So you’ve been working hard in the gym to get your arms, legs and abs ready for swimsuit season—but is your skin summer-ready? The good news is that achieving a beach-ready complexion isn’t as hard as you think. All it takes are a few skin care products—and some clever tricks—to achieve the skin of your dreams this summer.
STEP 1: Exfoliate
Exfoliating dull winter skin is key to achieving an enviable summer glow. There are a couple of routes to take here, depending on your preference and skin type.
If you’re a fan of physical exfoliants or scrubs, one of my favorites for the body is CARITA Preparing Contour Scrub. This product features caffeine and hydrating oils that buff even the most ashen elbows to a shine. Another favorite of mine is Kai Body Polish. Nothing beats the gardenia-inspired sugar-and-salt combo.
If, like me, you prefer acid-based exfoliants, there are a lot to choose from: glycolic acid for almost all skin types; salicylic acid for acne-prone skin; trichloroacetic acid for anti-aging; azeleic acid for rosacea-prone and hyperpigmented skin; and lactic acid or malic acid for sensitive skin types. Keep in mind that the goal of exfoliation is to cleanse and soften the skin, not to irritate, so if you are on the sensitive side I recommend a gentle scrub like Avène Akerat Smoothing Exfoliating Cream. This is especially helpful for evening out dry, blotchy skin.
STEP 2: Hydrate
Once you’ve properly exfoliated, slather on your favorite go-to body moisturizer. This is important if your skin is on the dry side and needs an extra boost of hydration, but I personally get the best results by applying self-tanner immediately. If you do want to hydrate first, give your moisturizer ample time to absorb (watching an episode of your favorite show should do it).
STEP 3: Bronze
One of the first tricks of the trade I learned was the value of a subtle bronze glow. The effect creates a youthful, slimming look that works on virtually any skin tone. If you’re new to self-tanning, you have a few options, such as gels and lotions. But if you want a streak-free application, I recommend using a light mousse.
Makeup Expert Tip: Did you know you can use your bronzer as an eye shadow? Keep the eye color light, and don’t forget to accent your décolletage. Another trick of the trade? Take your favorite loose bronzer or highlighter and mix it with baby oil gel. Apply this concoction to your body to get a gorgeous glow!
STEP 4: Maintain Your Summer Glow
To avoid washing off your tan, keep showers brief and not too hot. After your bath, let your skin air-dry or gently pat it with a towel. Then apply a tan-extending moisturizer like Tahitian Tan Extender by South Seas. If you plan to go for a swim, be sure to apply a water-resistant lotion with SPF.
After a week, exfoliate your skin to give it a fresh go. If left for too long, your tan can look splotchy—like you forgot to bathe.
READERS—What’s your secret to healthy, glowing summer skin? Share it with us in the comments section below.