Head-to-Toe Summer Skincare
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Head-to-Toe Summer Skincare

Frustrated by cellulite, sun spots, and spider veins? Our head-to-toe guide to getting firm and smooth can help.

Banish Cellulite

Try a Massage

Get a spa-like cellulite treatment at home by using a body brush or washcloth to help boost circulation and break up fatty deposits, says Ann Marie Cilmi, director of education and development for Bliss. Starting below the knee and working up to your thighs, massage skin in a circular motion with gentle pressure (do this on dry, not wet, skin). In the shower, use this massage technique when applying an anti-cellulite scrub that contains stimulating ingredients such as coffee.

Consider a High-Tech Cream

While many topical cellulite treatments boast big results, not all of them deliver. But a new one shows promise -- it's chock-full of circulation-improving ingredients like caffeine and cola nut, skin-fiber softeners, and peptides to improve collagen. Seventy-one percent of women who smoothed on Biotherm Celluli Laser High Precision Slimming Treatment for 10 days felt their skin had less of an "orange peel" appearance and was firmer, according to research by the company.


Spider Veins and Stretch Marks

Laser Away Stretch Marks

It's easiest to get rid of the redness of stretch marks if you catch them early, says Yael Halaas, MD, a plastic surgeon based in New York City. But she's had great results with an in-office pulsed-dye laser that changes the look of damaged skin. A new mark can fade after just one $400 treatment; you'll need several sessions to make older marks blend in, she says. At home, try StriVectin-SD Intensive Concentrate for Existing Stretch Marks, which gradually makes marks less noticeable. For a temporary fix, apply bronzer or self-tanner. "Pale marks are less obvious when you have an all-over tan," says Cilmi.

Zap Spider Veins

For large, bulging veins, opt for a treatment called endovenous ablation, in which a laser is inserted into the vein, where it emits wavelengths to break down the vein walls, says Neil Sadick, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. It costs about $2,500, but is often covered by insurance. Smaller, spidery veins can benefit from foam schlerotherapy (about $300 to $800 per treatment). This procedure involves injecting a special toxin into the vein, which causes it to atrophy and eventually disintegrate, he says. Or cover up veins and blue marks with a heavy-duty concealer such as Dermablend Leg & Body Cover ($18, dermablend.com). This long-wearing, transfer-resistant formula is better on large areas like your legs than the average concealer.


Fight Sun Damage

Keep Skin Hydrated

Moisture is the key to radiant, younger-looking skin. Dennis Gross, MD, a dermatologist in New York City, recommends moisturizing twice a day, even when the weather's warm. To get your RDA: Suds up with a creamy body wash. Lock in moisture immediately after your shower with a rich lotion; try Dove Cream Oil Intensive Body Lotion, $4.99, drugstores.

Protect, Then Play

Apply sunscreen 15 to 20 minutes before you go outside, says Dr. Gross. This will give the ingredients a chance to sink into your skin and create a better protective barrier. And remember areas that are often overlooked, such as your hairline, your part, and the tops of your ears, as well as your lips, which are especially vulnerable to sun damage, since the skin there is very thin, adds Dr. Gross. Shield them with a balm like MD Skincare Power Sun Protection SPF 25 Lip Balm.

Choose the Best Sunscreen for Your Workout

Dr. Sadick, an avid marathoner, likes Coppertone Sport Sunblock Lotion SPF 30, $9.69, drugstore.com, because the waterproof formula stands up to a long run (be sure to reapply every two hours and after toweling off sweat). A speedy spray-on option: Banana Boat Sport Performance Dri-Blok Continuous Spray SPF 30, $9.99, drugstores.

See Spot Leave

You weren't diligent with the sunscreen in past summers and now your chest, hands, and arms are paying the price. Sun or age spots, called solar lentigines, crop up because UV rays kick-start melanin production under the skin's surface, says Dr. Halaas. In-office laser resurfacing or glycolic peels will lighten dark spots. At home, try MD Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Body Peel.

Get a Glow Safely

For goof-proof color, choose a self-tanner that builds up gradually, like Avon Skin So Soft Satin Glow Daily Body Moisturizer, $8, avon.com. Or try one that instantly bronzes, such as Rodial Instant Glow Self Tan Gel.


Shaving, Waxing, etc.

Wax Pain-Free

Ripping out hair at the root hurts, no question. But being silky and smooth for up to three weeks after waxing makes the pain worth it. On sensitive areas, like the bikini line, apply wax in small strips, rather than large globs, says Cilmi. Then pull the wax off in the opposite direction of hair growth and as close to your skin as possible -- keep skin taut and don't pull straight up, to avoid bruising, she adds. To minimize discomfort, take ibuprofen 20 minutes before waxing, and apply a cream with lidocaine afterward.

Avoid Nicks and Cuts

Shave in the shower -- warm water softens hair, making it easier to cut, says Dr. Gross. To help blades glide across skin, use a shaving cream or an oil. It's your choice: With a cream you can see where you still need to shave, while oil shows what you're shaving, says Annet King, a director of training for Dermalogica.

Shave Lightly

"When too much pressure is applied, you risk irritation and ingrown hairs," says Dr. Gross, who frequently treats patients with razor burn. The solution: Switch to a lightweight handle and use a fresh blade as often as possible. Try the new five-blade Venus Embrace, $9.99, drugstores -- it's superlight, and our beauty team raves that their legs have never felt smoother!

Treat Ingrown Hairs

A topical treatment with salicylic acid or willow bark will gently exfoliate and kill bacteria around the inflamed follicle, says Dr. Gross.

Reduce Hair Growth

Laser hair removal is the hot treatment to get, because it works. The new generation of lasers is safe for all skin tones, and after five sessions (about $450 each), spaced out every three to five weeks, patients see up to a 70 percent hair reduction, says Dr. Sadick. Be prepared to maintain the results with one or two treatments per year.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2008.