Summertime is a great chance to get a healthy dose of Vitamin D and a number of health benefits from being in nature. Whether you’re planning to spend your time outdoors hiking, fishing, boating, playing golf or tennis, watching kids’ sports, or just relaxing at the pool, you don’t want to let that fun cause sun damage.
Here are 10 ways you can protect your skin this summer … both inside and out.
1. Avoid the sun during the peak hours of the day
We get a lot more sun exposure in the summer (from more outdoor time plus the sun is closer to us), so the most important time to be careful is during the peak times of the day. The middle of the day is when the sun at its highest and when you’re more prone to getting the most sun damage. Try and limit your exposure in the middle of the day, and make sure that you’re protecting your skin if you do go out in the sun during those times.
2. Use the proper sunscreen, and wear enough of it
Most of the sunscreens on the market have harmful chemicals in them. There are hormone-disrupting chemicals (also called endocrine-disrupting chemicals) in popular sunscreens. One of the ingredients to look for is oxybenzone, which is in the majority of popular sunscreens. These toxic chemicals can get absorbed through our skin, so there are concerns about them causing hormone-disruption.
My recommendation is is to shift away from chemical sunscreens to mineral sunscreens that contain zinc oxide. These sunscreens actually create a physical barrier to protect your skin from the sun as opposed to a chemical reaction that occurs when using traditional sunscreens. This physical barrier will feel slightly pasty and may look a little different than you are used to. So what I recommend for summertime is to use the tinted sunscreens. You can choose a color that matches your skin and it’s a really nice substitute to using foundation. Foundation is tougher in the summer months because it’s hot, humid, and you’re perspiring more which can cause you to break out more than normal.
Make sure to use an SPF between 30 and 50. Anything higher than that is not actually providing additional protection and is more marketing hype than anything.
Most people are not using enough sunscreen. The amount needed to cover you entire body and face is about two tablespoons. You should use a nickel-sized amount just for your face alone. If you don’t use enough sunscreen you are not getting the full level of SPF protection that is listed on your sunscreen.
3. Eat skin-nourishing foods, high in antioxidants
In times of heat and humidity, your skin tends to be inflamed or red. That can worsen during the summer months, so you want to eat things that are anti-inflammatory instead of pro-inflammatory. Sugar is one of those pro-inflammatory foods that we really want to watch out for. Also, when we eat a lot of sugar, it increases our blood sugar, which then can create glycation issues in the body and really speeds up the aging process. Really, any time of year, we want to be mindful of glycation, but during the summer months when our skin is getting that extra sun exposure, we want to be particularly careful.
Being out in the sun creates additional oxidative damage on top of our normal everyday exposures, so we want to get extra antioxidants during the summer months. Luckily it’s a great time of year to find organic fresh fruits and vegetables from your own gardens or farmer’s markets. Berries are fantastic and high in antioxidants. Kale, spinach, peas, and broccoli are some of the best vegetables to increase your antioxidant intake. Legumes also can have antioxidants, so like black beans, you could make black bean salad. I’ve got a number recipes in my book, Clean Skin from Within that contain many antioxidant-rich, skin-loving ingredients.
Wild Alaskan salmon is another great way to get antioxidants, specifically astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is one of my favorite antioxidants for summer months, because it protects the skin from the inside out from sun damage. It’s not going to protect in the same way that a sunscreen would, but it’s going to help add some extra protection for you when you’re out in the sun.
4. Hydrate with the proper liquids
During the summer, we oftentimes get dehydrated from being out in the sun, and it’s hot, and we’re perspiring. That’s why it’s critical to make sure that you’re staying hydrated. You want to drink plenty of filtered water or even fresh coconut water to get some additional electrolytes. Another healthy option is drinking herbal iced teas. You’ll want to make sure to choose ones that are more hydrating rather than diuretic. I like to use a vanilla rooibos tea and turn it into an iced tea.
Stay away from the sugary drinks that will cause your blood sugar to increase. Sugar is going to contribute to a pro-inflammatory state that’s going to further inflame skin conditions that often already worsen during the summer since redness worsens during heat.
5. Exercise to keep stress levels down
We know that exercise has so many positive benefits, and it’s particularly helpful for boosting your immune systems and reducing your stress levels. UV radiation may promote cancer by directly inducing DNA damage and also by weakening the immune system. So, increasing your body’s ability to fight off insults like UV radiation is going to be even more important in the summer when it is exposed to the sun more often.
For other ways to reduce stress, you can learn more in the “Clean Mind” section of my book Clean Skin From Within. There, you’ll find tips on stress-management practices such as gratitude journaling, meditation and other mindfulness techniques.
6. Avoid harmful chemicals in other products
In addition to sunscreens, we also use bug and insect repellents more frequently in the summer. Be careful about those, because there are toxic ingredients in those as well, including hormone-disrupting chemicals. Instead, look for natural ones that contain essential oils. You can find them in your local health food store or online.
And, what other skin care products are you using more of in the summer? Lotions and self-tanners? Check the labels. Those also can contain harmful chemicals. For a list of toxic ingredients you should avoid visit this podcast or refer to the full top 20 toxic ingredients in my book.
7. Get enough sleep
Melatonin is one of the body’s most potent endogenous antioxidants. Recent literature has shown that melatonin has been used in treatments both topically and systemically for managing melanoma. Part of that has to do with the fact that melatonin has its own protective benefits against sun. It modulates the impact on the oxidative stress that occurs and helps to repair mitochondrial damage that’s inflicted by UV exposure.
Sleep helps produce the melatonin to protect our skin from sun damage, so it is even more important to get enough sleep (and get good sleep) during summer months. Some things that may help are using earplugs, eye mask, and black-out curtains to maximize your sleep so you can generate your own healthy melatonin levels . For more tips on getting good sleep listen to this podcast episode I did with Dr. Michael Breus.
8. Take extra supplements
While it’s ideal to get your nutrients and antioxidants from food, some people need additional support in the form of supplements. For example, if you don’t like to each fish, you can get a boost of omega-rich EFAs by taking a supplement like The Spa Dr. Astaxanthin + Omega Krill.
Another supplement that is popular in the summertime is a Vitamin C drink. The Spa Dr. Vitamin C Fizz Powder will give you that antioxidant boost in a refreshing summer beverage without having any added sugar. This is especially nice if you aren’t able to get enough foods rich in Vitamin C into your diet on a daily basis.
9. Keep your skin moisturized
We talked about staying hydrated on the inside by drinking lots of water and other healthy drinks, and it’s also important to keep your skin hydrated on the outside, especially when you’re exposed to thesun. If you go out in the sun and get a little too much, make sure that you use aloe on your skin afterwards and thoroughly moisturize your skin. You want to use clean, non-toxic skin care products and ingredients. Choosing ones that contain aloe can be a great way to nourish the skin and help repair the damage from that excess sun exposure.
The Spa Dr.’s Daily Essentials Step 3 is our nourishing moisturizer that includes aloe as one of the primary ingredients. This can help soothe sensitive skin and also help your skin stay hydrated daily.
10. Exfoliate regularly
In the summer, skin tends to be dull and dry. You might be noticing more fine lines starting to show up. Keeping skin looking fresh and revitalized involves good exfoliation habits. Proper exfoliation helps slough off the dead skin cells on the surface of your face which allows your other skin care products to work better as well.
It’s best to exfoliate in the evening, so that you’re not doing it right before you go out in the sun. It gives your skin a chance to be soothed by your other products overnight, and then be ready in the morning. I generally recommend exfoliating one to two times a week using a gentle exfoliant such as
The Spa Dr. Pearl and Rose Petal Facial Exfoliant.
Don’t let the sun scare you from having an amazing summer with plenty of time in nature. Just follow these 10 tips to protect your skin, and you will have the best chance at keeping that healthy glow and help protect against potential sun damage.