By Catie Ryan, Staff
The dog days of summer are upon us, and with them come outdoor barbecues, late nights under the stars, and lazy beach excursions. These carefree activities may make the fondest memories, but they all come with a price: dull, dry, and sensitive skin. It’s easy to brush off proper skincare when you’re filled with summer joy and a bit of rosé, but these breezy days can prove the most damaging to your overall skin health.
With Labor Day around the corner, we wanted to share our secrets for a healthy, glowing complexion, so even in 85-degree weather, your skin won’t take the heat.
- Oh, the sun. Such a benevolent villain. Why do the best things in life hurt us the most (e.g. bacon & margaritas )? While sunshine does provide you with mood-boosting vitamin D, it also causes your skin to age prematurely, develop hyperpigmentation (think sunspots), and, of course, burn. But, if an absurdly painful sunburn doesn’t provide you with enough motivation to wear sunscreen, this fact might: the sun actually damages your DNA. Because our body is in a constant state of cell replication and regeneration, the cells with sun-mutated DNA are naturally reproduced at the same rate as their healthy counterparts. The buildup of this damage can spur premature wrinkles, fine lines, and the most frightening of all, skin cancer.
- Can’t seem to fade those acne scars? The sun may be to blame for this too. Direct UV exposure increases scars’ longevity and darkens their color. This sensitive, still-healing skin is more vulnerable to UV rays, and excess exposure can abet a phenomenon called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), in which the skin experiences increased pigmentation.
The solution: Now everyone say it with me, “sunscreen!” Daily sunscreen use is essential to maintaining a healthy complexion now and for years to come. Be sure to use at least SPF 30 and reapply every 2 hours. You can also simply cover your skin from the sun’s rays with a floppy hat or breezy sundress. Scars should be addressed with SPF 50+, and you can even place a band-aid on the area for extra protection. No matter how old you are, start practicing skin safety now. The effects of sun damage can remain in the body for years, so taking early precautions will save you and your skin some subsequent heartache.
- Nothing beats enjoying a cold beer during the hot summer months, but one drink can easily turn into three (or more, I’m not here to judge). Unfortunately, the morning after a night of heavy drinking you’re likely to wake up to puffiness, facial bloating, enlarged pores, and a mottled skin tone. Alcohol causes puffiness because your body is desperately holding onto all the water it can muster, and discoloration ensues when the thin blood vessels in your skin to expand, breaking capillaries.
Solution: The best solutions are sleep and hydration, but if you’re in a hurry, there are a few other tricks you can utilize. Flush your face of unwanted fluids by engaging in facial massages, or place cold tea bags on your eyes to decrease swelling. You can also buy anti-inflammatory medicines over-the-counter, or use a hydrating serum to bring back that pre-party glow.
- Late Nights
- A night of partying doesn’t only cause bloating and skin dullness, it also disrupts your sleep. When your body is deprived of adequate rest, your skin feels tired, saggy and drained. Additionally, you'll be sporting some serious bags under your eyes. Sleep is essential in rejuvenating cells, so when you miss your solid 8 hours, your whole body can suffer the consequences.
Solution: Although this is the last thing you’d want to do, exercise can help energize your skin and your body. Physical movement actually aids in cell regeneration and helps your body drain out all of the puffiness from your face.
- The Great Outdoors
- Because the summer means spending more time outside, you’re readily exposing yourself to allergens such as pollen, pet dander, and mold. Your body isn’t used to these elements, so you may experience redness, puffiness and irritation in the eyes, even if the allergen enters through the nasal passages.
Solution: Of course, antihistamine medicines such as nasal sprays will lessen a negative response to these pesky culprits, but certain foods actually have the ability to prevent these reactions from occurring in the first place. A diet rich in Vitamin C, Omega-3 fatty acids, bromelain and flavonoids may help dramatically, as these components have proven effective at diminishing inflammation, respiratory distress and even mucus buildup. For foods with high levels of vitamin C, opt for citrus fruits like lemons and oranges. Omega-3s are readily found in cold-water fish like salmon, pineapple contains the compound bromelain, and flavonoids are found in vegetables such as onions, asparagus, broccoli and other leafy greens. Bonus: flavonoids are also found in dark chocolate. You’re welcome.
- The Heat
- We’ve all been there: after a long, leisurely day at the beach, and come home only to realize that you didn’t have a single sip of water all day. But don’t beat yourself up, it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated, especially when your day is filled with summer activities. Unfortunately, this can cause skin to become itchy, flaky, tight, and sensitive.
Solution: The best thing you can do in the summer months is to eat and drink as much water as you can. Yes, you read that correctly. Try to consume foods that are mainly composed of water, such as cucumber and watermelon. Other naturally moisturizing foods contain healthy fats that can alleviate dehydrated skin, such as avocado, fish, nuts and olive oil. Although, if you’d like to address the problem ASAP, opt for a moisturizing serum or oil-based lotion.
Now go out and enjoy your long weekend, beautiful!