Dempeaux’s Guide to Surviving the Australian Summer

I love living in Australia; however, summer is hot. Really hot.  It looks fab in pictures, but when you’re lying around gasping on a day that’s 40 degrees (104 F) or more it’s not so idyllic.

Moreover, Australia is very dry. Summers at my house feature strong winds straight from the desert every day, so not turning into a prune is high on my list of priorities.

Add to these factors, one of these:

Well, a few of these:

Visiting groups of these:

And a backyard that looks like this:

Which means I have to do a lot of this:

and it all means that I’m outside in the sun doing things quite a bit.  Whilst I do spend a fair proportion of my time inside writing, driving and doing chores outside is part of my everyday life.

This is how I survive the Australian summer:

Sunscreen: Always, always, always. I wear sunscreen all year ’round, but it’s even more of a necessity in summer. Look for a sunscreen that is around 20% Zinc Oxide – the gold standard in sun protection. I DIY my own, but the Burnout sunscreen that Jen and Jacie reviewed looks good too.

Wear a Hat: Okay, perhaps not everywhere, but when I’m feeding the sheep, gardening, or doing anything outside for an extended period of time I wear a broad-brimmed hat and big sunnies.  I wore contact lenses for about 10 years which ruined my eyes, so protecting my eyes from the harsh rays of the sun is a necessity.  I also wear a light, long-sleeved jacket with jeans to protect from the sun.

Wear Gloves When Driving: Oh how I used to scoff at the ladies who wore gloves while driving! No  more. I have become one of them.  I have a hard time keeping my hands pretty and moisturised as it is, without adding hours of sun exposure (and thus sunspots and wrinkles) through the windscreen of my car. I also keep an old long-sleeved cardigan in the car to wear while driving so that I can protect my arms. Without it, I can actually feel my arms burning after about 10 minutes.  Now I know that this is probably not the hottest look to be sporting when driving around town; but, to be honest, if you’re trying to pick up from inside your car, you’re doing it wrong.

Moisturise: When the air is so very dry and hot winds pummel your house, moisturiser becomes a way of life.  My weapons of choice for my face are still NARS Potent EFA cream for the day, Shiseido White Lucent Moisturising Cream for night, and Lanolips 101 Ointment for the lips.  Haus of Gloi – particularly their Pumpkin Butter formula – is still my go-to body moisturiser. I also love using their Bubbling Scrub to exfoliate, then once the sugar particles have dissolved, using the left over to shave my legs. I get a close shave and moisturised legs.  In terms of my hands, I’m constantly moving through jars and jars of thick, stodgy hand creams bought from Etsy.  Also, where possible, I try to apply my moisturiser straight after my shower.  Applying moisturiser to damp skin takes the product deeper into the dermis and make it more effective.

Repairing Sun Damage: After living in Australia all my life, I predictably have developed some sun damage in the shape of sun-spots and wrinkles.  This in itself is testiment to how strong the sun is here, as I was quite bookish as a child and spent much of the time indoors.  There were occasions when I was actually bribed by my mother to go outside and do something.  However, the routine of school, travel, and so on meant that I still collected my fair share of damage.  I incorporated Vitamin C and Retinol into my skincare routine some time ago, and the results have been fantastic.  I still have some way to go, but my skin has vastly improved in eveness, tone, and texture.  My current Vitamin C is in the form of Shiseido White Lucent Moisturising Cream and my Retinol is the Skinceuticals 0.5, and both have helped to retore my face.  However, while both are outstanding products, my ongoing blogging curiosity will no doubt have me trying out more Vitamin C and Retinols in the future.

After sun treatment: If I ever do get sunburnt (which is rare) Avene Skin Recovery Cream takes the sting out of the burn and lessens the redness.  It’s also good for skin irritations in general.

Hair mask: My hair is long, colour-treated, and in the sun a lot, so I use hair masks as often as my hair requires it.  I’ve got both the L’Occitane Repairing Mask and Surya Colour Fixation Intensive Treatment on the go at the moment, and both work well for me.  If you have fine hair, I’d recommend the L’Occitane.

Hair Styling: Most days it’s too hot to use the hair dryer, so I just brush through my hair with my Tangle Teezer, which glides through my tangled, wet hair with no problems.  Once it has air-dried, I apply some Elnett hairspray, and I’m good to go.

Deodorant: With all this running around in summer, deodorant is important.  I switched from women’s to men’s deodorant about a year ago, as they are much more effective.  However, over the past few weeks not even men’s deodorant has been keeping me stink-free for the whole day, so I’ve been washing my armpits with Head ‘n’ Shoulders.  Yes, you read that right: I wash my armpits with an anti-dandruff shampoo.  I no no longer have to use deodorant of any kind as there’s something in Head ‘n’ Shoulders that prevents the growth of stinky bacteria. It’s the most effective deodorant I’ve ever tried, and best of all, no white marks on clothing!

Drink Plenty of Water: This is the best way to cool the body, flush out toxins, and help the skin recover from the heat.

Facial Hair Removal: When I’m not sporting much makeup in the summer months, it’s important that I don’t have any stray hairs ruining the effect.  The easiest and most effective way to remove unwwanted hair is to have a facial wax from my nearest salon.  They will wax my eyebrows and remove any other patches of stray hair on my face for a fee that is always a lot cheaper than getting it all done separately.  However, I’m not always near a salon to get to get this treatment done, so I revert to Nair Depilatory Cream for a quick fix.  I always apply it after my shower as the product works much more effectively on softened hair.  I also like removing all the goop with a muslin cloth, as merely rinsing always leaves a fine film of depilatory cream and bits of hair.  A muslin cloth soaked in warm water and gently used to scrape off the product leaves my skin happy.

Fake Tan: I have no idea how this works.  I don’t really want to look particularly tanned, and it sounds to me like yet another step in an (already very full) beauty routine.  I’m happy to be pale – it fits my library-girl-with-attitude persona.

Perfume: My favourite fragrances for the summer so far have been –

Jo Malone Lime, Basil and Mandarin

Mathew Williamson

Serge Luten Fleurs d’Oranger

Annick Goutal Quel Amour

Makeup: I don’t really have rules for makeup according to the season – I just reach for whatever I feel like wearing that day.  Until recently I would never have left the house without a full face of makeup, but now that my skin is looking better, there are days where I’ll skip the base and just apply some colour.  My ‘quick’ face is:

Eyeshadow – Ellis Faas E105 (taupe brown) reviewed here

Eyeliner – Lancome Le Stylo Waterproof eyeliner pencil in Cafe

Mascara – Covergirl Lashblast (Waterproof) in Black

Cream Blush – Ellis Faas S302 (coral pink) reviewed here

Cream Highlighter – NARS Multiple in Copacabana (although I’ve had my eye on the less glittery Becca Skin Perfector for some time)

Lipstick/ Lipgoss – whatever I feel like sporting that day

The cream products on my face and lips only last about four hours, but the Ellis Faas in 102, Lancome Eyeliner, and Covergirl Lashblast will not shift and stay looking perfect all day, even on the hottest, sweatiest days.

I have no problem applying a full face of makeup in summer, and if I do I will always apply my Smashbox Photofinish Primer underneath to keep everything in place all day.

Beverages of Choice: Pimm’s & Lemonade, and Gin & Tonic. Is there any other way to experience a summer?

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20 Responses to Dempeaux’s Guide to Surviving the Australian Summer

  1. Jade says:

    That head and shoulders tip sounds like something I need, I seem to stink so easily despite wearing deodorant and having high hygiene standards lol, maybe I need to see a naturopath or something lol

  2. Dempeaux says:

    Definitely give it a go! It’s worked really well for me 🙂

  3. Dee says:

    Ugh, summer. As soon as it hits I start moaning and I don’t stop until it’s cold enough to put a cardie on again.

    I’ve been using Mitchum unscented deodorant for about 15 years – it works a treat. Noodles saw a TV show once about the link between aluminium in anti-perspirants and breast cancer, so she will only go for the natural hippy shop deodorants. Lucky for her she doesn’t sweat much, because I don’t think those things work at all.

  4. Dempeaux says:

    I know what you mean! I can’t wait ’til it starts to cool down…

    Aluminium in anti-perspirants was one of the reasons I switched to deodorants. I didn’t work that out until a year ago! I never had any luck with hippy deodorants though – I seem to stink just the same by the end of the day! 🙁

  5. GlossQueen says:

    What a great post! I love seeing photo’s of your sheep 🙂

    I totally agree about summer here, it’s brutal. I don’t mind when it’s around 30, but when it gets over that it’s awful.

    I’m going to try that shampoo trick, it’s got to be better than using men’s deodorant (which I do in summer). I’ve had no luck with hippy deodorants, they just don’t work.

    If you’re happy with the Neutrogena sunscrren for your face then I don’t recommend IZ, it’s really sticky. I can send you some to try if you’re interested?

  6. Claire says:

    This is a fantastic, amazing and wonderfully detailed post! I can relate to all of it and it gives such great tips. btw- gorgeous backyard.

    Another sunburn tip is a lukewarm bath with oatmeal, and powdered milk mixed in (you can also add baking soda, cornstarch and honey powder as well for extra healing benefits) Best thing ever!

    My favorite summertime drink is just regular ole ice tea. Although I’m still in winter hot apple cider or hot coco mode here in the states. 😀

  7. I have no real experience of an Australian Summer but this was fascinating for me. There’s still plenty of interesting and useful information, even for someone like me in the depths of an English Winter! Also, as a microbiologist with experience of the flora of the axilla, I found your use of Head and Shoulders very interesting! I bet it’s very effective.
    Jane x

  8. Dempeaux says:

    @GlossQueen Thankyou Anissa! Let me know if the shampoo trick works for you 🙂 And I’d love to try a sample of the IZ sunscreen, but no hurry 🙂

  9. Dempeaux says:

    @Claire Thankyou! That sunburn tip sounds interesting – very soothing! I’ll be sure to remember it 🙂 I don’t think we have Ole Ice Tea here, but it sounds delightful at the moment.

  10. Dempeaux says:

    #ModestyBrown I’m sure you will experience an Australian summer one day – it’s part of your heritage! 😉 I forgot that a microbiologist was going to read my post :O Lucky I didn’t even try to explain the reasons why that Head and Shoulders trick works – all I know is, it does! 🙂

  11. Jessica says:


  12. Suzanne says:

    Being similarly in the depths of Australian Summer (uuuurgh) I am taking notes. Though I’m amazed that you can actually bring yourself to properly do make up – I find if I put anything on my face in summer – even moisturizers – my skin sweats like I’ve just bathed it in chilli. If I MUST wear makeup I usually have to apply it looking straight into a full powered pedestal fan. Yuck.

    I am a huge, huge fan of Vaseline’s Aloe Vera lotion. Comes in monster 750ml pumps and I race through it in summer. The only lotion that I can put on which actually cools my skin. Most body moisturizers just make me sweaty and uncomfortable in this kind of heat.

  13. Dempeaux says:

    @Suzanne I think putting on full makeup has become a habit for me. Plus, I have little to no definition around my eyes and cheeks without it 🙁 Thankyou for the lotion recommendation. Sounds like something good to put in the fridge!

  14. Olivia says:

    Sorry that I don’t have any comments on your regimen, I just get all googly eyed when I see the lambs!

  15. Dempeaux says:

    @Olivia Haha! That’s perfectly fine. They’ll be so pleased you said that 😀

  16. Suzanne says:

    ALSO – kangaroo has joey!! or else huge testicles.

  17. Dempeaux says:

    @Suzanne Haha! I thought someone might think that! 😀 It’s actually a little joey 🙂

  18. jeanie says:

    What a post! Loved learning a little more about you! What a contrast from the season I’m in- it looks warm and lovely-lol.
    You know that’s interesting about the Head and Shoulders- I never used it for that purpose but it was what finally stopped a terrible case of blepharitis(eye lid inflammation)- I bought hundreds of $$ worth of this and that and finally a friend said to give H&S a try- after one use my eye lids were better. Your critters are lovely!

    I long to visit your country- someday, perhaps!
    x jeanie

  19. Dempeaux says:

    @Jeanie Thankyou! I’m amazed at how you used Head and Shoulders to clear up Blepharitis! I wonder how many uses this product actually has?

    I’ll let the sheep know you like them 😉 Australia is a great place to visit, but perhaps do it in Spring to avoid the true heat!

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