If winter means chapped lips and dry skin, then summer can often signal oil-prone breakouts, sun damage, and a very different sort of skin dehydration for some people. So what are the top most important things you can do to keep your skin healthy and radiant this coming summer? For this article, we’ve compiled the best science-backed tips that keep your skincare regime simple, but effective. We’re strong believers that you don’t have to break the bank, or more specifically, buy 15 different products (unless you want to!) to get the effect you’re looking for. At the same time, we know skincare can be complicated and a little overwhelming: how do you know what ingredients you should be looking for? Is that the best product, or does it just have the best marketing? We’re about to tell you all you need to know. Let’s begin!
5 Tips For Taking Care Of Your Skin This Season
- Use sunscreen all the time (and the right application!)
Applying sunscreen every morning, whether it be winter or summer, is a good idea for three reasons:
- Sunscreen protects your skin from ultraviolet rays, which are linked to skin cancer
- UV breaks down collagen, which makes it a factor in premature aging
- For those with acne and hyperpigmentation, sunscreen helps prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), a process where your skin produces extra brown pigment at the site of trauma (most commonly post-pimple).
Though many makeup brands have now capitalized on the whole ‘sunscreen is super important’ trend, and are now including SPF in their products (most commonly foundations and concealers), it is of critical importance that sunscreen is its own step, pre-make up (if you choose to wear makeup at all).
This is because the amount of SPF required to give adequate protection is often not in a high enough concentration in these products. At least not in the practical sense: maybe seven pumps of the foundation would provide a good level of protection, but is that realistic – or even economic – for everyday use? Probably not.
We know shopping for sunscreen isn’t seen as fun or easy as shopping for more gratifying products, but once you’ve found the right one for you, it’s an important step in protecting not just the appearance of your skin, but the health of it.
Here’s how to find and apply the best sunscreen:
- Find a sunscreen with an SPF rating over 30
- Read reviews and look for key phrases like ‘lightweight’, ‘easy to apply’, and ‘doesn’t leave a white cast’ if any of those are important to you
- Japanese and K-beauty products are often some of the best out there, with SPF ratings over 50 for a good price. You can purchase these on sites like lookfantastic.com or yesstyle.com
- Apply ¼ of a teaspoon (about 2 or 3 lines the length of your index finger) to your face
- Rub in
- Reapply after being exposed to water
- Consider pairing your sunscreen use with a hat or with shade on extra high UV days
- You can easily check the UV rating of your city on a certain day by googling ‘UV index [insert city] today’
- Any UV index rating above a 6 is considered high, 8 is considered very high, and anything above 11 is considered extreme
Important tip: Think about more than just the sunscreen on your face! Always apply sunscreen down to your neck, décoletté, and hands. These skin areas are especially delicate and prone to obvious signs of aging. And if it’s sunny and you’ll be outside for some amount of time, or even near a window? Any part of your body that isn’t covered by clothing should get sunscreen applied to it (and reapplied throughout the day, if necessary).
- Moisturize twice a day
The first thing to know is that there are hydraters (humectants) and moisturizers (emollients or occlusives). Both can be important for keeping your skin feeling moisturized, hydrated, and radiant.
Humectants are hydrators, and they bond with water molecules from the environment and hold them to the skin’s surface, leaving it feeling plump and hydrated. Humectants can be especially helpful for those in humid environments, because moisture from the air can be pulled into the skin readily. If you’re in a dry environment, such as a desert, or in the winter (when humidity levels are often lower), you may want to avoid humectants. This is because they can have the opposite effect: they pull water from deeper layers of the skin, thereby drying it out.
Find out easily if the ingredients you’re looking at on a label are humectants – the most common protagonists in skin care are:
- Hyaluronic acid
On the other hand, there are moisturizers which are either occlusives or emollients. If the former, this means that they have “ingredients that create a physical barrier on the skin to prevent transepidermal water loss and lock in hydration.” Examples of common occlusive ingredients are:
- Petroleum jelly
- Mineral oil
If the latter, they are emollients, which “soften the skin, help keep it supple, and decrease inflammation, so the skin feels more comfortable or less itchy.” Examples of emollients include:
- Fatty acids
These are known to rebuild skin barrier function and prevent dry skin.
Here’s how to find the best moisturizer:
Finding the right moisturizer for you may take some trial and error, but it’s well worth finding the right fit. We recommend trialing a few by getting samples in store (Sephora offers free samples of their products) or buying travel-size small bottles and trying them for a period of 3 weeks – while keeping the rest of your skincare regime consistent – before investing in a bigger container. See how your skin reacts, and try to avoid the temptation to trial different moisturizers at the same time. You won’t truly know the effect which one has (e.g. if one causes you to break out) if you mix them!
Remember to moisturize in the morning and at night, after you’ve taken off any makeup.
- Use a gentle cleanser
Lab Muffin Beauty Science, a chemist and skincare educator with her own science-led skincare blog, puts it best when she says that: “stripping your skin with cleansing is not a good approach. You can’t just bully your skin into behaving . . . it makes oily skin feel worse, and irritates your skin.”
If you have skincare concerns, like oily skin, it is definitely tempting to cleanse more than twice a day, or if you have dry skin, it can be tempting to not cleanse regularly for fear of ‘drying it out even worse.’ Fortunately, though, a good cleanser should not harm your skin, but help it. Here are the best reasons to cleanse once, or at most twice, a day:
- A good cleanser should reduce the amount of sebum on your face (thereby reducing acne),
- It should remove extra dirt and oil that may be building up.
Here is what a good cleanser should be:
- An acidic pH (but not too low!)
- A high pH is a hospitable environment for acne bacteria, while an acidic environment is unfriendly. Our skin naturally hangs out around a level 5 pH or slightly lower, so consider opting for a cleanser that is between a 4 and a 7 on the pH scale, preferably in the 5 to 6 range.
- You can find out if the cleanser you’re looking at in store has a low pH by googling the name of the brand and the cleanser, plus adding on ‘pH’ – if nothing pops up, then the brand doesn’t list the pH. This should be at best an orange flag, seeing as low pH cleansers often advertise their pH upfront.
- Gentle and nonstripping
- If your skin feels ‘squeaky clean’ after cleansing: this is probably a sign it’s too stripping. Pull back and experiment with something that is more gentle. Remember: you can’t force your skin into being less or more oily with your skincare products (that is something influenced by internal and genetic forces), so be kind to your skin.
- Try to keep your makeup light and breathable
If you live in a climate where it comes hot and humid during the summer, this may not be news to you: wearing light, breathable makeup will keep you comfortable throughout the day.
For people who want to minimize things like acne, scarring, or rosacea, this becomes more difficult, since full coverage foundation or concealer often equals a thicker formula. However, there are some full coverage options out there that may be lighter weight and therefore feel more easier to wear for especially bright and muggy days.
Of course, the most important thing is that you should wear what you are most comfortable in, but if you’re looking to experiment with some lighter-weight formulas, consider the following:
- Opting for a tinted SPF or moisturizer, instead of foundation
- Though some of these products are marketed as ‘sheer’, there are some heavier-duty coverage options that may feel less heavy than a full face of foundation, but still get the coverage you’re looking for.
- Prioritize concealer over foundation
- Again, if you feel you have any ‘problem areas’ you’d like to minimize, maybe swap out a full coverage foundation over your entire face with a targeted concealer. Apply concealer to small spaces where you think you need it, leave it for 5 minutes to ‘set’ (aka dry), and it will apply a fuller coverage look on just those areas, leaving the rest of your skin free to breathe.
- Opting for liquid formulas
- Sometimes powder blushes and contour formulations can feel heavy, especially if you begin to sweat and you’re worried about how it all will look by the end of the day. Instead, consider getting a liquid base for your blush and embrace the dewy, radiant look during the summer months.
- Wear lip tints instead of lipstick
- Matte lipsticks look amazing, but sometimes they require reapplication to maintain. Instead try a lip tint, which will give you a flush of color, without any concerns over how the look will age over the course of the day.
- Always take off your makeup at night
We can’t express this enough: if you sleep in your makeup at night, you are letting the oils, pollution, and dirt of the day sit on your skin for that 8 hour period while you sleep. The next day, when you go back to bed, this bacteria from the day before will still be on your pillowcase, increasing your chances of having a breakout.
When you take off your makeup at night, you allow your skin to breathe, and you can rehydrate and moisturize your face for the following day. This lets you wake up with a clean base.
Here is some advice on how to take off your makeup:
- Consider double cleansing. First use an oil-based cleanser to remove your waterproof mascara, foundation, and so on. Then use your gentle cleanser (mentioned above) to remove any final impurities and to balance your skin’s pH.
- Use a clean towel (dedicated just to drying your face, nothing else) to dry your face.
- Apply any toner, serums, and moisturizers before you go to sleep, allowing at least 15 minutes before bed for them to absorb into your skin.
To wrap up, we don’t blame you if taking care of your skin in summer can feel like a bit of a burden. Finding sun protection, potentially altering your makeup routine, choosing the right light-weight moisturizer: it can all require some upfront cost and research.
Fortunately, now you know the research-backed information above, you don’t need to waste money on believing marketing hype surrounding certain skin care products. Using the information we provided in the above tips, we’re confident you can enter this summer with the right knowledge, advice, and products to leave your skin feeling hydrated, rejuvenated, and calm.
Allara Health provides personalized treatment for hormonal, metabolic & gynecological conditions that utilizes a holistic plan that merges nutrition, lifestyle, medication and supplementation, and ongoing, expert support to heal your body.