Summer is so close you can almost smell the sea breezes.
For all of us, there’s something we love about summer. Whether it’s the al fresco dining, long walks on the beach, barbecues with friends or just the warmth of the sun on our skin, there’s much to enjoy during these months of the year.
The problem is the sun is bad news for your skin.
While the sun is important for the synthesis of Vitamin D, it’s also a cause of wrinkles, sagging, hyperpigmentation, yellowing of tone and, you guessed it, skin cancers.
We don’t want you to miss out on summer fun, so here are some tips that will help you make the most of the weather without having to put your skin and your health at risk.
1. Cover up
Whenever possible, cover up or seek shade. Wearing protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses is far better than trying to fix the damage later.
Try exercising outdoors early in the morning or evening to avoid strong direct sun.
Remember that UV is not just directly above us; it also bounces off pavements, water and cars, so you could be getting more exposure than you think.
2. Stick to broad-spectrum high SPF
Use a dedicated broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF rating. Look for a sunscreen that has been tested and registered in New Zealand / Australia with an SPF of 30 and above.
Many moisturisers and makeup products are not sunscreens, even if they have a SPF rating on them. They are designated cosmetic products and haven’t had to undergo rigorous testing and certification.
Keep in mind that damage to your skin is cumulative. And even small amounts of exposure every day can have an impact on the appearance and health of your skin.
Being indoors doesn’t necessarily protect you. Many people aren’t aware that UVA rays can penetrate glass, whether it’s an office window or the car windscreen.
Reapply your sunscreen at lunchtime and at least 15 before heading outdoors.
UVB rays cause obvious damage to our skin resulting in redness, blistering and peeling. But UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and cause damage that’s not immediately obvious. It may not show up in your skin for years or even decades.
3. Amp up your protection with an antioxidant
The inclusion of a sunscreen every day is great, but there’s something even better for your skin: the use of a topical antioxidant and a sunscreen. This is magical combo will increase your skin’s natural protection, fight off free radicals and support your skin’s repair processes.
Even the best sunscreen doesn’t provide 100% protection against UV or free radicals.
Using an antioxidant, such as Vitamin C or Polypodium leucotomos, can increase your skin’s natural defences and help protect it against any UV rays that do make it through. Most importantly, antioxidants repel free radicals, which are unstable atoms that cause damage to cells and prematurely age the skin. Free radicals naturally occur in the body, but they’re also triggered by UV exposure, pollutants and chemicals.
Apply an antioxidant product and follow with your sunscreen or, at minimum, use a sunscreen that contains antioxidants. These include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Resveratrol, EUK-134, Green Tea (EGCG) and Polypodium leucotomos.
4. Adjust your skin care routine
In summer, you need to adjust your skin care routine. Your skin produces more oils in the hotter months and those rich creams that were great for winter may lead to clogged pores and unwelcome breakouts.
It’s best not to overload the skin with ampoules, serums and creams. Listen to what your skin is telling you and switch to lighter products. You can probably take a break from those sleep masks too.
However you still need to keep skin hydrated. Many people think that drinking more water will hydrate their dehydrated skin; it won’t. All skin types, even oily skin, benefit from hydration. Use skin care products that hydrate and moisturise your skin to keep it healthy, but go easy on those products that contain heavy butters, rich oils and silicones.
Another reason it’s important to top up your skin’s hydration in summer is air-conditioners. They draw water out of the air and out of your skin. Look for moisturisers that have a good blend of hydrating and moisturising ingredients. These are not your enemy, but watch out for those ingredients that are heavily occlusive.
5. Perfect your night routine
Now that you think you’ve got your daytime skin care routine right, you may think you’re done, right? Not quite. How you care for your skin at night is also important.
If you want to look younger longer, it’s important that you have an effective night time skin routine.
Night time really is the best time to be using anti-ageing actives, such as retinoids, peptides, Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Beta Hydroxy Acid. These can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so use them at night and ensure you’re using sunscreen during the day.
6. Support our skin with the right nutrition
Our internal health also affects our skin, the body’s largest organ.
Correct nutritional support and adequate hydration are all important.
Ensure you have a nutrition-rich diet that includes antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, a small amount of lean protein and adequate healthy fats, particularly Omega-3. And go easy on the carbs and sugars.
Omega-3 is a fatty acid that is anti-inflammatory and plays a special role in helping protect us against certain chronic illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. It also has benefits for the skin. These include making skin more resistant to UV, reducing inflammatory skin conditions, including acne, relieving dryness and itchiness, and speeding wound healing. You’ll find Omega-3 in walnuts, seafood, fatty fish and some seeds and plant oils.
Vitamin C and Zinc are also important nutrients for the skin and help the body combat external stresses.
7. Lots of sleep
It’s very tempting during summer to go out more and stay up later. But being wired for longer can elevate stress levels and reduce sleep quality.
A minimum of eight hours of deep sleep in a cool and dark room are essential to maintain our health and keep our skin looking radiant.
A lot happens when we sleep. During this important time, the body sorts and stores memories and heals and repairs itself, even flushing out toxins from the brain. The sympathetic nervous system gets a rest, growth hormones are released, cytokines fight inflammation and infection, and the stress hormone, cortisol, drops. All of this benefits the skin too.
Now that you know how to protect your skin this summer, all that’s left to do is enjoy those balmy nights. Best of all, your future you will thank you and your skin won’t show the tell-tale signs of summer neglect: discolouration, rough scaly patches, deep wrinkles and heavy sagging.
Anna Marie Greco is founder of Skin Clinica www.skinclinica.com.au and educates on skin care. She encourages people to learn about ingredients so that they know what works and what is just empty marketing. Skin Clinica was named Corporate Vision’s Skincare Experts of the Year Antipodes 2021.