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Your burning summer beauty questions answered

Should I ditch the retinol? Can I have filler before I fly? What about hair SPF? We answer all your summer related questions

Going on a sunshine holiday is something to look forward to, as well as being an occasion that requires certain pre-planning and organisation. When it comes to your beauty routine, you may have questions around tweaking your product lineup, having treatments beforehand, and protection while away. We spoke to the experts for answers to some of the most common questions.

Should I stop using retinol before a trip and while away? 

This is somewhat dependent on the type of retinol you are using and how your skin tolerates it—for those on a strong prescription retinol such as tretinoin, you could always adjust your usage both before holiday, during and even after, if you’re being extra safe.

“Retinol makes your skin more light sensitive, meaning it’s more likely to burn. So, if you’re going on holiday, I would stop [usage] five days before your holiday and resume five days after,” advises Dr Ahmed El Muntasar, EV Expert, GP and Aesthetics Doctor. “Stopping its use beforehand allows your skin to adjust and reduces the risk of irritation when exposed to more sunlight than usual,” explains Dr. Raquel Amado, EV Expert, Director and Medical Practitioner, Dr Raquel Skin and Medical Cosmetics.

However, Dr Ahmed adds, if you are "young, healthy and only use a mild retinoid," you will likely be able to continue using your retinol, alongside being extra diligent with SPF application during the day. And in case of any adverse reaction, you can then make a decision to step away from retinoids for the remainder of your trip.

It’s also worth noting that, as Cosmetic Physician Dr Emmaline Ashley explains, “now, formulations are much more sophisticated.” This means you can still use them while on holiday, just as long as you do so at night and use SPF. “So the answer is you don’t have to stop using retinol, as long as your skin is tolerating the product,” concludes Dr Emmaline.

In summary, most people should be fine to continue using retinol if they are getting on well with it. But if you want to be extra safe or are worried, you can always press pause for a week or two.

Should I use different SPF products for face and body? 

If you’re wondering whether you can pack just one SPF product for the face and body, you may want to reconsider. “The skin on the body is generally quite thick, sweats more [than the face], and there’s more heat and mobility in the body. It can actually cause skin problems on the face if you use a body formula there,” says Dr Ahmed.

SPF factor-wise, Dr. Raquel does advise opting for SPF50 for both the face and body; it’s just about buying the correct formulations for each, as body formulations can be thicker and more hydrating to cover larger areas—they also likely won’t be appropriate for more delicate facial skin.

For the face, “use a broad-spectrum SPF50 or higher,” made specifically for that area. “If you are going to be in the water a lot, choose a water-resistant SPF, too. I also use facial products that help to prevent pigmentation [from the sun] like vitamin C, kojic acid, and tranexamic acid.”

Can I have injectables before my trip, or should I leave some time in-between?

If possible, you should aim to have any aesthetic treatments in the lead-up to a trip, rather than just before. This is for several reasons, including potential side effects. “Ideally, have botulinum toxin at least two to three weeks before your trip. This allows any potential side effects such as bruising or swelling to subside,” says Dr Raquel.

For dermal filler, two weeks before should usually also be sufficient. “Fillers can cause more swelling and bruising compared to botulinum toxin, and it's best to give your skin time to heal and settle,” she adds.

Another reason why pre-planning is important is the efficacy of your results. “Filler can be damaged by excessive heat, and similar to botulinum toxin, it can break down a little quicker,” notes Dr Ahmed. You want to get the most out of your aesthetic treatments, so leave a little time in-between appointments and big events such as a holiday.

What aesthetic treatments can I have before a trip that have the least downtime? 

Dermal filler and botulinum toxin are not the only treatments you can have before a big trip; slightly less invasive, non-injectable appointments tend to need less downtime prior to your departure date.

For example, a deep cleansing or Red Carpet facial can work wonders to prepare your skin for a long-haul flight. Skin boosters are also relatively safe to have shortly before a holiday for an added glow, “but generally, for anything that pierces through the skin, you need to allow at least a week,” says Dr Ahmed.

Do I need to wear SPF on my hair? 

While most of our beauty concerns often relate to skin and bodycare, don’t let your hair be an afterthought. Remember that the skin on the top of our heads can often be most at risk for sunburn (particularly when swimming without a hat), thus our scalp and hair deserves adequate protection.

Moroccanoil’s Vice President of Artistry, Kevin Hughes, recommends being diligent with SPF application at the parting line: “You can apply sunscreen to your scalp, just be sure that you move the sunscreen around so it covers anywhere that is visible to the sun, as well as around your hairline.” There are also special SPF hair sprays you can buy, which will help to keep strands looking and feeling strong.

If the worst does happen and you experience scalp sunburn, Hughes recommends a product such as Moroccanoil Hydrating Mask. As well as being soothing to the scalp, it also protects from further damage: “Apply it throughout your hair then pull it back into a ponytail or bun—this will ensure your hair doesn’t part and become visible to the sun.”

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