Summer Beauty Top-2-Toe

3rd August 2012

Pre-holiday top-2-toe beauty is the ultimate challenge for many, says Mary Linehan, but the desire for body perfection doesn’t stop at the boarding gate.

As with all things, the better the preparation, the easier it is to maintain while away in a strange bathroom. It pays dividends in other ways, too. We tend to feel sexier when we’ve spent a day in the sun, which may, in part, be attributed to the body’s natural production of vitamin D, triggered by exposure to sunlight, which is a feel-good mood booster.

According to top international facialist Su-Man, “Holidays put our body and mind into a state of relaxation which eases tension from the skin.” She also believes that when exposing our bodies, in order to look better we tend to be applying more creams and potions, “which ultimately is about touch, and stimulating the senses, so we feel sexier.”

So, it makes sense that having been through the challenge of prepping for all that beach exposure, there’s a lot to be said for going the extra length and putting in a little more focus on the erogenous zones…

Hair has long been associated with a woman’s beauty, so think about a summer change of look. This year’s ‘headlining’ style has to be the ponytail. How many ways can you wear one? Almost too many to count: tight and sleek or loose and tousled; long or short down the back, or low and to the side falling over a bare shoulder. Probably the most versatile and practical look around, it’s great to wear to the beach, scraped up and into a hat to protect from sun, sea and sand – and just as great with an accessory or two, twisted into a sexy evening updo.

Celebrity hairdresser Lee Stafford says, "Low hung ponytails that sit at the nape of your neck are a great way to achieve a sultry look which flatters the face, and draws attention to neck and décolleté and shoulders. And you can pick your personality – pouty and provocative, or cool and aloof. Start by gently backcombing the underneath section of your hair at the crown so it’s not totally flat to your head. Brush hair back away from the forehead making sure you have no parting and fix, either higher on the back of the head coquettishly, or as a low-hung ponytail down the back. Always use a snag-free band, and clip into place with a stylish accessory. On holiday, you can go for something a little more flamboyant. You want to avoid heat and humidity frizz if you are going bare faced, so a quick mist of Lee Stafford Hold Tight Firm Hold Hairspray (£5.39) will keep any frizzy strands at bay.”

Side partings are hip now, too, Lee goes on. “And if you have layers, leave a couple of sections loose to flatter your face. Again, try a little back- combing so that hair is not flat on your head… scrape it round to the opposite side and clip into place just in the crook of the shoulder. If you have longer thicker hair, you can weave it and clip nearer the end of the ponytail for a very sexy look.”

Since you are drawing attention to the neck, shoulders and décolleté, make sure that skin is in tip-top condition. Pink and peeling is not going to do it for anyone; bronzed, moisturised and shimmering is the aim. The delicate décolleté area needs special attention if it’s not going to look crêpey and lined and, frankly, aged. This Works: Perfect Cleavage Firming Lotion (£37) is light and soothing, with larch extract, rose and algae extract to help reduce wrinkles, nourish and boost repair. If you need something richer and more emollient, tehn Caudalie Firming Concentrate (£25.50) has vitamin rich grapeseed oil, with Douglas pine, sweet mint and peppermint. Not only richly hydrating, it also helps with sagging and stretch marks. For sexy shoulders, try Liz Earle’s rather brilliant Sheer Gold Body Shimmer (£8.50 for 50ml). This lightweight rehydrating gel is made with ten active essential oils, aloe vera and vitamin E. Layer it, so you don’t overdo it; whichever part of the body you’re using it on, less is definitely more when it comes to shiny. The effect can be aging – or worse.

As the most difficult part to reach, the back can sometimes look a little lacking in the perfection stakes, which is a shame; again, a beautiful back can be very sensual. Certainly, you should be exfoliating the whole area as part of any pre-holiday body blitz, but it needs a little extra care when away. Applying and religiously reapplying protective suncare products, plus plastering on post-sun moisturisers is the right thing to do, of course, but all these products plus the general sweat and grime from a day at the beach can leave it a little pimply. So, it’s worth squeezing a good back body brush into your luggage to deep cleanse and exfoliate. Eco Tools EcoPouf Body (£9.99) isn’t too harsh on skin that’s been exposed to the sun and will make sure that if you’re wearing any backless number, with or without an attention-seeking ponytail, that side won’t let you down.

Legs and feet get maximum exposure in summer. Bronzed legs are supremely attractive but since skin is particularly prone to drying and flaking on the shins where it’s generally slightly thinner, you need to lavish some extra-rich hydrators to counter this, especially if you shave. Layering will help – post-shower, slather on a rich moisturiser or after sun lotion – or both. Finish with Boots No. 7 Silky Leg Oil (£11). Made with Moroccan argan oil and vitamin E, it gives a concentrated moisture boost and slight sheen… but you will need to take care when dressing. For feet, This Works: Perfect Heel Rescue Balm (£15) is, as it says, just about perfect. Hydrating and softening, the Ecocert cotton thistle helps the skin maintain moisture levels, while the lemon oil and lavender are both antiseptic and regenerating. Another pick for neglected feet is L’Occitane Shea Butter, with lavender and arnica, which is an exceptionally rich moisturiser and softener and ideal for very dry skin. It’s available, too, in a small travel size 30ml tube for £8, so there’s no excuse.

Holiday Post Script: If it’s a practical multi-tasker you’re after, Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse® OR Dry Oil (£25) is a treatment dry oil for the whole body including the face. Massage into the skin post-shower for multiple benefits, from hydration and repair to a more cosmetic shimmer. It has ultra-fine golden particles that add subtle lights. It comes in a convenient spray pump, which you can also use to spray on the hair; use it as is, or add it to a tan-enhancing aftersun.

Here’s to a romantic getaway…

Find Your Local