We don’t get the longest summers in the UK. In fact, our weather is somewhat unpredictable and this can affect our skin. Our skin acts as a barrier against the outside world and different weather conditions can affect how our skin behaves. It’s not only the weather but what we do to combat it, like using central heating and air conditioning for instance, which can dry out our skin.
In many ways, both heat and cold weather have the same effect of drying out our skin. This is why the dominant ingredient in most skincare is water. Yet, the summer months when the weather is warmer can have other effects on our skin. Here are a few things you can do to help prepare your skin for warmer months and take care of your skin in summer.
Hydrating Your Skin In Summer
As our skin may sweat more in the summer it’s easy to think that it’s hydrated, but this isn’t really true. Sweating can be very good for your skin. It can wash out the pores, hydrate and cool us. It also has moisturising properties. However, depending on your skin type and the length of time you wait before rinsing your face after a workout or having been in hot weather, sweat can irritate your skin. Especially for those prone to eczema. That’s because the sodium in sweat can dehydrate the skin.
One of the reasons many assume that skin is healthier in summer is all that sweating out of toxins, right? I’m sorry to disappoint you but the amount of toxins we sweat out through our skin is minuscule. If it had any real effect we’d all be spending less money on products and more on sauna passes (or running I suppose). In actual fact, because we spend more time outdoors in the summertime we may even be increasing opportunities for toxins to get into our pores. Not that this should affect how much time you spend outside - just how often you wash your face.
Speaking of our pores, blocked pores don’t get hydrated so try to cut back on make-up during the summertime. Make-up is more likely to irritate skin and clog pores in warm weather and besides, this is literally your skin’s season to shine so go for that all-natural glow.
Protecting Your Skin In Summer
We all know we should be protecting our skin from the sun’s rays. It’s not just about avoiding sunburn, the real reason for using protection against the sun is for protecting against skin cancer. So, don’t sacrifice your health for your tan. Every skin type needs suncream with a high SPF in direct sunlight and a moisturiser that contains SPF on a daily basis. Even in winter because whilst the warmth of the sun may not be felt by the skin, the sun’s rays are still reaching you.
What is SPF?
SPF stands for sun protection factor. This is why SPF has a number attached which relates to how high the protection is. Many people assume SPF is a chemical when in fact it is a measurement. This means that what is used as an SPF can differ.
What Can Be Used As An SPF?
SPFs can be determined by the presence of ingredients that act as sun blockers and their combined effectiveness against sun damage risk when delivered via the product. Physical blockers are chemical and contain active ingredients. One of the most common is Oxybenzone which has garnered a less than positive reputation as it’s suggested it can interfere with hormone production. However, it is important to note that there is no indisputable evidence of this.
There are also natural forms of sun protection including aloe vera, coconut oil, shea butter and many other common beauty product ingredients. Of course, in many mainstream beauty products, although these ingredients may be plastered across the bottle, the contents may contain very little amounts of these. To be effective as a barrier to the sun, these natural ingredients must be in reasonably high concentration in the product.
Of course, no product can offer full protection from the sun no matter how high the SPF or the amounts of barrier-acting ingredients (many natural products don't carry an SPF label). All we can do is limit our time in direct sunlight. Now, I’m not proposing you shelter indoors or carry a parasol at all times (although I’m all for a lace parasol comeback for 2022) because we need the sun for vitamin D too. What we must do though is resist the temptation to sunbathe for long periods and we must be kind to our skin by building up sun exposure over time as the weather warms up.
Exfoliating Your Skin In Summer
As mentioned earlier, summer can cause issues that result in blocked pores. Whether through sweat or toxins or make-up. So a good old scrub can help reach a little deeper and rid you of those dead or dying skin cells too. During warmer months we can afford to be a little softer on our skin so avoid aggressive hard scrubs. Perhaps, opt for a homemade scrub and use it in the bath or shower where it’s being applied in humid conditions for extra hydration.
Balance is important here. Whilst exfoliation should be practised once or twice per week, some are overdoing it. Daily exfoliation can be too hard on your skin. A little like using a jet wash on paving stones every day - it’s overkill and can do more harm than good. Most days you should wash your face without a scrub but with just water and a gentle cleanser. It's also important to use the right tools. Flannels are far better for our skin than facial wipes as they offer very gentle exfoliation. However, unless we wash them after each use, they can end up putting a lot of what we’ve washed off our skin back on again and can be breeding grounds for bacteria. Check out my Bamboo Crochet Face Pads which are an effective solution and can be washed and reused multiple times.
Moisturising Your Skin In Summer
During summer your skin will need a less heavy moisturiser. As skin may often be damp in hot weather, a lighter weight moisturiser might be used. This does not mean your skin doesn’t still need oil, however, as sweat will not help keep your skin strong and nourished as natural oils do.
When judging your level of skincare, consider how you might take care of a child - wrapping them up in cotton wool won’t help them long term. Instead, your role is to guide. Your skin is a lot like this. Heavy products can take over the duties of your skin making it complacent and unequipped with the abilities it needs to thrive on its own. However, a little product can help support the skin’s natural talents, without taking over.
As every skin type is different, it’s impossible to say the thickness of moisturiser everyone’s skin needs but a good way to tell is how long it takes to stop being able to feel the moisturiser on your skin. If your skin is dry to touch a few minutes after application then it may have sunk into your deeper layers but is not doing much for the surface. You should still be able to feel a film of the product after 10 minutes, so try to wait for at least this long before applying make-up (if you wear make-up).
Always Apply face cream to a damp face but apply it to a cooled damp face in the summer, as applying to steamed damp face (shower or bath) I personally find the cream sits on my skin rather then sink in and drink it up.
Straight after a bath or shower, get dressed then dampen the face with cool water and apply the face cream, give your sebaceous glands time to temperature regulate. After applying my face cream give your skin 10 - 15 minutes (this is the time I pack my bag to go out or chase around the house to get my kids dressed), during this time it will allow your skin to absorb those gorgeous oils, then apply your chosen sunscreen, I find Tropic’s sunscreen for the face a winner, I feel it mixes well with my cream, it’s 50spf, its cruelty-free and natural and it doesn’t stink if it goes in your eyes.
Enjoy Your Summer Skin
If you’ve come to this blog to check in on what you should be doing to care for your skin in summer then I really hope I’ve helped and good for you for seeking advice on how to look after your skin - so many of us just guess and seek solace in overpriced products. What I don’t want anyone to do is spend their summer anxious about their skin. For some people, their skin shines in summer and for others, it’s the breakout season, but whichever camp you’re in how you care for your skin in summer won’t differ all that much. You need plenty of water - on your face and in your body too (keep yourself hydrated and your skin will be chuffed) and you need to up the exfoliation a little and lighten up on the moisturiser. Other, none product-related skincare advice in summer includes:
- Don’t spend too much time in direct sunlight
- Rinse your face after sweating (in the sun or the gym)
- Make sure you’re using clean facial cloths and flannels
- Eat well and drink plenty of water
One of the best things you can do for your skin though is to not worry too much about it. Jump in the sea at every opportunity, get plenty of outdoor exercise (so long as it’s something fun and maybe even social) and do things that make you smile a lot.
Enjoy the summer everyone!