These 12 beauty products are wildly unsexy—but hear me when I say they're essential come summer

As a cost-conscious editor, you need to trust me on this

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sweat marks! Chafing! Your make-up sliding all over your face come 12pm. Summer might be great for post-work terrace drinks and warm late night walks, but it does hinder your regular beauty regime somewhat. But not to worry, after years of trial and error, I have found ‘unsexy’ beauty products to be the most effective in solving all your summer beauty-related woes.

The term ‘unsexy’ beauty has been doing the rounds on TikTok recently. But what is it? Well, the name pretty much speaks for itself. It refers to the area of beauty that isn’t particularly ‘beautiful’ but instead addresses beauty-related issues (as outlined above).

Okay, they might not have the most luxurious packaging, but these products pride themselves in their no-frills approach to beauty. Practical, affordable and genuinely useful on a trip away (or just a UK summer heatwave, TBH).

Arguably, unsexy beauty products become the most useful come summer, so it’s during these warmer months that unsexy beauty really comes into its own. From powder SPF and chafing cream to fast-drying body creams and oily skin-friendly products, there’s a plethora of products that fall under this category.

As a cost-conscious and beauty-loving shopping editor, I personally am a huge fan of unsexy beauty products—they’re the type of products I probably buy the most often, even stocking up when I can get them on a bundle discount at Boots.

I’ve recently moved house, and these practical beauty items were my first priority when it came to packing. Similarly, whenever I go on holiday I always make sure to have them in my suitcase before popping in the more ‘aesthetic’ beauty products I plan to elegantly strew across my beach flat lay.

So without further ado, these are the ‘unsexy’ beauty products I wouldn’t be without in the summer.

The best unsexy summer beauty products we use all the time:

1. Batiste Original Dry Shampoo

Batiste Original Dry Shampoo

(Image credit: Lookfantastic)

Batiste Original Dry Shampoo

Best dry shampoo

I am literally never without my dry shampoo, and having tried a number of options in my time, the brand I always come back to is Batiste. Not only is it among the most affordable, but it genuinely works way better than most of the luxury options I’ve tried. It mops up oils in my hair like no other, and I can make my naturally greasy hair last 4-5 days when I use this iconic formula. The 200ml bottle is best: not too big to make your arm ache while holding it, but big enough to last you a decent amount of time.

A few things to note: it does leave a bit of a talc-y mist on your hair (nothing a thorough rub won’t fix) and if you’re planning on travelling with your dry shampoo, it counts as a liquid when you go through security (no, I don’t understand why either). So make sure you either pack it in your checked-in luggage or buy a mini travel-sized version for your trip. 

2. Mitchum Invisible Roll On Deodorant & Anti-Perspirant

Mitchum Invisible Roll On Deodorant & Anti-Perspirant

(Image credit: Amazon)

Mitchum Invisible Roll On Deodorant & Anti-Perspirant

Best deodorant

Next up: Mitchum’s ‘Invisible’ deodorant. IMO, no deodorant brand beats Mitchum for sweat and odour control and affordability, and this offering has the added benefit of leaving no white marks on your clothing or skin. I wear a lot of black and other dark colours, and I can’t tell you how many dresses and T-shirts I’ve ruined in the past. No more, thanks to this high-performance deodorant. 

3. Megababe Thigh Rescue

Megababe Thigh Rescue

(Image credit: Cult Beauty)

Megababe Thigh Rescue

Best chafing cream

If you suffer from thigh chafing in the summer like me, I thought you’d like to know that Megababe’s Thigh Rescue stick has been my saviour recently. I'm a huge fan of the mini 23g stick in particular—it’s the perfect size for popping into my handbag for chafing emergencies on unexpectedly warm days. It also leaves plenty of slip on the skin – probably the most of all the chafing creams I’ve tried – but doesn’t feel at all greasy. 

4. Hawaiian Tropic Mineral Powder Brush SPF 30

Hawaiian Tropic Mineral Powder Brush SPF 30

(Image credit: Amazon)

Hawaiian Tropic Mineral Powder Brush SPF 30

Best powder SPF

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you need a powder SPF in your life. Whether you use it to top-up your SPF over your make-up or give your scalp some much-needed sun protection. 

My top choice is Hawaiian Tropic’s iteration. Again, it’s the perfect size and composition to pop into my bag while on the go (it even has a built-in brush, so I don’t have to pack a separate one). The finely-milled powder is translucent and it has a high SPF of 30. It’s my go-to for hot days in the city when I won’t be reapplying my liquid SPF all day but still want to ensure I’m protected from the sun.

5. Footner Exfoliating Foot Mask Socks

Footner Exfoliating Foot Mask Socks

(Image credit: Amazon)

Footner Exfoliating Foot Mask Socks

Best foot peel mask

Cracked heels: we’ve all experienced them, there’s no point hiding. Summer brings about the almost poetic combination of wanting to wear sandals more and this exposure to the dry air causing my feet to get cracked and drier than ever. A seemingly endless cycle—that is, until I tried a peeling foot mask. These clever socks essentially exfoliate my skin, literally peeling the skin off my soles to reveal super soft newness underneath. It’s completely painless, and I’ve never had such soft feet.

Do note though, you will experience about a week of full-on peeling all over the soles of your feet, so make sure you leave enough time before special events or holidays before you’ll get the baby-soft results you’re after.

6. CeraVe Healing Ointment

CeraVe Healing Ointment

(Image credit: Amazon)

CeraVe Healing Ointment

Best healing balm

I use the CeraVe Healing Ointment for anything from cracked heels and grazes to stretch marks and chafing sores. I used it on an unexpected bout of eczema and it literally cleared it up in one day. It might seem pricey for a small bottle, but you only need a tiny bit of this stuff at a time, so the bottle will last you forever. It’s truly amazing and I can’t sing its praises enough. 

7. Mighty Patch Original Spot Patches

Mighty Patch Original Spot Patches

(Image credit: Amazon)

Mighty Patch Original Spot Patches

Best acne patches

I can't be the only one whose acne seems to go wild once the temperatures go above 20°C? The Mighty Patch acne patches from Hero are some of my favourites to use. They heal, conceal and protect my spots from external factors like pollution and sweat. Lovely. Oh, and the brand also do XL patches to cover a whole cluster of spots in one go. 

8. CeraVe AM Facial Moisturising Lotion SPF50

CeraVe AM Facial Moisturising Lotion SPF50

(Image credit: Lookfantastic)

CeraVe AM Facial Moisturising Lotion SPF50

Best SPF moisturiser

CeraVe has to be my favourite ‘unsexy’ beauty brand. They don’t faff around with fancy packaging, preferring to prioritise efficacious formulas at affordable prices. The brand’s SPF moisturiser is no exception—it deeply moisturises and protects the skin barrier while providing high SPF50 protection.

Though it’s best for normal to dry skin types, I didn’t find it at all heavy on my combination, acne-prone skin. It’s lightweight, affordable and does the job. The sort of product you’ll stock up on again and again.

9. Bondi Sands Toasted Coconut Lip Balm with SPF 50+

Bondi Sands Toasted Coconut Lip Balm with SPF 50+

(Image credit: Amazon)

Bondi Sands Toasted Coconut Lip Balm with SPF 50+

Best SPF lip balm

While we’re on the subject of SPFs, a vastly overlooked area is the lips. Have you ever had sunburnt lips? Not fun. Bondi Sands’ Toasted Coconut lip balm is under £4, has a super-high SPF50 and smells absolutely delicious. It’s been my go-to so far this summer. 

10. Dove Essential Nourishment Body Lotion

Dove Essential Nourishment Body Lotion

(Image credit: Amazon)

Dove Essential Nourishment Body Lotion

Best lightweight body lotion

You really can’t go wrong with Dove body care, and I named this body lotion one of my all-time favourite dry skin body creams. It has a classic, clean smell and is super hydrating without feeling at all heavy on my skin. It leaves a non-oily sheen on my skin, which feels almost like water gliding over my skin. I absolutely hate pulling clothes on over a thick, tacky body cream (especially when it’s hot and sticky) so I love the fact that this sinks in almost instantly.

11. Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

(Image credit: Amazon)

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

Best nail polish top coat

Ever tried waiting for your summer manicure to dry when it’s 30 degrees + in your house? It feels, quite literally, like watching paint dry. This Seche Vite has been my secret to achieving quick, professional-looking manicures at home, and I’m no longer gate keeping. Not only does it make your mani dry in about two minutes flat, but it keeps your nails chip-resistant and glossy for up to 14 days (trust me, I’ve put it to the test myself many times). 

12. iS CLINICAL Sheald Recovery Balm

iS CLINICAL Sheald Recovery Balm

(Image credit: Amazon)

iS CLINICAL Sheald Recovery Balm

Best moisturiser for stings and irritation

I’m a huge fan of this thick, reparative moisturiser. It's designed to be used on compromised skin conditions including open cuts, grazes, scar tissue and dehydrated, aggravated, itchy skin—so consider your mosquito bites and dry skin issues soothed. I like how this is suitable for use on sensitive skin, as I find that super-rich moisturisers can often irritate my issue further rather than helping. It might be on the pricey side, but a small amount really goes a long way. 

Valeza Bakolli
Junior Shopping Editor

Valeza Bakolli is Marie Claire’s Junior Shopping Editor. She previously worked at BuzzFeed, where she honed her skills in all things shopping - from gift guide curation to being first on the scene to feature the latest fashion and beauty drops. She’s made it her mission to encourage people to shop mindfully and with purpose. That’s why she dedicates hours of her time every day to finding the best products online so you don’t have to - from small and sustainable businesses wherever possible, of course.