After being cooped up at home for so long, it’s a relief to finally get out of the house and spend some quality time basking in the sun. Still, warm weather does come with its share of arghs (sunburn! belly bloat! frizzy hair!). Not to worry though — we’ve got you covered! The affordable, spa-inspired recipes below, infused with uplifting essential oils, are guaranteed to leave you looking and feeling your best. So go ahead, peel off those layers and enjoy the fresh air with confidence!
Heal underarm irritation with a clay mask.
A combination of frequent shaving and heavy antiperspirant use can irritate armpit skin, leaving it red and bumpy. The soothing save: a bentonite clay and rose oil mask. “The clay acts like a natural antibiotic to heal skin,” says New York City dermatologist Michele Green, M.D. “Plus, it removes the toxins in pores that can exacerbate inflammation.” And antibacterial rose oil cleanses the area of odor-causing bacteria while leaving a deodorizing scent behind. Bonus: The floral scent increases production of the moodboosting hormone serotonin for happy all day.
To do: Mix 1/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup of bentonite clay (try Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, $12.79, Amazon), and 3 drops of rose essential oil (like Ulta Rose Essential Oil, $15, Ulta). Apply to underarms; rinse after 10 minutes. Use twice a week until skin is fully healed.
Soothe a sunburn with a yogurt lotion.
It’s so easy to lose track of time when gardening or simply lounging outside that we forget to reapply sunscreen, resulting in the inevitable sunburn. For fast relief, slather on yogurt. Its proteins repair scorched skin, while its cool-to-the-touch feel soothes the sting and eases redness and swelling, says Dr. Green. Combine with antioxidant-rich geranium oil, which helps mend burns while its scent promotes feelings of well-being so you feel better fast.
To do: Puree half of a cucumber (an anti-inflammatory) in a blender. Strain liquid and mix it with 2 Tbs. of full-fat yogurt and 2 drops of geranium oil (like this one from Healing Solutions, $9.99, Amazon). Rub on burns, let sit 15 minutes; rinse.
Firm a crepey chest with a coconut oil serum.
Donning a bathing suit or sporting a V-neck tee puts those creases along the décolletage on full display. A mix of coconut oil and frankincense oil can smooth them, says Dr. Green. Coconut oil’s vitamin E improves skin’s elasticity, and its fatty acids hydrate and plump skin. And frankincense oil helps shed aging dead skin cells, while its aroma has been found to eliminate negative feelings — so you can wear any top, worry-free.
To do: Mix 1/2 Tbs. of coconut oil and 3 drops of frankincense essential oil (like NOW Foods Frankincense Essential Oil, $9.99, iHerb.com). Massage onto chest; let absorb. Repeat once a day for results in three weeks.
Outsmart chafing with an aloe salve.
Whether walking around in shorts or a skirt during a heat wave or strolling the beach in just a bathing suit, the friction between thighs from sweat, skin, and fabric can leave the area red and raw. The easy fix? A mix of aloe vera gel and eucalyptus oil. Aloe’s saponins form a protective layer over skin to soothe and heal already chafed skin while helping to prevent future rashes, says New York City dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum, M.D. And eucalyptus oil’s cooling compounds eucalyptol and alpha-terpineol soothe skin and reduce sweat. An added perk: The oil’s energizing fragrance calms nerves and reduces headaches.
To do: Mix 1 Tbs. of pure aloe vera gel and 2 drops of eucalyptus oil (like Majestic Pure Eucalyptus Essential Oil, $14.98, Amazon). Massage onto dry inner thighs daily to heal an existing rash and prevent a new one from forming.
Slow sweating with a witch hazel spritz.
Sure, antiperspirant nixes sweat under our arms, but couple the season’s heat with hormonal hot flashes, and we could use something that works for other sweat-prone areas like under breasts and behind knees! Dermatologist Michele Green, M.D., advises using a spray containing witch hazel and lemongrass oil. “Witch hazel’s tannins have an astringent effect that temporarily tightens pores to control sweat production.” Plus, it balances skin’s pH to reduce the odor-causing bacteria that comes with sweat. And lemongrass oil adds extra astringent protection, while its citrusy scent overpowers odor and decreases stress triggers (another cause of sweat!) in the brain.
To do: Add 1 cup of witch hazel and 5 drops of lemongrass oil (like PURA D’OR Lemongrass Essential Oil, $15.99, Amazon), into a small spray bottle; shake to combine. Store in the fridge (the cool liquid leaves skin with a lasting “chill”) and mist onto areas that get sweaty once a day.
Banish belly bloat with a lemon oil massage.
Summer’s heat causes the lymphatic system to become sluggish, resulting in water retention that “swells” the stomach. To help shrink it, Hope Gillerman, holistic beauty expert and author of Essential Oils Every Day ($18.52, Amazon), suggests massaging the area with lemon oil. “Massage increases lymph flow to flush away the stagnant fluids that cause bloat, and diuretic lemon oil helps speed the detoxification process.” Plus, the lemon oil aroma has been found to increase energy levels by 21 percent in just two minutes, so you’ll be raring to go right after!
To do: Mix 3 drops of lemon oil (like Aura Cacia Lemon Essential Oil, $14.78, Amazon) with 1 Tbs. of olive oil (to prevent irritation). Rub over the belly in circular motions for two minutes; wipe away excess oil. Do twice a week or as needed.
Smooth cellulite with a grapefruit oil polish.
Self-conscious about that dimply thigh skin? You’re not alone. Ninety-eight percent of us have it, and 100 percent us would love it to disappear! What can help? Aesthetician Bella Schneider, who works with Michelle Pfeiffer and Gayle King, buffs her celebrity clients with a scrub made of grapefruit oil, Epsom salt and olive oil. The citrusy oil has diuretic properties that flush out the excess fluids that make cellulite more prominent, Epsom salt gently exfoliates to smooth out skin and olive oil’s moisturizing squalene “fills in” dimples. Also great? Studies show that grapefruit oil’s scent reduces the appetite, which can halt snacking on cellulite-causing food!
To do: Mix 1/4 cup of Epsom salts, 2 Tbs. of olive oil, and 5 drops of grapefruit oil (like Homedics Grapefruit Essential Oil, $9.99, Homedics). Scrub onto cellulite, let sit five minutes; rinse. Use three times a week for results in two weeks.
Calm razor burn with a milk compress.
We spend the season ensuring our legs are hair-free — too bad all that shaving or waxing can leave red, itchy spots in its place. Celebrity aesthetician Lisa Guidi, who’s worked with Serena Williams, advises treating them with a milk and chamomile oil compress. Milk is an anti-inflammatory that soothes irritation and itchiness, while its cool temperature reduces swelling. And chamomile oil’s flavonoids constrict blood vessels to reduce redness, says Guidi. Plus, the oil’s scent can help mitigate pain, so you’re less bothered by the rash.
To do: Mix 1 cup of milk with 4 drops of chamomile oil (like Rainbow Abbey Chamomile Oil, $8.50, Amazon). Soak a washcloth with the liquid, wring out excess; place on skin for five minutes. Store leftover mix in the fridge and repeat daily until the rash subsides.
Tame frizz with an avocado conditioner.
The reason hair is so frizzy this season: The sun dries out strands, leaving them super-parched so they grab onto the moisture in summer’s humid air to quench their thirst. This leads to a moisture overload that causes them to swell into a frizzy mess. The mane-smoothing remedy that hairstylist Kyle White, who has worked with Naomi Watts and Robin Wright, uses? An avocado oil and ylang-ylang oil conditioner. “Avocado oil’s vitamin E seals hair’s cuticle to help puffy strands lie flat,” he says. “Plus, it’s a lightweight oil that easily absorbs into hair without leaving it looking or feeling greasy.” And esters in ylang-ylang oil moisturize deeply so hair gets the hydration it needs. Plus, ylang-ylang’s floral scent boosts your mood by reducing production of the stress hormone cortisol. The end result? Happy you and happy hair!
To do: Mix 1 1/2 Tbs. of avocado oil and 4 drops of ylang-ylang oil (like Gya Labs Ylang Ylang Essential Oil ,$9.98, Amazon). Apply to damp hair, cover with a warm, damp towel, let sit 10 minutes; shampoo. Use once a week.
Beat bacne with a tea tree oil wash.
Heat causes oil glands to go into overdrive, resulting in body breakouts that are showcased in summery attire. To help, wash up with tea tree oil, says Austin, Texas, aesthetician Renée Rouleau. “Its antimicrobial properties destroy acne-causing bacteria and keep pores clean.” Even better? The oil’s scent has been shown to squash feelings of self-doubt, so you can bare your back with confidence.
To do: Add 3 drops of tea tree oil (like The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil, $10, The Body Shop) to a palmful of body wash. Rub onto breakouts; rinse after two minutes. Use three times a week for results in just two weeks.
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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.