Ah, summer – warm nights, that pleasant feeling of the sunlight on your skin, the coolness of the sea … But then your skin quickly dispels that perfect summer picture with irritation, sunburns, itches, dryness. Is there a way for both you and your skin to enjoy summer?
While some people simply adore summer, others loathe the heat, the sweating and other unpleasantries that come along with warm months. By paying attention to what our skin is telling us, we can keep it safe and content.
How summer affects the skin
While in the winter, cold air might cause dry skin and redness, hot summer months are no friendlier to our biggest organ. The combination of solar radiation, salt, and heat can cause your skin to lose its shine.
Sun: is the biggest enemy to your skin. The UV light causes a process called photoaging, which can manifest as brown spots, wrinkles, and dry skin. This process occurs even if your skin is not sunburnt! The UV light causes inflammation, strips the skin of protective lipids, produces reactive oxygen molecules (in other words, oxidative stress) and promotes the breakdown of collagen.
Salt and chlorine: there is no better way to cool down than a refreshing dip in the ocean or the nearest pool. But both pleasures can be very hard on the skin – salt and chlorine dry your skin and may even cause rashes and allergies. Use sunscreen to add a protective layer to your skin (protect not only yourself but also marine life by choosing a sunscreen that is ocean-friendly), take a (warm, not hot) shower and apply moisturizer after the swim.
Heat: sweltering heat is already annoying, but when it leads to heat rashes, bacterial infections, or acne, it becomes a whole other level of unpleasant! When it’s hot, we sweat, but when we do so in a dirty and dusty environment, it can clog our sweat ducts and lead to rashes and blisters. The same conditions can lead to an acne outbreak. The solution is to try and keep our skin as clean and dry as possible. And because bacteria love warmth, keep your hands from touching your face!
Summer awakens freckles
Freckles are small, harmless marks on your skin. They appear when skin pigment melanin (which gives skin colour) accumulates under the skin. Freckles are most commonly found on the face, hands, neck, back, and chest. The quantity of freckles an individual has is influenced by several factors, including genetic predispositions and exposure to sunlight.
Our bodies produce two types of melanin – pheomelanin and eumelanin, which protects the skin against UVB rays. The relation of the two is determined by a gene called MC1R. People with darker hair, eyes, and skin usually produce more eumelanin, and rarely get freckles. Fair-skinned people and redheads mostly produce pheomelanin and are much more susceptible to freckles.
During sun exposure, our skin cells produce more melanin to protect itself from the sun’s radiation. That is why freckles are much more visible in summer months and fade during winter when we create new skin cells. Although freckles themselves aren’t dangerous, they are an indicator that your skin is more sensitive to sun’s radiation. If any of your freckles itches, bleeds, grows or changes shape, be sure to have a doctor check it out.
For those who can’t stand the sight of the many marks on their face, the disappointing fact is that freckles can’t be prevented or removed. At least not without invasive skin procedures and serious risk for skin damage. If you wish to minimize their appearance, make sure to protect your skin from the sun. But since lately more and more people are going as far as tattooing freckles on their face, your best option is to simply accept them. Have you seen how proudly celebrities Ema Watson, Dutches Meghan, and Emma Stone wear them? And if you look at freckled men such as Jensen Ackles and Tom Hiddleson, we can all agree that they can be wickedly attractive on men as well!
If you are one of those unlucky ones whose skin gets petulant at the sight of the first warm days, be sure to respect its sensitiveness and provide it enough protection.
- Stay hydrated by drinking water.
- Avoid the sun between 11 am and 4 pm. If you have super sensitive skin, you can also use your smartphone to monitor the current UV index and avoid the sun when it’s above 6.
- Avoid tanning beds.
- Wear sunglasses to protect the delicate skin around your eyes.
- Avoid smoking.
- Get enough sleep and eat quality food rich in nutrients which promote the health of your skin (vitamins B, E, C, selenium, omega-fatty acids).
Even if your skin doesn’t love summer the way you might, there is still a way for you to enjoy it without irritation and discomfort.