Summer Skincare on the Cheap

Not to brag, but I have pretty great skin. Genetics have been good to me that way: good skin, crazy family, so I guess it balances out. Because of my perfect pores, I often have friends, and sometimes complete strangers, asking me what my secret is. Truthfully, there is no real “secret” to good skin. Some people will always have unfortunate luck and wear their health problems on their peau, whereas in some of us the maladies are buried deep within our souls, or livers, but you know what I mean.

ANYWAYS. Summer is upon us, and as a white girl with Anglo-Scottish ancestry (among others), I feel it is my duty to share some sun safe tips while keeping (or gaining) a flawless complexion.

1. Diet
DRINK WATER. There, that was easy. This is honestly the only advice one can give with regards to clear skin. Alcohol and sugar are the enemies. Acne stemming from diet won’t always crop up the next day (depends on your metabolism) but it will crop up. Trust. Herbal teas are also your friend. COST: Free! Heck, if you switch almost exclusively to water, this could wind up SAVING you money. 2. Exercise
Sweat is excellent for your skin. On top of increased blood flow helping cell turnover and giving you an excellent flush, sweat flushes toxins out of your pores. If you have the time but not the energy to workout, this is where saunas come in. Just be sure to clean yourself up AFTER. Sweat coming out of pores = good, sweat staying on top of skin and clogging pores = bad.
COST: Potentially free, since all you really need is a pair of running shoes, or a really hot day. 3. Cleanser
Everyone’s skin is different and has different needs, blah blah blah. Some generic tips I have for the summer are get a gel cleanser with the words “refreshing,” “tingling,” or straight-up “minty” on the bottle. It leaves your skin feeling super-cool, which is nice on a hot day. Still use hot water to cleanse, though, as it will open up your pores.
COST: Drugstore cleansers are essentially the same as department store. Please, for love of all that is good, don’t spend over $8. MY fav is Neutrogena. 4. Exfoliate
Add baking soda to that gel cleanser that you just bought, just enough to gently scrub away the top layer of skin. Do this at night, about once a week, because if you go outside right after in the sun, you’re more prone to burning with the new, fresh layer of skin.
COST: Baking soda is usually, like, $2-3 at the grocery store, but chances are you have some laying around your house. You only need a teaspoon each time you do this. 5. Toner
Let’s not get into the toner debate about whether or not it is necessary or effective or whatever. If you like it, use it. Toner is great in the summer because of the refreshing feeling it leaves you with. If you have dry skin, avoid alcohol. For extra cooling action, leave it in the fridge. And you know that sweat session you had earlier? Rinse your face, and then use just toner: easier, and easier on the skin, especially in a spritz bottle. COST: Again, drugstores make some good stuff in this department, but I swear by Clinique, $27.

6. Moisturizer
DO NOT SKIMP HERE (SMACK). This is probably the only place you should splurge on your skin care regime (aside from fancy serums or masks or stuff, if you need them or are into that, whatever. We’ll leave that chat for another day). If you have oily skin, get something thinner. If you have dry skin, something thicker. It is perfectly acceptable to have more than one moisturizer depending on how your skin feels on a day-to-day basis. Some general pointers I have, besides do not skimp, are

  • get samples first (department stores and Sephora are great about this),
  • get it without “acne-fighting” ingredients like acid because they make you more prone to burning in the summer
  • get it without SPF so it is more versatile (we’ll get to SPF later)
  • get it without dyes and scents because chances are these will irritate and clog pores

COST: Take the money you save from drinking water and put it towards this. I use Clinique Moisture Surge, $59. Preach.

7. SPF
WEAR SUNBLOCK. REGARDLESS OF SKIN COLOUR, TEXTURE, ANCESTRY, PREFERENCE. WEAR SUNBLOCK. 50-year-old you will thank current-year-old you. Some pointers I have for sunblock include

  • looking for non-comedogenic ingredients
  • looking for physical/mineral sunblock instead of chemical (ie, zinc instead of anything ending with a “benzone”)

The only thing with physical sunblocks versus chemical suncreens is that you have to reapply more often, since they aren’t absorbed into your skin like the chemical ones. This is also why they are better (and less acne-causing) for your skin.
COST: Probably higher than the $10 ones you get at the drugstore. I use this one from Sephora which is $30. But, hey, haven’t had a sunburn in years.

8. Body
These rules also apply to your body, to a certain extent. In the summer, more of your skin is visible (helllooo, stomach! Long time no see) so it needs to be more presentable than it probably was in the winter. As much as tanning is not very good for you, being transclucent/glow-in-the-dark is not always desirable. Neither is bacne, dry elbows and knees, and stretch marks. Your toolkit should include:

  • Temporary sunless body bronzer (since the other ones are LITERAL DYES AND CHEMICALS AND GOOD GOD DON’T.) I like this one for when I need to pretend I’m hawt.
  • Body scrub, because dry skin is gross, trust me. If you’re uber-cheap, you can make your own with a little sugar or coarse salt, some form of oil, and a scent.
  • Body butter for your elbows, knees, feet, and stretch marks, because DRY SKIN IS GROSS. And body butter helps stretch marks (shrug). I love the Body Shop ones.
  • Acne body wash to get all the goopey sunblock, sweat, bronzer, and dirt off your bod after a long day of being fab/working in historical costume, if you’re me. Drugstore this, man.

COST: Variable, but don’t spend more $20 on this stuff. I mean, just get enough for the summer, dude.

I love summer, who doesn’t? With these tips, your skin will love it, too. Now go make some heads turn or whatever your deal is.

SPF'ed up and ready to go.

SPF’ed up and ready to go.

Questions? Leave ’em in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer! Expect more summer themed posts coming soon!

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