“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” —Henry James

Summer may not be the most spellbinding season for beauty. Heat and humidity can drive the oil glands crazy and cause breakouts, while exposure to the sun, salt air at the beach, and air conditioning can overdry the skin.

When the hot, sultry air wraps itself around you like a warm blanket, the best way to cool down the skin is with lots of water and tropical fruits and vegetables. In general, it makes sense to switch to a lighter moisturizer and sheerer makeup, exfoliate the face and body regularly, and shampoo less frequently to keep the hair and scalp from drying out. Masking once a week will help keep the skin and hair hydrated. Focus on plant ingredients like papaya, coconut, and aloe, which contain a lot of water and help refresh the skin.


Papaya grows in tropical climates around the world, where it is mashed and used in face masks to nourish and moisturize the skin. The enzyme papain exfoliates dull-looking dead skin and evens out skin tone. It’s especially good for oily or older skin and adult acne.

Alpyn Beauty Plant Genius Creamy Bubbling Cleanser

This brand, based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, relies on a certain amount of ingredients foraged in the Grand Tetons. A great daily exfoliating cleanser—with papaya, pomegranate, glycolic acid, and lactic acid—it also contains moisturizing hyaluronic acid and ceramide. It leaves skin soft and silky,
and Alpyn Beauty gives one percent of all sales to environmental causes.

Living Libations Green Papaya + Lime Mask

Loaded with alpha hydroxy acids from papaya, pineapple, lemon, and lime enzymes, this brightening mask exfoliates the skin and hydrates at the same time, leaving skin looking radiant.


With its small molecular structure, coconut oil absorbs easily into the hair and skin, which makes it an amazing moisturizer. If your skin is oily or prone to breakouts, it may clog pores. In Southeast Asia, coconut oil (a.k.a. Monoï oil) shampoos are a traditional way to keep hair lustrous and shiny.

RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream

A raw, organic coconut oil that helps protect skin against free-radical damage and the signs of aging. Coconut oil is antibacterial, antimicrobial, great for nourishing skin and hair, and lovely to apply.

Conscious Coconut Organic Coconut Oil

Ready for travel, this organic multitasker is 100 percent cold-pressed coconut oil. It soothes dry skin and adds shine to hair. For every tube sold, Conscious Coconut donates a meal to a child through Feeding America and plants a tree.


Aloe vera gel is 99.5 percent water, which is why it feels so good on the skin. It also contains vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that are great moisturizers and anti-inflammatory agents. Aloe soothes sunburn and temporarily tightens the skin, making it a great mini-mask to apply before a night out.

Rahua Aloe Vera Hair Gel

This brand gives back to native people in South American rainforests by providing them with a steady income. The gel–with organic aloe vera, cucumber and sugarcane–is great for styling and also adds shine and softness.

Babo Botanicals After Sun Soothing Hydrating Gel

With aloe vera gel, green tea, witch hazel, arnica, and eucalyptus oil, this precious tube leaves skin soft, smells great, and leaves no tacky feel behind. Perfect after sun exposure!


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Rona Berg is the former editorial director of Elle, deputy lifestyle editor and beauty columnist for the New York Times Magazine and best-selling author of Beauty: The New Basics and Fast Beauty: 1000 Quick Fixes. Berg has been cited as an industry expert by New York magazine, Entrepreneur and the Huffington Post, and was awarded the American Spa 2020 Women in Wellness Environmental Leader Award. You can follow her on Instagram @Rona Berg.