Health & Grooming

The path of heat resistance

Innovative make-up and hair products are beating the heat (and the humidity, sun and sea) for a flawless beachside finish, says Olivia Falcon.

June 06 2011
Olivia Falcon

The beach, it seems, is the Beirut of beauty zones: so glamorous, so alluring, but with an undercurrent of potential trouble bubbling just below the surface. Those of us who don’t blotch, freckle, shine or frizz (or some combination of the above) are few and far between.

And so to the good news: there is help to be found at the make-up counter this season. New, super-lightweight, long-lasting formulas for face, eyes and lips that harness complex technologies to stand up to sun, sea and heat are rewriting the holiday beauty rules. Beginning with the old “make-up on the beach is vulgar” one.

Thanks to genuine innovation, make-up can now be an essential part of your holiday grooming routine. Start with the skin’s surface. Since it produces more sebum in hot climates, which blocks pores and leads to blackheads and spots, foundation is never a good idea, especially as humidity tends to undermine most formulations, causing them to dissolve or disintegrate and impart a melted-ice-cream effect. This season’s welcome alternative: a new generation of prescriptive skin primers that multitask, with the help of high-tech polymers married to intense extracts of botanicals, to even out imperfections and provide a subtle canvas for make-up, without foundation. (Just apply your usual – ideally SPF 40 or above – sunscreen beforehand.)

Foremost among these is Nars’ new face primers, which have borrowed technology from the sophisticated skincare laboratories at Shiseido (they are owned by the same company). The Nars Pore Refining Primer, Pro-prime (£24), works as follows: lentil-seed extract takes control of oil in the T-zone, effectively neutralising sebum production, helping pores appear smaller, as well as reducing shine; Bisabolol, a chamomile extract, simultaneously soothes with time-release power, so skin tone is more uniform and not as prone to blotches in searing heat. There’s also a Multi Protect SPF30 version, called Plus Plus Plus (£24), which offers the highest UVA anti-radiation protection you can currently get in a bottle. Its star ingredient is Gentiana flower extract, harvested in the high Himalayas. In nature, Gentiana possesses a chemical compound that rather extraordinarily scatters harmful UV light away from its delicate petals. In clinical trials, this potent flower’s extracts were found to protect skin in a similar way.

Another innovator is Givenchy’s Mister Radiant (£24), a skin-perfecting gel primer similar in concept to the Nars products but dotted with vitamin-E-infused micro-beads of bronze and gold tint. Massage it into skin, and the beads “erupt”, blending to impart tone while the water-based gel fills lines, wrinkles and pores. A single layer helps conceal imperfections and unevenness; two or three will even out a natural tan (or give an even coppery glow to winter skin).

The genius of these products is their ability to genuinely improve the look and evenness of skin, without the ageing effects of traditional foundation and powder that are magnified in bright holiday sunlight. But for those in need of a more substantial cover-up – of, say, scars or uneven pigmentation – the ultimate camouflage has to be award-winning Japanese marque Suqqu’s new Frame Fix Liquid Foundation (£65). The formula leverages the same pore-minimising, line-smoothing technology found in Suqqu’s primer and marries it to the concealing, light-reflecting qualities of its foundations. Two patented polymers form a sort of invisible corset over the skin, so smiles, frowns, and squints won’t cause your coverage to gather in lines and creases around the eyes and mouth, making Frame Fix an ideal choice for more mature skins.

Eye make-up gets a workout in hot summer months too, and the white coats at the major beauty houses have been similarly busy improving the staying power of liners and shadows, especially powder formulations, in sun, heat and humidity. Leading the way is Sue Devitt, whose eponymous brand is a favourite of the likes of Uma Thurman and Jennifer Lopez. “The DNA of my brand is skincare, so all my make-up formulas are blended into a skincare base,” explains Devitt. The new Beausoliel compact (£31) – a quad of eye and cheek colours whose tones blend to work all over the face – is something of a techno-revelation. “When mineral powders became trendy a few years ago, my concern was that they weren’t hydrating enough and over months of use you would see fine lines appearing, especially around the corners of the eyes.” The Beausoleil formula contains smoothing ceramides, marine collagen that rejuvenates the skin tissue, and hyaluronic acids that attract moisture from the air and deliver it to the skin. The result is road-tested colour that stays in place without creasing for 12 hours, while improving the health and quality of your skin.

You won’t have to look far across the beauty hall to find other interpretations of this new powder technology. Yves Saint Laurent’s Pure Chromatics eye palettes (£37) are the star buy: pat them dry onto eyelids and they impart a sheer iridescent sheen, or mix them with a bit of water for more intense Klimt-like gilding around the lash line. And don’t fear the primary, or even neon, colours; these shadows go on in subtle, transparent, wearable layers, and the iridescence tends to tone down the colour, ensuring that “youthful” always trumps “garish”. And if you’re headed to the pool, consider Guerlain’s Ombre Fusion Cream Eyeshadow (£20.50, available from early June); equally subtle, it comes in a trio of coppery shades that are water resistant.

You can also feel confident about the new generation of waterproof eyeliners. Make-up guru Terry de Gunzburg has always been ahead of the game – she was the creator of Yves Saint Laurent’s seminal Touche Eclat concealer – and it’s hard to beat the new, updated formulation of her By Terry Ligne Blackstar eyeliner (£24.50), which launched in 2009. Unlike traditional eyeliner formulations, which use pigments diluted in water, this one delivers a tattoo-like stain thanks to a maverick technology that has adapted the staying power of real ink to temporary colour for cosmetic use. Also boasting tortoise-like longevity are Estée Lauder’s Double Wear Stay-in-Place liners (£15.50), which have a quick-dry formula that holds for up to 12 hours. These pens offer the precision of liquid eyeliner but the gel formula lends a satin finish, so the liners are still easy to blend.

And so to lips. Many believe nude is still the best look on the beach, especially since balm with a high SPF is the order of the day. But this month, two novel pigments that work to enhance one’s own natural lip colour while delivering moisture are making their débuts. By Terry’s Aqua Tint Lip (£20) comes in one versatile colour, designed to recreate (or magnify) the rosebud hue of a pair of luscious, youthful lips. De Gunzberg explains, “Most lip formulas use copious amounts of alcohol; when it evaporates, it affixes the colour in place, but with very drying effects.” With Aqua Tint de Gunzberg has created a new micro-polymer that acts rather like the grips on a pair of snow shoes to attach colour on your lips without any irritation. The pigments are also coated with amino acids, which give the colour added longevity as well as significant hydrating and plumping power. Likewise, Lancôme’s L’Absolu Nu lipsticks (£19.50), all variations on subtle buff shades, gently enhance lip colour with Opti Carmin, a patented sheer red pigment designed to magnify and boost the natural red of healthy lips.

A glowing, perfectly turned-out face will not, however, save you from looking shipwrecked if you’ve yet to conquer the final summer grooming frontier: hair. Several brands already have laudable products for addressing this issue, including Kérastase’s excellent Soleil line (from £14.90) with built-in SPF (note: this, like any other SPF product, needs to be meticulously reapplied to work). But this spring, three kings of the hair care industry – Frédéric Fekkai, Serge Normant and Richard Ward – are all launching new product lines formulated to preserve expensive colour from the fading effects of the sun, and impart the smooth, show-pony radiance of naturally healthy hair to frizzy or dehydrated locks.

New York-based Fekkai has harnessed the power of the sea in his new Marine Beach Collection (all £20). The product to lean on is the Marine Summer Hair Beachcomber Leave-in Conditioner, which coats hair with what Fekkai calls AquaNutrient technology – a mix of intensely moisturising sea kelp, algae extracts and heat-activated ceramides that scatter UV rays when warmed by the sun.

Serge Normant, star stylist of Manhattan’s John Frieda Salon, purportedly tested his new Meta range (from £23) on his leonine-maned celebrity friends (including Julia Roberts and Sarah Jessica Parker). Meta has no sun protection built in but it effectively neutralises frizz with the bio-tech power of Keravis, a vegetable-derived hair strengthening complex. “Keravis works to penetrate the cortex of hair, to seal and protect it from inside out,” says Normant. “I’m not one to overload hair with products. I love hair that moves; with [this line] you can easily run your fingers through your hair without stiffness.”

The third in the triumvirate is Kate Middleton’s preferred stylist Richard Ward, whose new Couture Hair range (from £7.50) contains UV shields as well as “humidity defence technology”. Largely botanical, this is a compound of plant extracts including black oak and Lecithin, a soya bean byproduct that is rich in phospholipids – one of the most effective natural agents for relaxing coarse, frizzy hair and imparting shine.

So as temperatures rise, don’t let that undercurrent of danger overshadow the glamour. With these new products in hand, the beauty hostility zone is disarmed; it’s just a beach again, with you looking great on it.

See also