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Your summer beauty guide

Get set for a stunning summer with great skincare advice and tips for hair, nails and cosmetics

The summer months tend to see a notable shift in skincare needs and regimens," says Niamh Larkin, beauty specialist at health store Evergreen in Mainguard St, Galway. "Many people opt for a slightly lighter facial moisturiser than the one they'd use in winter, and switch their body moisturiser for a richer alternative to keep those limbs ready for their grand debut! The return of sunshine will also have us reaching for a Sun Protection Factor (SPF), so choosing the right one for your skin type is important for maximum skin protection."

"A natural and organic moisturiser or facial fluid is best during summer as it is light and will hydrate the skin," says Leanne Stephenson, beauty consultant with Pravera. "A facial mist is ideal to give your skin a burst of freshness and a boost of hydration during the day. It can also help your make-up stay put and cool you down. During summer use a moisturiser with a natural and organic mineral based SPF that contains titanium dioxide and zinc. These are natural mineral sun protectors that are kind and gentle on the skin and reflect harmful rays from the sun. Opt for a lighter face moisturiser or facial fluid, and it's a good idea to invest in a natural and organic eye cream and lip balm to protect these delicate areas on the face."

Chemical overload

"To avoid the overuse of chemicals on skin and body during summer look for face and body sun protection from your local health store" says Niamh Larkin. "SPF is something we need to wear most days depending on sun exposure, so we want to ensure what we are putting on our skin isn't doing more harm than good. There are several companies making natural and organic SPFs, with very gentle ingredients that are suitable for use on the whole family. Protecting your skin from the sun and providing it with adequate after-sun care using ingredients such as aloe vera, shea butter etc, will keep it looking and feeling its best without the need for excessive chemicals."

Natural cosmetics are made with ingredients which feed and benefit the skin, their ingredients are sourced ethically, and they usually have minimum packaging and carbon footprint. Choosing natural cosmetics is a conscientious decision which benefits both the consumer and the environment.

The Irish summer

"I always keep a good face and body SPF in my bag as well as a tub of shea butter – just in case," says Niamh Larkin. "In Ireland you could leave the house in the middle of a downpour and still be sunburnt by lunchtime, so to avoid having this happen to you, be prepared. A gentle family-friendly SPF with a high factor will mean less applications per day, and if you still manage to get a little sun-kissed, the shea butter will keep your skin soft and moisturised, which is paramount if you want to avoid burning, peeling or blistering."

"Ultraviolet light is the biggest cause of skin damage," says Georgia Fitzgerald, Sustainability and Certification Officer at Friendly Soap. "Wear sunscreen every day – many people only reach for the sun cream when they're on holiday. It is advisable to wear an SPF all year round, but during the summer this is especially important. Try to choose a natural sunscreen, as synthetic ingredients are easily absorbed by the skin. Have a good after-sun regime. Start with a cool bath or shower, removing any remaining sun cream with a gentle, natural soap. Natural soap moisturises the skin, whereas detergent-based soaps strip the skin of its protective, natural oils. Apply a good natural moisturiser, such as aloe vera lotion which stimulates collagen production and has natural anti-inflammatory properties. If you were unlucky enough to get sunburnt go for a 100% aloe vera gel."

Nail it!

"Keep nails moisturised and cared for by applying a hand/cuticle cream, massaging into the nails and cuticles to hydrate and nourish," says Leanne Stephenson. "Pushing the cuticles down helps to lessen infection. Find a nail polish that boasts free-from chemicals and this will allow the nail to breathe."

"Keeping nails strong and fungus-free makes for beautiful summer manicures and pedicures," says Niamh Larkin. "Applying a moisturising nail and cuticle oil (preferably containing neem oil) and having regular tea tree foot baths are some good ways of keeping nails in tip top shape. Hand creams, foot creams and cuticle oils are your friend!

"There are natural products and treatments available for nail care that work just as well as their conventional counterparts, but with no dodgy ingredients. A tried and tested treatment that you can easily do at home is a simple nail bath. Combine 2tbsp each of olive oil and coconut oil and gently warm, combine with 5 drops tea tree oil and the juice of half a lemon. Mix well in a shallow bowl and bathe nails for 3-5 minutes. Do this twice a week to strengthen and brighten nails."

Beauty inside out

"During summer our bodies lose approximately 40% more water than they do in winter. Most of this takes place across the surface of our bodies, leaving our skin dull and dehydrated. The most effective way to replace this is by drinking lots of water. Lock in hydration by eating fruits and vegetables that help skin cells to hold onto water, such as those rich in vitamins C and B." Georgia Fitzgerald.

Treat your feet

"Get feet summer sandal ready by applying a rich natural moisturiser to your feet at night with cotton socks to soften dry skin as you sleep. Rich moisturisers that contain shea butter, cocoa butter and almond oil are ideal as they provide intense moisture and protection on dry skin." Leanne Stephenson

Making up in summer

"During the hot summer months make-up should be kept light and simple to avoid runs and streaks on the skin," says Leanne Stephenson. "A BB cream or tinted moisturiser is ideal to even out your complexion, while a mineral powder gives staying power to keep a radiant complexion all day. Instead of a heavy full coloured lipstick opt for a tinted lip balm to give lips a boost of colour as well as keeping them moisturised and protected. If eyeshadow is a must during the summer, apply an eye primer to the lids prior to application as this helps it stay in place without smudging or creasing. Go for nude or pale colours for the eyes to keep looking simple and fresh."

"When it comes to make-up, we tend to go for lighter coverage during the summer, to allow our skin to breathe," says Niamh Larkin. "A BB cream or tinted moisturiser gives the skin a gentle glow without overloading it with product."

Colour me beautiful

"Although lighter and brighter colours tend to be the norm for summer, there's no rule to say what colours we should wear," says Niamh Larkin. "Summer is the ideal time to experiment with new colours and styles, with festivals and gigs now back on in full swing, it's a great opportunity to introduce some variety to your collection."

Hair care

"Hair gets as much exposure to the sun as skin does, so we should definitely protect it," says Niamh Larkin. "Heat and UVA/UVB protective sprays are available, as well as protective hair and scalp oils that work a treat for anyone with fine hair whose scalp burns easily. Regular hair masks are vital throughout the summer months to prevent breakages and to rehydrate your locks after a day in the sun or salt water. Coconut oil, specific hair and scalp SPFs and plenty of H20 are the key to summer-happy-hair."

"Hair in the summer can become dehydrated and dried out due to the heat," says Leanne Stephenson. "Try using a shampoo and conditioner that nourishes the hair with plant extracts such as:

  • Aloe vera – a great moisturising, conditioning and soothing ingredient for the hair. Can strengthen hair and make your scalp healthier.
  • Quinoa – an excellent ingredient to look out for in haircare products as it is full of essential amino acids and helps hair growth and repairs damaged hair.
  • Bamboo – an excellent ingredient as it helps hair grow stronger, longer and more beautiful.
  • Pomegranate – helps to hydrate dull and dry hair and protect against harsh environmental factors. Stimulates circulation to the scalp, eliminates dandruff and prevents damage to hair.
  • Coconut and avocado – good ingredients for nourishing hair."

Essential oils for summer

"In summer our skin continues to require nourishment especially if we are exposing it to a lot of sunshine," according to Ellen Cox of Atlantic Aromatics. "Natural sunscreens are great for protecting our skin from sun damage. After sun exposure a variety of blends of essential oils and carrier oils can provide repair, restoration and enrichment for our skin.

"My go-to facial repair is organic rosehip seed oil. Apply directly to the skin after showering and before applying sun screen or in the evening after cleansing. You can also add a few drops to your moisturiser.

Sandalwood oil was recently shown to have higher anti-ageing effects than vitamin E on the skin. Use as little as 1-2 drops in 30ml of carrier oil.

Sandalwood blends beautifully with frankincense and rose essential oils, all of which are revered for their skin rejuvenating, nourishing properties. Add 10 drops of each to 50ml of jojoba or sweet almond oil.

Exfoliating your skin is recommended by many skincare experts, simply mix a carrier oil with Epsom salts and a few drops of pure essential oil.

For an effective after sun application, add 3 drops of lavender essential oil to 20ml of aloe vera gel."

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