Sexy Summer Skin: Keep It Cool, Keep It Fresh

by Mark Thompson

EDGE Style & Travel Editor

Sunday July 25, 2010

Look, we're in the heat of it - the thick of summer - and it's time to pay attention to what's happening to your skin. According to the experts, the month of June 2010 was the hottest June ever recorded on Earth - and the month of July has been more like the dog days of August.

Take a look at some of the dehydrated trees along your block; if you don't start paying attention now - that's right; we're talking to you - your skin is going to look every bit as baked as the desiccated leaves on that gingko.

As everyone knows by now, sun is the death knell for skin's elasticity - and hydration is imperative for those baby-smooth cheeks and that ethereal glow (either that or the knife, about which we have a visceral aversion...).

Furthermore, by now you've learned that your skin is your largest organ. That's right: the largest organ of a mammal is its skin. (What? You thought otherwise?) So it behooves you to give your skin the same attention you would give

Fortunately, there's hope - in bottles and tubes, in jars of elixir so soothing and delicious, you might be tempted to lick your own skin. (Go on, admit it; it wouldn't be the first time...)

Here's our latest round up of seasonal grooming products to give your skin the same radiance of a summer afternoon.


Bambola Beauty / Volcanic Mineral Scrub

If you're an urban animal, your skin needs deep cleansing. Think not? Try this little exercise. After a hard day's night in the city, take a clean, white washcloth, dampen slightly - and wipe across your face. Ewww, right?

Better yet, try Bambola Beauty's Volcanic Mineral Scrub, which deep cleanses without stripping the skin of essential oils. This mildly foaming scrub goes on like ash on Ash Wednesday, but it's loaded with pineapple enzymes to remove dead skin cells, as well as anti-oxidant rich green tea and deeply-moisturizing kukui nut-and best of all, organic shea butter which restores the skin's resiliency.

Feel better? Thought so.

PRICE: $42.00 / 1.7 oz.

The Real Shaving Co. / Self-Heating Hot Towel Mask / Super Slide Shave Gel

At some point during their 19th-century global dominance, the British perfected the act of shaving, turning it into an art. The Real Shaving Company, in business since 1953, has been providing barbers with professional formulae that are packed with natural, organic ingredients.

This cheeky British company counsels its clients to flip the daily grind of shaving on its head and, instead, take a more indulgent spa approach to those morning ablutions.

A recent winner in the Men's Health Grooming Awards, the Real Shaving Company's Self-Heating Hot Towel Mask is a mineral clay mask that warms and softens even the most bristly grizzly bear beard with a perfect panda bear breakfast of lemongrass, tea tree leaf, vitamin E, and zinc oxide.

Follow that step with another Men's Health Grooming Awards winner: the Super Slide Shave Gel, which is a lather-free clear gel loaded with natural almond oil, aloe vera, and vitamin E, and you'll see a shave as smooth as...Sweeney Todd.

Best part of all? These are products that don't break the bank. Affordable indulgence - at Duane Reade, at that. Go on, your face is worth it.

PRICE: $5.99 / 3.3 oz. (Hot Towel Mask) $5.99 / 4.2 oz/ (Shave Gel)

St. James of London / Mandarin & Patchouli Post Shave Gel

Remember the first time you walked Jermyn Street in London? All those haberdashers and apothecaries and arcades looking like a Victorian set from a Hollywood set of an Oscar Wilde play. In fact, you wouldn't have been at all surprised to see Bosie and Oscar sauntering out of Geo. Trumper - or St. James of London, were there a brick-and-mortar version of this offshoot of the Real Shaving Company.

Done up in a tasteful, striped cocoa-and-teal box, and embossed with the British lion in silver, the products from St. James of London Founders Reserve evoke seriously more expensive products bearing the stamp of HRH, the kind of merch most often found on Old Bond Street, or Jermyn, for that matter.

But before you get your boxers in a bunch about overpriced shaving goods, here's the deal: St. James of London's products are affordable indulgences, sold at Duane Reade in the States (and Waitrose across the pond). And trust on this: these products are good enough for gifting, though you might find yourself stocking your own bathroom first.

Take the St. James Founders Reserve Post-Shave Gel, in refreshing Mandarin & Patchouli (think Carnaby Street during the swingin' Sixties), a mint-extract gel that cools and calms the skin after shaving, while unclogging, cleansing, and closing pores to protect your face from environmental damage.

Based on our experience with this product, we'll go on record as saying this works better (and cheaper) than Botox. Pump a little Post-Shave Gel into your palm after shaving, massage onto your face - and presto, we swear, it's like a morning facial and a mini-lift, all at the same time.

What's not to love about an eight-dollar face-lift? Get thee to Duane Reade.

PRICE: $8.00 / 100 ml. (Post-Shave Gel)

Hugos Natural / Mango & Sweet Orange Body Butter

Once you've showered (whether alone or a deux, go easy on the soap, which strips the skin - use a shower gel instead), let your body air-dry lightly -and then apply Hugos Natural Mango & Sweet Orange Body Butter. Consider, however, that a little bit goes a long way; this luscious blend of botanical extracts and essential oils is the ultimate for those days when your skin has been positively parched.

Infused with jojoba, shea butter, vitamin E, and almond oil, this is an ultra-rich body butter that feels and smells like something you'd think about slathering on a baguette. Don't. Believe it or not, some things are better not ingested.

As the tagline for Hugos Natural puts it, "A luxurious spa experience at an affordable price." Hugos Natural is one of those rare companies that is not only organic and natural but also vegan, meaning no animal products whatsoever, so it's no surprise that this product is sold at Whole Foods, as well as Wegmans and Sprouts - and handcrafted in the USA.

Want another tip? This is a body butter that begs for massage. And that's all we're going to say about that.

PRICE: $12.99 / 4 oz.

Nickel / Morning After Rescue Gel

There are mornings - and then there are...mornings. Mornings when the head pounds as hard as the sun slams against the windows, and even raising your pinkie can cause you to wince.

Caffeine to the rescue - for your face. And no, we're not talking water-boarding yourself with a mug of java; we're talking Nickel's Morning After Rescue Gel. As the tagline states, "a shock treatment" of natural wheat-based proteins, caffeine, and menthol-enriched unroasted green coffee complex (and you thought Starbucks was esoteric?) that reactivates and stimulates. And you're getting no argument from us: this is facial gel like a "Snap out of it" slap from Cher. And we love it! Go ahead, Nickel; slap us again!

Nickel is the place for "serious skin care for men," with spas in Paris, London, and New York, so they're familiar with nocturnal overdosing. The Morning After Rescue Gel (fortified with witch hazel to prevent under-eye puffiness) goes on smooth, with a pleasant citrus aroma, and starts working immediately to awaken your senses and restore your skin's elasticity. You'll feel so energized by lunch, you'll be ready for a cocktail.

PRICE: $45 / 2.5 oz.

Bambola Beauty / Hydrating Eye Gel

The eyes have it; they're the focus of the face. But some mornings, let's face it, you look like you ran into a wall.

Those are the mornings when you reach for Bambola Beauty's Hydrating Eye Gel, a lightweight eye gel that absorbs quickly to deeply hydrate the eye zone. The newly launched Bambola Beauty, a mother/daughter, cruelty-free company produces products that are free of parabens and preservatives - and instead, packed with all natural and organic, cell regenerative ingredients.

Take the Hydrating Eye Gel, for example, a greaseless serum loaded with plant extracts like the miraculously healthful mannentake mushroom, which enhances cell renewal, and aloe, which moisturizes, and green tea, which plumps up the under-eye skin, as well as arnica and red bush tea to diminish dark circles. Sounds like a morning smoothie for your eyes, right?

The result? A face that's ready for its close-up - even at nine a.m.

PRICE: $50.00 / .5 oz.


CellCeuticals / PhotoDefense Anti-PhotoAging Daily Skin Protector SPF 55+

No matter how often you read and hear about the evils of sun exposure, there's no denying that feeling the sun on your skin can be almost as delicious as sex. Almost, we said. The point is, if you're going to succumb to the sun's siren call, think about your skin. Wearing sunscreen is every bit as life-saving as the adage, "Don't be silly; wrap your willy."

And if you're one of those peeps who's thinking, "It's not as much fun that way," think again. CellCeuticals®, well known for their biomedical skin treatments, has an ultra-light, hydrating daily skin protector called PhotoDefense™ SPF 55+ that provides extreme anti-aging protection against UVA/UVB sun exposure.

But wait - there's more: a true multi-tasking product, PhotoDefense™ SPF 55+ also quenches free radicals (and we all know how evil those rascals are...) to prevent premature skin aging. Two products for the price of one! Make your mother proud: wrap your package - and look as young as you feel.

PRICE: $45.00 / 2 oz.

La Roche-Posay / Posthelios

A recent study revealed that French women spend about $2.2 billion a year on facial skin care, with one-third of French girls aged 15-19 using anti-aging creams. Something to think about.

And let's not forget that, arguably, the French more or less invented resort life and beach chic along the Riviera. Therefore, when the French speak about skin care, we listen.

Remember that day at the beach when you didn't listen to your mother, your lover, your partner, your bff - and instead, you chose to self-roast?

Posthelios (After-Sun, get it?) is La Roche-Posay's solution for skin overly exposed to or harmed by the sun. Using natural healing oils fortified with shea butter, Posthelios restores moisture while nourishing your cooked skin. After too long at the beach, hydrate your body with this melt-in gel that is both fast-absorbing and reparative.

Pack this product for those escapes to sunnier climes - and you'll look as young as a French schoolgirl.

PRICE: $19.95 / 200 ml.

There now, doesn't your skin feel positively blissful? Aren't you just so pleased that you want to go wash an elephant?

Stay radiant all through the remainder of summer - and return here for our feature on autumn skin care.

A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.