggests swapping creams for lotions and using a tinted moisturizer with an SPF. For touch-ups, she says, use blotting papers and sweep a mineral sunscreen powder across the face to amp up protection.
Brights are a bona fide makeup trend this season, but a heavy-handed application of product can spell disaster in the heat. Carreiro's solution is to lightly sweep a citrus hue of orange, green or yellow across the lid from the lash line to the crease, leaving the brow bone bare. "A little waterproof liner and mascara will complete the look and stop it from smudging," she says. "But keep the rest of the face neutral." Conversely, a bright lipstick/gloss paired with a neutral eye also looks modern.
Of course, in summer's steamiest months, even the most fastidious woman can be persuaded to throw her makeup efforts out the window in favour of a splash of cool water. Carreiro offers a classic tip that's worked wonders for European women and Southern belles for centuries: "Mist some thermal spa water on your face followed by a bit of fanning."
As wooly layers are shed in favour of shorts and tanks, the idea of baring sun-deprived skin - and thighs pampered with months of comfort food - can be daunting. Although it's never too late to hit the gym, a firming body lotion or cellulite cream can offer a quick, if short-lived, fix.
"Ingredients like green tea and caffeine can reduce the appearance of cellulite for a short time," says Michael Gold, medical director and owner of Gold Skin Care Centre in Nashville, Tenn. "But they will stop working as soon as you stop using them."
Self-tanner can provide a much-needed shot in the arm (or thigh), as bronzed skin automatically appears more toned. Application snafus, however, can be a drag. Carreiro suggests a body illuminator, which gives a hint of colour and contains light-reflecting properties to give skin a natural-looking radiance. Plus it comes off with soap and water, so mistakes can be corrected easily. Apply a thin layer to body parts that will remain exposed after dressing - arms, legs, décolletage - and let dry. Most formulas are fast-drying and non-transferable.
Brandishing a bronzed bod is one thing, but burning it is quite another. In June, the FDA announced new heavy-hitting regulations on sunscreens enforcing broad-spectrum protection and restricting the use of terms like "waterproof" and "sweat-proof," which have been declared misleading. By summer 2012, all sunscreens will have to be formulated to protect against damaging UVA rays, which are responsible for premature aging and skin cancer, in addition to the burn-causing UVBs that they currently target. And a proposed rule is in the works to limit maximum SPF values at 50.
"There is very little difference on the UVB side between an SPF 30 and an SPF 100," Gold says, estimating the added coverage at about 1 per cent.
He advocates a daily SPF of at least 30 and reapplication every few hours, especially when in the sun. Look for broad-spectrum ingredients like avobenzone and helioplex or, in the case of natural sunscreens, zinc or titanium dioxide.
And to women who complain that reapplication of sunscreen will mess up their makeup, Gold replies wryly: "In 20 years, I'll still be in business. I'll see you then."
Your body isn't the only thing that requires ample hydration in the heat. "Hair acts the same way as a sponge," says Charles Baker Strahan, Los Angeles-based Herbal Essences celebrity stylist. "Just as a dry sponge will soak something up and retain it, so will hair." To prevent damage from salt water or chlorine, he suggests wetting hair either in the shower or with a spray bottle before taking the plunge.
Hair has what Strahan calls "natural intelligence" and requires an optimal situation for it to react the way it's meant to. A moisturizing shampoo and conditioner will ensure hair is sufficiently hydrated to prevent frizz and will also prepare it to fully absorb any subsequent styling products.
Although there's no harm in stashing a spray-on product with a UV filter in your beach bag to prevent colour fade, Strahan is reluctant to encourage people to get too sunscreen-happy, pointing to the natural beauty the sun can coax out of your hair. "We evolve with the seasons by changing our clothes, so why not do it with our hair," he asks. "Prepare for the effects of the sun by getting some face-framing highlights at the beginning of the summer, which will create a pleasing tonal quality as your skin gets tanned and your hair lightens up."
It's all part of the "just go with it" attitude Strahan espouses when it comes to hair. "Don't beat [it]into submission," he says. "Be mindful of what you're doing to it. If your hair wants to curl in the heat, let it curl."
Special to The Globe and Mail
Mary Kay Lightweight Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20, $25 through www.marykay.ca.
Make Up For Ever Iridescent Shadow in Acid Green, $22 at Sephora
CoverGirl NatureLuxe Gloss Balm in Anemone, $9.99 at drug stores.
Aveeno Positively Ageless Sunscreen Lotion with SPF 60, $19.99 at drug stores.
NARS Body Illuminator in Laguna, $52 at the Bay, Holt Renfrew, Sephora and Murale.
Herbal Essences Hydralicious Reconditioning Shampoo and Conditioner, $5.99 each at drug stores.
TRESemmé Climate Control Mousse, $4.99 at drug stores.
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