As a Black woman with darker skin, I’m constantly fighting The Ash Monster. More skin is exposed in the summer, so I take a few extra steps, and a few extra products, to make sure my skin is healthy, moisturized, and gleaming. And it doesn’t have to be expensive! In fact, some of my favorite beauty products are from the drugstore.
Here’s how I get things done. I hope they help you too, if you’re also trying to tackle dry summer skin right now.
And yeah, I threw in just a couple of splurges if you’re interested. When it comes to my moisture and glow, sometimes it’s just too hard to resist a little luxury.
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1. Switch Your Shower Gel
I generally do most of “the work” in the shower. Your skin retains moisture more easily after you bathe, and it’s much easier to exfoliate and the like while I’m still in the shower so let’s start there.
First, it’s important to switch from regular soaps and shower gels to a good moisturizing shower gel or cream. I look for ingredients like shea butter and cocoa butter.
Lately, I’ve been liking Soap and Glory’s Sugar Crush Body Wash, which you can get right at Target ($8.99). It creates a creamy lather that doesn’t leave my skin feeling stripped after I rinse off. The Sweet Lime fragrance kinda smells like Sprite, which I totally dig.
For more mainstream brands, I’ve also loved Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash with Shea Butter ($9.99 at Target) and Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash ($5.89 at Target) for years. And of course, you can find those pretty much anywhere — including great deals in bulk if you get them from discount stores stores or from a site like Boxed, where three 23.6 oz bottles of Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash is just $14.99 total!
Related: 7 drugstore beauty products that are better than the expensive stuff
2. Scrub Time
Only after cleansing do I go in for a scrub. The act of cleansing really helps to soften up the top layer of dead skin to make it easier to remove.
As far as shower scrubs go, I really like sugar or coffee scrubs. Scoop out a bit, apply it to your elbow, then work your way up and down your arms from there. Do the same with your legs and pay special attention to your feet. Start with the roughest part of your body, then work outward.
Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Hand and Body Scrub ($9.99 at Target; $11.99 at Ulta; also available at Whole Foods and Target) is an old staple that works wonderfully and is pretty easy to find in a lot of drugstores.
If you can’t get your hands on a store-bought sugar or coffee scrub, or you just prefer to DIY, try mixing some turbinado sugar with shea, coconut, or olive oil. You can also add a bit of honey if you want a little extra humectant boost.
3. Lotion Up…In the Shower.
My secret for extra extra moisture for my summer skin is to use an in-shower lotion. Not many people know about them, but being the self-proclaimed Indiana Jones of Lotion (I am constantly on the hunt for the next, best one), I’ve been a fan since they were launched several years ago.
In-shower moisturizers are perfect for people with dark skin like mine that needs a little more help retaining moisture. They’re also really good for if you have dry skin, but don’t like how traditional body lotion feels after applying it.
I’m currently using Nivea Cocoa Butter In-Shower Body Lotion ($5.49, Target) and I love the light scent and the fact that it doesn’t leave a film on my skin or in the tub.
You can also try Eucerin In-Shower Moisturizer Body Lotion which is a little more expensive ($10.99 at Target) but great if you have sensitive skin or prefer unscented body products.
Though if you do want to splurge on a lotion, which would be a good place to splurge out of all of these drugstore moisturizing products, I can absolutely recommend one wonderful luxury options in Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner from LUSH ($35.95, Lush USA) is rose-scented and packed with moisturizing butters and oils.
Related: Can you tell which of these crazy beauty trends are real?
4. Pat Skin Dry and Lotion Up Again
When you exit the shower, be sure to pat your skin dry. Never rub! ALWAYS WITH THE PAT PAT PAT!
Rubbing can irritate skin, especially if it’s dry or sensitive, and it also removes some of that essential moisture that your skin already has.
Now it’s time for more lotioning. (I told you this was about beating The Ash Monster, and I am armed for battle!)
I like to finish my summer skin moisturizing ritual with a lightly scented lotion like J.R. Watkins Moisturizing Lotion in Lemon Cream ($9.99 at Target), which actually smells like iced lemon cookies. Yes! If you prefer, I also love J.R. Watkins Moisturizing Lotion in Grapefruit.
If it’s been really drying weather or if I know I’m going to have a really long day that will show its effects on my skin, one trick is to mix a little CeraVe Moisturizing Cream ($12.69, Target) with the lotion before applying.
In the end, I smell like the most tropical of dreams and my skin is as moisturized as it would be had I actually been born in a shea nut.
You may also want to blend a few drops of a good moisturizing serum or oil into your regular facial moisturizer. (Liz has a few recommendations for ones she likes for dry skin.)
Related: Caring for (gulp) aging skin: 7 tips from a 40-something…with great skin
5. Bonus Tip: Shimmer!
If you have a gold or bronze eyeshadow that you’re not really crazy about, or just have a cheap one that you can part with, crush the shadow into a powder and mix it with some of your favorite lotion. Store it in a travel bottle and you’ll have your own moisturizing body shimmer, without having to pay a ridiculous amount of money for something you will only use occasionally.
On top of that, you use this trick to customize your shimmer to your skin tone.
If you don’t have a powder shadow, or want a dedicated product made just for this kind of trick, I recommend Maybelline Face Studio Master Strobing Liquid ($7.89 at Target). You can apply it directly to your skin, or mix it in with your lotion for a more subtle effect.
And one more time, I’m going to offer up one big splurge in the soft, moisturized skin department: Check out Nars Monoi Body Glow II ($59, Nordstrom) which is expensive, but takes lotioning one magical step further, combining luxury moisturizing oils with a subtle golden sheen.
Either way, you’ll come out gleaming like Apollo himself loaned you a few rays!