Summer is a hard time for beauty junkies: You want to look your best, but every time you go out in the heat, everything from your hair to your toes melts. Okay, maybe not literally, but the heat wave across the country has temps pushing 90 (if not 100!), so I don’t think I’m exaggerating that much.
Despite the heat, summer is a time when the right products are key. Bronzer can help those of us who don’t get a natural glow; the right hair tools can help tame humidity; and sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen is king.
As a self-professed beauty product junkie, I scoured the internet and beauty aisles to find this summer’s must-haves. I tried the most promising products to give you an honest review of each. Click through and see what made the cut.
Marc Jacobs Beauty Eye-Conic Multi-Finish Eyeshadow Palette—Coconut Fantasy Collection
As an eye palette junkie (seriously, Urban Decay, stop making these so I can save some money!), every summer I want a pink, peachy eye palette. I think I may have finally found the best on the market: the Fantascene color of Marc Jacobs Beauty’s Eye-Conic Multi-Finish Eyeshadow Palette—Coconut Fantasy Collection. Long name, but a great, great palette. The colors are beautiful, blendable and highly pigmented. It’s everything you want in an eyeshadow palette with warm, pink hues. And, honestly, it is the only one I’ve used out of my many (many) palettes since getting it.
Deborah Lippmann’s summer collection Hyper Vibes comes in four fun summer colors. Despite the “hyper” name, the colors aren’t standout bright, so it’s perfect for everyday (read: work) wear. Plus, it comes in Deborah’s Gel Lab Pro formula, which is a great formula. Whereas most polishes become dull after a couple days without a top coat, this formula keeps its shine. Even though it’s supposed to be a gel-type polish without the UV, I did have a few tiny chips at the tips of my nails four days after painting them.
Alterna Haircare Caviar Resort Sun Reflection Shine Spray
This shine spray from Alterna Haircare promises to control frizz, add shine, and protect hair from color fading while you’re out in the sun. Since I didn’t use this long-term, I can’t say if it stopped my color from fading, but it definitely delivered on adding shine and reducing frizz. Be careful though, a little spray goes a long way. If you over spray (like I did on my first try), your hair may look a little greasy—luckily, that goes away after a bit. It took me a couple tries to get my hair looking shiny without being too shiny.
Hempz Limited Edition Chill Out Gelato & Sorbet Herbal Body Moisturizer Set
Vegan and cruelty-free beauty brand Hempz is one I’m always obsessed with. Their products come packed with 100 percent pure natural hemp seed oil, which helps with collagen and elasticity. This summer, I’m loving the Limited Edition Chill Out Gelato & Sorbet Herbal Body Moisturizer Set. The 2.25 oz. two-pack lotions (a perfect size to throw in a bag for the pool, beach or park) are lightweight and smell like summer–one is Sweet Strawberry and Creamy Vanilla Bean and the other is Tropical Mango and Iced Raspberry. One tip: Don’t put it on if you are hungry because you’ll soon be craving a sweet frozen treat!
When I go out into direct sunlight, I basically burst into flames like a vampire (or, you know, get a very, very bad sunburn). So needless to say, I need the heavy duty stuff when it comes to sunscreen. This Neutrogena sunscreen stick is perfect for summer days: It looks like deodorant, which may seem weird, but it’s actually quite convenient. You don’t have to worry about it opening in your tote, it offers incredibly easy application, and you’re less likely to miss spots because you roll it over your body straight from the stick. Like most sunscreens, it is a little sticky after application, but it quickly dries. This sunscreen doesn’t feel as light as others, so it may not be ideal for everyday use, but it’s perfect for when you’ll be in the water or doing high-sweat activities.
I’ve always read about the benefits of dry oil—especially the ones that help add color—but had never tried one. What is a dry oil, you may ask? It’s a light oil that’s quickly absorbed into skin or hair to give you moisture without the grease, which makes it perfect for summer. When testing out the Body Shop’s Honey Bronze, I wasn’t sure the oil was doing much, but then after applying it to my legs only, I realized my feet were drastically lighter. It gives you a very natural glow, maybe not as much “shimmer” as you might expect, but it will add some color without looking fake or patchy like self tanner. Plus, my legs were very smooth. Just make sure to apply it on all connected appendages—unless you want to go for the tan legs and pale feet look like I did. *I should note that I am approximately the color of a ghost, so this may work differently for people who already have some color.
During the summer, my skin can always use help combating the extra oil (psst: and the small breakouts I get as a result). To help with these issues, I tried this OleHenriksen clay mask, and it was a winner. Not only is it in a fun aqua color, but it also has a gentle cooling effect while it’s on the skin. The mask is loaded with natural and soothing products like alpine willow herb and snow lotus, which nourish the skin. Plus, it has AHA and BHA, which are all the rage right now and help to loosen dead skin cells and cleanse pores. The mask left my skin refreshed, tingling and smooth. It is gentle enough for multiple uses a week—which I plan to do!
Not Your Mother’s Blue Sea Kale & Pure Coconut Water Sea Minerals Weightless Mousse
I have a lot of hair—and with the combination of heat and humidity, it can quickly become an untamable ball of frizz. Thankfully, this mousse from Not Your Mother’s made it much more manageable. Thanks to the coconut water, this mousse smells like summer in a bottle. Plus, it’s made with natural ingredients. It is also a lot lighter than mousses I’ve used in the past, so it doesn’t leave my hair feeling crunchy. I didn’t try the shampoo and conditioner, but if they have the same smell as the mousse, I’m sure they’re heavenly.
If your hair needs more help than mousse alone can provide (which, honestly, most days mine does), a great option is this summer trial set from Sephora. For less than $40, you can get 12 travel size and sample size products to see which work best for your hair. With shampoos, textures sprays, hair masks, detangling spray and more from brands like Bumble and bumble, Moroccanoil, Ouai and other notables, there’s something for everyone. I love when Sephora offers these sets because even if I don’t like every single product, I almost always come out with a few new faves. Plus, the bag it comes in is a fun metallic color that’s great for the season.
I don’t know about you, but I think lipstick feels SO HEAVY in the hot weather. I’d rather wear a tinted chapstick and keep it light. Lip Freak Tints from Doctor Lip Bang’s comes in several bold, bright colors. While tinted chapsticks are often light and sheer, Lip Freak Tints are more like a lip gloss—with the conditioning and feeling of a chapstick.
Now, I should warn everyone that this chapstick has a “buzzing” feature to plump lips. And while I liked the feeling initially, the intensity of the tingling became a bit too much the longer I left it on. This is definitely the most intense tingling I’ve ever felt from a lip product, but man were my lips plump! So if you want plump lips at any cost, try it, but if you like feeling in your lips, maybe try our next product.
Another summer option for lips is Coola’s Mineral Liplux line. Available in a handful of colors, the product nourishes and conditions lips—while protecting them with SPF 30. After testing the Skinny Dip color, my lips were super smooth and buttery, which makes sense since the formula includes organic Cupuacu butter and Mongongo oil. It is water resistant, so it stays on through sweat and jumping in the pool. Because it’s a natural, nude pink, my lips didn’t change in color at all. It’s available in other shades, but online reviewers have mentioned the other tints are very light as well, so keep that in mind when selecting your color.
After moving to NYC a couple years ago and having to walk everywhere in the summer heat, I realized I’m a sweater (gross, I know). So when I saw this kit from Ulta Beauty, I knew I had to try it. Its original purpose is for the gym, but the products are perfect to freshen up on a hot day. It contains makeup remover towelettes, a refreshing rosewater facial mist, a headband, mattifying powder (which really helps keep the oily face at bay), a punch colored lip and cheek color stick, a mauve cream eye shadow and liner stick and a juice-infused lip oil. This summer, I’m not leaving home without it.
Don’t let the bright blue color scare you—Milk Makeup’s depuffer is hailed as “Sleep in a Stick,” and I’m hooked. Infused with seawater and caffeine, Cooling Water is made to depuff eyes, soothe and hydrate skin and give you a dewy glow. When you put it on, it immediately has a cool, tingling feeling that refreshes the skin and is just what I want to feel on a hot summer morning. And as someone who needs help with puffy eyes, it’s a life saver. Even though its primary function is for under eyes, it feels great on the face and neck, too. I just glide it on everywhere; it works great as a light moisturizer and make-up primer.
Purchase on Milk Makeup for $24.
Kiehl's Centella Recovery Skin Salve
I’ve said it already, but I burn easily… and quickly. Despite my best efforts at sunscreen application, I’m bound to get red at least once every summer. That’s where this magic product comes in. If I could take a bath in it, I would (but it’d be a bit pricey). The salve is meant for soothing irritated skin, and with aloe as a main ingredient (plus honey and tiger herb), after a day spent too long in the sun, it calms my flaming skin better than any remedy I’ve ever tried—and I’ve tried them all.
Want to win a few of these summer beauty must-haves?
After clicking through the gallery, let us know in the comments what YOUR summer beauty must-have is. If you comment on this post before 12 a.m. ET on Monday, July 9, you will be entered to win a gift bag, which includes some of the items featured above. You must comment from a registered Disqus account—no comments from guest accounts will be considered. A random winner will be selected and notified through Disqus, so make sure you have notifications turned on! Giveaways can only be shipped within the U.S.
UPDATE: This giveaway has closed, but continue to visit Grok Nation as we start new giveaways weekly.