Getting Your Skin Summer Ready!


Image via Chocolate Sun

I, as a long-time North-Easterner, have always loved the time when it finally becomes summer. I love spring, too, but I particularly love when it’s just so undeniably warm that you can really put away your winter coats, boots, and/or seasonal depression (just me? anyone else?), and finally declare that it’s going to be hot for the foreseeable future.

But I also wonder what my friends to the South and on the West Coast must think of my “coming out of hibernation” rituals, this whole “getting ready for summer” thing. Do they marvel at the silliness? Or do they, those who live in a perpetual summer state (I’m looking at you, L.A., and you, Florida) also have a feeling of seasonal change, even if it’s always kind of warm and sunny?

And, if I ever lived in one of these always-summer paradises, would I miss the change in seasons? Would I still do my whole “getting ready for summer” thing each May and June?

I’m pretty sure I would not miss winter AT ALL, but I do think I’d miss the end of it, and the subsequent end to the hibernation period that involves new clothes, getting rid of the winter jacket I can’t look at for one more second, and, most importantly, getting my skin and body ready for some sunshine and heat!

Whether it’s the beach or just walking around the city, I do like to prep my skin, change up my routine, and use summer as an excuse to try out some new beauty products. Here are some of my picks right now for getting myself ready for summer time!



Image via Red Flower NYC

It’s an actual need— but also an emotional catharsis—to slough off dead, dry winter skin. It feels like coming out of a cocoon or any number of metaphors, but I like to start this whole getting-ready-for-summer process with a great skin scrub. Red Flower Lemon Coffee Blossom Olive Stone Scrub uses coffee to reduce the appearance of cellulite and to literally wake up and tone my arms and legs. Since they’ve been hiding under cashmere and jeans for months, this is very helpful.

Like all the Red Flower products I’ve recently fallen in love with, their efficacy is second only to how fabulous they smell. In addition to the coffee and lemon mentioned in this scrub’s name, you’ll find two of my favorite scents— jasmine and Tahitian gardenia— rounding out this complex, uplifting fragrance. The scrub is part of Red Flower’s Hammam collection, meaning Spreader of Warmth, and based on the skincare practices of the hammam bath house. In case Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, and/or Spain aren’t on your travel docket this summer, you can just buy this scrub and bring a little bit of that hammam experience home.


maya chia body oil and illuminators

All winter, I used my beloved Maya Chia’s Waterless Wonder Balm on my arms and legs after showers (it smells so great!), and now that it’s becoming summer, I’m ready to switch to my equally-loved The Revitalizer Body Oil (has an orange neroli scent). As is well-documented, I love everything Maya Chia makes, and I always want to find ways to use their products as much as possible to soak in all the benefits of the supercritical chia seed oil and other superfood ingredients. So I started mixing the Revitalizer with a dash of Maya Chia’s Illuminating Serum, The Highlight of the Day, to get the dewy summer glow I crave. I’m overjoyed to say that Maya Chia is bringing back their limited edition body serum for this summer, The Highlight of the Day for Body, which sold out really quickly last year! Get your hands on it now (available for pre-order, shipping June 1st), but if it sells out again, take solace in knowing you can always do what I do and drop some Highlight of the Day Illuminating Serum into the body oil and you’ll glow gorgeously, too!

This body serum is so luxurious and effective, it contains ingredients I’m used to seeing in facial oil blends. But Maya Chia believes your body deserves the same kind of nutrition—like supercritical chia, borage, pumpkin, and cranberry seed oils — most brands reserve for just the face, and as a result, when I use The Revitalizer, my skin looks and feels its best.

And, for those more into BODY LOTION:

red flower body wash and lotion

Image via Red Flower

Just when I think I know it all, at least in the Green Beauty department— I discover another brand that’s been around a while but that completely knocks my socks off. Seriously, Red Flower just completely blew me away. I am stunned that their amazing scents and rich textures are all natural. I cannot believe this brand started in 1999 and I, a true Product Junkie, have only just discovered it! Well, I am making up for lost time, because I have fallen in love with all their gorgeous scents, in all forms— body wash, body lotion, hand lotion, scrubs, etc.

For summer, I am particularly excited to recommend their Body Lotions, which Integrity Botanicals carries in 8 scents. My favorite is Wanderlust. No, wait. I also really love Icelandic Moonflower. And Indian Jasmine…. okay, don’t make me choose! I love all of them!!!

The body lotions absorb readily, which is SO key in the warmer months, but still provide all-day moisture. These are great if you just can’t fathom using an oil in the summer— I know, some people feel that way!— but still need to give your skin that hydration and protection against the outdoor elements and over-air-conditioned indoor skin threats alike. Pro tip: try mixing in the Maya Chia Illuminating Serum here. You get just enough glow and all the moisture benefits of both products.


Image via Vapour Organic Beauty

I will admit that when I first heard that one of my favorite makeup brands, Vapour Organic Beauty, was making a deodorant, I thought, “why?” I even secretly thought maybe brands should just “stay in their lanes,” like, Vapour makes incredible makeup and skincare— why do they need to venture into deodorant? I am so embarrassed to admit this now, because the answer to “why does Vapour have to go there?” is that THEY CREATED THE BEST DEODORANT, EVER! So I’m telling you all this as a Public Service Announcement. Sometimes brands widen their lanes because they’ve made something that doesn’t exist elsewhere in the world. Those are the products we need. Vapour didn’t create deodorant just for the sake of making up a new product, or simply to make money. They formulated something totally unique and it’s amazing and I love it. So I was wrong, and I now can admit that freely!

The AER deodorant that they made, which is soothing and effective, is a gel-to-powder formula that is more effective and less irritation than anything else I have found on the market (and I am SERIOUS. I have tried EVERYTHING. Trust me.) You can also get a Trial Size Set in all 3 available scents to try it yourself: Blood Orange Palo Santo, Ginger Grapefruit and Lavender Myrrh.


babo botanicals sunscreen

Image via Babo Botanicals

Beach Essentials from Babo Botanicals

Guilty: I admit I thought of Babo Botanicals as being just for kids. I have kids, and they use/love Babo, but it wasn’t until recently when Babo released a gorgeous Tinted SPF 30 Facial Moisturizer (hello, easy no-makeup makeup summer look!) and SPF 15 lip balms that I realized, ding ding ding, Babo is for all of us! I am really loving their face products for grown ups, and also just finally switched to the safe Continuous Spray SPF 30 version of their body sunscreen for my kids and myself. Man, why did I wait so long to do that?! Spraying the kids down with a light mist of sunscreen is about a thousand times easier than chasing them down to rub in a thick, white lotion.

And just in case you don’t apply the sunscreen perfectly or frequently enough, Babo Botanicals makes a really nice After Sun Soothing Hydrating Aloe Gel to soothe skin that’s gotten a little too much sun, sand, and surf. Basically, you could stock your every beach need this summer with Babo, and I recommend that you do so.

But there are also a few after-sun skincare items I just LOVE from other brands, so you may want to diversify your kit.


raw elements tonic

Image via Raw Elements

 Raw Elements Revitalizing Skin Tonic

You’ve probably heard of, and used, Raw Elements’ excellent sunscreens because they are one of the EWG’s top-rated brands for safe, all natural sun care. But they have a new, limited-edition tonic that is really going to make you fall in love. This post-sun rejuvenating liquid is bioactive, with ingredients like organic aloe, organic prickly pear cactus, and arctic red algae, it supports skin regeneration and repair. Kind of like a confessional for your skin after the sun— it will ease all your outdoor sins and make your skin feel new again.

cv skinlabs rescue and relief spray

Image via CV Skinlabs

CV Skinlabs Rescue + Relief Spray

I am a long-documented fan of all things CV Skinlabs, and their Rescue + Relief Spray is particularly great for relieving and soothing sunburn, bug bites, and other side effects of summer fun. I have personally used it on hives, and it saved me from going crazy from the itching. And, like the Babo Sheer Zinc Continous Spray Sunscreen I mentioned above, anything that sprays is really helpful when dealing with kids who do not want to stand still for long. I use this spray to give my kids’ skin light moisture after baths, sometimes without them even knowing it (as they’re often averse to product application, which is weird, considering I’m their mom and I LOVE all the products!!).


chocolate sun

Image via Chocolate Sun

And, in case you want to skip the sun altogether, we can help with that, too! If you’re stuck in an office or as I was the summer I had my first baby, inside avoiding the sun, you can still get a safe tan! It’s true!

Chocolate Sun makes two products that can be used to create a tan or extend the life of one that already exists. Both the cream and gel can be used for face and body— they were originally developed for faces, so they’re gentle and safe. The advantage of the gel is a drier application with speedier drying time. It’s great for normal to oily skin types. I personally prefer the cream, as it’s more moisturizing, and I always have dry skin. Both formulas have soothing aloe, but the cream also contains shea butter and coconut oil, which I love. The gel comes in two shades, and the cream in three, so there are many options to ensure you get the amount and depth of tan you are looking for, and the skin conditioning benefits you need.

I never thought I’d prefer a tanning product to being outside, but this is great for those of us who spend a lot of time with our kids (who don’t need a lot of sun exposure), but still want a little extra color for summer. Now I don’t have to sit outside and worry that my kids are getting too much sun just so I can have a little tan. And, I know, I know, sitting in the sun for long isn’t great for me, either. So this is a true win-win.

As I write all this, I am reminded of one of my favorite body-positive memes of late: “How do you get a bikini-ready body? 1. Have a body. 2. Wear a bikini.” I love that concept, and I think of it as I write these ideas about how to get your skin ready for summer time. It’s most important to remember that getting your skin “ready” is about keeping it healthy, safe, and feeling good for all the exposure to sun, sand, and grass that comes with summer time and warmer weather. All you really need to do is, 1. Have Skin. 2. Protect it from harsh elements, like the sun. 3. Go outside and enjoy!

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Emily Barth Isler

About Emily Barth Isler

Emily Barth Isler is a writer whose work appears on,, Organic Spa Magazine, and She is also the author of 3 books for young adults and co-creator of the natural beauty blog, Product Junkies Rehab. She loves coffee and podcasts, and is so good at watching TV it should be considered a skill. Emily lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two children. Find her on Instagram @emilybarthisler for skincare and book recommendations and pictures from her favorite California hikes.