If summer brings up visions of beautiful days at the beach, walks in the park, or fun times by the pool, you’re not alone. But unfortunately, your skin often tends to get the worst of it while you are having fun. Here are a few tips to make sure that both you and your skin have a good time this summer!
1. Stay Hydrated
We all know that it’s important to counter the heat and stay hydrated during the summer months. Not only does this keep you cool and ward off dehydration, it keeps your skin healthy too. Skin cells, like most other cells in your body, are made predominantly of water (about 70%) and not having enough water can throw a wrench in their functioning. Skin that’s not getting enough water will become dry, flaky, and tight. It will stop being supple and can wrinkle and crack easily.1
An adult woman needs to drink about 2.1 liters of water in a day while men require about 2.6 liters.2 But you might need more if you’ve been out in the heat or exercising as you lose extra moisture as sweat. So if you feel thirsty or find that your urine is darker than usual, drink up. A squeeze of lemon, a couple of slices of cucumber, or some raspberries can make a plain old glass of water more interesting. Or you might want to try a glass of refreshing coconut water. But try to steer clear of alcohol and caffeine as these have a diuretic effect.3
2. Avoid The Sun During Peak Hours And Wear Protective Clothing
Summer’s when you feel like loading up on the lemonade and other citrus fruits and drinks. But compounds called psolarens in citrus fruits can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. While this is not harmful, be sure to take extra precautions when you expose yourself to the sun if you eat a lot of citrus fruits.4
The best thing that you can do for your skin is to protect it from the damaging rays of the sun. Sun exposure can lead to wrinkles, brown spots, sunburn, and even skin cancer. Here are a few pointers on what you can do to protect your skin from the sun.
- Steer clear of the sun when it’s at its peak – between 10 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon.5
- Wear clothes which minimize exposure to the sun. Long pants or skirts and long sleeves can help. Remember that tightly knit, dark-colored clothes are better at keeping out the sun than loosely woven, light-colored clothes. Clothes designed to protect you from the sun will be marked with their ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). This lets you know what fraction of sunlight it lets through. For instance, a UPF 30 shirt will allow 1/30th of the sun’s rays through to your skin.
- A wide-brimmed hat can shade your face and ears while sunglasses can protect your eyes as well as the sensitive skin around them.6
- Certain perfumes as well as medications like some acne medicines, antibiotics, heart medicines, diuretics etc. can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Speak to your doctor to find out if any medicine you take is making your skin more sensitive and causing symptoms like itching, redness, or blisters. If so, you might have to be more careful about avoiding the sun. 7
3. Use A Sunscreen
Always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen before you go out. Sunscreens scatter, reflect, or absorb sunlight and thereby protect your skin. The sun protection factor (SPF) of a sunscreen is indicative of its effectiveness. The higher the SPF, the better it works – just look for something in the range of SPF 15–30 for adequate sun protection. Also, get sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as these offer a physical barrier to sunlight and are better for your skin than chemical additive-based sunscreens. They are also more stable in sunlight and can protect from both UVA and UVB radiation.8. Natural ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and carrot oil also have their own natural SPF value, so you could look for sunscreens with these ingredients as well.9 And remember, you need to reapply sunscreen after you sweat profusely, swim, or towel dry your skin. You also need to reapply it every couple of hours as sunscreen tends to wear off.10 11
4. Use Blotting Paper To Banish Shine
No, you’re not imagining it, your skin does get more oily in the summer. Research shows that the production of sebum or skin oils increases during the summer months and that explains the summer shine!12 Many of us use face powder to get rid of shine and sometimes end up with a signature chalky or cakey look. Use blotting paper instead to gently soak up the extra oil. If you have combination skin, just focus on the T zone.
5. Go Easy On Make-Up
Heat, sweat, and heavy makeup do not go well together. So avoid creamy, heavy skin products during the summer. In fact, as we saw, your skin tends to get more oily in the summer. So even if you have dry skin, you might find that during this time a lighter moisturizer works better for you than your usual heavy-duty moisturizer.
6. Nosh On Lycopene-Rich Foods To Fight Sun Damage From Within
Include tomatoes, watermelon, and pink guava in your summer salads. These fruits contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that offers your skin sun protection from within. In fact, one study found that consuming a tomato drink for 12 weeks resulted in a 48% reduction in sunburn.13
7. Sponge With Cool Water And Apply Aloe Vera Or Green Tea To Soothe Sunburn
Sometimes, in spite of your best intentions, you might catch more sun that is advisable – for instance, if you nod off in the open and get a sunburn. In case you have a painful sunburn, here are a few tips that can help:
- Remember to avoid sunlight until your skin heals. That means covering up so that you don’t even catch light coming in through the windows.
- A cold shower or bath can help cool down your skin. You can also try sponging down your skin with a washcloth soaked in cold water.14
- Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties that can ease reddening due to sun exposure. It also contains anthraquinones and polysaccharides which can help your skin heal. You can crack open an aloe vera leaf and apply the gel inside on sunburned skin. Or use an aloe vera ointment to soothe it.15 16
- Green tea also contains a beneficial compound known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) which not only works as a sunscreen but also lessens DNA damage due to sun exposure. In fact, the topical application of green tea extracts has even been found to reduce the development of cancerous skin cells in animal studies. So applying a cool, dampened green tea bag to the sunburned skin can help heal and soothe it.17
8. Apply Cool Compresses And Wear Loose Clothing To Deal With A Heat Rash
Did you know that you could be allergic to the sun? In some people, the immune system may mistakenly attack sun damaged skin components causing an itchy rash in areas exposed to the sun such as the neck, face, or ears. You’ll need to be protected from the sun if you have a sun allergy.18
During summers, we tend to sweat quite a bit, but sometimes pores which expel the sweat get blocked. This leads to those tiny, itchy, red bumps known as a heat rash or prickly heat. Wearing loose cotton clothing that allows your skin to breathe can help. So can soaking a washcloth in cool water and applying it to the rash.19 Dabbing on some aloe vera on the rash can bring you relief and help with healing.
9. Use Buttermilk, Turmeric, Or Aloe Vera To Fade Suntan, Freckles, And Brown Spots
If the summer sun has given you freckles or a lingering tan that you want to get rid of, there are plenty of natural remedies for you to choose from.
- Buttermilk contains lactic acid which can reduce deposits of the skin darkening pigment melanin and encourage the tanned outer layer of your skin to shed. That means you can finally bid adieu to an uneven skin tone, freckles, or a suntan with this simple remedy. And that’s not all. It can even boost collagen levels and give you firmer skin.20 So apply a little buttermilk and watch your tan fade away.
- Another remedy that can help erase your freckles and tan is turmeric paste. Turmeric can inhibit the production of melanin due to the presence of an antioxidant compound known as curcumin. Mix a little turmeric powder with water or buttermilk and apply it to the hyperpigmented skin.21
- Good old aloe vera can also decrease melanin production. Apply the gel to dark spots or tanned skin and see the difference!22
|↑1||The Benefits of Drinking Water for Your Skin. University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority.|
|↑2||Water – a vital nutrient. The Department of Health & Human Services.|
|↑3||Hydration 101: It’s More Than You Drink. The University of Washington.|
|↑4||Eat a lot of citrus? Be careful in the sun. Brown University.|
|↑5||Summer skin safety. Harvard Health Publications.|
|↑6||Sun Safety. Centers for Disease Control And Prevention.|
|↑7||Summer skin safety. Harvard Health Publications.|
|↑8||Sunscreen Guide. Environmental Working Group.|
|↑9, ↑16, ↑17||Korać, Radava R., and Kapil M. Khambholja. “Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation.” Pharmacognosy reviews 5, no. 10 (2011): 164.|
|↑10||Sun Safety. Centers for Disease Control And Prevention.|
|↑11||Summer skin safety. Harvard Health Publications.|
|↑12||Endly, Dawnielle C., and Richard A. Miller. “OILY SKIN: a review of treatment Options.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology 10, no. 8 (2017): 49.|
|↑13||Story, Erica N., Rachel E. Kopec, Steven J. Schwartz, and G. Keith Harris. “An update on the health effects of tomato lycopene.” Annual review of food science and technology 1 (2010): 189-210.|
|↑14||Sunburn. National Health Service.|
|↑15||Reuter, J., A. Jocher, J1 Stump, B. Grossjohann, G. Franke, and C. M. Schempp. “Investigation of the anti-inflammatory potential of Aloe vera gel (97.5%) in the ultraviolet erythema test.” Skin pharmacology and physiology 21, no. 2 (2008): 106-110.|
|↑18, ↑19||Common summer skin rashes. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑20||Yamamoto, Yuki, Koji Uede, Nozomi Yonei, Akiko Kishioka, Toshio Ohtani, and Fukumi Furukawa. “Effects of alpha‐hydroxy acids on the human skin of Japanese subjects: The rationale for chemical peeling.” The Journal of Dermatology 33, no. 1 (2006): 16-22.|
|↑21||Tu, Cai‐Xia, Mao Lin, Shan‐Shan Lu, Xiao‐Yi Qi, Rong‐Xin Zhang, and Yun‐Ying Zhang. “Curcumin inhibits melanogenesis in human melanocytes.” Phytotherapy Research 26, no. 2 (2012): 174-179.|
|↑22||Jones, Ken, Jennifer Hughes, Mei Hong, Q. I. Jia, and Steve Orndorff. “Modulation of melanogenesis by aloesin: a competitive inhibitor of tyrosinase.” Pigment cell research 15, no. 5 (2002): 335-340.|