Transform your body in time for bikini season. Lisa Haynes reveals how to be a holiday head-turner.
Bad news for all those planning a slinky swimsuit regime - the longest day of summer has officially been and gone.
So if you haven't already started thinking about your beach body, now's definitely the time to mark your bikini SOS plan on the calendar, especially if last year's costume is feeling a little too snug!
The dreaded flesh-flaunting season means bikini angst for more than half of women (53%) who say they feel less confident about their bodies in the summer months, a survey by Nurture skincare reveals.
Yet dedicating just an extra hour or so per week to your beauty routine can really yield results.
Tone tactics More than 54% of women feel most self-conscious about their stomachs, according to Slendertone.
Being an enthusiastic gym bunny is the first step (or skip/jog/sprint) towards a slimline figure, but achieving a flat stomach doesn't start and end with exercise.
"Cut out sugar, alcohol and carbs and start taking a probiotic supplement approximately two weeks before your holiday to help boost levels of friendly bacteria in your digestive system, which can help reduce bloating," advises Fiona Hunter, nutritionist for Simple cosmetics.
Avoid faddy diets, too, if you want to keep your skin smooth and supple. "Yo-yo dieting is bad for your skin because you end up becoming deficient in key nutrients, which can loosen the skin's elasticity and make it sag," she says.
Familiarise yourself with a circulation-boosting body brush and follow with a firming cream and twice-daily massage to help keep your skin taught and toned.
Skin perfecting Even the slimmest of us suffer with imperfections that can make stripping off at the pool a daunting affair.
Cellulite and stretch marks are linked with hormonal and genetic factors, so some people are much more prone than others.
Stretch marks usually appear after rapid weight gain or loss, with the most common affected areas being breasts, bum, thighs, hips and stomach.
"For best results treat stretch marks when they first appear pink and are early in development," recommends Sally Penford, education manager at the International Dermal Institute.
"Moisturise three times a day to help the skin become more pliant, hydrated and better able to stretch. Look for skin products that contain vitamin E, cocoa butter, shea butter, omega-3, wheat germ oil and hyaluronic acid."
There are laser treatments available which promise to blast away cellulite and stretch marks, but there are no guarantees they'll vanish completely.
Smooth operator There's nothing worse than looking down from your sunlounger and seeing flashes of unsightly stubble on your legs.
Ditch the razor blade. Sunlight exposes re-growth even more than usual, so if you haven't had time to squeeze in lengthy and expensive laser hair removal sessions, waxing will keep body hair at bay for longer than shaving.
Alley Laundry, Parissa's waxing guru, says: "The first time you wax will likely be the most sensitive but it gets easier over time. Any discomfort only lasts for a couple seconds and the smooth results last for weeks.
"It's all about choosing the right product for you. If you're a beginner, I suggest starting with pre-waxed strips that are ready to use - just press on and zip off - no heating or fussing required."
Wax strips are also suitcase friendly so ideal for touch-ups when travelling.
Get your glow on If all fails on your bikini body mission, cheat with a self-tan. Darker skin and shading in the right areas automatically makes your limbs look leaner.
After you've applied a base layer of subtle tan, wait 10 minutes for it to soak in before applying a second tactical coat of spray tan on the areas you want to slim.
"To create the illusion of a slimmer waist, spray the self-tan directly onto the hip area and around onto the side navel," suggests Famous Dave celebrity tanning artist Amanda Harrington.
"Wipe in large sweeping motions with a tanning mitt to blend into your base layer of tanning cream. Spray onto the upper sides of the navel to create the darker edges down the sides of your silhouette."
The same principles apply to create the illusion of longer legs. Spray tan onto the sides of the thigh from hip to knee, then use long strokes up and down with your tanning mitt until completely blended. Also spray the back of the calves, and upwards, to slim down the backs of your legs.
Tried & tested Give your beach body a boost with a daily firming potion. Our testers try out three variants: :: Nivea Q10 Plus Firming Body Oil, £6.63 (nationwide) This oil is a bit of a miracle because it actually did what it promised. My skin felt firmer after applying it for about two weeks. Despite the oily feel on application, it didn't feel greasy for long and smells heavenly.
4/5 :: ETAT PUR B60 Firming Reshaping Body Care, £14.70 (www.etatpur.co.uk) The cream absorbed quickly into the skin and I could feel the solution instantly tighten. After several weeks of use, my tum and bum felt a lot firmer and my thighs looked more toned.
4/5 :: Darphin Nourishing and Firming Velvet Cream, £39 (0870 034 2566/www.darphin.co.uk) Despite looking thick and buttery in the pot, this luxurious cream absorbed quickly into my skin so I'm able to get dressed immediately. My skin felt firmer after use but sadly the product didn't work any long-term miracles.
3/5 Buy it now Celebrate the start of Wimbledon season with Alberto Balsam's delicious limited edition, and lather up with the Strawberries & Cream Shampoo and Conditioner, £1.07 each (nationwide).
Beauty bulletin :: Home maintenance Single ladies spend 30% longer getting ready than those who have said "I do". Unmarried women spend an average of 11 minutes longer preening before heading into work, compared to a married woman, according to a new survey by Scholl. Anna Kovaleva, Scholl spokeswoman, says: "The research shows that single women act on the desire to look great from top-to-toe and prioritise their time accordingly." Married women spend 24 minutes on their hair and make-up for a big night out, compared to 42 minutes for singletons.
:: Recessionista alert Forget sky-high holiday prices - Debenhams is bringing vacation glamour to the UK by offering duty-free prices on hundreds of top name cosmetics, skincare and fragrances. Customers can snap up these red-hot deals in store, online and via phone apps (www.debenhams.com).