You've finally packed away the last of those bulky winter sweaters and found your favorite T-shirt from last year. As you throw it on and take a look in the mirror, you notice your skin isn't exactly in tip-top summer shape. Your legs are dry and flaky, your arms have a less-than-glowing tone, and a blemish is beginning to form in an oily spot near your nose. But don't worry -- with the right care, your skin can go from sorry to showstopping just in time for summer.
Before you run to the medicine cabinet and grab the closest bottle of lotion in the hopes of magically rubbing up some healthy skin, it's important to know what summer means for you and your skin. Sure, summer brings the added benefit of soaking up some extra sunshine, but for your skin this means exposure to UVA and UVB radiation. When the ultraviolet, or UV, index is high, your skin can burn in as little as 10 to 15 minutes [source: Sun Safety Alliance].
Summer's warm rays also pose another obstacle to good skin care: Whether you're exercising or just relaxing by the pool, you're bound to sweat a bit more. For your skin, extra sweat means that dirt, oils and other environmental chemicals are trapped close to the skin and your pores. Finally, those hot days -- perfect for enjoying a cool drink with family and friends -- turn up the heat on your skin, too. When the skin is warm, blood vessels send extra blood to the skin's surface to cool it off. Extra blood can turn your face red, making the skin swell and retain water while kicking oil production into high gear.
So, although summertime might try to throw you and your skin a curveball, with a few simple solutions you can hit a skin care home run and have everyone applauding your summertime glow. Read on to learn your new daily regimen.
Daily Summer Sun Protection
Summer is a great time to get outside and rejuvenate your mind and body. But for your skin, summer means extra exposure to the sun, heat and sweat. This summer, give your skin a little TLC with these tips for healthy, refreshed skin.
It's never too early in the year to think about applying sunscreen. The sun's UV rays can damage your skin all year long. Even on a cloudy day, your skin can be exposed to up to 40 percent of the sun's UV rays [source: Skin Cancer Foundation]. Be sure to take the necessary precautions to keep your skin safe.
Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) rating of at least 15 [source: Mann]. For those with lighter, fair skin, try a sunscreen with a rating of SPF 30. Apply your sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before going outside. To be the most effective, sunscreen needs time to absorb into your skin.
Don't be frugal -- apply sunscreen liberally and reapply sunscreen every two hours or after getting out of the water, since towel drying strips away sunscreen [source: Mayo Clinic]. You'll also want to reapply lotion after exercising, as sweat can water down sunscreen, making it less effective.
Whether you have dry skin, oily skin or normal skin, don't forget to moisturize it. Simple daily activities such as perspiring, shaving or washing your face can disrupt the skin's natural oil and moisture level. To counteract any skin stress your daily routine causes, apply a moisturizer appropriate for your skin type to keep things soft and supple.
Now that you have added sunscreen and moisturizer to your shopping list, read on to discover how to deal with those oily patches of skin that leave you feeling greasy.
Treating Oily Skin in Summer
Take a close look at your skin. Any oily patches near your nose or on your chin? What about your forehead, hands or the bottoms of your feet? Skin naturally produces oil, and it can be difficult to keep this oil from clogging pores and causing breakouts -- especially when summertime heat exacerbates sticky skin situations.
Try these strategies to keep oily skin behaving beautifully:
- Don't scrub too hard. Your skin produces oil to help seal in moisture and keep the skin hydrated. Your skin also produces oils to compensate for minor skin irritations. When you scrub oily patches with too much gusto and use alcohol-based cleansers, you actually stimulate the oil glands [source: Bouchez]. Gentle skin cleansers that don't irritate or over dry skin will keep oil production low. Less oil production to start with means less oil on the skin.
- Don't wash too frequently. Washing your face twice a day is enough to remove dirt and oil buildup. Washing more frequently could stimulate extra oil production. During the summer months, you also might consider using a cleanser with salicylic acid at night. These cleaners gently remove dead skin cells that may clog pores [source: Bouchez]. If you notice your skin drying out from the use of a cleanser, cut back use to once a week.
- Remove temptations. Your hands, feet and face are some of the oiliest places on your body. Every time you touch your face with your hands, you are transferring oil and dirt to places already prone to oil buildup. Keeping hands away from your face will help reduce oil transfer. Hair is oily too, so pull it back to keep it from making your skin greasy.
With oily patches of skin under control, you're no doubt wondering about those dry patches that come with combination skin, or skin types with both oily and dry areas. The good news is that it doesn't take much to help those, too. Let's find out how.
Treating Dry Skin in Summer
To treat it properly, it's important to know what's causing dry skin. Our skin contains a natural layer of oils. Without these moisturizing oils, skin is prone to cracking, itching and flaking.
Treating dry summer skin starts with knowing how to retain the oils on your skin. Whether you have dry skin in a few spots or excessive scaling, relief from the effects of the warm summer air is within reach:
- Start the day out right. A hot shower might feel like heaven, but it can wreak havoc on your skin. Long steamy showers tend to dry out skin by washing off the skin's natural oils. Without these oils, our skin loses more moisture than necessary during the day. If you find your skin feels itchy, tight or stingy after a shower, then it's time to rethink your morning routine. Consider taking cooler, shorter showers to amp up skin's natural oil attributes.
- Use the right soaps. How does your soap smell? Heavily scented soaps might be harshly stripping away skin's oils, aiding and abetting the drying-out process. The more we scrub, the more damage we might be doing. Try trading in rich, foamy soaps for milder, fragrance-free ones.
- Take it easy with the towel. Sure, your towels might be soft and extra absorbent, but where does that leave you? Dry, dry, dry. When you dry your hands after washing them or towel off after a shower, use a gentle touch. Lightly pat your skin dry. Leave skin slightly damp, and when you apply moisturizer, you will help seal in the extra moisture left on your skin.
With just a few simple changes to your daily routine, you can have healthy summer skin sure to attract attention. Clear, hydrated skin can be yours by using sunscreen, moisturizer, and a light touch to help skin look and feel its best. For more information on caring for your skin, check out the links on the following page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Top 5 Tips for Choosing a Daily Facial Cleanser
- How Daily Acne Care Regimens Work
- How Daily Dry Skin Care Regimens Work
- How Daily Foot Skin Care Regimens Work
- How Daily Oily Skin Care Regimens Work
- How Daily Sensitive Skin Care Regimens Work
- How Winter Skin Care Works
- How to Maintain a Skin Barrier
- How to Improve Skin Texture
- What affects skin texture?
More Skin Care Questions
- AgingSkinNet. "Non-Facial Aging Skin: Treatments." (July 26, 2009)http://www.skincarephysicians.com/agingskinnet/non_facial.html
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Cosmeceutical Facts & Your Skin." (July 26, 2009)http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/general_cosmeceutical.html
- Bouchez, Colette. "Oily Skin: Solutions That Work -- No Matter What Your Age." WebMD. (July 26, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/oily-skin-solutions-that-work
- Goins, Liesa. "Summer Skin Survival Guide." WebMD. (July 26, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/summer-skin-survival-guide
- Griffin, R. Morgan. "What's Causing Your Dry Skin Problems?" WebMD. (July 26, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/whats-causing-your-dry-skin-problem
- Mann, Denise. "Summer Skin Makeover." WebMD. (July 26, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/summer-skin-care-8/5-skin-care-tips
- Mayo Clinic. "Skin Care: Top 5 Habits for Healthy Skin." 12/28/2007. (July 26, 2009)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/skin-care/SN00003
- Skin Cancer Foundation. "Sunscreens Explained." (July 26, 2009)http://www.skincancer.org/sunscreens-explained.html
- SunGuard Man Online. "Sunscreen Tips." (July 26, 2009)http://www.sunguardman.org/sunscreen.php
- Sun Safety Alliance. "How Fast Can You Sunburn?" (July 26, 2009)http://www.sunsafetyalliance.org/sunburn.html