Summertime can feel like one long party. From barbecues with friends to long days spent relaxing at the beach, this season presents us with endless opportunities to soak up the sun and seize the day. There’s just one problem with all this sunny celebration: While we’re out having fun, our skin is taking the heat. Without proper care and the right precautions, it’s easy to end up with dry, damaged, aged, and blemished skin by the time autumn rolls around.
3 Ways Summer Can Be Hard on Your Skin
1. The sun does more than just burn your skin—it’s the leading cause of premature aging.
We all know that UV rays are damaging owing to their proven and much publicized ability to cause skin cancer. Curiously, however, the sun’s role in premature aging is seldom discussed. If it were, we can’t help but think that tanning would go out of fashion overnight. According to a long-term study published in the medical journal Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, sun exposure is responsible for a little over 80% of the visible signs of aging. That’s right: Almost all those lines, wrinkles, and age spots we dread can be directly linked back to the impact of the sun’s harmful UV radiation. Spray tan has never looked so good.
2. Dry skin is common in the summer, too, not just the winter.
Those of us living in areas with cool or cold winters normally associate seasonal dry skin with the effects of indoor heating systems. Depending on your activities, however, summertime can be just as bad for causing dryness, cracking, and irritation. If you regularly spend time in air-conditioned environments, for example, your exposure to dry air will be continuous throughout the year. Sun exposure, heat (especially if you live in an arid climate), and swimming in chlorinated pools can also cause your skin to become parched and irritated.
3. Summertime is breakout season.
Even if you don’t usually suffer from chronic acne, you may start to notice red, painful blemishes erupting in high summer, especially around the hairline and in the crease above the chin. The culprit? Excessive sweating. Skincare experts believe that sweat can mix with oil, dead skin cells, and other debris, forming a moist and nutrient-rich “film” that allows acne bacteria to flourish. What’s more, this bacteria-rich film often gets deposited on personal items, like hats and towels, that we don’t tend to wash frequently. This means that we reintroduce bacteria to the face every time we use these items.
In addition to breakouts, summer heat can cause an itchy, annoying skin condition called Millaria. Also known as “heat rash,” this condition manifests as a number of small red bumps on the skin. Like acne, it’s caused by sweat clogging the pores and inducing superficial irritation.
6 Tips for Keeping Your Skin Healthy and Safe this Summer
Don’t let concerns about the health of your skin keep you cooped up indoors this summer. While it’s true that sun exposure and other environmental factors can have a negative impact on skin condition, there are many ways to prevent and treat summer skin problems. Some of our favorite methods for safeguarding the skin during the warmer months are outlined below:
1. Dress to let your skin breathe while keeping it covered.
The first rule of summer skincare is sun protection. While a high SPF sunscreen will help to shield your skin from the effects of harmful UV radiation, these products aren’t foolproof. Sweat, friction, and water can all remove sunscreen from the skin (especially if you’re using a low-quality brand), leaving it exposed to the sun. Furthermore, people frequently forget to reapply their chosen product in a timely manner. As such, it’s important to make covering up a part of your defense against UV rays. However, you’ll still need to cover up correctly, or you run the risk of making sweat-related skin problems much worse.
The best approach to summer attire is to choose lightweight, light-colored clothing, preferably made of natural fabric like cotton. Light hues help to deflect the sun’s rays, thereby keeping you cooler and offsetting any heat the fabric might otherwise trap. Lightweight fabrics allow the skin to “breathe” so that sweat evaporates normally. Some natural fabrics can aid in this process by quickly whisking moisture away from the skin before it has a chance to mix with oil and dead skin cells.
Finally, don’t forget to wash all your attire—including hats you wear outside and hand towels you use to wipe sweat off your face—after you use it. This will prevent the buildup of acne-causing bacteria.
2. Invest in a professional-grade, nourishing sunscreen if you spend a lot of time outside.
Many consumer grade sunscreens are both only moderately effective and potentially irritating to sensitive skin. They often contain alcohols, perfumes, and other ingredients that you don’t necessarily want seeping into your pores all day. To truly protect and heal your skin, you’ll need to invest in the kind of sunscreens you can only get at your local cosmetic surgeon’s office.
Here at Singer, we’re big fans Dr. Obagi’s innovative line of ZO Skin Health skincare products. When it comes to sun protection, we trust ZO Smart Tone Broad-Spectrum SPF 50 to keep our patients’ skin safe and burn-free for up to 12 hours at a time. Its non-greasy, quick-drying formula won’t trap moisture or clog pores, so you won’t have to worry about Smart Tone contributing to acne breakouts or Millaria. Meanwhile, it offers enduring all-day broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. It’s even specially formulated to include natural melanin that serves to shield the skin from the aging effects of sunlight. If covering up isn’t an option, e.g., swimming at the beach, we absolutely recommend having this sunscreen with you.
3. Wash your face thoroughly every time you return from spending time outside.
The last thing you want to do is just dab off sweat droplets once you get indoors. While this removes a bit of moisture from the surface of the skin, it leaves a great deal of accumulated sweat, oil, and dead skin cells in place. To get rid of these, you’ll need to take a few minutes to cleanse your pores thoroughly. At the same time, however, it’s important to remember that regular cleansing needs to be approached with care. Scrubbing your face too vigorously can cause micro-lesions in the skin, and these allow acne-causing bacteria to penetrate more deeply. Likewise, cleansing with plain soap and water too often dries out the skin, contributing to irritation, breakouts, and sensitivity.
To get the best out of cleansing, you’ll need to wash and hydrate your skin at the same time. We suggest washing with a product that’s meant to remove excess oil (like the ZO Skin Health Oilacleanse cleanser), then hydrating your skin immediately afterward with a professional moisturizing serum.
4. Treat and prevent crow’s feet with a specialized product like Sente Eye Therapy.
The area around the eyes is often particularly hard-hit by summer-related stress factors. It’s hard to protect this area from sun exposure as it’s difficult to apply sunscreen close to the eyes. Additionally, blinking, tearing (common with sun-strained eyes), and normal eye-rubbing can easily remove sunscreen from this area. Finally, the amount of squinting we tend to do during the summer places a great deal of strain on the skin around the eyes. If you’re over 30 and your collagen levels are starting to decline, this strain can quickly etch lines into the delicate skin around the eyes. For this reason, crow’s feet are usually the first type of wrinkles we get as we age. Other signs of skin aging, such as sun spots, also frequently occur around the eyes.
Sente Eye Therapy addresses these issues by stimulating the production of collagen. Collagen is responsible for keeping our skin strong and hydrated, and the stronger the skin around the eyes is, the better able it will be to fight off wrinkles. Sente Eye Therapy is made with only the finest naturally derived ingredients, such as plant stem cell extracts, anti-aging peptides, and NeoGlucosamine. Not only do these compounds smooth out existing wrinkles and prevent the development of further crow’s feet, they’ve also been shown to reduce under-eye puffiness and dark circles.
5. Consider trying Botox injections.
In addition to being the most popular nonsurgical wrinkle treatment in America, Botox is one of our favorite summer skincare secrets. First and foremost, Botox is without rival when it comes to preventing the kind of wrinkles associated with frequent squinting (crow’s feet and forehead lines). Botox forces the muscles in key areas around the eyes and forehead to stay relaxed, no matter how often you gaze into the glare. This dramatically reduces the amount of stress that’s placed on the skin, thereby halting wrinkle formation in its tracks.
Botox has a couple of other interesting hot weather perks, too. One, relaxing the muscles around the temples and forehead helps to prevent migraine headaches. In fact, Botox is used to treat migraines even in patients who don’t want any cosmetic enhancement. If you get headaches more often in summertime owing to the effects of bright light, Botox can help. Two, Botox is used medically to reduce excess sweating, meaning it has the potential to keep those summer breakouts at bay.
Botox appointments are very brief (they usually only last about 15 minutes) and Botox is very safe. Adverse reactions to this compound are so rare that you should be more worried about enjoying shellfish at your favorite beach-side restaurant than having Botox injections. Botox is also temporary and will wear off within a few months of your initial appointment, so you don’t have to worry about making any permanent changes to your face if you decide to try this treatment.
6. If you’re prone to acne breakouts, use a cleanser with salicylic acid in it.
Salicylic acid (BHA) has been shown to be uniquely effective at dissolving built up oil and dead skin cells. Using a gentle exfoliating treatment with BHA in it each day (like VitaScrub by ZO Skin Health) will deprive acne-causing bacteria of the environment they need to thrive. This will leave you with wonderfully clean, clear skin all year long.
With the right products and precautions, you can ensure that you don’t end up paying for your summer fun with blemished, damaged skin. If you want additional advice on how to fight the signs of aging or heal skin that’s already been harmed, feel free to reach out to the trained skincare experts at Singer.