Summer Beauty 911: Solutions to Your Top 18 Hair, Skin, and Makeup Emergencies
SKIN: Oily Skin
Your skin is so slick, you could solve the world's oil crisis by Labor Day.
Put down your powder puff—"you'll just create a cakey mess," says makeup artist Mally Roncal—and use blotting papers instead (we like Boscia Green Tea Blotting Linens). "They soak up oil without removing makeup," says makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci. The next time you know it's going to be a scorcher, apply a thin layer of mattifying lotion (we like Estee Lauder Matte Perfecting Primer) under makeup—the tiny silicas will absorb oil throughout the day.
At home, try a cleanser with 2 percent salicylic acid (such as Clearasil DailyClear Daily Facial Scrub), and use a retinol cream (try RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream) at night: "Retinol minimizes oil production and prevents clogged pores," says Jeannette Graf, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
SKIN: Blotchy Skin
Your skin is so blotchy from the heat, people are mistaking you for a royal (Charles, not Kate).
Graf's magic bullet: Grab an evening primrose oil capsule, puncture it, and smooth the contents on clean, flushed skin at night. "It's very high in the essential fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid, which restores the moisture barrier and reduces the redness in a few hours," she says. To cover blotches or large areas of redness, Graf suggests mineral makeup. "The minerals help calm skin but still cover redness, because the pigment is concentrated," she says. We like Revlon ColorStay Aqua Mineral Makeup.
SKIN: A Sunburned Nose
The importance of sunscreen is as plain as the red nose on your face.
"The nose is one of the most exposed and vulnerable areas on the body—and one of the most common areas for nonmelanoma skin cancers," says Graf. Even if you apply sunscreen, the skin there tends to be oilier than the rest of the face, so sunscreen breaks down faster. First, protect your face with a wide-brimmed hat. Then frequently reapply a sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection (Graf likes Eau Thermale Avene High Protection Tinted Compact SPF 50, or try Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream for Face SPF 55 PA).
SKIN: Pimples From Breakouts
You slathered on sunscreen to prevent wrinkles, but the pimples it caused make you look like a teenager.
To prevent pimples and calm existing ones, wash skin with a salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide face wash at night, says Fredric Brandt, a dermatologist in New York City and Miami. (One with benzoyl peroxide: Proactiv Renewing Cleanser.) Let it sit on the skin so it absorbs before rinsing.
The fastest way to clear skin is to apply a prescription-strength acne treatment overnight (Brandt likes Duac Topical Gel, a blend of 5 percent benzoyl peroxide and the antibiotic clindamycin). The next best thing is a 5 to 10 percent benzoyl peroxide lotion from the drugstore, such as Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Vanishing Treatment Cream. Avoid future breakouts by switching to a light, oil-free sunscreen—Brandt praises Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 55.
SKIN: Melting Makeup
You decided to walk to work during a heat wave, but once you got there, your makeup had called in sick.
First, hide out at your desk for a few minutes until you cool down, then use blotting paper "to absorb the excess perspiration," says Ciucci. Don't reapply foundation; just redistribute it with a damp sponge (Ciucci swears by the egg-shaped BeautyBlender Sponge) using bouncy, tapping motions. Wipe off any rogue eyeliner, mascara, or shadow with a cotton swab. And if you need more lip color or blush, choose creams, which blend evenly; for durability, go with waxy eyeliner or eye-shadow sticks.
BODY: Ingrown Hairs
You waxed to get smooth, not to get red bumps.
Immediately after waxing, swab the area with an astringent containing salicylic acid (like Tend Skin Liquid or Clean and Clear Deep Cleaning Astringent) to dissolve the dead skin that can trap hairs. Then layer on a hydrocortisone cream or aloe gel to reduce redness and swelling. If the red dots don't go away after a week, you may be looking at an all-too-common case of folliculitis—an inflammation of the hair follicle frequently caused by bacteria. Washing with salicylic acid cleansers daily can help (Avon Clearskin Blemish Clearing Acne Body Wash has 2 percent of the ingredient). If there is pain, tenderness, or swelling, see a dermatologist to rule out bacterial infection.
BODY: Really, Really, Bad Sunburn
You screwed up. You got scorched. Now move on.
Take two ibuprofen to dull the pain and reduce swelling, says Brandt. Jump in a cool shower, gently pat skin dry, and then place bags of frozen peas over the burned areas. Dab on a 1 percent hydrocortisone cream, and then keep skin well hydrated with a fragrance-free after-sun lotion (Graf likes Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturizing Lotion with cooling menthol and natural colloidal oatmeal). "Aloe soothes the skin and helps with inflammation, too," says Brandt, who recommends staying out of the sun—as in, you are now a vampire—until the burn heals.
BODY: Peeling Skin
So you no longer resemble a lobster. Now you're a walking biohazard zone, shedding dead cells.
First, hands off. "The worst thing you can do is pick at peeling skin," says Jeffrey Dover, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. "You'll cause even more damage."
Allow scaly skin to shed naturally, and focus on keeping the area well hydrated by slathering on a moisturizer rich in ceramides, such as Curel Sensitive Skin Remedy Fast Absorbing Daily Lotion for Dry, Sensitive Skin. "It will replenish the lipids you're losing from the upper layers of skin that are peeling off," says Brandt, who also recommends upping your water intake. "You lose more fluids when you're recovering from a burn." And avoid anti-aging ingredients until your skin returns to normal or you could develop a sensitivity to an ingredient.
BODY: Heat Rash
Your skin feels so hot and prickly, you're considering actually crawling out of it.
The key is to chill out, literally. Take a cold shower, change into loose-fitting clothes, and avoid thick, heavy moisturizers, which can exacerbate a heat rash. Speed your skin's natural recovery process by dabbing the affected area with calamine lotion—"the combination of zinc and ferric oxide helps keep it cool," says Brandt. One thing to skip? Makeup. It can prolong the rash by blocking sweat ducts. The good news: You won't have to stay in hiding for long. "Cool down, and the rash should clear up within a day or two," says Brandt.
BODY: Streaky Self-Tanner
You picked bottle bronze over the sun—resulting in one streaky mess.
Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto a loofah and start scrubbing away dark splotches in a warm shower. If you have a few days before the area is revealed, smooth on a layer of body lotion containing alpha hydroxy acid (like AmLactin Moisturizing Body Lotion) both morning and night. "It increases the natural turnover of the skin cells, which will speed the fading process," Brandt says. If there's no time to spare, disguise streaks with a mix of half self-tanner and half moisturizer to lighter areas only once a day until they catch up with the rest of your bottle bronze.