Summer Skincare Tips - Northwest Dermatology Group

Summer Skincare Tips

13 Glorious Weeks of Summer, 13 Tips for Glowing Summer Skin

Long shimmery days. Soft moonlit nights. Bright flowers, cheery birds, sporting events, reunions with friends. From languid days at the beach to outdoor celebrations and fun-filled vacations, to cozy evenings in the backyard—summer is everybody’s favorite playtime.

Of course, you want your skin to look as radiant as you feel. So to celebrate the all-too-fleeting weeks of summer, here are 13 handy tips to help keep your skin lustrous, fresh, and clear.

Adjust Your Skincare Routine

Your skin responds to conditions around you, so as the weather changes, your skincare needs to change as well. If you live where heat and humidity are common, your skin’s sebaceous glands respond by producing more natural oil in summer, resulting in stickiness, grease, blocked pores, bacteria, and acne breakouts. Meanwhile, drier environments can leave your summer skin parched, flaky, red, irritated, and rashy. Updating your skincare means adjusting what you use during summer to help your skin cope. Be aware of your skin type (oily, dry, sensitive, combination) so you choose products accordingly and practice a consistent skincare regimen.

Use Sunscreen Religiously

Skincare experts agree that proper UV protection is especially crucial in summer when days are longer and you spend more time in the sun. But sun exposure is dangerous, causing premature aging, fine lines, dark spots, wrinkles, and skin cancers. To protect from damage, choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, with SPF (sun protection factor) 30 or higher. Also, look for a product that matches your skin type; oil-free, non-comedogenic gels are better for oily or acne-prone skin, while a cream-based formula suits dry or sensitive complexions.

Applying enough sunscreen is key. A strip of lotion on each index and middle finger should be enough to cover your face into the hairline—don’t forget the back of the neck, ears, and lips. A shot-glass-sized amount is appropriate for other exposed areas of the body, including the chest, back, arms, legs, and feet. Reapply every two hours or more often if swimming or sweating. A powder sunscreen can be handy if you’re on the go. And remember, any amount of tan is actually skin damage. Your skin darkens by producing the pigment melanin in an attempt to protect it from further burning, so forget about a “base tan”—it’s not good for you or your skin.

Keep a Cooling Gel Handy

For those days when you spend too much time outside or run out of sunscreen during an outing, having a cooling gel ready makes sense. A product containing aloe vera and vitamin E can reduce the sting and soothe a sunburn. Reapply the gel as necessary and stay out of the sun until healed, especially if the burn is severe enough for blistering to occur.

Cleanse Your Face Morning & Evening

More sun can dry out the skin. Use lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser suited to skin type to remove dirt, grime, bacteria, and other debris. Dry skin responds to gel-based, alcohol-free products with added moisturizers like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, or glycerin. Oily skin prefers water-based formulas that are non-greasy and non-comedogenic; ingredients such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, and niacinamide can help with acne and are anti-inflammatory. Creams are often too heavy for summertime, especially when used on oily skin.

Lighten Up on Moisturizer

Skin needs to be moisturized, even in summer when it seems to be naturally damp. Switch to a light, hyaluronic acid-based moisturizer that maintains hydration without being sticky, while staying away from rich creams and products containing petroleum that leave skin overwhelmed. Apply moisturizer immediately after a bath or shower, especially after a day in beach sand and salt; your skin needs a boost to rehydrate and restore balance. Adding a toner and/or antioxidant serum can further elevate your routine. Using a face mist to refresh skin throughout the day is another good idea. A light mist reduces shine and minimizes pore size as your workday slides into an outdoor evening.

Apply Less Makeup

Heavy makeup prevents skin from breathing, especially when heat and humidity are high. Wearing thick cosmetics weighs down skin, brings an artificial look to the face, and melts off when you sweat. Lightening up on makeup is the perfect approach to summer, and choosing products that contain SPF protection adds to the sunscreen shielding your skin.

Take Cool Showers or Baths

Hot showers and baths dry your skin, even in summer when you’re anxious to wash off grime and sweat. Better to use lukewarm or cool water, which hydrates more effectively and is better for blood flow and skin circulation. You’ll also want to shower after exercise to remove debris from your skin. Always change out of wet, sweaty clothes as soon as possible to avoid creating a bacteria-friendly microenvironment that can cause skin rashes and lead to infected, inflamed follicles.

Exfoliate Sparingly

Once or twice a week is sufficient, using gentle products that remove sweat, oil, bacteria, and sunscreen without causing tightness or cracking. Never exfoliate when the skin is sunburned or showing a rash.

Wear Sun-Protective Clothing & Sunglasses

Wide-brimmed hats and UV-400 sunglasses shield the face and eyes from the sun, helping prevent deep-set squint lines and wrinkled, dried-out skin. Clothing matters as part of skincare; especially effective are items with built-in SPF protection of 50 or higher. Look for light-colored garments made of tightly woven natural fabrics like cotton, linen, chambray, silk, and Merino wool, and synthetics such as rayon and nylon.

Seek Shade

Especially between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm when sunshine is most intense. If you’re spending a day on the beach, bring an umbrella and use it. And seek out the beach bar or find a tree. Intense, extended sunshine is hard on your skin, even when you use sunscreen early and often.

Moderate Retinol Usage

Retinol is a form of vitamin A that’s used to treat acne, brighten and improve hyperpigmentation, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. But it’s powerful stuff, sometimes producing irritation and peeling, especially in beginning users. It also increases sensitivity to the sun. Retinols and retinoids can be applied during summer, but extra sun protection is recommended, along with reduced frequency of use. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use these substances, and people with dry or sensitive skin want to proceed with care.

Stay Hydrated

Water intake in summer should be as high as a gallon a day (experts differ on the appropriate amount), along with fresh juices, watermelon, buttermilk, and yogurt to hydrate adequately and flush toxins from the body. Seasonal fruits and vegetables—cucumbers, lettuce, canteloupe, citrus, and fresh tomatoes—contribute to skin health by hydrating from within.

Limit Sugary Drinks & Alcohol

Drinks containing lots of sugar leave you feeling sluggish, lack hydrating qualities, and contribute to weight gain, none of which improves your skin. Alcoholic beverages are particularly tempting on a sunny day, but studies show the combination increases the risk of both sunburn and skin cancer by increasing sensitivity to sunlight. Because alcohol is a diuretic, it causes the body to lose water twice as quickly as normal as you sweat to stay cool. Slowed reflexes and poor judgment while swimming, boating, or driving are other factors that advise caution when combining alcohol and the sun.

Finding your summer skincare products may involve testing several items to match formulations with your skin type and climate. Be sure to read labels carefully and keep an eye on price points (expensive doesn’t always mean better). With a little judicious planning, you can achieve bright, healthy skin that’s the envy of family gatherings, weddings, graduations, baseball and soccer games, and the travel adventures you wait all year to enjoy. Here’s to your fabulous summer fun!