Beauty tips: Getting a summer glow in the age of COVID-19

From self-tanning tricks to avoiding mask rash

JOANNA VARGAS Magic Glow Wand (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The easiest way to achieve a year-round glow is easier than you think: wear sunscreen 365 days a year. Yes, that means when it’s cold, raining, or even snowing. And no, a face mask is not an excuse to skip slathering goop over your entire face. The sun’s aging and cancer-causing UVA rays are strong year-round and there aren’t any potions or lotions that can reverse damage faster than you create it when you go out without protecting your skin. But not all SPF products are created equally.
The latest research shows that six common chemical sunscreen ingredients absorb into the bloodstream and greatly exceed levels considered safe. “In a recent study one ingredient, oxybenzone, showed an absorption rate 188 times the safe level after one application,” says dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross, founder of the eponymous skincare line. “After four applications, absorption increased 500 times the safe level. All chemicals stayed elevated in the blood anywhere from one to 21 days, depending on the chemical sunscreen ingredient.”
The study also reported that these ingredients can make their way into women’s breast milk and cause endocrine hormonal disturbances. They lack safety data regarding whether or not they are carcinogens and harm developing children and, because of this, many leading dermatologists, including Dr. Gross, are strongly urging patients to discontinue the use of chemical sunscreens and look for physical block alternatives. Look for ‘zinc oxide’ or ‘titanium dioxide’ on the ingredient list. Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defense SPF30, First Aid Beauty Weightless Liquid Mineral SPF 30, Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 | PA++++, Banana Boat Kids Mineral Lotion, and the just launched EleVen by Venus Williams SPF are good examples. Dr. Gross also makes a variety of appropriate sunscreen options.
With that important information out of the way, the spike in temperature means that many of us are also looking for safe, streak-free, sun-kissed skin tone right about now.
Dr. Dennis Gross tanning wipes (Photo Credit: Courtesy)Dr. Dennis Gross tanning wipes (Photo Credit: Courtesy)
Sunless tan tips and tricks
While we’re lucky to have some of the world’s best beaches here in Israel, the best tan can actually be achieved right at home – and it doesn’t take much skill. Long gone are the days of smelly, orange-tinted self-tanners. These days brands like St. Tropez are coming out with self-tanning products that are not only safe, they smell amazing and work fast. In fact, many can be applied in-shower while others dry in as little as 30 seconds. They come in mousse, lotion, gel, and spray form, the latter of which is perfect for maintaining a glow throughout the day, for layering over makeup, or for giving a natural tint to hands. St. Tropez skin-finishing expert, Sophie Evans, recommends lotion or gel for those with dry, sensitive skin. Mousse and spray are suitable for all skin types.
“One of the biggest mistakes people tend to make when using self-tanner is that they over-saturate their hands, toes, ankles, elbows, and knees,” says Falen Whipple, owner of and founder of the new tanning brand, . “I highly recommend using a lotion on those areas – not much, just enough to create a barrier – before you apply the self-tanner to avoid the formula getting darker on those dry spots. Also, when you’re older, you tend to have overlapped skin and if you don’t blend properly, the tanner will not go in and then you get what we call ‘tiger stripes.’ Same thing under the booty area; when you apply the self-tanner, bend over and get under the cheeks because otherwise you’ll have lines and nobody wants lines!”
Like most experts, Whipple recommends applying self-tanner with a mitt otherwise, she says, expect your hands to look like a crime scene. “I then suggest using a small kabuki brush to blend the hands and wrists. You always want to gently sweep up not down and don’t go back and forth. You can also use the kabuki brush to apply self-tanner to the face and around your toes for a more meticulous application. Another trick we love is using a makeup blending sponge to help blend the self-tanner on the face.” Otherwise, for foolproof application, opt for a spray like St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Face Mist. It goes on clear, dries near-instantly and, no matter how haphazardly you apply it, it will give skin an even, bronzed glow in as little as four hours. The same goes for Dr. Dennis Gross’ Alpha Beta Glow Pads, which are tanning face wipes. Another option is to add a few drops of self-tanner to your daily moisturizer. Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster makes this easy. Wash your hands right after so they don’t turn orange.
An important note is that while professional spray tans require exfoliating and removing hair from any area you plan on tanning 12-24 hours in advance, when you’re tanning at home it’s best to do that right before application according to Evans. Once you’re tanned, don’t exfoliate and try to limit shaving unless you’re ready to get the tan off. Whipple also suggests showering with warm water, not hot water. “Hot water dries your skin out and causes your skin to shed faster which means your tan won’t last as long. It also can create an orange hue.” Lastly, you should hydrate and moisturize daily with an oil-free, fragrance-free moisturizer and don’t use soap the first shower when you rinse (every shower after that is fine).
If you look down to find that you’ve applied too much tanner in a particular area, Evans recommends using baby oil on that spot. “Just drench the area for five minutes and then exfoliate the area in the shower.” It’s also worth mentioning that typically self-tanners designed for the body are darker than ones designed for the face. “Apply moisturizer as a base layer if you plan on using a body tanner on your face to prevent your face from looking unnaturally dark,” says Evans.
Skin tips while wearing a mask
Unfortunately, your whole tan might not always be completely visible. Navigating our new normal means wearing pore-clogging masks regularly. As a result, many of us are suffering, in varying degrees, from redness, acne and/or rashes.
“You should wash your face as soon as you take off your mask using lukewarm water – hot or cold water can exasperate redness,” says Dr. Gross. “You’ll also want to stay away from harsh scrubs and ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and hydroquinone which can strip the skin’s moisture barrier making it even more sensitive. Finally, if you’re seeing breakouts, make sure you’re using an oil-free moisturizer – using a product with oils can make existing breakouts worse.”
Being cognizant of the type of mask you’re wearing can help too. Some professions require wearing a specific type of mask, but for civilians, Dr. Gross says opting for organic cotton masks, which have a bit more breathability, can help.
Cutting down on makeup will help too. “When you wear makeup under a mask, the carbon dioxide you are breathing out, the heat, and the moisture are all driving that makeup deeper into your pores, clogging them and causing breakouts,” explains Dr. Gross. He suggests avoiding makeup under masks at all costs, noting that you can still wear eye makeup and concealer on the upper half of your face that is not covered by protective gear.
Facial beauty tools to boost skin health
Whether it’s to prep for a self-tan, counteract mask-induced acne, or because you simply want to treat and prevent fine lines and winkles, there’s great appeal in the increasing array of face tools.
While face tools have been around for eons in Chinese culture, they’re only now going mainstream. Gua sha, a technique that involves ‘scraping’ the skin with thin tools to increase circulation and decrease stagnation is now prevalent in a variety of materials, though typically they’re made from crystal. Depending on your goal, you can opt for one specific gemstone over another. For example, jade gua shatools are said to help stimulate while lapis ones are known for de-stressing. The tools also come in a variety of shapes. When choosing a shape, go with the one that looks like it will feel the best when swept across your particular face (always apply a face oil before working a gua sha tool to avoid irritation).
Face rollers, are handheld massaging tools typically made with one or two jade or amethyst stone heads, though other crystals can also be found. Whereas with gua sha you’re ‘scraping,’ with rollers you’re using the tool to roll onto skin in upward motions to reduce puffiness and remove excess fluid in the face, particularly under the eye area. No matter if you opt for gua sha or rolling, putting your face tools in the refrigerator before you use them will further help reduce puffiness. It’s also important to remember to disinfect your tools regularly to avoid transmitting bacteria.
While it may not have centuries worth of history behind it, celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas’ newest innovation, Magic Glow Wand, has already proven to be one of the year’s buzziest launches. The on-the-go USB, spa-grade facial massage device is designed to reduce the appearance of puffiness, invigorate the skin, and bring your glow back via various settings. It basically takes gua sha and rollers to the next level and the cold, hot, and massage settings mean that the experience is as pleasurable as it is fast and effective. Unlike manual tools it also works to help deep clean and minimize the appearance of pores.
Rouge Red Light Therapy (Photo Credit: Courtesy)Rouge Red Light Therapy (Photo Credit: Courtesy)
The latest of-the-moment, need-to-know beauty tools are red light therapy lamps, which are now touted by a long list of influential alternative medicine doctors like Dr. Mark Hyman who underlines that “red light therapy has been studied and tested across hundreds of peer-reviewed clinical trials with overwhelmingly positive results for skin health, collagen production, physical performance and muscle recovery, sleep, joint pain, inflammation, and more.” Red light therapy is simple, quick and non-invasive. Basically, you buy a lamp – available from a growing list of retailers like Rouge Red Light Therapy, which sells them in a variety of sizes – and then you sit or stand in front of that light for 5 to 15 minutes, ideally daily. It’s as simple as that and the results – whether it be to help with a rash or to boost muscle recovery – are swiftly noticeable.