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Embrace the season with this summer skincare routine

Phil Day: Superintendent Pharmacist | minute read
Mother applying sun cream on daughter's face outdoors.

As we head into the summer months, it’s tempting to bask in the sun’s rays without taking precautions. A survey by Cancer Research UK revealed that more than 3 million of us don’t do anything to protect our skin in the sun.

We all need to keep our skin safe to prevent premature ageing and cancer risks. It’s still possible to become burnt on cloudy days, and darker skin tones are still susceptible. A good summer skincare routine will keep your skin feeling refreshed and moisturised, whatever the weather.

How does warm weather affect my skin?

Heat exposure thins the skin, making it feel more sensitive. Those with oily skin types may notice more blemishes or breakouts in the summer months.

You’ll also sweat more, so it’s essential to stay hydrated with water and a cooling moisturiser. Repeated sun exposure can lead to signs of ageing including wrinkles and hyperpigmentation or ‘sun spots’.

This is common in fairer skin types, which are also more likely to burn. Damage from UV rays can result in redness, pain, skin that’s hot to the touch and eventual flaking or peeling. In extreme cases, it can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

How do I prepare my skin for the sun?

Emollients are available in different forms and the type you need will depend on the skin condition you want tHow do I prepare my skin for the sun?

The best skincare products will contain sun protection factor (SPF). As part of your day-to-day, choose a moisturiser with built-in sunscreen.

If you’re planning a period of prolonged sun exposure, like a holiday, take steps before you go:

1.       Exfoliate to remove dead skin cells at least three days before your trip. Make sure you do this well in advance as exfoliation also removes the protective skin barrier. You’ll need extra days in between with a cleanser and SPF moisturiser to build up your defences.

2.       Cover yourself in waterproof suntan lotion – SPF 30 is a good starting point but SPF 50 is ideal, particularly if you’re fair. The SPF rating reflects a product’s effectiveness at protecting against the sun’s UVB rays. You also want to choose a product with a star rating of at least 4. This star rating indicates how much UVA protection the sunscreen will give. Reapply every two hours or more if you’re swimming or sweating. Don’t forget the often-overlooked bits including the tops of your ears or feet. 

3.       Combat the effects of sweat by hydrating regularly. While a guideline is eight glasses of water per day, this should be even higher in summer – typically, around half an ounce (14ml) for every pound (0.45kg) of body weight.

4.       Add extra protection with a sun hat and UV400 sunglasses. Don’t neglect your lips either – hot weather can lead to dry skin and flaking, so choose a moisturising SPF lip balm

What is the best treatment for sunburn?

With the best intentions, we can still get caught out! Start by getting out of the sun and taking a cool shower. Ibuprofen or paracetamol (check with your doctor if you’re not sure) can help with any immediate pain.

Next, apply a cooling and moisturising aftersun lotion. If you have sensitive skin, you can also use a specialist gel cream. Avoid warm baths for a week and choose cool showers instead, applying cold compresses at regular intervals if your skin feels warm.

Do not use ice packs or try to scratch off peeling skin, as this could make the sun damage worse. Always use dermatologist-approved products with a cooling effect and stay out of the sun until you’re completely healed.

Stay safe

Remember, prevention is better than the cure. It’s important to wear sunscreen year-round, but your skin needs added protection in the summer. With a balanced diet and plenty of water, you’ll notice brightening effects and feel better. Your skin – and health – will thank you!