The sun is shining and the beach is beckoning. But along with the warm breeze comes the headache of melt-proofing your makeup. It’s hot, sticky (looking at you, East Coast humidity!) and the last thing anyone wants to do is layer foundation or contour their cheekbones, lest it become makeup soup. But you may be able to rock the makeup-free summer look, if you time your facial treatment correctly.
“Everyone wants that smooth, makeup-free complexion, right?” says Orlando-based plastic surgeon Dr. Armando Soto. “My favorite treatments for producing that look would depend on the age of my patient, the specific skin needs, and how far in advance we can plan.”
While these are crucial components to consider, there’s no shortage of options to get a beautiful, bare-faced complexion, regardless of schedule, lifestyle and goal.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to get glowing for summer.
Timing is everything
“As a general rule of thumb, the decision to do or not do a procedure comes down to sun exposure and work or social events and vacations, rather than a question of summer vs. winter,” says Washington, D.C.-area plastic surgeon Dr. Shervin Naderi.
“For example, if someone is going to take vacation to a sunny beach in the winter, but work at a desk job in the summer, then summer is better for cosmetic surgery than winter.” Plan ahead and work with your doctor to determine a timeline that works for your lifestyle and social calendar.
Consider your schedule
Recovery time depends on the intensity of the facial treatment, so before you book, be honest with yourself about how much time you can feasibly devote to being temporarily off the grid. For the forward-thinking client, Dr. Soto hands-down recommends a BroadBand Light treatment. “It is an amazing, no recovery time treatment for improvement in brown spots, wrinkles, and all manner of other complexion irregularities,” he says.
The only downside? It requires an extended period without sun exposure both pre- and post-procedure. “While this would be my go-to summer prep treatment, you really have to plan in order to do it safely,” he explains.
Lay a foundation
Everyone knows that wearing sunscreen with a high SPF and UVA/UVB protection is critical to keep skin safe, but other lifestyle factors play a key role in the skin’s appearance.
“The best thing to do to protect your skin through the summer is to maintain its hydration and barrier,” suggests Dr. Soto. “Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine, maintain a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and pay attention to how your skin feels as the sun, saltwater and wind can significantly dry your skin.” He recommends keeping a lightweight moisturizer or face mist handy to make reapplying a breeze.
Clear your complexion
“To be ready for a makeup-free summer, I recommend intense pulsed light treatments to clear pigmentation,” says Atlanta-based cosmetic surgeon Dr. Elizabeth Whitaker. “It leaves you with a more even, glowing complexion, which is the key to going makeup free!”
While the skin may look inflamed at first, expect a full recovery within a handful of days as the skin repairs itself.
Keep it glowing
The ultimate secret for a makeup-free summer is to ensure your skin looks plump and well-rested, like you just returned from the most relaxing, five-star vacation. There are a few treatments which can provide these results almost instantly, but the most recommended (and requested) facial treatment is microneedling, thanks to the many immediate benefits it offers.
“To build collagen and smooth and plump the skin, microneedling with radiofrequency is a great option,” says Dr. Whitaker.
Another bonus, adds Dr. Soto, is that you can safely have it done during prime summer months, even if you’re planning to spend time in the sun shortly after.
Related: 7 expert tips for extra glowy skin
Easy does it
Quick lunchtime facial treatments with little to no downtime can be just as effective when you’re looking for a fresh, makeup-free summer.
Dr. Naderi often recommends Botox to his summertime clientele to reduce squinting in the sun. “Botox helps keep the eyes more open and prevents wrinkles and lines around the eyes and forehead from being in the sun.”
Take recovery seriously
Cosmetic procedures are investments in ourselves, and it’s easy to want to accelerate the recovery period and return to our normal lives, but you’d just be cheating yourself of its full potential.
“It bears emphasizing that none of these treatments will provide maximum benefit without appropriate skincare at home,” Dr. Soto says. “Make sure to ask about how to prepare your skin for the treatment, as well as how to best maintain it at home afterward.” Respect the investment and give your body the time it needs to heal.
Make it fashion
“Not all hats and not all sunscreens are created equal,” says Dr. Soto. “With regard to hats for prevention of sun damage, I prefer and recommend broad-brimmed hats that will also protect the ears, side of the face and the back of the neck, as these areas are commonly affected by skin cancer and are not well protected.”
Consider a hat made of a UV-blocking fabric to protect yourself, supermodel style, especially in the days immediately following a facial treatment when skin is extra sensitive.
Maintenance is key
As the summer progresses, take the time to notice if your skin is in need of a deep clean exfoliation or a heavy dose of hydration. “Facials with hydrating masks are a great way to regularly maintain your skin’s health,” says Dr. Soto. “It will also help you stay on top of any damage your skin may experience over the summer.”
Scheduling regular facial appointments will help to preserve and extend any facial treatment you choose, which is key for that makeup-free, confident summer look.
Trust the professionals
“One of the most important concepts to understand if you are to achieve long-term happiness with your skin is that there really is a difference in the products available through your board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist’s office relative to those you would purchase elsewhere,” says Dr. Soto.
“The active ingredients are in higher concentration, and the elevated understanding of your individual skin that these professionals will bring to bear on your behalf will all lead to much greater and more rapid success.”
Mind the details
Medical-grade skincare is fantastic for a results-oriented regimen, but be careful mixing powerful retinoids and sunbathing, as it can do more harm than good.
“I tell my clients to switch from a prescription Retin-A lotion to just a regular Retinol to prevent sensitization to the sun,” says Dr. Naderi. If swimming, tennis and surfing are the only things on your summer agenda, it may be best to shelf the topical retinoids entirely until the fall.
Death, taxes and sun damage
Despite our best efforts, sun damage is nearly unavoidable, especially if you live in an area that is vulnerable to the sun’s strong rays. Discoloration, blotchy sun spots and uneven texture are the price we pay for an awesome summer, but with a little TLC, the clock can quite literally be reversed.
“An additional treatment of intense pulsed light treatments after summer is over to clear any pigment you may have developed from sun exposure is a great follow-up and super helpful to restore skin uniformity,” says Dr. Whitaker.
And with that, all we have to say is: Bring it on, summer. We’re ready for you.