Notice when the summer heat rolls in, your makeup gets a bit more minimal (it’ll melt off, anyway) and yet more beauty products for glowy, sun-kissed skin start to line your bathroom shelves?
Getting a summer glow is not a frolic through the park—there’s interfering humidity, the possibility of sunburn, and pool hair problems to look out for, all of which create more work for the most “all-natural” of seasons.
That’s why we’ve been testing the best products for your summer beauty routine—think: amazing self-tanners, ultra-hydrating facial elixirs, and better-than-a-tan bronzers—so you can focus on figuring out which beach to go to instead. You’re welcome.
Read on for the 9 summer beauty essentials we love…
1. The best self-tanner
A tan—ideally artificially produced with a good tanner—is the ultimate achievement of the summer season. To get there, Chocolate Sun is all about hydrating your skin (with extra virgin olive oil and green tea extract, to name a few), and its tanning activator, DHA, is extracted from sugar beets (not toxic stuff). Despite being almost glow-in-the-dark pale and knowing I really need to build a tan, I saw a darker shade after just one use.
2. The best product for shimmery skin
Cult-fave alert! From the brand that uses only plants and nut seed oils from South Africa, African Botanics is onto something with a hydrating botanical body oil blend that also illuminates your skin with crushed mother of pearl. It reflects light like a dream, leaving your skin with a pearlescent, golden glow. You can even dab some on your cheekbones for an added goddess effect.
3. The best bronzer
RMS Buriti Bronzer, $28
If you’ve been on the hunt for a bronzer, add this one to your cart. Rose-Marie Swift of RMS Beauty is the celeb makeup artist who created her own organic line of cosmetics after having health issues from working in the toxic makeup world. So when she released this hydrating bronzer, we took notice. It gives a serious warm summer glow without a trace of orange tones, and cocoa seed butter, jojoba, and coconut oils in it keep your skin-kissed spots quenched.
4. The best body scrub
You can feel power couple Julia Wills’ and Alex Kummerow’s passion through their all natural, no filler products—with beautiful packaging to boot. Their uber popular Coco Rose body polish is flying off of Follain‘s virtual shelves (Jeannie Vincent from the company tells me) for a reason: it’s a true sugar-based body scrub that uses pink kaolinite clay and rose oil to give you a cotton candy-colored sorbet-looking bath essential that leaves your skin feeling refreshingly soft (and smelling like legit roses).
5. The best post-sunburn mask
The daughter of a seventh generation farming family in Texas, Brenda Brock created Farmaesthetics to provide handmade, herbal skin-care products which she first sold at an organic farmstand in Rhode Island. Now a major beauty brand, her powerful mask has the all-healing witch hazel, chlorophyll (the great detoxer), and peppermint—which cools and calms the skin, making it a seriously soothing post-sun treatment.
6. The best product for light coverage
When Ilia’s founder Sasha Plavsic attempted to decipher the ingredients on the back of a lipstick label, she realized she wanted better transparency in beauty products. Hence her creation of the coveted clean cosmetics company. Her Moondance powder feels super light but contains natural ingredient heavyweight champions aloe vera extract, rosemary, and thyme for softness and ultra fine pearl pigment for an irresistible, translucent glow. Oh, and it has a little walking-around SPF.
7. The best for lip care
Suntegrity’s new balms might just have the highest mineral SPF on the market for your lips, says founder Tricia Trimble, who makes amazing sunscreens that should probably also be in your bag. The lip shades come in eight beautiful, highly pigmented colors. Now you can shield your lips from the sun while looking like you’re just wearing really cute lipstick—it’s a win-win.
8. The best for hair protection
This serum is almost akin to wearing a bathing cap when swimming: it uses a combination of oils to protect your hair from harsher elements of your sun and pool days. You know how no matter how hard you try to mix oil with water, it still separates? Yeah, it works like that—and nourishes your mane at the same time, thanks to jojoba, organic tea tree, and lemongrass oils. It’s also a miracle product for basically any hair that’s over-processed or has spent lots of time in the sun. Just apply three drops before swimming or beach time, or soak your scalp for 10 minutes for a deep condition.
9. The best for post-sun skin
Started by a western herbalism and traditional craft enthusiast, Aster & Bay makes products apothecary style, with raw plant ingredients and recycled glass bottles. The key ingredient in this all-over serum is jasmine, a gorgeous fragrant flower, which treats dry and dehydrated skin—like yours after a day at the beach. It also has brazil nut oil (full of fatty acids) and passionfruit oil (an anti-inflammatory), so it’ll have your skin feeling extra soothed.
How about a sunscreen to go with that? These are our editors’ top picks. And if your T-zone is going wild, try one of these brainiac natural acne solutions, and a really great toner could be a good call, too.