With summer on the horizon, the sun and surf are waving you in. Get prepped and primed for the beach -- starting now -- in a few simple steps.
1. Stock Up on Sunscreen
It's your skin's best friend. Think you can squeeze out a few drops from last year's half-used bottle? Not so fast. "If you've had sunscreen around for more than a year, you're probably not using enough or it's probably expired. Get some new stuff," says dermatologist Thomas Rohrer, MD, of Chestnut Hill, Mass.
For the ultimate protection, look for three key phrases on the label: broad spectrum (which blocks both UVA and UVB rays), water resistant (up to 40 or 80 minutes), and SPF 30 or higher.
Don't skimp. You need enough to fill a shot glass for one application, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Reapply at least every two hours, more often when you're swimming or sweating. Lips can burn too, so give them a little love with a SPF 30 lip balm.
2. Upgrade Your Whole-Body Skin Care
Trade dry winter skin for a healthy summer glow with a one-two punch of exfoliation and moisture. "Exfoliation is a good thing to turn over the dead layer of skin on the surface," Rohrer says. "And skin always looks better when it's moisturized."
Step one: Slough off dead, flaky skin in the shower with a loofah or exfoliating scrub. Step two: Slather on moisturizer as soon as you get out of the bath or shower to lock in hydration.
Want a sun-kissed glow before stepping in the sand? A self-tanner will do the trick. Just remember that it doesn't protect your skin from the sun, so you still need sunscreen. Don't use tanning beds. Just like the sun, their ultraviolet light can cause skin cancer and wrinkling.
3. Spruce Up Neglected Areas
Get those spots you kept under wraps all winter ready for their summer debut.
Treat your feet to a warm, soapy soak. Then exfoliate dry skin and soften rough calluses with a salt scrub and pumice stone. Follow this with a thick moisturizer specifically made for hands and feet. Get toenails ready by cutting them straight across and slightly rounded in the center, which will keep them strong and prevent ingrown toenails. The perfect accessory: a fresh coat of polish.
For smooth, stubble-free skin, you have plenty of options. At-home and salon remedies like shaving, depilatories, and waxing can be easy, safe, and inexpensive.
To prevent irritation, do it a day or two before hitting the beach. For long-term removal, Rohrer suggests electrolysis or laser treatment.