Whether you’re about to jet off to a green-list tropical island or settle into a staycation, it’s time to make sure your summer skincare routine is at its tip-top shape. From dehydrating heat and pore-blocking humidity to those extra strong and damaging UV rays, sunny climes can have myriad effects on our skin.
So, what can we do to protect it? To find out more, VOGUE asked some of the industry’s leading K-beauty and skincare experts for their tried-and-tested tips.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #58 series on my blog.
1. Sarah Oh, founder of skincare and K-beauty blog, Oh My Gloss
“Heat and humidity make our pores produce more sweat and oil, so skin can feel grimier and dirtier than usual [in the summer]. However, it’s important to keep our skincare routine gentle, even when washing our skin. People tend to over-wash and use harsher face cleansers around this time — these strip the skin, causing dryness and sometimes prompting the skin to produce more oil.”
“Using a low-pH cleanser is a gentle yet effective way to wash away daily impurities while keeping the skin healthy. In K-beauty, cleansing is the most important step, so doing this properly will set your summer routine for success in motion. Technique tip: work on sections of the face for up to a minute, make small rolling motions with your fingertips.”
“My husband and I love using the 107 Chaga Jelly Low pH Cleanser. It washes off clean, doesn’t leave behind a film, and the crushed green tea leaf powder and the aged vinegar in the formulation give your skin a mild exfoliation.”
2. Elisa Lee, founder of K-beauty product website,Dot Dot Skin
“Sunscreen is a must, every single day, even if you stay indoors or you go out for a few minutes. I like Cosrx Aloe Soothing Sun Cream as it doesn’t leave a white cast, it’s not sticky and it looks great under make-up. Reapplying sunscreen throughout the day is also needed. I recommend putting it on your neck and hands too, and using a lip balm with SPF — these are the areas that people forget, but they’re so important. Also, wear caps or hats to protect your face from the sun.”
“During the summer, I love using cooling products — I suggest storing sheet masks and eye patches in the fridge for an extra cooling effect. I love using skincare tools and I put those in the fridge as well, such as Fraîcheur Paris Ice Globes. My favourite tool is the icing roller that I massage over my sheet mask.”
“My biggest skincare tip for summer is a three-part mantra, but honestly it’s a bit of a no-brainer. Keep it cool, keep it simple and keep it calm! First of all, for me, everything that comes after cleansers lives in the fridge during summer. There’s nothing more refreshing than a chilled sheet mask or a gel eye patch. When my skin is hot, it’s also red and angry, so cooled-down products help soothe it. I’m obsessed with sprays, but since I have dry skin, I want my mists to be more than just water. The Farm Stay It’s Real Collagen Gel Mist is like a moisturizer in a spray, and I love it.”
“Warmer months aren’t the time to use chemical exfoliants. A good philosophy is that summer is for maintenance, winter is for treatments. Sunscreen is always key, but it’s of utmost importance when we’re spending more time outdoors.”
“My skin gets a lot of heat, and that’s one of the areas that the aestheticians at Shangpree Spa in Seoul helped me understand how to treat. Ms Joo-Eun Kim, the spa director, explained that when my skin is hot, I should only use my hands to apply skincare as cotton pads and other tools can cause further heat friction. She also made me aware that red, dry skin makes moisture leave much more quickly, so it’s important to rehydrate with toners and cooling sheet masks.”
5. Sarah Lee, co-CEO and co-founder of beauty brand Glow Recipe
“Growing up in Korea, we would always observe our mothers and grandmothers perform their beauty rituals. It was a common practice for them to rub cold watermelon rinds on our backs in the hot summer months. It would instantly soothe and heal our heat rash, so this superfruit became the inspiration behind our first product — the Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask — and has since become a Glow Recipe signature to achieving natural, glowy skin. Watermelon is rich in water content, vitamins, amino acids and anti-inflammatory minerals, which is why it works as a skin hydrator and soother.”
“This mask is a great calming treatment after a day out in the sun — you can use it as the last step of your bedtime routine as an overnight mask, or as a 10-minute wash-off treatment for instantly soothed and plump skin. As well as watermelon, it has hyaluronic acid and AHAs to gently exfoliate and hydrate the skin, which makes it ideal for all skin types. I love putting it in the fridge at least 30 minutes before application for an extra cooling experience. Our early beauty memories have driven the innovations that we bring to Glow Recipe and they remind us of the efficacy of natural ingredients.”
“Another tip to beat summer skin buildup is treating yourself to a clay-infused facial treatment. Traditionally, clay masks can be too harsh for all skin types, especially sensitive or dry complexions — which is why we recently launched the Watermelon Glow Hyaluronic Clay Pore-Tight Facial. Our hyaluronic-acid-infused whipped clay frees skin of cell buildup and draws out impurities, while chemical exfoliants, watermelon enzymes, BHA and PHA help clear congested pores. Combined with gentle, exfoliating blueberry-seed powder, this five-minute facial encourages softer, brighter, and clearer-looking skin.”
6. Christine Chang, co-CEO and co-founder of beauty brandGlow Recipe
“Watermelon is a soothing and calming ingredient that blends beautifully with a range of active elements. We love formulating products that intend to hydrate, smooth and balance the skin with watermelon extract, leveraging its calming and soothing properties.”
BeachPlease blush delivers buildable color in a luminous, second-skin finish. This silicone-free formula is made with skin-loving, plant-based ingredients like green tea extract and aloe vera extract to give skin support with every application.
This first-of-its-kind water-resistant blush combines pigments with a non-greasy blend of weightless oils and spherical powders for a natural flush you can’t mess up. The ultralightweight, liquid-like cream melts on contact and blends to a smooth, satin finish that won’t cake, crease, or clog pores.
This vibrant, yet natural-looking cheek color has a virtually powderless finish. The silky-smooth, stay-true formula is available in a range of shades for every skin tone. It makes creating that just-pinched look simply effortless.
LYS Beauty Higher Standard Satin Matte Cream Blush
Give your cheeks a kiss of color with this cream blush that delivers high payoff for all skin tones. Packed with clean, skin-loving ingredients like kaolin clay and avocado oil, this multipurpose cream leaves skin looking refreshed. Rich in pigment, this blush adds the finishing touch on any look.
Experience a perfectly diffused, soft-touch matte blush with a rush of color. Formulated with NARS’s blending and blurring Color Diffusion Complex, smoothing jojoba gel, and antioxidant-rich passion-fruit oil, this lightweight, creamy mousse transforms into a velvety powder for a skin-like finish.
One stick, all the versatility. This cream-to-powder stick works overtime as an eyeshadow, lipstick, and blush, delivering a gorgeous hint of color wherever you want it. The nourishing formula glides on and blends seamlessly, melting into your skin for a fresh and flattering finish.
This blush is easy to use and impossible to overdo in a lineup of shades designed to enhance every complexion with a youthful glow. Created by Rihanna, these shades are sheer, buildable, and melt into skin. The sweat- and water-resistant formula smooths over skin without feeling sticky or greasy.
Soft and flexible, this balm blush glides on beautifully. Micro-fine pigment powders deposit a touch of color without covering up the skin’s natural texture. Made with low-weight emollients that won’t clog pores, the formula has a light, balmy finish for a long-lasting glow that’s never cakey.
Achieve your best natural look with this sheer, easy-to-blend cream blush formula to bring out a dewy and healthy glow. Keep this in your makeup bag for an instant pop of color whenever you’re on the go and want to bring out that natural glow!
If you’re a fan of hybrid beauty products that do it all in one step, Amazon shoppers think you’ll love Garnier’s SPF-infused serum creams.
The Garnier SkinActive Green Labs serums are available in three different versions: Hyalu-Melon for plumping, Pinea-C for brightening, and Canna-B for “pore perfecting” and mattifying. The three-in-one product is a serum, moisturizer, and SPF 30 sunscreen. Formulated without parabens, mineral oil, or dyes, the serums are non-comedogenic (meaning they won’t clog pores), provide all-day hydration, and are suitable for all skin types and tones, according to the brand. The multi-use serums have become quite popular over the last few months — so much so that they’re selling out at retailers like CVS, according to a brand representative.
Fortunately, all three serums are still in stock at Amazon, and they’ve collectively racked up hundreds of positive reviews since launching. Shoppers say the serum creams are so moisturizing that they’ll leave your skin “dewy and glowing,” and are even “as good as $100 products.” Each serum also comes with a sample of Garnier’s popular micellar cleansing water.
Customers seem to particularly love the Pinea-C serum, which is formulated with vitamin C and pineapple to tackle dull skin and dark spots. One shopper wrote: “This multitasker feels indulgently soft and rich on my face, which has stayed pleasantly hydrated and nourished all day. It combines several steps in my morning routine into one application, saving me time and multiple coins.”
Shoppers also say they’ve noticed a “major pore reduction” when using the Canna-B serum, which is made with blemish-fighting niacinamide. The mattifying serum “works great for oily skin,” but still leaves skin “moist and supple for hours,” according to reviewers.
If your skin concerns include fine lines, customers rave that the anti-aging Hyalu-Melon serum, made with hyaluronic acid and watermelon fruit extract, has made them look “10 years younger” after just a few days of use. Others note that it smells refreshing, and thanks to its creamy texture, “a little goes a long way.”
This eyeshadow palette provides maximum color payoff with minimal effort, blending seamlessly to achieve vibrant, ultra-pigmented looks that last. The compact size is perfect for traveling, allowing you to complete a whole look on the go.
Both products are free of parabens, are vegan and cruelty-free.
I REALLY love how this champagne highlighter melts into the skin seamlessly, it’s not too stark and doesn’t sit on top of the skin. The baked gelle formula will last me for years! The formula is similar to ABH’s Amrezy limited edition collaboration highlighter, but has less of a glow. It’s fantastic and can absolutely be built up in intensity.
The eyeshadow palette didn’t call to me the most when I first saw it, but I’m so glad I picked it up, because it creates the most stunning, easy, effortless glamorous looks! The colors are perfect for spring and fall, which makes it very versatile. It pairs very well with the Mini Retro palette by the brand, as well.
Health-food-inspired beauty potions can be a little absurd. But turmeric-laced skin care isn’t that. Studies have shown that curcumin, a chemical compound found in turmeric, can decrease UV damage (it’s a natural antioxidant) and clear up acne (it’s also antibacterial) when applied to skin. It may also reduce collagen breakdown when taken orally, says Rachel Nazarian, a dermatologist in New York City. In fact, there are several dermatologists who take a turmeric supplement every morning. “It can prevent conditions, including skin redness, hair loss, and cardiovascular disease, which are caused by inflammation,” says Kavita Mariwalla, a dermatologist in West Islip, New York. She’s a believer — she pops a 500-milligram pill daily.
First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Ginger & Turmeric Vitamin C Jelly Mask
I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly…mask? First Aid Beauty’s Ginger & Turmeric gel-based mask is supercharged with ginger, turmeric, and vitamin C to invigorate tired, stressed-out skin.
Kora Organics Turmeric 2-in-1 Brightening & Exfoliating Mask
If it’s good enough for Miranda Kerr, it’s good enough for me. I love her Kora Organics Turmeric 2-in-1 Brightening & Exfoliating Mask, which contains exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids to address hyperpigmentation, dullness, and uneven texture.
Pores? What pores? Peach & Lily’s The Good Acids Pore Toner features soothing turmeric, alongside a slew of other nourishing ingredients like aloe, to balance skin while seriously turning up the glow factor in your complexion.
The Kiehl’s Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Mask does exactly what its jar says: brightens and energizes skin. Spread this creamy mask across your cheeks and let it dry. As you wash it off, the cranberry seeds gently break down dry, dead skin on the surface of your skin, leaving it glowier and feeling incredibly refreshed.
Volition Turmeric Brightening Polish for Face and Body
Volition’s Turmeric Brightening Polish for Face and Body looks and smells earthy right out of the tube, but on contact, the gritty brown paste melts into a smooth, hydrating milk. It combines turmeric with sandalwood and olive oil (which hydrate and tone skin), leaving skin visibly brighter after one use.
The amber-colored Clarins Double Serum is bi-phase, meaning it’s made up of a water-soluble formula and a fat-soluble one that, when combined, deeply penetrates and nourishes skin. The bottle is dual-chambered, so every pump contains just the right amount of each formula — two-thirds water-based ingredients and one-third oil-based ones — including, yep, you guessed it, turmeric.
The clear Tula Pro-Glycolic 10% pH Resurfacing Gel does it all (though, you may not notice it right away). With a blend of probiotics and glycolic acid, it restores skin’s pH level, brings down inflammation, exfoliates, and moisturizes. Swipe it over your skin, and in about five minutes, skin will feel smoother and suppler.
As Nazarian mentioned, turmeric’s effects can also be seen when ingested. With a blend of antioxidant phytonutrients (including a 12.5 milligrams of turmeric), the Jane Iredale Skin Antioxidant Capsules protect and repair skin from damaging free radicals from sun and smog.
Massage the ultra-rich Aveda Tulasara Wedding Masque all over your face before bed, and you’ll wake up with your skin feeling soft and supple in the AM. Plus, it smells amazing — a citrusy, flowery combination of jasmine, chamomile, and grapefruit oil.
Perricone MD Pre:Empt Series Daily Brightening Moisturizer
Loaded with antioxidants, just a few pumps of the Perricone MD Pre:Empt Series Daily Brightening Moisturizer gives skin the hydration it needs for the day. Think of it as a three-in-one treatment: a hydrator, a makeup primer, and skin protector (thanks to SPF 30).
The Andalou Naturals Turmeric Enlight Serum is full of a potent fruit stem cell complex, turmeric, and glow-enhancing vitamin C to address dark spots, counteract free-radical damage caused by UV rays, and boost collagen and elastin production for a truly radiant complexion.
If there’s one beauty brand universally loved by editors, bloggers, and makeup artists alike, it’s Glossier. Founded in late 2014 by Emily Weiss, the brand singlehandedly ushered in a new era in beauty: One in which minimalism and no-makeup makeup is favored over chiseled cheekbones created by contouring palettes often seen all over Instagram. The brand became a fan favorite overnight and its millennial-pink packaging can be seen everywhere — including, but not limited to, the vanities of beauty editors and the bags hauled to red carpet events by top-billed makeup artists.
Arguably the product that put Emily Weiss’s beauty brand on the map, Boy Brow is everything we want in an eyebrow product: Tinted, but not overly so; long-lasting (because having your brows melt off midday is not a good look); and super easy to use. The 2016 Best of Beauty Award-winning pomade comes in three natural-looking shades (plus a clear version that keeps hairs in place sans any tint), and brushes on easily for brows that look full and groomed, but not bushy. Yes, please.
Full disclosure: If you have oily skin, chances are Glossier’s Futuredew isn’t going to be up your alley, as it’s a serum-oil hybrid that leaves skin super glowy — even when used sparingly. But if your complexion is on the drier side, it might just be your new best friend. Infused with squalane, which hydrates, as well as nourishing oils like jojoba, grapeseed, and evening primrose, it works to smooth, soften, and brighten skin in one fell swoop. Additionally, it can be used as a makeshift highlighter — just tap a dot or two on the high points of your face for a subtle glow.
If you’re looking for an everyday mascara that gives lashes a noticeable-but-natural-looking boost, then Lash Slick is the one for you. Similar to Boy Brow, it coats lash hairs in a glossy pomade that enhances the look of natural lashes and doesn’t get clumpy, gloopy, or flaky. It’s also an excellent option for anyone who can’t be bothered to remove waterproof mascara because it comes off easily and seamlessly with just a little warm water — despite being otherwise budge-proof.
I have to be honest: liquid cheek tints are sometimes, to put it bluntly, hard to use. They’re either too pigmented, not pigmented enough, or dry too fast and leave the face a blotchy, streaky mess. Not so with Cloud Paint, which provides a sheer wash of natural-looking color for a just-in-from-the-cold flush — aka what blush is supposed to look like. The lightweight formula melts into the skin, making blending ridiculously easy — and the four shimmer-free shades (Dusk, a tawny, rose pink; Puff, a brighter, candy pink; Beam, a pretty, golden coral; and Haze, a cool magenta) are makeup bag must-haves.
For those of us who don’t have the patience, energy, or drive to double-cleanse with an oil and then another cleanser. Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser is the answer to all of your post-Happy Hour makeup-removing struggles. The bouncy, lightweight cleanser easily melts off even the most stubborn waterproof makeup and cleanses the skin, without leaving any residue (or that weird, tight, hand-me-the-moisturizer-quick feeling). It also smells like rosewater, which is a nice change from the subtle chemical smell of many other skin-care products.
Myself — and, okay, the rest of the world — have been next-level obsessed with Balm Dotcom since it first hit the market a couple of years ago. Available in an array of skin-brightening shades, the hydrating, waxy balm (blended with beeswax, castor seed oil, and a variety of antioxidants) hydrates dry skin — we’re talking elbows, knees…everything. I like using the Original, untinted version on my body, but for a pretty wash of sheer, glossy color on the lips, the Cherry shade (a juicy, fruity red) cannot be beaten.
Slather the mint-colored, kaolin clay mask onto your face to look at least marginally more alive before work the next day. About 20 minutes later, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when your skin is brighter, smoother, and more awake.
For those who prefer their highlighter to deliver a glowy (rather than sparkly) finish, Glossier’s beloved Haloscope highlighter (a favorite of pretty much every Allure editor) can’t be beaten. The highlighting stick, infused with a core of solid, vitamin-rich oil, gives the skin a dewy, almost glossy highlight — with just a hint of shimmer (thanks to glimmering particles from actual crystals). It’s super easy to apply and blend, and the three luminous shades (sun-kissed Topaz; pearlescent Rose Quartz; and iridescent Moonstone) are versatile enough to be used on all skin tones.
Glossier’s best-selling Priming Moisturizer is one of those rare products that doesn’t seem particularly special, but delivers spectacular results. The featherlight hydrating cream features a blend of potent complexion-improving ingredients (including hyaluronic acid and redness-reducing botanicals) to keep the skin hydrated all day long. At the same time, it’s gentle enough to use every day and gives the skin a healthy, hydrated glow, making it a great pick for days when foundation just isn’t going to happen. Its only qualm? It doesn’t have SPF — so you have to apply your sun protection separately.
It also comes in a Balance version for oily skin, which one reviewer says is “formulated to prevent and heal blemishes with antibacterial, soothing bamboo extract and willow bark extract, which is a natural derivative of pore-clearing salicylic acid.”
For decades, South Korea has been famous for innovative beauty exports like cushion-compact foundation, BB cream, and sheet masks. Known for their “skin first” approach, K-beauty brands like Belif, Peach & Lily, and Glow Recipe have become staples for skincare obsessives who want quality ingredients and packaging at an affordable price point.
From cleansing micellar water to hydrating essence, here are the best K-beauty products to try now.
Everyday Essence Face Serum
Packed with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and minerals, this gel-like essence quickly absorbs into skin to deliver deep hydration.