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Editor's Guide to Summer Grooming

Editor's Guide to Summer Grooming

Let’s not downplay seasonal impact on skin - which needs to adapt accordingly as the mercury rises. Keeping cool is a holistic process, which often means addressing the physical signs: sweat, shine, redness, oiliness from head to toe. In this comprehensive guide, we detail the many steps in order to attain a state of cool - in more senses than one!

Hair and Body: Controlling Excess Oil and Sweat

Summer heat makes you sweat, no matter how composed and unaffected you may try to be. Sweating is natural and automatic - it’s how the body regulates its temperature. And it doesn’t discriminate, either: keep your underarms and scalp in mind just as much as your face. Crucially, minimise the visual appearance and sensation of sweat and oil by controlling its accumulation. Summer implores vigilant hygiene, from frequent showers to adjusting your products and processes accordingly.

Principally, we prefer not to obstruct the body’s natural processes - and always opt for a deodorant over and above antiperspirant. Baxter of California’s Italian Lime & Pomegranate Deodorant is the perfect summertime product - its composition is designed to neutralise odour-causing bacteria whilst keeping the skin calm and hydrated. But, what matters most is its zesty aroma - which leaves a pleasant aromatic sensation of clean. When you know you smell good, you’re left with confidence.

From a biological perspective, hair functions to absorb and wick away moisture, including sweat. Exposed to the air, this facilitates its evaporation, thereby taking heat away from the body. How effective this process is depends on a number of factors - humidity, temperature, physical activity - but absolute efficiency is never guaranteed. The same goes for the sweat on your skin, too. Keeping cool, hydrated, and wearing lightweight, breathable, and loose-fitting clothing, furthers this natural function - and certain products will help along the way. 

At the level of style, utilising light clay-based hair styling products will assist this function: clays, like kaolin, bentonite, and certain diatomaceous materials, will absorb the oils produced by the scalp, keeping the hair looking dry with all the usual aesthetic benefits of a good styling product. Hanz de Fuko’s Quicksand utilises a superfine powder of soft and granular rock in its formula to effectively act as a dry shampoo. When it comes to addressing an oily scalp, it is the unexcelled summer hair product. 

Finally, for those seeking sustained protection against unseemly body sweat - put away the messy talcum powders and turn to No Sweat Body Defense from Anthony, a brilliant cream-to-powder formula that makes use of tapioca starch which creates a barrier that keeps dry and free from irritation. Extracts of aloe vera, glycerin, and macadamia nut oil not only soften the tactile feeling of the product, but also cool, refresh, and condition the skin.

Washing Away the Day

Good follicle hygiene is more important than ever in the warm summer weather, removing an excess of oils and sweat, and a build-up of product. Increased washing necessitates a formula that avoids stripping the hair of its good and beneficial oils to the point of excess, requiring a balanced formula that restores and maintains as much as it rids. Seek products with ‘daily’ and ‘balancing’ in their names, which maintains the equilibrium of the scalp. Jack Black’s All-Over Wash is a no-brainer, and its formula is intent upon mildness never at the expense of efficacy. A testament to this fact is that it’s delicate enough for the face and body too. Which is also to assert that sweat accumulates across the body, and needs to be vigilantly washed away. And of course, there's nothing quite like a good bar of body soap.

Lighten Up Your Moisturiser

Listen to the skin on your face, and ask: how does it feel in warmer and more humid conditions? If your skin feels heavy, tacky, and overwhelmingly shiny - this is an invitation to reconsider the products that constitute your summer regimen, and in particular, your moisturiser. 

The most variable and temperamental product according to the weather, our moisturisers should change with the seasons. Seek hydration without weight, moisturisers with a light oil-free consistency formulated for easy absorption without that greasy feeling or the excess build-up of oil on the skin. 

Look for products with oil-free formulas: Jack Black’s Clean Break is a moisturiser that ticks all the boxes here. It refreshes the skin, employing the well-loved niacinamide molecule, which, amongst its many benefits, pertinently regulates sebum production and reduces redness. A pump in the morning and it gets to work long into the day.

Apply your products with diligence, following the right order of operations whilst allowing each product to absorb into the skin before applying the next one. Moisturisers are penultimate, followed by an SPF, of course. 

Sunscreen is essential, and its importance in the summer cannot be downplayed. For a guide to all things UV, our Sunscreen FAQ is crucial reading.

Shine Factor

It bears repeating: with increased temperatures, your skin may produce more oil, leading to a shiny complexion. The best mattifying products rely on astringent agents - which is to say, a toning ingredient(s). On the one hand, it targets the overt visual signs: enlarged pores, shine. On the other, it goes deeper than the signs and to the source, balancing pH and controlling oil production itself. 

Toners have come a long way, and many achieve astringent properties without turning your skin into a piece of dry leather. Once again, toning has come to mean ‘balancing’ within the skincare lexis, which additionally hydrates the skin amongst many other product-specific benefits. Most importantly, seek products free of ethanol, which dry and irritate the skin.

AHA and BHA acids are common, which, like witch hazel and tea tree oils, tighten the skin, regulate sebum production, and dissolve oils. Triumph & Disaster’s Logic Toning Lotion is rich with witch hazel and many calming and balancing naturals. Its gentle formulation means it can be used not only as part of a morning or night time routine, but also during the day when a refreshing touch-up might be required. No need to apply with a cotton pad - a few drops in the hands and patted onto the face is adequate.

It’s worth noting that many cleansers on the market today include toning ingredients as part of their composition, thereby consisting of balancing and astringent properties. Achieve this two-in-one effect with Jack Black’s Pure Clean, which cleanses, soothes, and tones.  

Mind & Body: Cooling Sensations

When you feel as cool as a cucumber, we like to think this has an influence on the body. Menthol is an obvious ingredient towards this end, which produces a cooling sensation in the body due to the specific activation and modulation of the receptors responsible for detecting temperature. Mint naturally contains menthol, part of an aromatic family of herbs and flowers known as Lamiacae family, which includes rosemary, basil, sage, and lavender - all of which are exhilarating materials for a number of reasons. 

With a warm lather, the Peppermint Shaving Cream from Taylor of Old Bond Street becomes a gorgeous interplay of hot amongst the cold. It’s no hyperbole: its sensation appears to extract the heat that radiates off the skin, leaving a pleasant coolness. This can be heightened further with the no-thrills, present and awaking Refreshing After Shave Lotion from Proraso. A classic, I am often left to wonder whether this glorious slap of eucalyptus and menthol is the primary cause of its legacy. Whatever the case, in the warm weather it becomes a salve for heat in general - from the razor or the sun. 

Certain varieties of fragrance become cooling fluids that blur smell into sensation. More than mint and citrus, also consider aldehydes and the paradoxical cool fiery heat of ginger or cardamom. Ginger’s organoleptic qualities are much like mint, triggering receptors responsible for the detection of temperature. Perhaps it is better to look to attributes - not temperature - as is the case in traditional Chinese medicine, in which we take our cue. Or perhaps a bit of sympathetic magic, where the cold fire of peppermint, ginger, and the like work the overheated body. 

No better to call upon Esprit du Tigre when we evoke these attributes, a herbal tonic of scent designed to evoke the red wonder balsam that is Tiger Balm. Esprit du Tigre (metaphorically) makes the blood flow; it refreshes, soothes, and turns effervescent. 

Esprit’s cooling sensation is evocative of the chilling bite of snow, the fiery snap of spices, and the yin-yang of hot and cold in balance. Fire meets ice in this fragrance; a tonic without the usual citrus or herbal suspects, but its inverse – a heavy dose of spice and resin. This thoughtful melange captures the continuum of temperature, sliding up and down the range: icy wintergreen and mint notes, cool cardamom and camphor, warming up to the blunt warmth of cinnamon and pepper, then ascending to the searing heat of clove. A thoughtful study of spice.

Heeley Parfums makes good of these sensations, with Menthe Fraiche (Fresh Mint) and Zeste de Gingembre (Ginger Zest) also part of the range. However, consider Sel Marin - its evocation of fine shorelines and pure waters, perhaps an image of someplace cooler will work its magic, too.

Of course, it is possible to do away with magic and fetch yourself 800mls of 4711 - an abundance of product with an equivalent abundance of citrus and herbal oils,  dominated chiefly with orange materials (fruit, flower, stems, leaves). Pour into cupped hands and splash everywhere. A moment of reprieve.