We made it! The days are getting longer and the weather is finally turning warm while the mountains call our name. Bring on the picnics, rooftop patios, and day hiking – summer in Colorado never disappoints. With the changing seasons we need to reassess our skin care though. Here are a few tips and tricks to make it through the season with healthy, glowing skin.
Exfoliation is an important step for all of the body’s skin during the summer especially since we’re showing more of it off. This helps slough off dead, damaged skin cells and excess oil while leaving a smooth surface for products to better penetrate into. For the face, cleansers with alpha hydroxy acids in it work well or one with a gentle exfoliating bead like NIA 24 Physical Cleansing Scrub. The Clarisonic brush isn’t just for your face either. Switch to the body specific head and exfoliate from the neck down making sure to pay special attention to elbows, knees, and heels so products such as moisturizer and self-tanner absorb efficiently and evenly.
Hydrating the skin is still very important in the summer, especially after exfoliating, even though you may not need the heavy, emollient product you use during the winter. Opt for a light weight moisturizing lotion or gel formula that delivers adequate moisture for your skin type without feeling like you’re wearing a mask of product. The office is currently crazy for Avene Fluide Matifiant. Its texture is very light, oil-free and has mattifying qualities to keep shine on the forehead, chin, and nose at bay. It also makes for a great makeup base! Remember, hydrated skin is healthy skin and healthy skin heals much better in the long run.
Sun protection is a must all year in Colorado but the intense summer sun in conjunction with the high altitude and extended time playing outside can really wreak havoc on a person’s skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying a broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher 15 minutes before heading out and reapplying every two hours or after swimming or sweating. Try switching out your baseball cap for a wide brimmed one to protect your entire face, neck and ears. If hats aren’t your thing use a spray on SPF to protect the scalp and part, areas that are often overlooked. Also, try to limit your time outside between 10 am and 2 pm when the sun’s rays are at their peak. Check out your local UV index at www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov.
If you do find yourself with a sunburn don’t panic. Creams and lotions may give some temporary relief but they tend to lock in the heat. Instead, try mixing one cup of cool water with one tablespoon of white vinegar. Soak a washcloth in it and apply the cool compress to the burned areas. This mixture will help draw out the heat. Taking some ibuprofen will also help with the hurt, inflammation and redness. Drink plenty of water while your skin is burned as the burn has a tendency to draw water to the skin’s surface and away from other areas of the body so the likelihood of dehydration is higher. If blisters form, don’t pick! The burn will eventually heal but in the end the damage to the underlying layers of the skin has been done. “Each year in the U.S. over 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are treated in more than 3.3 million people.” (Rogers 2015)
Some damage can be prevented by incorporating antioxidants into your daily skin care regimen. Antioxidants target free radicals which are electron stealing molecules that are generated naturally by your body, pollution and sun exposure. When an electron is stolen from an otherwise healthy cell, the structure and function of the cell is compromised and can even die. Topical and oral antioxidants interact with those free radicals and help stop the damage. Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, resveratrol, and different types of tea flavonoids are some of the most common skin care antioxidant ingredients currently on the market. At the office we suggest taking a daily Heliocare capsule that will work synergistically with a sunscreen. These capsules contain antioxidants from a fern that help to reduce free radical damage due to sun exposure. This product is not a replacement for sunscreen but should be used in conjunction with your daily SPF.
There are plenty of articles and research papers from credible sources out there talking about the harmful, long term effects of the sun. Don’t let them scare you into not wanting to go out and enjoying life. Get out there and take in everything that summer has to offer but protect yourself while doing what you love. Sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, moisturizers and antioxidants will help you protect your most visible investment- your skin.
Rogers HW, Weinstock MA, Feldman SR, Coldiron BM. Incidence estimate of nonmelanoma skin cancer (keratinocyte carcinomas) in the US population, 2012. JAMA Dermatol 2015; 151(10):1081-1086.