Ah, summer; warm nights, that pleasant feeling of the sunlight on your skin, the coolness of the sea… But then your skin ruins this picture of a perfect summer with irritation, sunburns, itches, and dryness. Good news – there is 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 warmer months. By paying attention to what our skin is telling us, we can all keep it safe and content.
In this article
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 and rebel.
It's the biggest enemy to your skin. The UV light causes a process called photoageing, 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. Avoid direct sunlight when it's the strongest!
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 can dry your skin and may even cause rashes and allergies. Use sunscreen to add a protective layer to your skin, take a (warm, not hot) shower, and apply moisturiser afterwards.
The sweltering heat is annoying enough by itself, but when it leads to heat rashes, bacterial infections, or acne, it creates a whole other level of unpleasantness!
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. Remember to keep your hands from touching your face!
Is salt water good for your skin?
We've said that sea water can irritate the skin, but many people say it does wonders for their skin, and the beauty industry is no stranger to the benefits of salt.
So, is salt water actually good for skin?
Yes and no. Let us take a closer look.
You might have heard about salt rooms which help alleviate colds, ease breathing, and have an overall calming effect. Sea water is a ready remedy for stuffed nose and sinuses. Women spray salt water on their hair to create those "I just got back from the beach" waves.
Where do these benefits come from? Salt's ace in the sleeve is its mineral content!
Sea salt contains plenty of magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium. Those minerals are all important players in skin health.
So here is how salt water might be good for your skin:
- It softens cuticles and skin and strengthens nails.
- It helps combat acne-causing bacteria and skin infections.
- It is a gentle natural exfoliant, helping keep your skin velvety smooth.
- It also increases circulation and helps clean pores to avoid acne and blackheads. If you have very sensitive skin, skip the face and use it only on your body.
- Salt water helps you combat dandruff by physically loosening and removing dandruff while also stimulating blood circulation. Be careful if you have naturally dry hair because salt water also helps absorb moisture, which might leave your scalp and hair too dried out!
- A study on the benefits of magnesium found that it improves skin inflammation, hydration, and the functioning of the skin barrier.
- The magnesium may also help reduce water retention (bloating) in the body and even prevent muscle cramps.
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 common on the face, hands, neck, back, and chest. How many freckles do we have depends on many factors, including genetic predispositions and exposure to sunlight.
Our bodies produce two types of melanin – pheomelanin and eumelanin, both protecting the skin against UV rays.
People with darker hair, eyes, and skin usually make more eumelanin and rarely get freckles.
Fair-skinned people and redheads mainly produce pheomelanin and are much more susceptible to freckles.
During sun exposure, our skin produces more melanin to protect itself from the sun's radiation. That is why freckles are much more visible in the summer months and fade during winter when we create new skin cells.
Are freckles dangerous?
Although freckles themselves aren't dangerous, they indicate that your skin is more sensitive to the sun's radiation. If any of your freckles itches, bleeds, grows or changes shape, be sure to have a doctor check it out.
Wear them proudly!
If you don't like your freckles, unfortunately, you can't get rid of them, at least not without serious risk for skin damage. If you wish to minimise 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 such as Emma Watson, Meghan Markle, and Emma Stone wear them?
And if you look at freckled men such as Jensen Ackles and Tom Hiddleston, we can all agree that they can be wickedly attractive on men as well!
Summer menu that your skin will love
In the summer heat, we mostly prefer lighter and fresh food. Discover which nutrients help keep your skin healthy and are thus a crucial part of your summer skincare.
Water: one of the most important things you can do for your skin is to drink plenty of water. Grab a pitcher of water, throw in sliced fruits, lemon juice, or mint leaves for added flavour, or prepare yourself a refreshing herbal tea. Not only will it benefit your skin, your entire body will embrace hydration. Studies report that drinking more water improves skin's glow and acne. It increases blood flow, which can help with the distribution of nutrients. It also improves its elasticity and can even make pores and wrinkles look less prominent.
Antioxidants: they help your skin protect itself from free radicals that cause cellular damage, and solar radiation is one of the biggest culprits for their formation. You can find antioxidants in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, so a general rule of thumb is to eat a rainbow – fill your plate with different-coloured vegetables! Beta carotenes in carrots and sweet potatoes, lycopene in tomatoes, vitamin A in kale, vitamin E in plant oils, flavonols in dark chocolate are just a few examples of potent antioxidants that will help your skin remain youthful and healthy.
Vitamin C: let's look at one of the antioxidants more closely. Vitamin C promotes skin elasticity, and genetic variations might predispose you to lower levels. For people with an unfavourable genetic predisposition, it is even more important to know the best sources of vitamin C (besides citrus fruits, think peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli, and even potatoes), and eat them in abundance. You can discover your predisposition to vitamin C and many other nutrients with our DNA test.
Omega-3 fatty acids: these essential fatty acids have well-documented benefits for almost every system in your body, and many health conditions. When it comes to skin, omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties, and scientific studies show a very promising role in skin's photoprotection. It is the protection against UV-radiation induced damage, such as sunburn, photoageing, and skin cancer. So make sure fish and seafood, nuts, seeds, and plant oils are regularly on your plate.
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 with enough protection to prevent sun damage. Here are our top tips:
Nail summer skincare with the help of genes
Throughout the article, we've mentioned that many of the traits are influenced by genes. By doing our DNA test, you can discover your genetic predisposition for:
- Skin hydration, elasticity and firmness
- Oxidative stress (which occurs after exposure to sunlight)
- Biological ageing (which speeds up with excessive exposure to UV rays)
- Vitamins, minerals and nutrients (B, C, D, E, selenium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids)
Your results come with personalised recommendations which will help you fine-tune your nutrition and habits to match your unique genetic predispositions.
So 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!