Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The best beauty stuff for summer

Don't worry, I'm not going to write about that whole 'preparing your beach body' thing – I hate those smug beauty articles that assume you're off to the Caribbean for a holiday rather than some chilly Irish beach, and go on about all the detoxing/toning/Gwyneth-style pilates you should have been doing for the last year, and the coral lipstick you have to slick on to visit the beach bar. But there are a few products around at the moment that are genuinely good for summer and are worth trying out, whether at home or abroad. Here's a round-up of the best ones I've tested:

The only essential (not just in the summer, but every day) is to wear an SPF cream on your face. Clinique’s City Block Sheer comes in both SPF 25 or 40. The 25 looks tinted but smooths on without any colour or scent and at £15 it’s the best protector I’ve tried; it's very light rather than leaving a thick or shiny layer.

For skin dried out by swimming/sun/or simply the ravages of age, Elemis’ new Skin Nourishing Shower Cream (£22) definitely helps (and they’re doing a deal at the moment where you can get the shower cream plus Nourishing Hand and Body Lotion for £35; see timetospa.com). The shower cream is luscious, creamy enough to really moisturise your skin, and has a light, clean scent. They also do a neat travel set for 15 quid containing mini versions of their best products, including the hugely popular Pro-Collagen Marine Cream, said to work wonders on wrinkles. I really rate their products, even the Body Refining anti-cellulite serum and firming cream, which I tested out for a beauty article when it launched a few years ago. Though I approached it with huge cynicism, it's actually really good... as good as it gets, in fact, without actually having to thunder along a treadmill.

Best of all for summer skin though is the humble wooden body brush – both Elemis and E’SPA do good ones, for around £17; brush morning and evening towards the heart and get the circulation pumping to make your skin look firmer and brighter.

While we’re being this shallow, here are some other fine summer beauty products: Palmer’s Body Butter, one of the best and cheapest moisturisers around (available in most supermarkets), now has added SPF15. For knackered summer hair, dried out in chlorine or the sun and sea, try Aveda’s Hair Detoxifier (not cheap, but lasts a long time). Frederic Fekkai’s range is also effective but wildly expensive, so the cut-price alternative is the James Brown London range at Boots: the Intensive Mask for hair is around seven pounds and goes a long way to rescuing ruined locks and his Scandalous Intensely Glossy Rescue Treatment is a good bet at £8.

For summer scents, it’s hard to beat the fresh, unisex scent of Acqua di Parma, or the fruity and intriguing Le Figuer by Diptyque. I’m still obsessed with Chanel No.5 Eau Premiere, the younger, lighter little sister of Chanel No.5, the mother of all perfumes. Especially now it’s available in a neat handbag size that’s perfect for getting through the airport (40ml spray from £52). It's still unmistakeably No.5, but more wearable, less overpowering for hot days.

The most super-frivolous summer product has to be Huile Prodigeuse Or Amazing Dry Gold Oil by Nuxe, £36, to give skin, hair and body for a light and lustrous golden sheen. The By Terry products stocked in SpaceNK are equally decadent. We’re talking top-end topicals here, and ones that really work; Terry de Gunzberg is the make-up genius behind YSL Touche Eclat concealer, one of the best-selling cult beauty products ever. The rose-scented moisturisers and serums smell amazing and just melt into parched skin.


  1. Sarah - just this moment discovered your blog after you visited mine. Am in a fever of delight, since I too loathe the idea of the Must-Have, adore Aqua di Parma and Nuxe dry oil and the Diptyque fig, and hate those stupid articles about how to get your perfect beach body. Also, I spent many of my formative years on a chilly Irish beach. Dog's Bay in Connemara was my favourite.

    How lovely to have discovered this great blog.

  2. Some great advice here - definitely some products I will be looking for on my next shopping trip. And yes, good for you for not assuming my next holiday is a month in the Caribbean....that did make me smile :)