From Bug Bites to Tan Lines, How to Deal with Summer Beauty Problems

There's a lot to love about summer--longer days, warmer weather, weekend getaways--but there's a lot to loathe too.
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Tyler McCall
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There's a lot to love about summer--longer days, warmer weather, weekend getaways--but there's a lot to loathe too.
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There's a lot to love about summer--longer days, warmer weather, weekend getaways--but there's a lot to loathe too.

Showing more skin and spending more time outside can result in some serious beauty disasters. Weird tan lines, bug bites, and super-shiny skin are just some of the beauty woes that can ruin even the most perfect summer day.

We wanted to know more than just how to avoid those problems--we wanted to know how to treat them and cover them up if (let's be honest--when) they happen. So we got advice from from the pros--like dermatologist Dr. Heidi Waldorf and from makeup artist Nico Guilis (who has made up the faces of Dree Hemingway, Bar Rafaeli and Poppy Delevingne)--on how to take care of our summer skin.

Read on for their beyond helpful tips:

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Bug Bites

Some people seem to never get bitten by a pesky mosquito--some people, like me, can't seem to keep them away. (Seriously, one cocktail at an outdoor bar and I become an all-you-can-drink buffet for the suckers.) First comes the light prick, then the itching, and then come the not-cute red welts.

To avoid them: Dr. Waldorf recommends a DEET bug-repellant--but not one that's combined with sunscreen. "Sunscreen needs to be reapplied frequently, and you don't want to use DEET more than once a day," she advises. Dr. Waldorf likes Ben's, Deep Woods Off, or anything with a DEET concentration of 20-30%. If you're not fond of using DEET products, she recommends treating clothing with Permethrin (you can also buy pre-treated clothing).

If you've already been bitten: First, you'll want to treat the bite. Dr. Waldorf recommends a topical cortisone cream--if you can get prescription strength, that's best, but otherwise an over-the-counter like Cortaid 1% twice a day will work too.

It's even better if you can combine the topical treatment with an oral anti-histamine like Zyrtec or Claritin. "The steroid reduces the inflammation and itch and the anti-histamine reduces the swelling and itch," Dr. Waldorf says.

When it comes to covering up the spots, Guilis says that much like a "really bad acne breakout," covering up bug bites is tricky. "You have to dry out the bite so swelling and irritation goes down," she says. "Sometimes an ice cube on the problem area will help."

After icing down, Guilis recommends spot covering the bite with a matte based makeup, "so it doesn't get greasy and run." She likes Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua foundation, Neutrogena Blemish Control Foundation, Chantecaille concealer, or Laura Mercier Concealer for the task.

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Sunburn/Bad Tan Lines

There are a lot of myths surrounding the treatment of sunburn, and we've debunked a few for you already. Also, just wear sunscreen already! But we digress. Whether it's a run-of-the-mill burn or the dreaded farmer's tan, we've got some solutions for you.

To avoid it: Listen, we know you know the drill: Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen, "applied before heading outdoors and then reapplied every 1–2 hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off," reminds Dr. Waldorf. If you're going to be doing sweat-heavy activity, try Blue Lizard Sport SPF 30+; for beach or poolside, use Elta MD UV Aero Spray, Colorescience Sunforgettable Powder Sunscreen in a refillable brush, or any water resistant Anthelios; for daily use, Dr. Waldorf likes Elta MD UV Clear.

Go the extra mile with a broad-brimmed hat and cover-up, and (say it with me) avoid the sun between 10 and 2.

If you've already been out in the sun: Okay, we'll give you the benefit of a doubt and say you were caught unawares in the sun's rays. Now you're burnt. (We told you so!)

First, act quickly to move out of the sun. Guilis says her trick is skipping the shower, which she believes opens up pores to make burns "come alive." She says the key is to let your skin "relax"--you can also add a layer of moisturizer, like Australian Gold Moisture Lock Lotion, or even just plain avocado (Guilis likes the natural oils for skin).

Dr. Waldorf recommends first taking an aspirin or ibuprofin, followed by a topical corticosteroid cream like Cortaid "to reduce the cascade of inflammation." She also likes applying something to the skin, though her skin soother of choice is a cool compress of water or water mixed with milk to calm the burn and "keep yourself internally hydrated." (Speaking from first-hand experience, all of those options sound WAY BETTER than vinegar, FYI.)

And for those tricky tan lines? Guilis says your best best is using Sally Hansen Color Spray for Legs to try and blend them out. "There is usually such a difference in the color it can get tricky," she admits. "But the Sally Hansen doesn't move and it blends well."

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Razor Burn:

Is there anything that can ruin shorts season like razor burn (or its evil cousin, thigh chafing)? There's not much to do by way of disguising the red bumps, but here's how to prevent and treat them.

To avoid it: The most obvious starting point is a fresh blade--swap them out regularly. Then Dr. Waldorf recommends a good shaving cream or oil, like Aveeno Positively Smooth Shave Gel. "Using a shaving product that helps the blade glide will reduce the friction on the skin and the risk of razor burn," she says.

In a pinch, you can use a "rich, creamy" body wash like Dove Deep Moisture Beauty Body Wash. Apply a "bland" moisturizer after shaving.

If you've already got it: "Tea tree oil for razor burn is really wonderful," Guilis tells us, speaking from experience. She says she often gets irritation from her surf board, made worse by shaving over the area. "Tea tree oil has been very healing and better than anything synthetic you would buy," she emphasized.

If you're looking for more modern medicine, Dr. Waldorf says rubbing in a hydrocortisone cream like Cortaid (again--so pick up a tube!) should reduce any redness or irritation, and then treat any cuts with Vaseline or Aquaphor.

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Greasy or Shiny Skin

To avoid it: "Unfortunately there is no way to completely avoid oil production if your skin is oily or combination," Dr. Waldorf tells us (damn!). She does say that switching to oil-free products and changing from heavier base products--"for example changing from a cream to a lotion or gel"--will go a long way to help. She likes Anthelios Ultra-Light Fluid Sunscreen or Dermatopix Oil Free Moisturizing Sunscreen.

In addition to switching to a matte finish foundation, Giulis likes the combo of "a ton of water" and a toner in the morning to take the oils out. She tells us that a natural astringent is more effective than a synthetic. "You can find witch hazel astringent at any Whole Foods," she says, "and now there is a whole line of variety of bases to them like orange and cucumber, so you can pick according to your personal needs."

Dr. Waldorf also recommends making the switch to "an absorbent powder based makeup" rather than a "slicker, wetter makeup." She adds, "Application of an oil-control product like Biopelle OC8 after sunscreen and before makeup can reduce shine for up to 8 hours."

If you're already shiny: "Blot oil with rice paper as needed," Dr. Waldorf says. Easy enough.

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Tips for Changing Your Skincare Routine:

Much like swapping out heavy winter boots for sandals, it's important to change up your beauty products in warmer months. First, as Dr. Waldorf already recommended, swap out heavy moisturizers for lighter formulas like lotions or gels. In terms of washing your face, she suggests using a either a chemical exfoliator, containing alpha hydroxy acid or salicylic acid, or a manual one like the Clarisonic, to remove the mix of gunk on your face at night.

And don't be scared of the heavy-hitters in your medicine cabinet. "It's okay to continue to use a retinoid at night," she says. "In the Northeast, it's often easier to tolerate the potential dryness of a retinoid during the humid summer months than the dry winter months." But of course, it's important to--yes!--wear sunscreen because of increased sensitivity. (But you already knew that!)

Dr. Waldorf also likes makeup remover wipes, like those offered by Garnier, Neutrogena, and Simple, to wipe down your face or body during the day to reduce acne flair ups.

And if you're sweating (who isn't?), Dr. Waldorf recommends using a clinical strength anti-persperant like those by Dove or Secret. Still swamped? "If antiperspirant doesn't work for your sweating, you might have hyperhidrosis," she says. In that case, try Botox injections under the arms or a radiofrequency device like Miradry, which eliminates sweat glands.

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Tips for Changing Your Makeup Routine:

In terms of makeup, Giulis likes water-based foundations with an SPF. "You want to wear something that won't get muddy half way through the day and something that will stay with enough coverage," she tells us. Using a cream blush on the apples of your cheeks will help make skin look "dewy and fresh"--Chanel has a new one that she likes, but Stila Convertable Color is always a classic. And pick a bronzer with minimal shimmer--"That doesn't sit well in skin after a full day of wearing it," she warns of the sparkly stuff. Giulis likes those offered by Tarte, NARS, and Cargo.

It goes without saying that you need waterproof eyeliner and mascaras--she likes Chanel's Inimitable Intense Mascara and Waterproof Eyeliner, MAC Eye Kohls, and Benefit's They're Real Mascara. For the "extras," Giulis recommends Evian spray to keep your face "refreshed," and chapsticks with color, like Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm or Neutrogena Moisture Smooth Color Stick. But in the end, don't stress out too much about it.

"Summer is about feeling and looking healthy," she says. "Less is more and it's about using the right product, not a ton of stuff."