The summer sun can wreak havoc on your skin. But with a simple routine and a few easy tips, you can keep your skin looking and feeling its best from your face to your feet.
Keeping It Clean
Start with a cleaning routine. Summer's more humid air helps skin stay hydrated, so the dry, flaky skin that plagues many of us all winter is no longer a problem. But, with the weather, skin can switch over from dry to oily.
D'Anne Kleinsmith, M.D., a dermatologist at Bloomfield Dermatology Associates in West Bloomfield, Mich., recommends lighter cleansers this time of year. "I prefer the liquid cleansers to the bar soaps, which can be more alkaline and harsher to the skin," she says. For many people, she recommends Purpose, Cetaphil or Neutrogena cleansers.
Of course, summer's heat can lead to perspiration. Sweat contains not just water and salt, but proteins that need to be washed away so they don't clog your pores. A mild exfoliant is OK, but stay away from cleansers that are too abrasive.
Keeping It Moist
Next up is a moisturizer. Many people like to change from a heavier, cream moisturizer to a lighter lotion for the season, says Valori Treloar, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Integrative Dermatology in Newton, Mass.
If summer's perspiration has you showering more often, make sure you moisturize as soon as you get out. "Showering can dry out your skin, but applying moisturizer right out of the shower or bath helps to lock in water molecules," says Gregory Papadeas, D.O., a Denver-based dermatologist and past president of the Colorado Dermatologic Society.
For super-soft skin, many people find that the oils and lotions used during regular massage therapy leave their skin feeling well hydrated all over.
For skin that needs some special care, such as tough, dry spots on heels, feet and elbows, Dr. Papadeas recommends Aquaphor or Amlactin creams.
For summer's sunny days, many dermatologists recommend a morning moisturizer with a sunscreen. "I prefer that women use a moisturizer with a sunscreen rather than relying on their makeup to contain a sunscreen," says Dr. Kleinsmith. "When you apply makeup, you're not going to apply a very heavy layer of the product, so the sunscreen coverage will not be adequate," she says. Neutrogena, Aveeno and Eucerin all offer good options.
Keeping It Fresh
To keep your skin looking fresh and clear during the summer months, alpha hydroxy creams and lotions or retinol creams can help exfoliate the skin and clean out the pores. "Glycolic acid is the most common example of an alpha hydroxyl acid that's found in these products," Dr. Kleinsmith says. Because these products remove the outer layer of skin, they make you more sensitive to the sun, making it especially important to protect yourself from those rays.
Amy Newburger, M.D., a dermatologist in Scarsdale, N.Y., a member of the teaching faculty at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital and a consultant for the FDA, points out that newer products, such as RevaléSkin, are coming out that combine different substances to better rejuvenate your skin. She also notes that you don't have to spend a lot of money to get a decent product. When Consumer Reports reviewed products in 2007, the inexpensive Olay Regenerist came out on top.
Keeping It Safe
You need to protect your skin from the sun's rays all year, but those rays are strongest in summer. "Sun protection is very important. You need a broad-spectrum, SPF [sun protection factor] 15 or greater sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays," Dr. Papadeas says.
Dr. Treloar sees sunscreen as a third line of defense-she recommends first staying indoors when the sun is at its strongest, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and then using clothing and hats to block the rays. Her concern with sunscreen is that some harmful rays may still break through, and that the chemicals your body absorbs from them might cause harm.
"Start out with habits that keep you out of the midday sun. Go to the beach in the morning, then come back and have a nice long lunch hour or go to the movies," she says.
Or try a sunset walk on the shore-with the great skin care routine you're following, you'll glow with good health.
-By Stephanie Thrrott