16 products we swear by to keep us cool on hot summer days

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SephoraCaudalie's refreshing face mist comes in travel-size bottles so you can cool down quickly wherever you go.

  • Summer can be brutal when you live in a city, and sweaty subway platforms with no air conditioning don't help.
  • I asked my coworkers to share their tips and tricks for how to cool down when it's burning hot outside, and they had a lot of great ideas to share.
  • From misting sprays to roll-on peppermint oil, here are some clever ideas for how to beat the heat this summer.

New York City can be extremely brutal in the summer. It's hot, muggy, full of tourists, and pretty smelly, too. Factor in that most of us who live and work here have to wear full-coverage clothing when it's burning hot outside (not to mention that underground subway platforms aren't air conditioned), and you've got a recipe for about four months of complete and utter overwhelm.

As the weather heats up, we find ourselves desperately reaching for things that keep us cool - not just ice cream and air conditioning, but also portable fans, facial mists, cooling clothes, and refrigerated eye-masks.

I asked my coworkers to share the products they swear by for surviving sweltering weather, and pretty much everyone had some sort of clever trick up their sleeve that I felt was worth sharing.

Here are the products we carry around or use every day to beat the heat and humidity:

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Caudalie Grape Water Facial Misting Spray

Caudalie Grape Water Facial Misting Spray
Caudalie Grape Water, available at Sephora, $18

I do not mess around when it comes to staying cool in the summer. The second it starts to get hot in NYC, I start to carry this spray with me everywhere I go. It comes in both a full size and a travel size version, is super hydrating for the skin (both the face and body), and because the mist is so fine and gentle, it won't wash away the sunscreen or makeup you have on. Honestly, there's nothing better than having a cool mist wash over your face in the breeze when you otherwise feel completely decimated by the sun. — Sally Kaplan, Insider Picks editor

Kimkoo Gel Eye Mask

Kimkoo Gel Eye Mask
Kimkoo Gel Eye Mask, available on Amazon, $9.97

Though you likely won't want to carry this around with you for fear of scaring everyone, a gel eye mask is a godsend to have at home in the summer. After a long day in the sweltering heat, I love coming home to excavate my cold gel mask from the refrigerator. I pop it on while I watch TV, but it's also comfortable to sleep in on hot nights. Pro tip: You can also get the same effect by refrigerating regular sheet masks for a chilly skin-care treatment. — Sally Kaplan, Insider Picks editor

Haptime Battery-Powered Mini Fan

Haptime Battery-Powered Mini Fan
Haptime Battery-Powered Mini Fan, available on Amazon, $9.99

I just ordered this little fan because the one I've been using recently died. I don't even care how touristy or silly it makes me look — when it's 105 degrees in Manhattan and I'm stuck on a subway platform, you better believe I'm pulling this pen-sized baby out of my purse. I opted for a new one that's battery-powered so it lasts longer than my previous one.

One year update: Still works! — Sally Kaplan, Insider Picks editor

Mission HydroActive Large Cooling Towel

Mission HydroActive Large Cooling Towel
Mission HydroActive Large Cooling Towel, available on Amazon, $19.80

I'm not much of a fitness person, but I do spend a lot of time walking around outside in athletic clothes. On days when I'm out adventuring, hiking, going on extra long walks, or even just hanging out in the park, I bring this little towel along with me and keep it draped around my neck.

When you get it wet and then snap it a few times, the fabric gets really cold — and I'm not kidding you in the slightest when I say that it works. I thought the snapping part was optional until I actually tried it and compared it to a second one I got for my partner. It turns out that step is what activates the cooling technology (or magic) in the fabric. — Sally Kaplan, Insider Picks editor

Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag

Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag
Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag, available on Amazon, $44.99 - $200 (depending on size and color)

Although I prefer to carry a backpack, I switch to a messenger bag during the summer because it keeps me cooler — with the ability to move the bag around a bit more, and the fact that it sits looser against my body, I don't get as sweaty as I would with a backpack pressed against my back. I've been using the Timbuk2 classic for years, it's definitely my go-to. — David Slotnick, senior Insider Picks reporter

Ministry of Supply Apollo Dress Shirt

Ministry of Supply Apollo Dress Shirt
Apollo Dress Shirt, available at Ministry of Supply, $125

I'm not generally a fan of short-sleeved shirts, so having button-downs that breathe is extremely important to me. The material used in Ministy of Supply's Apollo shirt was developed by NASA scientists to be 19 times more breathable than cotton, and its piqué knit construction doesn't restrict mobility. Having tried and reviewed the shirt myself, I can say for certain that its designers did an excellent job. On the hottest days, the Apollo is the work shirt I reach for. — Brandt Ranj, Insider Picks associate editor

Rowenta Silence Extreme Table Fan

Rowenta Silence Extreme Table Fan
Rowenta Silence Extreme 12-inch Table Fan, available at Bed Bath & Beyond, $79.99

"Silence Extreme" may sound like a really dramatic name for a fan, but this one from Rowenta is so silent it's almost scary. When I have it on night mode while I sleep, I can't hear it at all. There's no buzzing, no whirring, or anything else — just blissful silence so you can sleep and stay cool. Although this fan is super quiet, it's also very powerful.

It has three speeds and it oscillates, so if you do need more air than night mode is getting you, you can have it, though the fan will get slightly louder. Even so, this fan is extra quiet, and it's made sleeping in hot weather so easy. It comes in a larger size, too, and we recommend both models in our buying guide.Malarie Gokey, Insider Picks guides editor

Aromine Peppermint Halo Roll-On

Aromine Peppermint Halo Roll-On
Aromine Peppermint Roll-On Essential Oil, available at Amazon, $12.30

I've been carrying around a similar roll-on peppermint oil stick and slathering it onto the back of my neck when it's excessively hot out in NYC, and it feels really amazing. The peppermint gives you a cooling, tingly sensation that I can't get enough of, and it's also super small so you can carry it in your pocket. This one is blended with a coconut oil as a carrier, so it's been diluted enough that it shouldn't irritate your skin. -Sally Kaplan, Insider Picks editor

Japanese Folding Fan

Japanese Folding Fan
Japanese Hand Fan, available on Etsy in multiple designs, from $13.80

NYC summers are suffocating — especially when you venture down into subway stations where the air is still as death and muggy as a swamp. To get that air moving and to keep the various smells away, I carry a foldable fan in my bag. Truth be told, I didn't actually buy the one I have — I got it from a Japanese tech company at a tech trade show — but this one from Etsy looks just like the one I have and it ships straight from Japan. — Malarie Gokey, Insider Picks guides editor

NIGHT Pillow

NIGHT Pillow
NIGHT Pillow, available at Bed Bath and Beyond, $149.99

I've tried many pillows, but the one I return to most often is this because it's so cool and comfortable. The memory foam is light and airy so you're not sinking into a dense, warm hole and the silk case keeps that coveted cold-side-of-the-pillow feeling going all night long. A silk pillowcase has additional benefits: it's better for your hair and skin. — Connie Chen, Insider Picks reporter

Hydro Flask Wide Mouth 40-Ounce Bottle

Hydro Flask Wide Mouth 40-Ounce Bottle
Hydro Flask Wide Mouth 40oz bottle, available on Amazon, $44.95

Aside from air conditioning, the most effective way I stay cool is with refreshingly cold water. When I know I'm going to be outside for long periods of time, I make sure to fill up my Hydro Flask. Compared to normal water bottles that do nothing to insulate drinks, the Hydro Flask does an excellent job at keeping drinks cold all day long. It's also great for carrying to the gym. — Amir Ismael, Insider Picks reporter

Mack Weldon Silver Crew Neck T-Shirt

Mack Weldon Silver Crew Neck T-Shirt
Silver Crew Neck T-Shirt, available at Mack Weldon, $42

It's basically impossible for me to stay cool in the summer so my strategy is about damage control. My favorite item is Mack Weldon's Silver T-Shirt. It's not a cheap T-shirt at $42, but having the moisture-wicking and anti-microbial silver woven into the fabric means that it's easier for me to stay comfortable all day.

I've been using this shirt for a couple of years, and it's always my go to on a hot day. And despite tons of washes and uses, it hasn't worn out a bit. The color hasn't faded and the fit hasn't changed, which speaks volumes about Mack Weldon's attention to detail and quality. — Breton Fischetti, VP of Insider Picks

Ministry of Supply Easier Than Silk Shirt

Ministry of Supply Easier Than Silk Shirt
Ministry of Supply Easier Than Silk Shirt, available at Ministry of Supply, $69

Ministry of Supply's Easier Than Silk shirt is one of my all-time favorites. It has the draping of a silk shirt, but none of the high-maintenance care. It's odor- and wrinkle-resistant and machine washable, and the breathable performance material means sweat dries fast. It's one of my best shirts both in comfort and how polished it looks on. It's worth every penny, and in frequent rotation for me in the summer.

I own what's now considered the previous generation of the shirt. You can find the newest version here. — Mara Leighton, Insider Picks reporter

VETTA Tapered Pant

VETTA Tapered Pant
VETTA Tapered Pant, available at VETTA, $119

I think it's worth mentioning this whole capsule because you can mix and match the five linen pieces to make a month's worth of breathable outfits, but these tapered pants are my favorite. They're flattering, go with everything, and are wonderfully breezy. I walk 20 minutes to and from the subway every day, and each day I wear these is already that much better. I'm planning on grabbing a second pair in black just so they're always in rotation. — Mara Leighton, Insider Picks reporter

Vivobarefoot Kanna Shoes

Vivobarefoot Kanna Shoes
Vivobarefoot Kanna Shoes, available at Vivobarefoot, $95

Aside from being super convenient for traveling (or for rolling up and sticking in your purse as a backup on days you think you'll "like wearing heels"), the VIVO Kanna barefoot shoes are a lifesaver in the heat. They're made from a stretchy, breathable mesh sock upper that breathes in a way you can actually feel. They also don't trap heat like sneakers with foam or bulky layers either, and the ultra-lightweight construction means my feet never feel heavy or clumsy. You can find my full review here. — Mara Leighton, Insider Picks reporter

Helix Cool Pillow

Helix Cool Pillow
Helix Cool Pillow, available at Helix, $115

This pillow is one of few "sleep cool" essentials that really make a difference for me. It's made out of a polyethylene fabric that has an especially high heat transfer, so it virtually always feels cold to the touch. It also has a great, cushy density that makes it especially competitive in my opinion for $115. You can find my full review here. — Mara Leighton, Insider Picks reporter

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