Skin Care Tips For Summer
Break out the sun screen and grab your beach towel. There's a waft of barbecue in neighborhoods across the nation as the mercury climbs and the clothes get lighter. We must be in summer, the warmest of seasons.
But there's more to summer than pools and bikinis. Sun exposure adds up and is the leading cause of premature ageing. Then come the wrinkles, age spots and risk of skin cancer.
So what's the secret to summer skin care? How do you protect your skin and still enjoy these long sunny days? Let's review the basics of summer skin care and how you can reduce what Mr. Sun has planned for your skin.
The Basic Ritual
Cleanse – You're doing this throughout the year, with facial cleanser twice a day (right?). If you are, good work. If you're not, start.
Use a cleanser every morning and again in the evening to wash toxins off your skin that can accelerate the ageing process. Cleansers with AH or BH acids or papaya-based products are a good choice, as the papain enzyme in papaya encourages turn-over of dead skin cells.
Exfoliate – Do this two to three times a week to remove skin impurities and dead cells that can clog pores and lead to acne. A chemical exfoliator with an emphasis on fruit enzymes and citric acid works fine.
Use a Toner – It might be the most under-rated aspect of summer skin care. A toner shrinks pores, removes the residue that gets missed by your cleanser, regulates your pH balance and protects your complexion from toxins in the environment. You can also use it to cleanse your skin at any time.
Wear Lip Balm – Look for a product with an SPF of 15. Avoid glossy lip balms as they tend to attract UV rays.
How to Choose a Sun Screen
So far we've talked about the basics of skin care. You'll note, however, that we've yet to discuss a moisturizer. And more importantly, how to protect your skin from the sun.
Now's the time to apply a Broad Spectrum sun screen with an SPF between 30 and 50. Broad Spectrum? That's the new benchmark for sun screen products to guard against both UVB radiation and his lesser-known cousin, UVA, which is 30 times more abundant.
Apply this Broad Spectrum generously on any skin that's exposed to the sun. While some moisturizers offer SPF protection, they'll generally be weaker than Broad Spectrum products. Your Broad Spectrum sun screen doubles as your moisturizer.
Claims of sun screens that are 'long-lasting', 'sport' or 'water-resistant' are often unregulated, by the way, and little more than a marketing pitch. The most important criteria, by far, is the Broad Spectrum label. Apply to dry skin and re-apply every two hours or after water exposure. Note that pregnant women may want to avoid sun screens with retinyl palmitate. Check the ingredients.
An Alternative to Tanning
Finally, cover up. It's not always possible to avoid the sun during its peak hours of 10AM and 4PM, and nor would you want to, so do the next best thing and wear loose-fitting long-sleeve clothes and wear a wide-brimmed hat.
This wardrobe choice offers further protection from mosquitoes, cuts, burns and some of the underbelly of summer that sends folks to the ER.
Consider that tanned skin is damaged skin. A tan is simply melanin released by your skin in response to UV radiation. It might look good in your twenties but you'll see it by 35.
Instead, eat carrots. Researchers in a recent Scottish study found that the beta-carotene in these happy little guys produced a golden hue – similar to a light tan – that observers said made study participants more attractive. No wrinkles attached. Bonus: you'll see better!