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It is easy to neglect our skin in the summer. The warmer, more humid weather means our skin isn’t as dry and itchy as it is in the winter; and the sun-kissed look of a tan can make us feel better when we look in the mirror. But the lazy days of summer don’t mean we should be lazy with our skincare regime; in fact, it means we should be even more diligent. Follow these six easy steps for healthy skin.
1. Wear safe, non-toxic sunscreen, even on cloudy days.
The sun’s burning rays are remarkably powerful and proficient, so wear sunscreen every day. When choosing a sunscreen, look for an SPF of at least 30, if you have fair skin. But don’t be seduced by super-high SPF numbers because their incremental sun protection diminishes as SPF increases, especially at higher levels. Many sunscreens with SPF from 50 to 100, for example, effectively block just 1-2% more sunburn rays than SPF 30 products. Regardless of which SPF you choose, you should reapply often (ideally every 90 minutes), and always after swimming.
2. Avoid tanning beds.
We now know that tanning beds are linked to cancer and are no safer than the actual sun, so think carefully about the risks you expose yourself to when you go to a tanning salon. If you really want some summer skin color, avoid tanning beds and choose a safer option, such as self-tanning towels and lotions. Be sure to check the ingredients label to ensure the base formulation is safe and non-toxic (avoid methylparaben and synthetic perfume).
3. Exfoliate at least once a week, ideally twice.
Dead cells sit on the surface of your skin making it look dull, rough and dry. By exfoliating, you are removing these dead cells, allowing your more radiant, healthier summer skin to shine through. Exfoliating also allows skin cells to regenerate more quickly, which keeps aging at bay. Whenever possible, choose a gentle, more natural exfoliator. Some “fruit acid” exfoliators such as alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid (AHA and BHA) can actually be very harsh and cause significant irritation. Choose products with natural exfoliating grains instead.
4. Moisturize your skin
In the summer it is tempting to ease up on moisturizing because your skin may not feel as dry. But good moisturizers work over time, promoting healthy skin with consistent use. We don’t stop eating well or exercising in the summer, so we shouldn’t stop taking care of our skin. If you do happen to get a sunburn, act fast to mitigate the negative effects by moisturizing liberally and often with a lotion containing aloe vera. This will keep the burned skin well hydrated, and it will help to soothe the discomfort.
5. Have lots of summer fun, but don’t skimp on sleep.
Lack of sleep can lead to increased levels of stress hormones, which may slow the production of collagen in the skin. When our skin stops producing collagen, it begins to lose elasticity and starts looking tired and worn.
6. Drink lots of water.
Drinking water benefits how well your body functions and ultimately affects how your skin looks and feels. For example, proper hydration helps flush toxins from your body. When toxins build up, they cause organs such as your kidneys to work less efficiently, which has a direct impact on your skin. Sip water throughout the day and consider following the 8 x 8 rule: drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water every day.