The days are getting longer, and outdoor activities are calling your name. Nearly everywhere you turn, it’s getting warmer. It all adds up to one thing: Summer is around the corner — and so is tan summer skin.
That golden glow often goes hand-in-hand with fun-filled beach trips and carefree days in the sun. If you’re not careful, it can also come with burns and skin damage. So it’s essential to take care of your skin during months when the sun’s rays are strongest.
Don’t wait until the hot summer months to start prepping your skin. Start now. Try these six strategies to prevent skin damage and keep your skin healthy and glowing. The reflection you see in the mirror today — and 20 years from now — will thank you!
1. Banish Breakouts
You may have heard the sun can dry up any pimples that appear. Not to pop your balloon (like a zit), but that’s not the case. The sun’s hot rays kick your oil glands into high gear, clogging your pores and increasing the potential for breakouts. That’s right — your acne might get worse when you want your skin to be flawless.
Fortunately, if you use the proper acne treatment, you can ward off acne flare-ups. Be careful to read any warnings on acne medication, though. Some make your skin super-sensitive to the sun, making you vulnerable to burns. Remember, each sunburn contributes to your skin cancer risk.
A non-comedogenic sunscreen can pull double duty. It won’t clog your pores and also blocks the sun. When choosing a product, look for ones containing salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide to help prevent clogs. Use these products consistently for several pre-summer months, and your skin will stay clearer when the heat rises.
2. Use Daily Sunscreen
Speaking of sunscreen, it doesn’t have to be coconut-scented, but you need to use it daily. A lotion of at least SPF 30 can be your shield against the sun’s skin-damaging UVA rays. Plus, the hydrating ingredients in the sunscreen will give your skin a healthy glow.
Be sure any sunscreen you choose contains zinc or titanium as an active ingredient. These minerals are most effective in blocking those UVA rays. Don’t forget to apply lotion to your scalp and the tops of your feet — two spots that are often overlooked. If you’re out in the sun for an extended time, reapply every two hours.
3. Don’t Buy Into the Base Tan Myth
You’ve heard this one. Dermatologists all agree that no amount of tanning is healthy for your skin. Slowly building up your tan can protect you from a possible sunburn when you’re finally in the sun for hours. Chalk that theory up as a myth.
That includes tanning beds, too. Light exposure from tanning beds increases your skin cancer risk. And remember that while the glow from self-tanners may look great, its protection level is zero. So if you’re at the waterpark or the beach, your best bet is still to cover up and wear sunscreen.
4. Keep H2O Handy
There’s one thing you can count on with the summer sun: It will make you sweat. Those forehead and underarm droplets are your body’s natural way of staying cool. This built-in cooling system also dries you out, though. A water bottle with you will enable you to hydrate and thus keep your skin soft and healthy.
Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day and down some every hour. Getting enough water makes your skin look smoother and gives it more elasticity. Your body also uses water to flush out toxins that can cause acne. So staying hydrated will help to keep your skin clear as well. Remember, this may be a more significant battle for you during the summer months.
5. Focus on Skin Hydration
Yes, drinking water is excellent for your whole body and benefits your skin. But don’t forget to hydrate your outer layer, too, specifically. Keep in mind, though, that a moisturizing cream can’t block the sun’s rays. Instead, including it in your daily regimen will limit the impact of sun exposure on your skin.
Despite your best efforts, the sun might dry your skin somewhat. Using a moisturizer daily helps in two ways. It rebuilds your body’s protective layer. If you have dry skin, sun exposure may cause it to become oily, increasing your acne risk. Adding hydration with a daily moisturizer can limit excess oil production, keeping your skin clearer.
6. Eat a Healthy Diet
Choosing healthy foods is always an intelligent choice. It’s good for your heart and bones, and you can go ahead and add your skin to that list. Yep, it’s true. Eating the right foods will help protect your skin from those pesky, dangerous UV rays. Talk about an easy — and tasty — way to prevent skin damage!
Next time you’re at the grocery store, stock up on foods rich in carotenoids. Carrots, pumpkins, spinach, broccoli, mangos, peas, and melons are great options. Even snack foods like almonds or nuts can fill your stomach while strengthening your skin shield. Remember to use sunscreen still, though. Even eating your weight in sweet potatoes won’t prevent sunburn.
Spring is in full swing, so summer will be here before you know it. You need to prep your skin, whether it’s the lake or a Saturday morning kids’ soccer game calling your name. Take the time to try all of these tactics. When you do, your skin will look and feel healthier and well into your future.