Whether you choose to spend your next couple months by land, sea, air, or all three, summer is the season most important to take care of your precious skin and tresses. Scorching rays, salty waves, and sky-high humidity: it takes a toll. Especially when you’re not being super-mindful.
I grew up in the eighties, reading fashion magazines and idealizing the likes of Cindy Crawford while daydreaming about sun-kissed skin and beach-blonde waves. I wish more magazines featured diversity in models back then. It took me a very long time to come to terms with the fact that I would never be Cindy Crawford, nor would I ever have Claudia Schiffer’s blonde waves. Willing my thick black Asian hair to supermodel status took a huge toll on it. Bleaching, highlighting, perming: you name it, I did it. And it didn’t stop at hair. I did it all. Let’s not even discuss the amount of tanning (and irreparable damage) I did back then! I slathered baby oil on my body and face at the beach, then proceeded to complement those sunbathing sessions with regular tanning-salon visits to ensure my deep, dark tan lasted. Nowadays, the only tanning I do is post-3pm, under an umbrella, with a hat and only from the waist down.
In college, I finally learned to love my stick-straight hair and embrace my pale Asian skin. More importantly, over the years, I’ve learned to take care of it, specific to its type. Sure, not all Asians have the same skin type, but most tend to be prone to the following:
1. Asian skin is genetically predisposed to scar easily. Do not pick at your skin, no matter how great the urge!
2. Asian skin is prone to hyperpigmentation. I use sunscreen 365 days a year, even if it’s raining! Especially if it’s raining, UVA rays are more harmful and so strong even dark clouds can’t block it.
3. Asian skin is often more oily and inclined to sebaceous glands and blackheads. I sleep with a clay mask on my nose and chin. It terrifies my son and husband but works great at keeping pores clean. Kiehl’s Rare Earth Pore Cleansing Masque ($23) is a good one.
4. Finally, the good news: Asian skin tends to have a thicker dermis, which means less wrinkling and sagging! Not bragging but I still get carded.
Hydrate: Don’t believe the hype about expensive water sprays. That mist may feel refreshing, but it won’t hydrate the skin as effectively as actually drinking water. I also prefer a good moisturizer and reapplying eye cream throughout the day.
Splurge: Chantecaille Rose de Mai Cream ($210): perfect for sensitive Asian skin and the most lightweight yet moisturizing cream. Your skin will drink it up!
Steal: Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF 30 ($21)- I’ve used this since college, don’t let the low sticker price fool you – it’s one of the best moisturizers out there.
If you have oily Asian skin, hydrating serums are your best friends in the hotter months. Look for one with hyaluronic acid, like Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel ($78).
Shine Control: Do you know what happens when flour gets wet? Imagine your sweaty face with layers of powder caked on it. Enough said. Use blotting paper, like Bobbi Brown’s ($10) instead of powder to control shine in the summer.
Tip: Blot only the T-zone – dewy, glowy cheeks are youthful and pretty.
Cleansing: Do not over cleanse! I know it’s tempting to succumb to dependency, but give the Clairsonic a break and only use it a couple of times a week. Over-exfoliating may stimulate melanin, which gives us more freckles (quelle horrer!). Use a gentle cleanser in the summer months and use a fruit enzyme exfoliator (versus a physical one – grainy scrubs can potentially tear the skin) to avoid further inflammation of sun-sensitive skin.
One of my favorite cleansers is the Balancing Cleanser ($35) from Beauty Bioscience. It gives a good clean without drying my skin.
I can not live without Renee Rouleau Triple-berry peeling mask ($85.50). It will give you your smooth 3rd grade skin back. #Trust
For further deep pore cleaning, use Liz Earle’s pure muslin cloths ($6 for two). This is the best thing on the planet! Everyone in my entire family (from my father to my brothers) is obsessed with it! I buy them by the dozen and take them everywhere with me.
Pigmentation: Many Asian women are obsessed with whitening their skin. I just want to rid myself of pigmentation! Retin A is too strong for me, so I use Arcona Vitamin A Complex ($68) to refine and resurface the skin to make pigmentation less noticeable. Whatever you do, stay away from Hydroquinone – it is effective only while you use it and the minute you stop your pigmentation comes back even darker (personal experience)! Plus it is super harsh and drying on the skin (fact).
Sunscreen: Apply sunscreen generously: My long time skin guru, Renee Rouleau, told me that an SPF 30 only offers 4% more sun protection than an SPF 15 and as you go higher, the differences only diminish. It’s not about the SPF number but how generously and how often you apply it so be sure to heap it on to get the best protection. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen every two hours: Sunscreens wear off, wash off, and sweat off and reapplying at least every two hours is a must to prevent sunburns. Keep Renee Rouleau Age-Defense Moisturizer SPF 30 ($37.50) on hand.
UV rays are exponentially more harmful in the air! When it comes to flying, don’t forget sunscreen and moisturizer when you fly. As a general rule, drink one 8oz. glass of water per hour of your flight to keep skin dewy. Lastly, choose aisle seat instead of window: less sun exposure (and easier access to the restroom).
Makeup: Keep it light in the summer months, I am addicted to Giorgio Armani’s Luminessence CC Cream ($50), along with their new Maestro Cream Compact ($64) for easy reapplication, whether you’re beachside or desk-side.
We all want sexy beach waves right about now, but stubborn, coarse Asian hair doesn’t always comply. If you are committed to beachy waves, consider a Korean digital perm with organic solution. Trust me, it’s nothing like the wiry, crisp noodle perm you got back in tenth grade. Instead of harsh perming chemicals, it uses a technology specific to Asian hair to give soft waves. Then add strategically placed lowlights and highlights around the face with gloss treatment for further sun kissed look.
Beat the Frizz: Frizz happens when your hair’s cuticles – the tiny scales that cover each strand – don’t lie flat. Two things can cause it: humidity, which swells the hair shaft or over-styling, which fries it. To defend yourself, start maintaining in the shower with sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, since sulfates remove the natural oils that coat cuticles. I like Keratin Complex shampoo and conditioner.
Then be sure to avoid over-styling or weighing hair down with too much product. I’ve tried many products in a quest to achieve boho waves and the only product that works on Asian hair is Alterna Bamboo Style Boho Waves Texture Hair Mist ($22).
Tip: Avoid oils and heavy conditioners to keep hair light and breezy.
Styling Tip: Use a mini crimping iron on the roots of hair to give it volume, sans products. Take an inch of hair and pin it back. Then crimp the roots right under that top layer you just isolated, so once you finishing crimping, your hair falls smooth but has volume without products. Actually this is a trick that works on all hair, blondes or Asians!
Have a great summer!
I never stand on the beach without a hat! This was merely for photo purposes.
Via Harper’s Bazaar