We've always associated the glorious, intoxicatingly warm and languorous days of summer with getting gorgeous. That's when we can let down our hair (or casually pin it up, exposing a glimpse of neck or shoulder and maybe, too, exuding a light, luscious burst of scent), strip off the layers of cotton or wool, and go barelegged and sometimes barefoot, savoring the delicious freedom of naked skin against the soft air. So it's with great delight that we report that the job of getting gorgeous (and staying that way) has just gotten a whole lot easier.
Here are seven ways to keep yourself resplendent throughout this season and beyond.
Protect Your Haircolor
Why it fades faster in summer: Swimmers, take note. "Water is the principal cause of fading," says Christine Hall, research and development director at John Frieda. "It penetrates the hair and dissolves the dye, causing it to rinse right out." And if hair is sun damaged or overprocessed, it's even more likely that dyes will escape. Women who lighten their hair with permanent color have been known to struggle with another fade-related problem: brassiness. "The coloring process first lifts melanin from hair, and an orange-yellow shade results," says Hall. "It then deposits cool dyes on top, but they fade quickly, exposing the brassy tones."
The fix: A scarf, cap, or UV-shielding cream will protect hair from the sun. (Redken UV Rescue Brunette Guard or Blonde Guard color-saving swim creams, $13, block UVA/UVB rays and prevent hair from absorbing drying chlorine and salt.) But what to do about water? A shower cap is a wise idea on days you don't shampoo. When you do, color-protecting shampoos and conditioners can help stop fading by laying down silicones to seal the hair shaft.
Pamper Your Face
Why skin suffers: Free radicals. The antagonists of any skincare story, these unstable molecules-produced by sun, pollution, stress-attack healthy cells and cause inflammation, triggering enzymes to break down collagen and elastin.
The fix: Our heroes-antioxidants. "They're like fire extinguishers for free radicals," says David McDaniel, MD, assistant professor of clinical dermatology and plastic surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School. They wipe out rogue molecules and reduce inflammation. The antioxidant idebenone, a derivative of coenzyme Q10 (and the active ingredient in the doctor-dispensed wrinkle cream Prevage), is regarded as a "star chemical" by some doctors. Like most antioxidants, idebenone is primarily preventive, but in independent testing, McDaniel found it to be reparative as well, since it decreased collagen-degrading enzymes in the body. Another superantioxidant, plant-derived ferulic acid, has been shown to bolster the natural photoprotective effects of topically applied vitamins C and E, says Leslie Baumann, MD, associate professor of clinical dermatology at the University of Miami. Come October, Baumann adds, look for the oral antioxidant Heliocare, which contains a fern extract that protects skin from UVA damage. Green tea also prevents inflammation and photoaging when ingested or applied topically in very high concentrations. (Topix Replenix Serum, $44, contains 90 percent.)