Summer Skin Saviours
Your Definitive Guide to Surviving the Summer with Less Than Perfect Skin - Don’t Vacay Without It!
As a former sun-worshipper and melanoma-survivor, I have severely sun-damaged skin that causes me no end of anxiety all year round. Whether it’s dressing for an event in winter where a slinky dress is called for, or baring all in the summer heat, my self-consciousness knows no bounds. Most of my body is covered in what appears, at first glance, to be freckles, but what is in fact a combination of those the dark spots and hyper-pigmentation caused by over-exposure to the sun’s damaging rays.
Let me say up front that I’m fully aware that this is a mostly cosmetic condition. I was very lucky to have my melanoma removed with only 2 surgeries and no further treatment, however the psychological effects of skin damage run deeper. I’m now a safe-sun evangelist and an admirer of brave souls like Winnie Harlow who demonstrate that physical differences and disfigurement can be smashed through and prejudices quashed.
Sharing all the tips and tricks I’ve learned… and the mistakes I’d rather forget!
It used to only be my legs that caused me concern. Dark, freckly patches cover most of my shins and, increasingly, my thighs too. Despite my diligent use of body scrub and moisturiser, the surface of these marks is dry and a little raised, making them a sponge for the pigment in every fake tan I’ve ever tried. This means, of course, that, rather than disguising the problem, fake tan in fact makes it more pronounced.
While most of you won’t have severe damage (I hope), I’m pretty certain that many women feel less than confident baring their legs (in particular) in summer. Of course we can hide away in trousers and long skirts, but what about beach days? And what about our favourite summer clothes we’ve cherished over the years, the ones infused with the scent of coconut sunscreen and memories of holidays past? Well, I’ve never been one to lie down in the face of adversity… so I refuse to let my skin paranoia beat me!
With that said, let’s get on to the solutions!
High Street Body Make Up Options
Sally Hansen | Airbrush Legs in Light
The first leg make up I tried was the iconic Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs. And, honestly, I think it’s still the best!
The original formula came in an aerosol, which was an excellent way to apply a thin layer to your skin. The down side of course, is that the spray can get everywhere, so it’s best applied in the shower or with an old towel in a tiled bathroom!
I moved to the lotion-in-a-tube version (pictured) in order to contain the mess, however, I feel that the formula seems a bit thicker in this format, and the colours are more intense, so I’m planning on moving back to the spray.
Clearly this takes time to apply, so make sure to build this in to your routine. There is also the potential of stained clothing to contend with, however, I’ve found that it washes out easily, so that’s not a big concern.
With this formula being water resistant, I’ve even worn it to the beach and felt confident to swim without any running! Highly recommended.
I believe it’s even used by Kim K to cover her psoriasis!
Garnier Skin Active | BB Cream in Medium
A little controversial, perhaps, and gram-on-gram, more expensive, but I enjoy the coverage and the lighter colour of this facial BB cream by Garnier for my legs and décolletage.
Using this at the beginning of spring or end of summer, when the expectation of a ‘tan’ has faded, is a great option because the colour is so close to my natural skin tone.
Conceived, essentially, as a tinted moisturiser, this product is formulated to care for your skin while you cover - win-win!
It has a delicious scent and glides on very smoothly.
Mix with a little moisturiser for added sheen and a sheerer finish.
Shop 3 for 2 at Feel Unique right now ~ £6.95
Vita Liberata | body blur in Café Crème
A bit pricey, but having found this on major mark-down at Boots, I decided to give it a try since I’d heard great things about it.
This Body Blur now comes in 4 shades. Given my need to conceal my dark spots, not emphasise them, I opted for ‘Cafe Crème’, one of the paler shades.
I was little surprised by the amount of shimmer in this product. But despite the fact that the shimmer rubs off on black clothing a bit too much for my taste, the coverage, scent and general application is lovely.
At c.£30 for 100ml, however, I don’t think it beats the Sally Hansen under £10 price point or coverage, not to mention the sheer staying power of Perfect Legs (Sally Hansen).
Incidentally, if you fancy trying it, Boots have a third off right now, bringing it to a more affordable £19.96.
Luxury Body Glow Options
This Works | Perfect Legs Skin Miracle
I’ve used this product on and off for many years. It’s essentially a sheer, wash-off tanning serum.
I think it almost ‘stains’ the skin rather than covers blemishes and imperfections.
Given my requirements for coverage, I find myself using this option less and less.
In fact, I’m more inclined to use it on my arms and décolletage to create a bit of a summer glow than to use it to cover my sun damage.
Scented with botanicals, it exudes luxury spa days and the result is a light tan glow, with a golden sheen but no obvious sparkle, as such.
Although the brand claims Vitamin C is included in the formula to ‘repair and enhance’, I personally cannot testify to this!
It’s a while since I bought this so I was a little surprised to see it retailing at £38! However, I found it on The Hut for £37 if you fancy indulging…
Guerlain | Terracotta Teint Doré
Another ‘stain’ effect, instant, wash-off tanner, this one definitely needs latex glove application to avoid tell-tale orange palms!
The spritz-on application is excellent for fast application and easy absorption. The formula is quite thin and watery (hence the stain effect), and as such, it needs to be applied quickly, or it will ‘stain’ the skin too darkly.
As my sun damage worsens, more and more of these products are off limits to me. I no longer tan at all to limit further damage and protect against another melanoma, so applying a dark tanner to my pale, freckled skin simply doesn’t work very well.
For darker skins, or those of you with a (safe!) tan, I highly recommend this. It’s the perfect way to enhance your summer skin… just remember to wear the gloves when applying it!
Ok, so after writing this review I have come to realise that they have discontinued this product! Oops!
Tan Luxe | The Body Illuminating Self-Tan Drops in Light/Medium
And so to my latest, hopeful purchase! Although I swore not to buy any more traditional fake tans, I couldn’t help hoping this might work!
This is a gradual, overnight or fake tan. A chemical-free product, I had hoped it might tan my skin without darkening the sun damage, but alas, this wasn’t the case!
On the positive side, you can add as little or as much of the formula as you want to your regular body moisturiser. This means, of course, that you control the level of colour that you add to your body - and it’s fun to experiment.
On the down side, mixing the product into the moisturiser is a bit of a faff that I just don’t have time for, and given that I’m unhappy with the results, I’m afraid I won’t be investing in this one again.
And if all else fails… or it’s chilly!
John Lewis | Sleek Body Shaper Tights in 15 Denier
Ok, so this is my ultimate cheat!
Not forgetting that I live in Scotland, where it’s rare to have more than a few consecutive days over 15 degrees Celsius, I often grab my sheer tights or stay-ups (if my skirt isn’t too short!) and forget all about applying leg make up!
The reason I like the ‘body shaper’ or ‘control’ option is that they tend to have more Lycra and therefore have a better sheen on the leg, appearing more natural. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they suck you in a bit on the hips and tummy area!
One little tip I would add for those who don’t like tights, or find them uncomfortably tight around the waist - I cut the waistbands in half! This ensures that the tights don’t run or fall apart, but the effect on the waist is far more comfortable. I often suffer from very intense IBS pain and therefore cannot stand a tight waistband, so this little trick helps me stay warm, wear the skirts and dresses I love and cover the skin I don’t always feel like exposing.
You might wonder where I get the energy for all this covering up! Believe me, it is a chore at times. The ideal solution would be a permanent medical treatment to improve my skin’s appearance, and believe me, I’ve asked my dermatologists about this and I’m assured there’s nothing out there yet. So in the absence of that Holy Grail, I strive daily to accept myself, flaws and all, and I would urge you to do the same. In terms of the marks, they’re not life threatening. But Melanoma is. Please, please, please, be sun-safe. Wear sunscreen. Seek shade. Cover up with clothes and avoid the midday sun. No one should be dying for a tan anymore.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, feel free to share them below, or contact me privately.
Lots of love,