For the ill-prepared, summer’s joy is swiftly scuppered by the very things that make it so enjoyable. Overstaying your welcome in the heat will turn dewy skin greasy and beachy hair frizzy. UV exposure will toast skin rather than tan it and the increase in humidity is likely to destroy the underarms of your freshly pressed cotton-poplin shirt sooner than you can say “hyperhidrosis”. In short, summer is a vengeful beast. There is sweating, chaffing, chapping, burning, itching and stinging. And let’s not forget the stink.
To save you a summer buzzkill, I’ve compiled five foolproof hacks to get you through the season looking your best.
- Excessive sweating
The two to four million sweat glands that cover your body are likely to make themselves known during summer. And while some light perspiration is par for the course, some men find that overenthusiastic sweat glands can cause their pits, palms and the soles of their feet to become drenched.
Technically referred to as hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating can make social engagements – and sartorial choices – hard to manage. For the vast majority of men, a couple of dietary tweaks (less coffee, alcohol, salt and spicy foods) along with an industrial strength antiperspirant will temper transudation. Some gentlemen may even consider wearing sweat patches, the unseemly sanitary towels that stick to the underarm and instantly eradicate any sex appeal.
Those who require an instant (and fashion-sensitive) solution can have the nerve signals to their sweat glands blocked by way of a quick botox injection into the underarm. If waging chemical warfare on your armpits doesn’t appeal, then there’s the non-invasive one hour miraDry procedure that eliminates sweat glands with precisely controlled electromagnetic impulses.
- Body Odour
The greatest misconception about sweat is that it smells. Sweat alone is actually odourless. It’s only went the nutrient-rich fluid from the apocrine glands comes into contact with the bacteria on the surface of the skin that your unique bouquet becomes obvious to everyone else in the room. In an effort to break down the acids in your sweat, the bacteria begins to exude a foul stench.
Just as with hyperhidrosis, the foods you consume in excess will have an effect on the piquancy of your perfume. Unsurprisingly garlic, onions and spices, along with rich, fatty and hard to metabolise foods, will all have an impact on BO, so be sure to eliminate these from your diet.
In addition to addressing your diet (and using a deodorant – natch), you’ll need to bring your A game to the shower. Give the areas that contain the highest concentration of apocrine sweat glands – armpits, chest, undercarriage – a thorough clean with a body wash and then towel off until bone dry so that bacteria can’t fester.
- Oily Skin
Even ’normal’ skin types are susceptible to a greasy – and potentially reflective – T- zone during the hotter months. This seasonal affliction invariably leads to breakouts as your pores become overwhelmed with a stomach-turning cocktail of sebum, sunscreen and sweat.
Succumb to the temptation of stripping your skin dry with an astringent face wash and your sebaceous glands will rebel and pump out yet more grease. It’s important, therefore, to use a cleanser that isn’t over-drying. I’m currently using NYDG’s Colloidal Oatmeal Cleanser and can’t rate it enough.
It’s also worth opting for a mattifying gel or lotion over a cream-based moisturiser during summer. This summer I’m relying on Perricone MD’s new Hydrating Cloud Cream,which has a delicate mousse-like consistency and, on really oily days, La Mer’s new Moisturising Matte Lotion. Just be sure to layer a broad spectrum sunblock on top of your moisturiser of choice.
- Frizzy Hair
The spike in temperature and humidity can have an amusing but rather unflattering effect on your carefully considered hairstyle. Firstly, the moisture in the air will cause each strand to expand and lose its natural shape, making styling an impossible feat. And then there’s the matter of heat exposure, which causes the cuticle of each hair to become scaly and rough. The net result is an unmanageable halo of frizz.
At this time of year, conditioners, oils, hair masks and silicone-based smoothing treatments (which act like a layer of top coat on each strand) are your best allies as they’ll add a little weight to hair and help to smooth out each cuticle. My hair is already pretty dry so I have to bring out the big guns during the summer. My personal preference is for the original Moroccanoil Treatment , which I leave to air dry in my hair after a shower (hair or towel drying will only parch hair further). When it comes to styling, I follow with Moroccanoil’s new – and amazingly versatile – texturising clay. Both products hydrate hair without weighing it down.
- Insect Bites
The frequency with which an insect feasts on your skin has to do with several personal – and largely unchangeable – factors. Some blood types are more appealing to disease-ridden mosquitoes than others (Type O people are twice as attractive as those with Type A, apparently) as are the compounds in your sweat and the kind of bacteria festering on your skin.
Also, mosquitoes are drawn to carbon dioxide from as far away as 160 feet so, unless you plan on performing some David Blaine-like feat of breath control, you’re going to have to douse yourself in industrial strength DEET.
If you’re still irresistible to insects, then be sure to apply some some tea tree oil to the area to relieve any itching and swelling (failing that, an ice pack and a dab of vinegar will also work). If you need to bring out the big guns, you can always take an antihistamine and swiftly anaesthetise the area with a spray containing benzocaine. If the itching becomes unbearable – and the skin hasn’t broken – you can always apply a small amount of hydrocortisone 1% cream, which you can get over the counter at most chemists.