Everyone walks their own path on their wellness journey, and even taking one step in that direction is a victory. Every road has a beginning, and as you set out on (or continue!) your wellness journey, it is important to take the time and energy to make sure your skin stays strong and healthy. Especially during the summer, it is easy to damage your skin even without getting big sunburns, if you don’t take proper care of your skin.
My goal is to help create a world where people are invested in their own personal health and wellness journey, and with my background in medicine and fitness, I’ve thought a lot about how I can help promote health and wellness with my products. I believe it is important to find a good foundation routine where you can stay on top of all of the different aspects of your self-care.
In this article, I will be discussing some of my favorite ways to take care of my skin during the summer including:
- How the sun affects our skin health
- Summer skin care strategies
- Building those strategies into your routines
How Does the Sun Affect Our Skin Health?
The sun is, in terms of our health, bad for our skin. Ultraviolet radiation damages our skin, which can have both short-term (sunburn) and long-term (skin cancer) consequences. That being said, the sun is an amazing part of our day and has incredibly positive effects on our mental health. The sun and the warmth of summer play a major role in why we are spending so much time outside and why we need to keep track of our skin health while we do it! Taking care of your skin during the summer allows you to mitigate the negative effects of the sun, while still experiencing all the positive ones.
Ultraviolet radiation is the culprit for all of our summer skin damage. Sun damage is, on its own, not a terrible thing. We need the sun for a wide variety of health reasons, but the sun is best enjoyed in moderation. The major negative effects of this radiation are premature aging and skin cancer, but it does also give us the summer tan that many of us look for in the summer! UV radiation comes in two main flavors: UVA light and UVB light.
This solar radiation strikes all layers of the skin. It affects different parts of them, including our body’s collagen and fibers that give our skin its youthful appearance. Alongside that, UVA rays damage our capillaries and epidermal cells, which causes additional harm.
These rays only affect the outer layer of skin, but they cause damage just like UVA rays. This ray is primarily responsible for visible “photoaging,” which is when your skin ages due to prolonged exposure to the sun
Understanding how to adequately protect and prevent these rays from doing untoward damage to your skin during the summer is key to maintaining a healthy summer skincare routine.
What Is Photoaging?
Photoaging is when the sun prematurely ages the skin. Acute sun damage causes the skin to lose its elasticity and gain wrinkles as it is damaged and changed at a cellular level. One problem with photoaging is that it can occur deep in the dermis in skin layers that we (barring injury) never see. That means that it can take years for any damage to the surface, generally, years where patients are continuing their sun exposure without taking any measures to stop it.
If you aren’t on board yet — sunscreen is so important! Applying sunscreen on a daily basis is the foundation of summer skincare, but we’ll get to that later.
Vitamin D Production
Before you make a pact to never go outside and expose your skin to the deadly star rays, remember that the sun is good for our skin, too! It allows our skin cells to produce vitamin D, which is a key nutrient in our day-to-day lives.
Summer Skin Care Strategies
These are a few of my favorite summer skincare strategies. Different people will have different areas they feel comfortable adding into their routine or trying out this summer, and that’s okay! Summer skin care is not an all-or-nothing type of routine — each step you take is an overall positive, even if it’s only a small one. One of the most important things in summer skin care is that you are thinking about it.
Even if you don’t follow these steps every day, or you forget every now and again, it is still good that you understand that the sun is generally harmful. With sunscreen, adequately protective clothing, and other factors, you can dial back the sun’s damage on your skin.
Wear sunscreen! This is undoubtedly the most important piece of advice we can give. Get a sunscreen of SPF 30 and apply it regularly before going outside and reapply every few hours. This simple step is a huge one in terms of caring for your skin in the hot summer months. Even if you don’t do anything else, wearing sunscreen drastically reduces the damage to your skin. While sunscreen is widely seen as summer protection, it is important to wear sunscreen year-round for complete skin protection. While strongest in the summer, the sun is always causing damage to your skin.
There are a variety of moisturizers that have an SPF rating, making them perfect for morning routines. Wearing sunscreen is important, but it is not an all-or-nothing kind of essential step. During the cooler months, an SPF face moisturizer in the morning is plenty of protection, while during the summer it is important to up the coverage a bit. When looking at SPF, there is a big difference between 15 and 30, but once you hit SPF 30, the benefits are minimal after that.
So, the bottom line of summer skin care is — to wear sunscreen!
Wear Light but Protective Clothing
Tan lines are plenty of evidence of how well clothing can deflect the sun’s damaging rays. While heavy, dark clothing like denim and thick cloth provide pretty much complete protection against the sun, that would get old quickly when you’re standing in a heatwave. While light clothing might not offer the same protection, linen shirts and any skin covering provide a measure of protection, and that can go a long way.
We recommend long sleeves, big hats, and sunglasses to protect your upper body from the sun.
Limit Makeup Application
Even the most water-resistant makeup becomes decidedly more unpleasant when you are sweating as one does in the hot summer months. There are a good number of light alternatives to keep your face from getting your makeup caked on in ways that it’s not supposed to go! Wearing less makeup in the summer months also lets your skin do a bit of recovery and cleansing to help combat the heightened damage from the sun in the hottest months of the year.
Don’t Overwash Your Face
It is tempting to splash water on your face all day to combat the heat, but that has negative effects on your skin health. If you overwash, you will strip away the body’s natural moisturizers, leaving your face cracked and itchy while also increasing the chance for breakouts. We recommend washing in the morning when you wake up and at night before you go to bed. You could also take a collagen supplement during this time to maximize your skin’s ability to rebuild and prepare for the next day in the sun!
Along with this, you should not wear facemasks too much, as they can overwork your skin and cause more harm than good. When you use an exfoliant once or twice a week it clears your pores and skin, but if you do it more than recommended there won’t be anything it needs to clean off so it will attack your skin instead, which is not a fun time!
How to Build Summer Skin Care Strategies Into Your Daily Routine
Now that you are armed with the knowledge of how the sun damages your skin and the strategies you can take to prevent that, all that’s left is actually using the strategies. That’s harder than it sounds! I’ve lost count of the great habits I’ve tried to build into my routine only to give up on them a few days or weeks into it. The bottom line is that it’s easier to skip the sunscreen and your skincare routine each day and go out into the sun anyway.
But, as we both know, that’s bad news in the long term. That, too, is challenging. Lots of the sun’s damage is invisible in the present, making it way easier to think “oh, just a little sunburn, it’s fine” and not think about the longer-term consequences of repeated burns.
So, you want to, for instance, get into the habit of putting on sunscreen before you go on your 20-minute walk to work each day, but you are always rushed and don’t want to take the time because you might be late. First things first — breathe. Then, figure out how you might solve that problem. This is just a silly example, but a big factor in letting habits fall through is when a problem presents itself and is not solved.
The same can be said for supplements. There are a lot of supplements out there that can fit in with someone’s health and wellness plan but they only take them every now and again because they forget or decide to take a day off. A collagen supplement, for instance, is a fairly easy supplement to incorporate into a routine, but it is always a challenge, no matter how easy it might be.
Finding the Right Balance
Along those lines, it is important to find the right balance in creating your new sun-blocking habit. If you try for perfection, each misstep might stress you out or cause a negative feeling that brings you closer to just stopping altogether instead of finding the balance that’s waiting for you. That balance is important when thinking about protecting your skin from the sun. Summer skincare isn’t like taking a daily dose of medicine or a supplement, it’s much more in line with a general wellness journey.
If you forget to put on sunscreen one day and come home with a nasty sunburn on your cheeks and nose you might get discouraged, but the body is amazing at what it does. The skin, though damaged, has incredible healing properties all on its own, and it will repair all the damage it can, and within a few weeks, it’ll be like you never got sunburn in the first place. The damage really happens if you go out every few weeks and get a nasty sunburn, or if you are in the sun every day and aren’t paying it any mind.
Think about what you want your summer skincare routine to look like. Sunscreen in the morning, followed by three days each week with long sleeves, perhaps? Or, you could get a small, refillable bottle to keep full of sunscreen and on hand if you find yourself outside for an extended period of time.
What’s Your Summer Skin Care Routine?
There are tons of ways to protect your skin during the summer! Using these ideas, you can create your own unique skincare routine that works for you and is protecting your skin against those pesky UVA and UVB rays.