How to protect your skin during a heatwave

Posted by
Daniela Morosini
heatwave skin skincare aircon humidity sweat

Is this your new work look? As we continue to ricochet from humid commute to air-con office, Stylist reveals how to protect your skin from summer’s extremes.

This is not a nation designed for a summer heatwave: the average UK flat is single aspect (with windows on one side only, so light can only enter them from that side) and a snug 46 square metres, while poor ventilation on public transport sees some journeys reach up to 35.5°C. Even looking at a freshly mown lawn sets off sneezing and watering eyes, and attempting anything more than a light jog in the gym can get seriously sticky. And don’t even mention the make-up slippage. 

Then, when we get to work, we practically weep with joy to be safe in the air-con. But while the release – and being able to sit down without your thighs sticking to the chair – feels incredible, these extremes in temperature wreak havoc with your skin and have us wondering just how hot does it have to get before we can legally go home from work. And with the very warm weather set to continue across most of the UK (not to sound too much like a Met Office announcement), there are also rainy spells and some chilly breezes incoming – just when you thought you had this heat thing pegged.

Perspiring through your Réalisation Par dress for 40 minutes will make your skin oily and greasy, then spending eight hours under a vent can further throw your natural moisture balance off-kilter, leaving that same skin feeling tight and irritated. “Any moisture produced under your make-up will make it slide, but overzealous air-conditioning can dehydrate the skin because it’s just cold air with no humidity,” explains aesthetic doctor Dr Maryam Zamani. “It increases the rate of water evaporation, even though you’re cooling down.” That means while your commute might take your make-up from Degas to Dalí, your day in the office will likely make your complexion patchy and dry. Your products can’t be fairweather friends in these conditions, so we’ve put together an edit to target every concern, from oil control and hydration to heavy cleansing and longevity. Heatwave, you will not beat us. 

8am: no sweat

Body heat, poor ventilation and being nestled in a stranger’s armpit on your commute all result in increased sweat production. Adopt a two-pronged approach to keeping your make-up intact: the light texture of Origins Original Skin Pore-Perfecting Cooling Primer will give you some breathable hydration, while a spritz of Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray over your completed look will help to lock it in.  

Origins Original Skin Pore- Perfecting Cooling Primer

 Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray

10am: stay fresh

“Hot weather calls for lighter formulations with in-built SPF,” says Dr Catherine Borysiewicz, consultant dermatologist at The Cadogan Clinic. Or use a mineralbased powder to help keep oil at bay. Try BareMinerals SPF25 Mineral Veil in Original, a translucent powder that absorbs excess oil and protects against the sun’s rays. Use Fenty Beauty Invisimatte Blotting Papers throughout the day to keep shine at bay. 

BareMinerals SPF25 Mineral Veil in Original 

Fenty Beauty Invisimatte Blotting Papers 

12pm: cold comfort

By lunchtime, your skin will be feeling the harsher effects of the air-con. Refreshing though it may be, it saps moisture levels, which can leave your skin feeling dry and your make-up patchy. Replenish both by spritzing your face with Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Miracle Hydrating Mist. It’ll reinvigorate skin and leave it feeling refreshed. And don’t forget: lips need SPF too. We love Maybelline Baby Lips SPF20, £2.99. 

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Miracle Hydrating Mist

Maybelline Baby Lips SPF20 Sun Protection Balm Intense Care


4pm: outdoor security

Safeguard your afternoon snack run from the four horsemen of hayfever apocalypse (that’s watery eyes, sneezing, itchy nose and coughing for the uninitiated). Applying Make Beauty Marine Salve will soothe a sore, red nose. It’s also worth keeping a mini bottle of Living Proof’s clever No Frizz Humidity Shield in your bag to protect hair from frizz. A quick spray all over your hair is all you need before you leave the office. 

Make Beauty Marine Salve

Living Proof No Frizz Humidity Shield 

7pm: hello hydration

It’s hard to stay hydrated in this weather, when even a walk to the bus stop makes you sweat. Hyaluronic acid makes up a lot of your skin’s natural moisture levels and holds 1,000 times its own weight in water, so keep yourself topped up with two teaspoons of Fountain The Hyaluronic Molecule in a glass of water. Dry skin types will benefit from a dab of soothing La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume over any bothersome parched patches. 

Fountain The Hylauronic Molecule

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP+


10pm: wipe out

“Sweaty commutes make skin vulnerable to a build-up of pollutants,” says Borysiewicz, so it’s important to wipe the slate clean each night to get rid of the day’s make-up, grime and SPF. Paula’s Choice Pore Normalising Cleanser mops up oil while glycerin soothes dryness. Add a layer of Murad Nutrient- Charged Water Gel to keep skin hydrated. Packed with peptides, vitamins and minerals, it’ll help strengthen your skin’s barrier, too. 

Paula’s Choice Pore Normalizing Cleanser 

Murad Nutrient-Charged Water Gel

Image: Getty