Tips for a Safe Summer Complexion

Summer is finally in full swing. How do you know for sure? The kids are home from school, barbeque grills are fired up, and there’s at least one wedding or graduation party on your calendar each week. Oh yeah. . . and everywhere you turn, you’re seeing talk about taking care of your skin through these sun-worshipping months. You should heed their truths.

Keeping a healthy complexion, both skin tone and texture, with that perfect glow through the summer is a top priority for most people. So just how do you accomplish that?

If you’re looking for a how-to on which direction to lay while sunbathing or the best method of applying your tanning lotion, you’ve come to the wrong place. The whole truth of the matter is that in order to get and keep glowing, even skin tone all through the summer months and way beyond is to properly take care of and nurture your skin. It’s as simple as that! Or is it. . . . . .?

What NOT to Do in the Summer

Sun exposure may cause up to 90% of the visible changes attributed to aging.

Sunbathe. Oooooh. That’s harsh. Slathering on a coating of tanning lotion and parking yourself on a blanket on the beach is sooooo tempting. After all, you’re low on your vitamin D reserves, right? (Ok, sure, but you don’t need to scorch yourself to replenish your vitamin D.)

Sun exposure may cause up to 90% of the visible changes attributed to aging. According to a report authored by the World Health Organization, “Chronic overexposure to the sun can change the texture and weaken the elasticity of the skin. Sun induced skin damage causes premature wrinkling, sags and bags, and easy bruising. Up to 90% of the visible changes commonly attributed to ageing may be caused by sun exposure.” They go on to identify that “clinical signs of aging are essentially influenced by extrinsic factors, especially sun exposure. Indeed UV exposure seems to be responsible for 90% of visible facial aging signs.” Those facial signs include the obvious wrinkles. But ranking among the top of the list are pigmentation and sun spots.

That doesn’t exactly equal even skin tone in my book. Pigmentation issues, sun spots, bruises. . . . . .eeeew.

Tanning Beds Are Not a Safe Alternative

Using indoor tanning beds before age 35 can increase your risk of melanoma

Even worse than hanging out on the beach? Tanning in a tanning bed. The amount of radiation that you’re exposed to during this endeavor is similar to, or possibly even stronger than that of the sun! Evidence from multiple studies has shown that exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning devices is associated with an increased risk of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. Researchers estimate that indoor tanning may cause upwards of 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year. Using indoor tanning beds before age 35 can increase your risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 59 percent; the risk increases with each use.

Enough said?

What Can You Do for an Even Tone and Texture?

Avoid being out in the sun between the hours of 10am and 2pm when the sun is at its most intense.

While there’s no fast and furious quick fix, there are things that you can do to take care of your skin through the summer months that will result in a healthy glow and even (or at least more even than you started with) skin tone and uniform texture.

Hide from the sun.  Ok, not fair. But since UV rays are implicated in producing age spots, uneven skin tone, and overall contributing to the aging process, arming yourself with good common sense is your first line of defense. Avoid being out in the sun between the hours of 10am and 2pm when the sun is at its most intense. Wear protective clothing to cover your skin whenever possible, and always don a layer of sunscreen.

Wearing sunscreen can stop existing dark spots from becoming even darker, and it helps to prevent new spots from developing. You should opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen (to battle both UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF of at least 30. It’s best to apply it 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every two hours (more if you’re going to be swimming or sweating).

Eat better, drink more. Water, that is. Garbage in, garbage out. Junk food has a ton of oils, sugars, salts, and bad-for-you chemicals that could feed bacteria and trigger your skin to produce more oil to clog your pores. Clogged pores lead to an unhealthy, uneven complexion due to inflammation and redness.

Drinking plenty of water helps to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out. When it’s well-hydrated, it will appear full and plump. It will also be healthier. Water helps to flush out toxins from your body and will give you an edge on your complexion.

Exfoliate regularly. As dead skin cells collect, they can cause you to look like you have an uneven or dull complexion. Exfoliation removes those layers of dead skin so that newer, healthier skin can make its way to the surface and your skin will look smoother and reflect light more evenly. There are a variety of ways to get the job done: manual, enzyme, or chemical. You can use the manual or enzyme approach up to twice weekly, less often if you have sensitive skin.

Follow up with a moisturizer.  Retaining all that water you drink is an important step in helping you maintain that healthy glow. A moisturizer will help to lock moisture in your skin to keep it smooth, and will reduce flaky, dry skin. Smooth plump skin is an important factor in presenting an even complexion, and a good moisturizer will help you reach and maintain that goal. Look for one that is full of vitamin E and other antioxidants to combat all the things that can contribute to uneven skin tone and poor complexion.