Is there anything more invigorating, more primal than splashing water on your face outdoors? Photo: Digital Vision.
You've exposed it, dehydrated it, greased it and, ultimately, neglected it. And oh how it shows. The party's over - we're back at work - and we're ready to become serious about skin care again.
''We've beaten our skin to a pulp in the past month or so and now it's time to get organised about that 'new year, new you' resolution,'' says Charlotte Turner, national educator for Clarins.
Everyone's feeling it as they take comfort in air-conditioned offices while the outside world broils. In the past week there's been a spike in the demand for face and body treatments at the major spas and salons. Most have a ''detox'' bent. It's the ''back-to-work reality check,'' says Jessica Maher, spa manager at Melbourne's Park Hyatt. ''People are wanting to get in, get back to the gym, stop over-eating and to try to undo the damage that all the over-indulgence and the sun's done to their skin.''
Thankfully, the process is straightforward and doesn't necessarily require expensive professional assistance. The holiday souvenirs of clogged pores, pigmentation, dryness and dullness will all respond to a simple skincare routine. ''A detoxed, healing regime will help skin recover,'' says Turner. ''Most people are naughty during the holiday period and just use sunscreen - if that. They're not investing much in healing skin.''
Julian Markin, founder of Natio offshoot Aum, says that it's the basics that are forgotten in summer. ''Cleanse, brighten, moisturise daily and exfoliate weekly. That's what it's about.
''People don't cleanse regularly. They're caught up in all these stories of this product and that product. They're using all the treatment products, using what's 'fantastic', but what's it doing if you're sticking it on over old makeup?''
But the double-cleanse so popular in Japan and Asia is unnecessary, according to cosmetic physician Dr Sean Arendse - even to remove the double slicks of sunscreen and makeup.
''A good cleanser is enough,'' he says. But it's essential to exfoliate regularly to remove dead skin cells and assist with hydration. Vitamin C-infused products, used after cleansing, help repair sun damage. And who hasn't got sun touched during this scorching summer?
British-born Charlotte Turner believes that when people have a tan they feel like ''the bee's knees'' and think they need to do little else. Cleansing becomes a quick wipe, serums too much bother and moisturiser usage haphazard. ''Then they look in the well-lit mirrors in the work loos and discover the new wrinkles. They think 'it's time to get serious'.''
Turner says serums and moisturisers with hyaluronic acid (such as Clarins HydraQuench Cream, $65) will hydrate parched skin. Julian Markin recommends jojoba oil to combat dry skin (Aum Bio Nourishing Jojoba Oil, $19.95). ''It doesn't clog pores and it comforts dry and irritated skin,'' he says. Jessica Maher recommends exfoliating twice weekly (especially the body) and drinking lots of water. ''Water hydrates.'' And it's pretty much free.
Sean Arendse says the single most important thing we can do for our skin is to use sunscreen daily. ''Australians don't have an appreciation of how damaging the sun's rays are, even in the short term,'' Dr Arendse says. ''You don't have to be outside long to inflict damage on the skin.
''Keep out of the sun. Use an SPF50. And, just because you've applied it once doesn't mean you don't need to keep applying it. Apply sunscreen every four hours at least if you're in direct sun and use a water-resistant type if you're in and out of the pool.''
Good news for summer office dwellers, though - you don't need to reapply sunscreen at lunchtime. Says Dr Arendse. ''Too arduous and not necessary. Unless you're playing tennis.''