If you’ve ever noticed how thirsty you get when it’s hot outside, that’s because your body’s natural water content evaporates more quickly in warm weather. It’s not just your mouth that gets parched, however; your entire body, including your skin, can feel the impact of climbing temperatures.
Although it’s often overlooked, skin is an essential organ that needs special attention and care. After all, not only does your skin tell the true story of your health and age, it provides a protective barrier to the rest of your body.
Keeping your skin supple, soft and well-hydrated helps ensure it doesn’t dry and crack, which is just as possible during the warm summer months as winter. Use these tips to create a healthy summer skin care regimen.
Use proper sunscreen. The sun can dry out and damage your skin quickly even on an overcast day, and more so if you’re near water, where reflections can magnify its intensity. Protect your skin from burning and drying out by using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 any time you venture outdoors. Also remember to check the sunscreen’s expiration date to ensure you’re actually being protected.
Moisturize often. Make moisture part of your daily routine, not just when you get out of the shower, but throughout the day.
Shorten bathtub and shower time. It may seem contradictory that spending more time in the tub or shower strips your skin of moisture, but prolonged heat does exactly that. Keep your bathing time brief to minimize the chance of dehydration.
“Although a long, hot shower or a nice soak in a tub is very relaxing, hot water can really dry out your skin,” said board-certified dermatologist and Medline Remedy consultant Dr. Jeanine Downie. “Damp skin helps hydration from your moisturizer lock in, so the best time to apply moisturizer is not when your skin feels the driest but rather after a bath or shower. Be sure to apply a thick coat of lotion immediately after getting out while skin is still wet to help keep skin soft and supple.”
Exfoliate. Take time to regularly exfoliate, which removes dead skin cells and makes it easier for moisturizer to penetrate and reveal healthy-looking skin. Be sure to exfoliate gently and adjust your exfoliation schedule to your skin’s unique needs so you don’t irritate it.
Hydrate frequently. Applying lotion is an external strategy for maintaining your skin’s natural barrier, but you can also keep your skin hydrated from the inside out. When you’re dehydrated, the body pulls water from any source it can, including your skin. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least 8-11 8-ounce glasses of water a day, and keeping a bottle of water on-hand at all times can provide easy, on-the-go hydration.
Consume hydrating foods. Similar to upping your water intake, you can increase your body’s overall water content by eating the right kinds of foods. Many types of produce have a high percentage of water, like berries, melon, cucumbers and zucchini.
6 Causes of Dry Skin
Everyday activities, including some that are intended to improve your overall health, can have a big impact on the condition of your skin.
Bathing too often. A nice hot shower or soak in the tub may be a great way to relax and chase away aches and pains, but that heat strips away your body’s natural moisture. Avoid excess bathing, shorten your showers and aim for more moderate temperatures to reduce the impact on your skin.
Too much chlorine. It’s essential to keep pools safe and clean, but chlorine is a harsh chemical that can be damaging to your skin, hair and eyes. To minimize the impact, take a brief shower as soon as possible after leaving the pool to rinse away chemicals, and apply lotion while skin is still damp for maximum absorption.
Washing your hands frequently. Thorough handwashing is important to keep germs and illnesses at bay, but all that washing can wreak havoc on your skin. If possible, choose a soap that has moisturizing ingredients along with the anti-bacterial agents. Follow up each wash with a layer of lotion to seal in moisture.
“While touching something that you’re allergic to such as chemicals or latex gloves can lead to dry, cracked hands, more often the culprit is handwashing,” Downie said. “In fact, there are several professions where frequent handwashing is associated with the job. In that case, it is best to carry around moisturizer or keep a jar of it next to the sink so that applying lotion after washing your hands becomes second nature.”
Excess hand sanitizer. It may be convenient when you’re not near a sink, but the most effective hand-sanitizers contain more than 65% alcohol, and alcohol is extremely drying. If possible, supplement usage with a sanitizing lotion.
Air conditioning exposure. The cooling relief of an air conditioner may help reduce the natural evaporation that occurs when you’re hot and sweaty, but it also makes the indoor air drier, which pulls moisture from your skin that you probably don’t even notice. It’s easier to maintain moisture in skin before it’s dry and scaly, so use a regular moisturizer as a preventive measure and maintain the skin’s natural protective barrier to moisture loss.
Soaking up the sun. While many people think of sun-kissed skin as a healthy glow, the opposite is actually true. A tan is a clear sign of skin damage, and the darker the tan, the greater the damage. Use appropriate sunscreen when you’ll be outdoors, and when you come inside, use moisturizers designed to reduce chances of irritation of sensitive skin from fragrances or dyes.
More skin care tips from Remedy Dermatology Series Moisturizing Lotion.