Sunday, 24 March 2013

Cosmetics Contemplations: Summertime, and the living ain't easy

As the days get lighter and the nights get shorter, we're reminded that summer is almost upon us. Not that you'd know it from the snow/wind/rain/general coldness we've been having, but I know deep down that before I can say "school's out for summer" the IGCSE and IB exams will be underway and I'll be trying to teach and control my sweat patches at the same time, while simultaneously wondering just how to stop my makeup sliding off my face and my students skipping school.

The truth is that I really don't like summer, which is basically like saying you don't like dolphins or Crunchies or teddy bears (thanks, Marian Keyes, for that analogy). I prefer winter fashions and winter food. I don't like being hot, or being woken up by birdsong at 5.00 in the morning when I know my alarm is not due to go off for another hour and a half. And, as mentioned, summer brings its own specific set of beauty bugbears, such as the ongoing attempt to keep excess body hair at bay. 

So since being a hermit for the summer months is not an option, how can we limit feeling and looking like hot sticky messes, knowing that we'll never look like those girls in catalogues who frolic flawlessly on beautiful beaches while sporting the latest fashions? Here's a few of my tips now, so that you can start investing before it gets too hot:

  1. Get yourself a decent deodorant. Mitchum, plus those 48-hour ones, are generally reliable. Hit the pound shops for savings, or wait until other retailers have their own deals on.
  2. Go for sleeveless tops. This will help to keep sweat patches to a minimum. If you must cover up later (to protect you from the sun, or to keep warm in the evening), go for a shawl, or for a shirt made from a sheer fabric so that sweat patches will be less visible or avoided completely.
  3. Go for long-lasting makeup so that you can go all day without touching up, whether you're at a pool party, the beach, or work (ew). Especially recommended are 17 Tattoo Me liquid eyeliner, Benefit's Stay Don't Stray primer, and Clinique's BB cream.
  4. Set with bronzer. Helps with making your makeup last longer, and can be used all over your body to give a sun-kissed glow from day one. I like Agnes B's offerings, but other more experienced bronzer aficionados will undoubtedly be able to offer more suggestions that are more readily available.
  5. Buff your body. Exfoliators will get rid of impurities, such as sweat, that may be sitting on the top layer of the skin just waiting to clog pores. Plus, it creates a smoother base for makeup and body lotions, prevents ingrown hairs, and makes waxing less painful. Those by Purity Organic and Lush are good value.
  6. Moisturise. This not only (like exfoliating) helps to create a smoother surface for makeup to cling to and improves conditions for waxing, but also helps prevent sun damage - especially if you choose a moisturiser containing a sun protection factor. Try products by Neutrogena and Oxy for face, and products by Jergens and Astral for body.
  7. Avoid heat styling. Hairdryers and straighteners are bad enough for your hair as it is, but the sun, sea and chlorine in the summer could make your hair even worse. So lay off the heat styling tools, and either towel dry your hair or leave it to dry naturally after washing. If you really can't resist, make sure you use heat defense sprays to offset some of the damage.
  8. Go to the salon for a wax. While shaving is cheap and painless, and bleach can hide darker hair growth, these methods require repeated use, sometimes daily. Even though waxing means you might have to grit your teeth, it's worth it to know that you'll get through your beach holiday without the fuzz creeping up on you before you've had time to blink.
  9. Get down to the gym, or out to your local park for a run, or to your nearest pool for a swim. There's a chance you'll look better by the summer if you do (at best) - and at worst, you'll feel better and will have used your time productively.
  10. Protect your eyes. Use sunglasses, even if you're just on your way to work. You only get one set of eyes and squinting is never a good look. If you wear glasses regularly anyway, and like me you can't stand contacts, invest in a prescription pair.
  11. Get a pedicure - feet are the hardest body parts to keep looking lovely. They're also better value than a manicure, as we do less with our feet and so the polish tends to stay on the nails longer. Better yet, to save cash, have a friend or family member do yours, and then return the favour!
  12. Use sunscreen - sunburn is not a good look and skin cancer won't be either in years to come. My faves are lotions by Piz Buin and Vichy; shop online for the best deals.

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