The hot weather in the summer months can be hard on your skin. While dry skin can be a problem particularly in winter months, it can certainly be a problem in the summer as well. Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, the sun can still significantly impact it. But, what causes skin sensitivity during warmer months, and how can it be prevented?
What Causes It?
The reason for this aggravation across a diverse range of skin types is due to the higher exposures of heat that can be damaging the skin’s barrier. Without protection for this barrier, such as an SPF, water will be lost from the skin’s resources. As a result of the loss of hydration, dry, flaky skin can occur during the summer.
Another way this loss of hydration can occur is through sweat, which is produced at a significantly higher rate when you’re in a warm or hot environment. Because the sweat glands are in overdrive to control our thermal regulation, water loss from our skin means that it can dry out. However, drinking water is a good method of replenishing your body and skin, so if you’re outdoors or exercising, be sure to drink plenty of it.
Alternatively, being inside during hotter months can affect your skin, but in an entirely different way. Hanging out inside in an air-conditioned room stops one’s skin from locking in and retaining moisture. The mechanism of the air conditioning causes water to be pulled from the surrounding air, which in turn causes reduced humidity, resulting in the desired effect of a colder room in summer. However, when the air is drier, water is taken from your skin, causing it to become dehydrated.
One of the best ways to return this moisture to the skin is to use a face moisturizer or lotion. One with ceramides will help your skin retain water. As for a moisturizer for daytime use, there are many options to choose from. Using one with an SPF will often help protect the skin’s barrier that can be damaged due to the UV rays. The ingredients one should look for in a moisturizer are phytosphingosine, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C, and niacinamide. These ingredients help to prevent allergic reactions, and are overall more gentle on the skin.
It’s also important to take into account what your skin type is. As well as looking for a moisturizer with all of these active ingredients, look for one that is specifically designed for either combination skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, or oily skin. Combination skin requires a light moisturizer, which is water-based. For the dry patches of skin on your face and neck, though, use a heavier cream. For dry skin, hydration is the most crucial element. Therefore, you should choose a cream-based one instead of water-based to retain the most moisture to your skin. A hypoallergenic moisturizer is best for sensitive skin so that you don’t end up with break-outs or further irritation. Lastly, for oily skin, a non-comedogenic moisturiser that is additionally oil-free is ideal for preventing your pores from getting blocked.
Cleansing is another necessary precaution to take for preventing dry skin in the summer. In terms of locking in moisture, micellar water uses its oil molecules to lift off oil, makeup and dirt from the skin, making it a great option as a cleanser. In turn, it soothes and hydrates the skin, maintaining its natural oils and moisture.
An exfoliating regimen eradicates dry skin cells from the skin’s surface, making for a more buffed and smooth look. Additionally, it can help to reduce redness, blackheads, and acne. For the prevention of dry skin in hot weather, however, exfoliation is essential. Its role in skincare during the summer is important because it scrubs away the buildup left on the skin. Taking this buildup away leaves the skin more exposed to better soak in and retain the moisturizer you rub into the skin after this step.
In the summer months, exfoliation ensures pores stay unclogged, which prevents break-outs on the skin’s surface. However, it is essential not to exfoliate as much as one is advised to in the winter due to the humidity in the air. In terms of the best type of exfoliator to use, a chemical exfoliant makes for a more consistent and predictable skin appearance. Glycolic acid is the best type of acid to use to eradicate dead skin cells, get rid of flakes, and make way for a smooth surface. To choose one, make sure it is pH adjusted. Between 8-15% is where the product should fall to ensure less damage to the skin.
Another way to make sure minimal damage is done is to only exfoliate once a day at most, and don’t press down too hard. It is also recommended that you let your skin get used to it over some time. To do this, exfoliate once a week and then increase gradually over time. Robustly and regularly exfoliating can cause redness and dryness, which is the opposite of what we are trying to achieve. If exfoliation is done in the morning, it is essential to follow exfoliation with a regular moisturizing regimen. Applying a moisturizer and an SPF after this process will ensure maximum sun protection and, therefore, less potential to develop dry or damaged skin.
Leading on from this, SPF should be a priority when looking to reduce facial dryness. This is because its application ensures your skin’s barrier is protected, not being dried out and damaged by the UV rays. However, it is integral that you apply it regularly to get its full benefits. Using it every two hours and immediately after swimming or coming into contact with water will ensure that UV rays will not be able to break the barrier, and your skin will be protected from dryness.
As well as sunscreen, there are many things you can do to avoid UV rays, which are harmful to your complexion. You must limit your time under the sun on sweltering days and take regular breaks in the shade. It’s also important to cover up your arms and legs or any exposed areas and could potentially be subject to harmful UV rays, or regularly apply sunscreen to them as well.
Avoiding Hot Water
Another technique to use when trying to restore and retain moisture during the summer months is ensuring your shower temperature is lukewarm. Having your shower on high heat can strip your body of its natural hydrating oils, and it will be drier and more vulnerable to dry, flaky skin as a result. The same applies to handwashing – if you suffer from dry hands in the summer, using water at a more tepid temperature can reduce dryness and irritation.