With the end of the winter months in sight, the carefree days of summer are back. In the midst of azure blue skies and blooming greenery, it is once again time to hit the beaches and your favorite picnic spots to enjoy the glorious sun. However, the summer also lays the red carpet for a new host of skincare issues to deal with.
The changes in the seasons and weather conditions make it essential to modify and adjust skin care techniques so as to fittingly combat the varying climates. As such, there is no better time than now to get all the know-how on summer skin care so that you can start on the road towards prevention and win the battle against sun damage and ageing skin.
While your skin needs an extra dose of moisturizing during the arid winter season, the summer months still require moisturizing to brace your skin against summer dryness and burning. Moisturizing of the skin is not limited to external application of creams and lotions. We can also moisturize our skin from within by bringing small changes to our diets.
During the summer, fatty and oily foods should be minimized. Instead, one should increase intake of water and fibrous foods. Hard drinks should also be cut down and replaced by natural and cooling drinks such as juices and herbal teas. The best fruits for your skin during this season would be hydrating agents such as melons and citrus fruits. Water intake should also be increased during the summer. The ideal quantity of water to have daily would be 8 glasses measuring 200 ml each. The diet you follow will reflect in the health of your skin with drastic impact.
Many people are not aware that unnecessary water contact can make your skin dry and irritable. The norm during summers is to take a bath at least twice in a day. However, in my opinion, if your daily routine does not involve extreme physical activities, it is sufficient to bathe once a day.
You must make sure not to take a bath immediately after being in the sun. It is essential to give your skin a 10 to 15 minute break from the sun before entering the shower or bath. This allows the temperature of your skin to adjust from the hot outdoor temperature to the cool indoors. As such, your skin will react better on contact with water leading to reduced dryness and burning.
When bathing, it is also recommended that you use a soft moisturizing soap, which is not enhanced with artificial material that irritate the skin.
Skin care is essential in every season; however, the skincare regime changes with the climate. For example, the cold cream you were applying during the winter to avoid drying up of your skin would no longer be effective during summer.
During the summer, it is critical for you to use sunscreen so as to prepare your skin for total sun protection. Sun block application should be your daily mantra during the summer. Proper sunscreen helps the skin maintain its natural oils and moisture, which can otherwise be lost through exposure to the sun’s rays. Sunscreen also protects the skin against harmful UV rays, whose destructive effects have increased remarkably with the increasing damage to the atmosphere’s ozone layer.
Effective sunscreen should completely block the transmission of both UVB and UVA rays while at the same time being cosmetically pleasant to use. Another important property that your sunscreen should have is durability on the surface of the skin and water resistance.
The measure of protection of sun screen, assessed under controlled laboratory condition, is known as the sun protection factor (SPF). Several studies have shown that people typically apply sunscreen scantily using less than two-third or half of the needed sunscreen on any area of the skin. As such, they receive a much lower level of protection than indicated by the SPF on the label.
The sun bed has become very popular nowadays, especially among those with light skin. A sun bed or tanning bed is a device which emits ultraviolet radiation to create a cosmetic tan. However, this practice has dire effects on the health of your skin. As such, I would not recommend this fad. Overuse of this service can lead to sun damage, skin cancer, wrinkles and persistent pigmentation that don’t respond to skin services and products.
Finally, here are some ways to arm your skin against the harsh summer sun. Hydration is the key to healthy skin. So do not forget to stock up on water and aqua rich foodstuff such as fresh foods and vegetables. External hydration is also essential. Remember to moisturize your skin after taking a shower at least once a day if your skin is oily and thrice a day if you suffer from dry skin. Exfoliate your skin using a mild, deep facial cleanser to keep your skin smooth and clean.
Try avoiding skin exposure to the sun when it is the most powerful from 11am to 4 pm.
Do not use hot water on your skin when bathing or washing. It is advisable to go for gentle skin services like microdermabrasion or glycolic facials under medical supervision. Try to use minimal makeup because some fragrance and products can induce sunburn especially when the skin is exposed to the sun.
Dermatologists never recommend sun exposure for all skin types. However, if you are a fan of sun bathing, do not forget to apply full sun protection. If you have sunburn in a particular area, be careful not to exfoliate or use a mask until that area has improved. Be sure to visit a dermatologist if you have blister, erosion or excessive burning.
There is no reason to be afraid of the sun if you have provided your skin with the right protection and preventive measures against the glaring sun. Devoting your skin to a good dose of tender loving care during the hot summer months will be sure to give you that flawless glowing summer skin that you desire.
Hossein Yavari, MD
American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery
Fellowship in Cutaneous and Mohs Surgery, University of Miami, USA