Summer is a season that many of us look forward to for things like backyard barbecues, afternoons spent lounging on the beach and road trips with friends or family.
Our skin, on the other hand, doesn’t always thrive in the summertime. Heat, humidity, sun exposure and sweat are among the factors that can make this season hard on the skin.
Thankfully, experts have come up with a number of clear skin tips that can help keep our body’s largest organ glowing and healthy all summer long.
A complete overhaul of your skincare routine is generally unnecessary. Instead, small changes to your daily product use combined with proper sun protection, hydration and support from diet and supplements can help to lock in clear, smooth, radiant skin even on the hottest and stickiest summer days.
Whether you have dry, oily, sensitive or combination skin, you have probably noticed changes during the summertime. This can be anything from increased breakouts or itchiness to a visibly oily T-zone or, of course, sunburns.
What is really going on with our skin during the warmer months? Exposure to UV rays from the sun can actually damage the skin even on cooler, cloudier days, but there is no question that this exposure increases and becomes more dangerous in the summertime. In addition to increasing skin cancer risk, sun exposure can lead to sunburn, fine lines, wrinkles and other visible signs of aging(1).
Heat and humidity can also promote excessive oil production, which can lead to a greasy feel or appearance, itchiness and breakouts. Sweat can have a similar effect, as it can clog pores when mixed with oils and bacteria found on the skin.
Certain factors, like showering more frequently after swimming or sweating, may lead to the opposite problem and dry out the skin.
Recently, scientists have also identified some of the ways in which the skin changes on a cellular level with the seasons. It turns out that filaggrin, a protein that helps to maintain the skin’s barrier function, changes in the summertime. The texture of some of our skin cells also changes with the season, lending even more evidence to the idea that our skincare strategy should depend at least in part on the time of year(2).
The best clear skin tips for summertime radiance involve making small tweaks to your routine, taking steps to limit sun exposure and enhancing your glow with the help of dietary modifications and supplements.
With a few simple changes and strategies, you can enjoy the season to the fullest with smooth, clear, healthy skin.
Combined with the harshness of heat and humidity, the heavier cleansers and creams that may have done wonders in the winter might be a bit too much for the skin. Try swapping these out for gentler products, like foaming cleansers and lighter moisturizers. If you wear makeup, try to apply it more minimally in the summertime, and choose light options with labels that say “non-comedogenic” (unlikely to clog your pores)(3).
Because of the tendency for hot weather to increase oil production and make skin feel greasy, moisturizing in the summertime may feel counterintuitive. In reality, moisturizing is essential year-round in order to nourish, hydrate and protect the skin. Still, moisturizers that are too thick or heavy can increase the likelihood of clogged pores and breakouts. Look for a lightweight moisturizer for summer use, and consider choosing an option with an SPF of at least 30 in order to limit the number of products you’re using on a daily basis.
Light serums containing antioxidants and vitamins may help to reduceinflammation and prevent skin damage all year round. In the summertime, this is especially important. A popular option is a serum containing vitamin C, which has been shown to help protect the skin from environmental damage and oxidative stress, reduce wrinkles and naturally increase the production of collagen(5).
Exfoliating is generally thought of as an optional step in a skincare routine, and can be hard on the skin if it’s done excessively. In moderation, though, exfoliation can be a secret weapon for clear summer skin. Gentle exfoliators can help to remove dead skin cells, unclog pores and improve the texture and appearance of the skin. Try a weekly exfoliating ritual before showering.
Too much hot water can dry and dehydrate the skin, and contribute to itchiness and eczema. Try to limit your shower frequency and length in the summertime, and opt for warm or even cool water when you do shower.
Achieving healthy, radiant summer skin means mastering sun protection. Here are some of the most important things to remember when shopping for sunscreen and working on minimizing exposure.
SPF (sun-protecting factor) ratings are determined based on how much time in the sun it would take for the skin to burn with the product applied, compared to how long it would take for bare skin to burn. Most experts recommend choosing a sunscreen with a rating of 30 or higher, essentially meaning that it would take at least 30 times longer for the skin to burn with the product on(6).
Most sunscreens are effective at filtering UVB rays, which are linked to sunburns and the development of some skin cancers. Broad-spectrum sunscreens go the extra mile when it comes to clear summer skin, as they also filter UVA rays, which can contribute to skin cancer as well as signs of premature aging.
Summer days can be long, and sunscreen should be reapplied every two to three hours when exposure is possible. Carry your sunscreen with you when you go out, and if you’re worried you might forget to re-apply, try setting a reminder on your phone.
Our lips are susceptible to sun damage, too. Look for lip balms or lipsticks with built-in SPF protection.
What we eat and the supplements we take can have a huge impact on the skin, and some of the best clear skin tips are all about health from the inside out.
We know that a diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables helps to keep us nourished and healthy on many levels. The vitamins and nutrients in some fruits and vegetables can actually help to hydrate the skin, increase collagen production and even offer additional protection from sun damage(7).
Combining foods rich in vitamin C (citrus fruits, tomatoes) with those rich in vitamin E (nuts, seeds, leafy greens) offers an especially powerful defense against the damaging effects of the sun.
Some supplements, including collagen and biotin, can help to lock in smooth, healthy summer skin.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and acts as a kind of “glue” for our ligaments, muscles and skin. Our collagen production naturally decreases as we age, which can lead to many common signs of aging skin including wrinkles and sagging.
Research has also found that when collagen levels are low, our skin is more susceptible to sunburn(8). When sunburn occurs, the inflammatory process that is designed to help us heal further depletes collagen levels, creating a vicious cycle.
Collagen supplements may be able to help with both the prevention and healing of sunburns, as well as overall health and appearance of the skin year-round. Make sure to look forhydrolyzed collagen peptides, which are more easily digested and used by the body.
Another helpful supplement is biotin, otherwise known as vitamin B-7. Biotin has been celebrated for its positive effects on skin, hair, nails and nerve function. To soothe dry or irritated skin in the summertime, consider adding ahigh-quality biotin supplement to your routine(9).
No matter how much we may love and look forward to the summer, there’s no denying that the season provides a series of challenges when it comes to our skin.
Exposure to the sun, heat, humidity and sweat can all contribute to summertime skin woes, from oily skin to sunburns and irritation.
With the help of a few simple, science-backed clear skin tips, we can combat these factors and achieve glowing, healthy skin all year long.
For radiant summer skin, focus on making small changes to your skincare routine and product use, maximizing sun protection and nourishing the skin from the inside out with the help of diet andsupplements.
Ellie Ellias -Contributing Writer, Physician’s Choice