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After long winter months, we're all looking forward to summer without really thinking about how our skin will handle blazing sunshine and searing heat. However, once they hit and we start feeling all sticky and sweaty, the reality sets in - summer is not that flawless after all, causing heaps of complexion ills.
During summer, UV radiation, pollution, and other environmental factors all contribute to our skin losing its natural glow, making it look dull, oily, and more blemished. For this reason, we need to tweak our skincare routine a bit during this period to make sure our skin stays healthy and happy as the weather gets warmer and warmer (...and warmer).
So, let's find out what exactly happens to the skin amid hot summer months and how to help it better deal with relentless heat.
Effects of Hot Weather on Skin
Sunshine and heat outside, along with air-conditioning inside, lead to our skin behaving differently during summer – oily skin tends to get oilier, while dry skin gets more irritated and patchy.
Heat and Humidity
Extreme heat and humidity increase the activity of sweat and sebaceous glands in our skin. Sweating is our body's natural mechanism to cool itself down. While increased oil production slows down water evaporation from the skin, prolonging the cooling effect provided by sweating.
Sunlight, on the other hand, can cause a lot of damage to our skin, destroying its natural barrier and collagen. This eventually leads to loss of firmness and elasticity, premature aging, and in the worst-case scenario, skin cancer.
Additionally, the sun speeds up skin cells production – known as the keratolytic effect. This means that when exposed to sun rays, our skin cell renewal rate increases, leading to the build-up of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin and clogged pores.
= Unhappy Skin
So, we have more oil, more sweat, and more dead skin cells piled up on our skin and mixed up with dirt and pollutants. It's a recipe for disaster in the form of irritation and breakouts. Plus, the scorching hot sun can cause direct damage to the skin. Today you might feel it as dryness, discomfort, and sunburns. However, skin remembers, and these symptoms can lead to deep wrinkles and skin cancer in the future.
But, it's not all doom and gloom! You can do some things to help your skin deal and feel better during extreme summers and keep your complexion clear, radiant, and carefree.
Tips on How to Take Care of Your Skin During Summer
Summer skincare differs from winter skincare. But don't panic – this doesn't mean you need to switch up your whole skincare collection. All you need is several tweaks here and there to adjust your beauty routine to the warmer season.
Here are the essential do's and don'ts of summer skincare:
#1: Wear Sunscreen All Day Everyday
Wearing sunscreen is a must throughout the year. This is because although UVB rays (B for burning) are much weaker during winter months, UVA rays (A for skin aging) are present year-round. You should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to 50 to protect the skin and slow down the process of aging in the long run.
So, if you have reduced your SPF in the winter (or worse, you haven't used it at all), summer is definitely the time to return to your daily sunscreen routine with a higher SPF and wear it indoors and outdoors.
#2: Don't Neglect Your Lips
Many people neglect applying sunscreen on their lips. Perhaps you don't know, but your lips are also sensitive to the sun and can easily dry out and burn. To keep them soft and smooth, protect them with a nourishing lip balm with a high SPF (at least 30).
#3: Tweak You Cleansing Routine
Summer heat and humidity cause some extra sweat, creating a moist environment on your skin for bacteria to grow. Plus, your skin produces more oil, which mixes with dirt, sweat, and bacteria and clogs your pores, causing all sorts of complexion woes.
For this reason, you should wash your face, as well as your body, more often than you usually would. Face cleansing in the a.m. and p.m. is a must during hot summer months, as well as showering at least once a day. If you're exercising or spending too much time outside in the heat, you can add another cleanse in between.
To remove all the excess dirt and oil, as well as your sunscreen and makeup, it would be best to do a double cleanse in the evening before going to bed. You can use oil cleansers or micellar water to remove your makeup and sunscreen, and then your regular cleanser to make sure your skin is clean and prepped for other products in your nighttime routine.
#4: Don't Forget About Your Hands and Feet
Most of us focus only on taking care of our faces since it's the first thing everyone sees. As a result, we tend to forget about our hands, but the skin on them is just as prone to wrinkles and hyperpigmentation as the skin on the face. So, look for a hand cream with an SPF that will protect and nourish your hands at the same time.
Likewise, our feet aren't exactly the focus of our attention either. But they carry us around all day and usually in open footwear during summer. Therefore, give your feet some TLC as well, exfoliate them regularly and apply your sunscreen on them too.
#5: Seek Shade
If you can't escape spending time outside during the peak heat of the day, try to avoid being in direct sunlight and seek shade as long as possible. Seeking trees, umbrellas, and other shelters from the sun would be your best bet to minimize exposure and reduce risks of sun damage or skin cancer. However, you should wear sunscreen and protective clothing even in the shade.
#6: Don't Overdo It With Makeup
During summer, the more – is not – the merrier when it comes to makeup. Wearing layers of foundation will prevent your skin from breathing, stressing it out even more and causing acne and other issues. So, ease up on it a bit and go for a tinted moisturizer or sunscreen instead of a heavy foundation and give your skin a break.
#7: Wear Protective Clothing
Double up your protection from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and clothing that have UPF (UV protection factor). That way, you'll make sure that you're really shielded from the damaging UV rays, and you'll protect not only your face and body but also your scalp and the sensitive skin around your eyes.
#8: Don't Ignore Your Eyes, Cleavage, and Neck
The skin around your eyes, on your neck, and your décolleté is thinner and drier than the skin on your face, meaning it's more sensitive to the sun rays. This is the area where the first signs of aging usually show. So, besides sunglasses, apply an eye cream with an SPF around your eyes as well.
Likewise, if you're wearing a shirt or a dress with an open front cleavage, don't forget to apply sunscreen to that area too – neck included. This is the only way to prevent premature aging and keep your skin looking youthful for longer.
#9: Go For Lightweight Skincare
As your skin produces more sebum and sweat during hot weather, you should stick with skincare that's lighter in texture – absorbing quickly into your skin without leaving it greasy. Just like with makeup, you want to unburden your skin during summer.
So, instead of thick creams and ointments (that are perfect for cold winter months), use gels and fluids without comedogenic ingredients that can clog your pores and break you out. Incorporating niacinamide into your summer skincare routine would be a good idea. It's a form of vitamin B3 that hydrates the skin while controlling oil production and minimizing redness at the same time.
#10: Don't Forget to Hydrate
As we already mentioned, sweating is our body's natural process of cooling down. But excess sweating during summers can cause dehydration, which can lead to a myriad of problems, not only skin-related.
So, make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day and always carry a water bottle with you. Have a sip or two every 15 minutes or so, depending on your level of activity and your body size. The best indicator that you're well-hydrated is never feeling thirsty.
#11: Exfoliate Gently But Regularly
Regular exfoliation should be an essential step in your summertime skincare routine. It will remove dead cells that tend to pile up quicker during summer and stimulate the renewal process of your skin, making it smooth and wrinkle-free.
However, it would be best if you avoided abrasive scrubs and exfoliants as these can disrupt your skin's natural barrier and make it more sensitive to the sun and prone to irritation. Therefore, use gentler chemical exfoliants, like glycolic acid, or mechanical exfoliants with small and rounded granules. Also, it's essential not to over-exfoliate your skin because it can make your skin drier and trigger it to produce more oil. So, include your exfoliating routine just a couple of times a week.
#12: Don't Chase That Sun-Kissed Glow
We get it! Beaches, short pants, and skirts simply scream for that tanned and sun-kissed complexion. Tanned skin might look radiant and healthy, but in reality, tanned skin equals damaged skin. And why? Because, when exposed to UV radiation, our skin changes color due to increased production of melanin – the skin's attempt to protect itself from further damage.
The same process happens if you're spending time in tanning beds. So, if you can't imagine your summers without that tanned look of your skin, instead of spending hours in the sun or tanning beds, go for self-tanners, the much safer alternatives.
#13: Make Antioxidants Your Best Friend
One of the absolutely obligatory summer ingredients should, without any doubt, be a high-quality antioxidant product containing vitamin C or polyphenols. However, we still recommend that you use it throughout the year because it also helps protect against other forms of oxidative stress, such as pollution.
Besides antioxidant-rich skincare products, you shouldn't neglect taking care of your skin from the inside as well. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is a great way to keep your skin healthy and beautiful. Take advantage of their summer abundance and eat blueberries, kiwis, oranges, papayas, strawberries, and avocados because they are full of vitamin C and E.
#14: Don't Be Afraid of Using Your Retinol (But Be Careful)
If you're using retinoids as a part of your anti-aging skincare arsenal, you should use them throughout the year and even in summer. Retinoids, like retinol, are great for stimulating collagen production and repairing collagen damage. If you limited such a vital ingredient only to the winter period, you would lose half a year of effective skincare.
Yes, retinoids can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, but if you wear SPF 30 to 50 every day anyway and don't expose yourself to the sun too much, there won't be any side effects.
#15: Focus on After-Sun Care
After-sun treatments will replenish the moisture in your skin and repair the damage caused by the sun. So, choose lotions, creams, and balms with cooling and soothing ingredients, such as aloe vera, cucumber extract, cocoa butter, as well as vitamin E and A.
You could also make use of plenty of ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen, like oatmeal, yogurt, coconut milk, and honey. These are all moisturizing ingredients with antibacterial properties, helping reduce redness, itchiness, and swelling.
Some Parting Words of Advice...
As you can see, your summer skincare routine shouldn't only be limited to your seaside vacation and beaches. You should care for your skin every time you're exposed to the sun, throughout the year. But it shouldn't be a burden for you either. If you think of small and fun little rituals in your skincare, it won't be something you have to do, but something you love doing.
All in all, the focus of your summer skincare routine could be summed up with three small but powerful letters – S.P.F. No matter what you do, broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high Sun Protection Factor (remember, at least 30), should be an indispensable part of your summer skincare and your constant companion.