As the temperatures rise, the needs of your skin change. We’re not only talking sun protection, although that is certainly an important component, we’re also thinking about what your skin needs to adjust and be safe and happy in the warmer temperatures. Here are a few basic tips:
* The Sun & Oily Skin - If you have oily skin resist the temptation to over scrub your skin to control oil and shine. Over rubbing your skin will only stimulate the sebaceous glands and actually create the very condition you’re trying to avoid, i.e., excessively oily skin (not to mention that it can cause more severe breakouts). It can be helpful to choose products that contain algae which detoxifies your skin and helps to control the oil.
* Don’t be lured by the drying effects of the sun. Although it might initially feel like the sun is drying up the oil and clearing up your skin, it actually thickens the skin (hyperkeratosis) blocking your pores and leading to more intense breakouts shortly down the road. Believe me. I know this first hand from when I was a teenage…a day or two of fewer breakouts (albeit sunburned skin!) and then. Yikes…let me just say, it was not a pretty picture! The reprieve is very short-lived! If you are taking antibiotics to control acne, beware that it also causes sun sensitivity so applying a sunscreen is critical.
* Sensitive Skin - If you have sensitive skin stay out of the sun as much as possible, always (that means every day even if you are not planning to spend prolonged time in the sun) protect your skin from the sun when you are outside (preferably with active ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide), and choose skin care products designed for sensitive skin.
* Mature Skin - Choose your Age Management skincare routine wisely. If keeping a youthful appearance is your ultimate goal (and for most of us over 30 it is!), be careful what you use during the summer months. Alpha hydroxy acids, which many people use daily or as a special facial treatment, make your skin ultra-sensitive to the damaging effects of the sun. In other words, AHA’s will not only make you burn more easily (and you’re burning more virgin skin!), but they make you more susceptible to hyperpigmentation (sun spots) which is what you are trying to avoid or diminish by using them in the first place. If you continue to use Alpha Hydroxy Acids in the summer, apply them at night and be diligent (I’m not kidding!) about sun protection. If you don’t, you’re wasting your money and run the risk of further damaging your skin. Ditto for Retin-A users.
* Sun Protection - Sun protection has become a complicated and huge issue these days. When to apply, how much to apply, what number to apply, what spf ingredients to use, when (not if!) to reapply! Yikes! It can make you crazy. So, let me give you a few tips to demystify it:
o Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. There is very little difference between the protection in an SPF 30 and SPF 45 or higher and it often gives people a false sense of security about reapplying. Yes, no matter what number you use you need to reapply if you are out in the sun for any length of time beyond running errands.
o Be sure it protects for UVA as well as UVB – it has to say so on the bottle (the SPF factor only applies to UVB rays). And, two of the best ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (with no nanoparticles). In case you are wondering if it really matters, let me share with you that 80% of any discoloration or aging spots you see on your skin are a result of damage from the sun. That said…
o Not all sun exposure is “bad!” Apply sunscreen to your face and chest every day but leave your arms free from sunscreen several times a week while you are out in the sun for 15-20 minutes. Your body needs Vitamin D, and the most natural source is the sun. In fact, the majority of people are vitamin D deficient (especially those in the northern areas where you cannot get vitamin D from the sun for at least 6 months of the year!)
I know from personal experience how a vitamin D deficiency can wreak havoc on your health. Trust me, if you have not experienced that, it’s not nice. Your body needs vitamin D and the best way to get it is naturally from the sun (and, that said, definitely take a vitamin D (preferably vitamin D2 so that no animals are harmed (and it’s just as effective as vitamin D3)).
I am super pale and here I am sitting on the beach for 15 minutes with my arms free and clear to absorb my vitamin D naturally.
* Natural is better. When it comes to sun protection, natural is better. Remember, your skin is the largest organ in your body so whatever you put on it is absorbed. Until the FDA allows even more natural sunscreen ingredients (like natural botanicals) to be marketed that way, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (non-nanoparticled) provide the best protection with the least health concerns.
* Eat your veggies. I am into health and nutrition – always have been, and I can tell you it pays off. In this case, it helps with sun protection. Say what? Yes, you heard right. Eating your veggies offers you incredible antioxidant protection inside your body (which is where all skin cancers (and other cancers, obviously) start). I’m not talking about a couple of bites of broccoli. I mean…Eat Your Veggies! Lots of them at every meal.
Although each person’s skin is different and has individualized needs, these are a few basic (very basic) guidelines to follow through the summer months. Having had acne when I was a teenager I understand the confusion out there around what to use to take good care of your skin.
Good skin care habits do make a difference in the look and health of your skin and since we look at our face very day it often directly impacts our self-esteem and self-confidence. The better care you take of your skin the happier you’ll be when you look in the mirror.