It’s been months since we’ve dealt with piercingly dry winter skin. We’ve weathered the worst of the springtime allergies — dealing with shedding pets and itchy pollen-related hives. Now, the summer season is creeping in with all sorts of problems for your skin and I expect you are looking for tips for glowing skin in the summer. I’ve created a complete guide to summer skincare for those of you who relate to all my pale girl problems and keen on surviving summer with fair skin. Summer skin care is easy when you hone in on the best skin care routine for summer or even a vacation to somewhere tropical.
Tips for Glowing Skin in the Summer….Read On!
Between the harsh, cancer-causing UV rays from the sun and the nuisance of incessantly itchy mosquito bites, the list of summer skincare struggles seems to go on forever. What better time to adjust your skin care routine? Don’t worry, Bella’s got you covered! Let’s jump in and discover my best tips for glowing skin in the summer!
Understanding the Importance of SPF
The first of the essential skin care tips to follow this summer is slapping on some sunscreen. Say it with me… “Sunscreen is not just for the beach!” Whether we’re looking at the best skin care routine for summer or any old low maintenance routine, the first step should be a decent sunscreen. (Well, it’s the last step in the routine, but it’s the most important one.) Ideally, SPF should be incorporated into your skin care routine year-round. But, the world of marketing recognizes sunscreen to be especially important in the summer season. Any idea why?
Time for a quick science lesson in this guide to summer skin care! In the summer, the earth tilts on its axis, allowing UV radiation a more direct path to Earth during these months. There’s two primary types of radiation that come from the sun and pose a danger to our skin: UVA and UVB radiation. But, what does that alphabet soup even mean? UVB stands for Ultraviolet Burning, which is responsible for all too familiar summer sunburn and is the one linked to the most skin cancers. UVA stands for Ultraviolet Aging, which is responsible for causing signs of premature aging. Not to mention, UVA rays play a role in skin cancers as well. Sunscreen can protect you from the radiation that produces these side effects of sun exposure.
On the days I’m planning on going for a hike, I always check the UV index in the morning. (A side effect of my pale girl problems.) It’s how I’ve been surviving summer with fair skin. And it’s not a bad idea to start any summer morning this way. The UV index measures the levels of the UV radiation in your geographic location on a scale of 0 to 11 and lets us know what precautions we need to take for optimal sun protection. Even on cloudy summer days, the sun’s UV rays are damaging even if you don’t exactly feel the heat. As important as sunscreen is, sometimes it isn’t enough on its own. In this case, you can throw on a cute, floppy sun hat and oversized sunglasses too. Surviving summer with fair skin means being prepared and planning.
Think you’re Getting Enough SPF with your Moisturizer? Think Again!
If no one else will say it, I’ll say it! Your favorite moisturizer “with SPF” simply won’t cut it. The next step on this comprehensive guide to summer skin care is to retire your moisturizer with SPF. Most products with sunscreen in the formula are almost totally ineffective. Think about it: the purpose of moisturizer and the purpose of sunscreen work against each other. Moisturizer penetrates the skin to provide deep hydration, while sunscreen sits on the skin to create a barrier to block UV rays.
So, how could one product do both? That’s easy! It can’t — plain and simple. The ingredients in the moisturizer dilute the strength of the sunscreen. Plus, the majority of the product is absorbed into the skin. At best, the effectiveness of the SPF provides functionally half the protection of the advertised value. An SPF 15 moisturizer in actuality provides SPF 7 coverage. With an SPF that low, it becomes completely null by lunchtime! Sunscreen is a product, NOT an ingredient. So, avoid the primers and foundations with SPF, too. These tips for glowing skin in the summer require some explanation…so that’s for following along. We are in this together! I have GOT YOU with this guide to summer skin care.
Deciding the Right Sunscreen for You!
Us with pale girl problems would have no chance at surviving summer with fair skin without our best friend, SPF. So, you now understand the importance of wearing sunscreen. But, what kind of sunscreen should you wear? If you’re feeling lost while staring at the overwhelming amount of choices on the wall of sunscreen at the pharmacy, you’re not alone. Really, we’ve ALL been there. But, we’ve got you covered! Our guide to summer skin care will outline all you need to know about sunscreen and tips for surviving summer with fair skin.
All you need to know are the two main types of sunscreen. The first is mineral sunscreen, which serves as a layer of physical protection to the skin. For most mineral sunscreens, the active ingredient is zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These active ingredients work by reflecting UVA and UVB rays away from the skin to protect the skin from radiation.
Pros. All mineral sunscreens are effective immediately after application. So, you can swipe it on and get on with your day! Although it’s a rather controversial subject, mineral sunscreen is also popularized as the natural and environmentally-friendly option for SPF. The zinc oxide mineral sunscreen is the only 100% safe and effective sunscreen approved by the FDA as well as sensitive skin-friendly. If that last one made your ears perk up, I’ve got a recommendation for you! Ombrelle is a brand known for its gentle formulas suitable for sensitive skin, which means their Mineral Lightweight Sunscreen — in either face or body formula — won’t cause any irritation.
Cons. For those with pale girl problems like me, then the biggest complaint of mineral sunscreen might not be a deal breaker for you. Most mineral sunscreens leave a noticeable whitecast. You know, that residue that simply refuses to blend in? If you are all too familiar with breakouts in the summer, then mineral sunscreen might not be for you. Despite the non-comedogenic active ingredients, mineral sunscreens rely on a thick layer of product on the skin. This layer laid thick on your skin can clog pores and lead to breakouts. One of my tips for glowing skin in the summer requires that you make some decisions and I am here to give you all the pros and cons.
The second main type is chemical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens function by absorbing into the skin and converting the UV rays into heat. Because the chemicals only target one type of radiation, the ingredient list of any mineral sunscreen will feature at least threeactive ingredients, two to target UVA rays and one to target UVB rays. The list of UV-protecting chemicals that protect our skin from radiation goes on. But, the more common ingredient list of popular chemical sunscreens will be made up of any combination of avobenzone, octinoxate and oxybenzone.
Pros. Because chemical sunscreen absorbs into your skin, the effectiveness of the SPF lasts longer — and makes it waterproof too! Thiselement of chemical sunscreens is definitely a plus for the summer. So, your SPF will last longer on pool days. No one wants to layer on a sticky, thick product before going out in the heat. A lightweight feel on the skin also makes chemical sunscreen perfect for oily skin types and acne-prone skin types. It’s so lightweight that if you didn’t smell that iconic sunscreen smell, you’d honestly forget you’re wearing it! I highly recommend the Clear Face Breakout Free Liquid Lotion by Neutrogena — in SPF 30 or SPF 50 — for a great non-comedogenic formula.
Cons. The biggest case against chemical sunscreens is evidence that chemical sunscreens cause harm to coral reefs and marine life. The evidence is a hot topic of debate in the skincare community, but there’s definitely a reason why scuba divers are prohibited from wearing chemical sunscreens in the water. But, as long as you’re not dunking in the ocean, there’s no reason us land-dwellers can’t safely use it!
All other cons for chemical sunscreens are minor in comparison to the environmental controversy. But, if you’re going to use them, you should know what you’re in for. It takes time to absorb into the skin. So, you’ll need to be sure to carve out extra time in your weekday and weekend morning routines for your SPF to absorb before exposing yourself to the sun. Also, chemical sunscreens can be irritating to sensitive skin.
If all this information still feels overwhelming, this is all you need to know: pick a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30. This small, yet important part of summer skincare is easy. It only seems complicated when you are faced with too many options. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you choose to use mineral sunscreen or a chemical sunscreen. As long as SPF is part of your routine, the most important thing you need to do to take care of your skin this summer is done. Each brand will have a summer skincare SPF guide that may help decide what to purchase.
Dealing with Acne in the Sun? Read This!
Sunscreen is an often under-recognized, non-negotiable step in fighting acne. All that stuff your parents said about your face clearing up after spending time in the sun is 100% false. Untrue. Incorrect. Wrong. You need to steer clear of the sun if you’re experiencing a breakout.
If anything, your face might temporarily look clear after a day on the beach. That’s because UV rays zap acne-causing bacteria and a tan hides the redness from imperfections, even though the acne hasn’t exactly gone anywhere. It’s all an illusion! Again, these results are temporary and there is more to surviving summer with fair skin.
There are several ways in which the sun can worsen acne problems invisible to the naked eye:
- Inflammation. Similar to sunburn, acne can become inflamed after prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays — and inflammation can be painful! Your beach trip is supposed to be fun, not problematic.
- Scarring. Love the idea of leaving the beach with bronzed skin? But, remember that when skin darkens, imperfections darken too. As a result, these imperfections often scar, taking even longer to get rid of.
- Drying. The sun’s UV rays dry out the skin, which sounds like a good thing — at least at first. But, drying out the skin can cause your skin to overcompensate, leading to an overproduction of oil and sebum, which can ultimately clog pores.
- Sunburn. Flaking is inevitable with the healing process of sunburn. But, this can be hazardous to acne-prone skin because of the potential for clogging pores and causing breakouts.
The takeaway? Take care of your skin this summer and take care of your acne by wearing sunscreen.
Beware of SWEAT
No matter how much deodorant we apply in the morning or how quickly we can wipe away droplets from our forehead, we must accept inevitability. There’s no avoiding it; there’s no hiding it. Although sweating is not the most graceful or dainty bodily function, it’s a necessary one. Without it, humans literally wouldn’t be able to survive the summer. Surviving summer with fair skin will have you dripping!
Contrary to popular belief, the act of sweating can actually be beneficial for the skin. Bringing all the excess oils to the surface of the skin frees up your pores! But, when we let bacteria-filled sweat and those excess oils sit on our skin for hours, it has major acne-causing potential. Plus, all the face-touching transmits all the bacteria on your hands to your face. All this leads to my next point in this guide to summer skin care…
Cleanse, Cleanse, Cleanse!
The risk of our sweat and all the excess oils leading to clogged pores can be lessened through cleansing! The second of the most essential skin care tips to follow this summer is to keep your skin clean. In this guide to summer skin care, cleansing should be a twice daily activity — both morning and night. But, if your skin demands an additional cleansing after breaking a sweat on the afternoon walk, so be it. A little mid-day freshening up never hurt anyone.
To ensure your pores are truly free from all the gunk that can clog them up, you might want to incorporate another cleansing step into your routine. A splash of micellar water and a brief massage into your skin gives your face a quick, gentle first cleanse. Then, go in with a pump of your main cleanser for a deeper clean to really clear your pores. Double cleansing is especially helpful in the summer season where there’s a lot of buildup to remove.
Not too keen on the idea of double cleansing? Then, get in one real good cleanse. If you typically opt for a hydrating cleanser, most dermatologists recommend you substitute a foaming cleanser in the summer, like the Foaming Facial Cleanser by CeraVe. The reason being that there are a lot of extra ingredients in hydrating cleansers with the potential clog pores.
Without the dry winter air, our skin can weather a deeper cleanse. But, much like us humans, our skin sometimes doesn’t take well to change. So, if you’re used to your normal cleanser and refuse to give it up, compromise! Use your hydrating cleanser in the morning and the foaming cleanser at night. Surviving summer with fair skin is different than surviving winter with fair skin.
But, Don’t Overdo it
This is definitely a bit contradictory to the last item on the list of my essential skin care tips to follow, but go easy on the showers. Our natural instinct is to wash up when we feel scummy — and in the summer, we feel almost always scummy. So, we bathe to compensate despite the fact that over showering can hurt our skin.
So, try to keep the showers to once per day. (And on the odd excessively humid morning you wake up drenched in sweat, I’ll allow two.) At least in the summer, showering at night is preferred. That way, you can rest easy, knowing your skin is free of all the makeup, sunscreen, sweat, and oil buildup from the day.
Even if you keep showers to a minimum, how you shower can hurt your skin too. Let’s face it, ladies… We are famous for our love of scalding showers. The truth is that we should not take hot showers. No one is saying you have to take a cold shower! But, for the sake of your skin, please turn the water temp down a few notches. Enough elements dry out your skin in the summer. While most are all out of our control, you can control the temperature of your shower.
Hydration is Key
The final of the best skin care tips for summer is to hydrate. There are several ways in which environmental stressors threaten our skin with dehydration: the harsh UV rays, chlorine from pool trips, and the air conditioner running 24/7. Contrary to popular belief, no direct link actually exists between drinking a lot of water and hydrated skin. It’s only in severe cases of dehydration that the general hydration of your body truly makes a difference for your skin. Although, it’s still not a bad idea to drink more water than you’re used to in the other seasons, especially since we sweat to regulate our body temperature. So, you’ll likely need it! If you only add one thing to your routine from this guide to summer skin care, let it be hydration!
So, if drinking water isn’t the cure, then how can we stay hydrated? Well, you can humidify your living space. Air conditioners dry out our skin. Whenever the air is lacking moisture, it’s pulling it from your skin. So, it might be worth it to do your research and invest a little cash in a humidifier. No matter what kinds of features and add-ons you get, a cool mist humidifier is best-suited for your summer skin care. (And you might notice your allergies getting better too!) Take a look at this light-up, cloud-shaped Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier by Pure Enrichment or the little higher-end the H3 Hybrid Humidifier by Objecto. Not only are these appliances healthy for skin hydration, but either makes a super cute addition to your living room or office space!
Even though we can shove those deep moisture creams to the back of the cosmetics drawer for now, we still need to moisturize. Yes, it’s true that our skin’s moisture barrier isn’t too much of a concern in the summer. But, stronger does not mean invincible. We tend to slack on this one, but proper moisturizing is one of my tips for glowing skin in the summer. Try a lightweight, fast-absorbing moisturizer in the summer! I recommend the quality and affordable Hydroboost Hyaluronic Acid Gel Cream by Neutrogena OR the very appropriately named The Water Cream by TATCHA if the cap on your skincare budget is a little higher. For an overnight moisturizer that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, try the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask and the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask (one of the best Korean lip balms).
C’mon, Lighten up a Little!
Personally, I’m not — nor have I ever been — a fan of using a lot of products on my makeup look. If I do wear makeup, it’s minimal. A quick wave of mascara on the lashes and a swipe of gloss or the best red lipstick for fair skin across the lips is all need to feel dolled up. This advice might hurt makeup enthusiasts, but ease up on the makeup. Summer skin care is easy without the work of removing every ounce of heavy, liquid foundation every night. If you can’t resist covering up, go for a lightweight powder foundation or a tinted moisturizer instead.
Looking for some tips to get glowing skin in the summer? First, ditch the foundation altogether. Wear your bare face! The natural glow of your skin can’t shine through under a full face of makeup. Depending on how much time you’re spending in the heat wearing your full face, it’s possible you’ll sweat off the majority of your makeup look. If you’ll likely end up bare-faced anyway, you might as well go bare-faced on purpose! The best skin care routine for summer is maybe out of your comfort zone, but you got this!
But, it’s not just makeup. You should lighten the products in your routine itself. Switch out the heavy products for lightweight substitutes. If you double cleanse, forego cleansing balms that suffocate pores — substitute in micellar water. You can also lighten by simplifying. Love using niacinamide? Don’t buy a serum. Pick a moisturizer that incorporates it into a formula. The less you’re putting on your skin, the better. Simplifying creates a low maintenance routine, and summer skin care is easy when you are layering less product on your skin. This is an important aspect in any guide to summer skin care.
Revealing Brand-New Skin!
Sugar scrubs. AHA and BHA serums. Enzyme peels. Exfoliating beads. No matter how you choose to do it, there’s nothing more satisfying than shedding that top layer. Your skin feels — and looks — refreshed. Exfoliation is one of the most helpful tips for glowing skin in the summer, and no guide to summer skincare would be complete without it. But, removing that dead skin is helpful any time of the year!
Why is exfoliation extra important in the summer? For the same reason cleansing is more important in the summer, exfoliation is too — it gets rid of the excess buildup. Maybe you accidentally forgot to reapply sunscreen on your beach trip with the girls and returned home stuck with a little sunburn as a reminder of your mistake. Exfoliating in the summer months helps to remove those damaged and flaky cells threatening to clog your pores.
Typically, we’re told not to exfoliate more than once per week — and for good reason. Over-exfoliation is damaging to the moisture barrier in our skin. But, the rules change as the weather starts warming up. So, create your best skin care routine for summer by increasing the frequency of exfoliation! Slough off all that dead skin two to three times per week before you go in with a cleanser.
But, be careful with chemical exfoliants — the AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids). These chemicals sensitize your skin to the sun. If you can’t resist using these products, only do so at night and be sure to never forget the sunscreen. Otherwise, all that good stuff you do to take care of your skin this summer is ineffective next to the sun damage. Avoid all this by using alternative avenues of exfoliation! Try a gentle physical exfoliant when you know you’re going to be spending time in the sun, like the Treatment Enzyme Peel Cleansing Powder from AmorePacific or the Exfoliating Sugar Scrub from Tula. If you have sun damage, you may want to consider a photo facial to reduce brown spots and other visible signs of sun damage.
Serums and Creams and Treatments, OH MY!
You don’t necessarily need any other step between cleansing and moisturizing. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain benefits to a low-maintenance routine — you save time in your time, you save money on products. But, a two-step routine is pretty bare-bones, right? The best skin care routine for summer is going to include more than the basics. Cleansing and moisturizing are just that — maintenance. The stuff that really makes a difference in your skin is going to happen between cleansing and moisturizing. Adding in serums, creams, and treatments might take some getting used to if you’re used to a low-maintenance routine, but boy is it worth it!
Incorporate a retinoid. Often regarded as a miracle ingredient, retinoids can reduce hyperpigmentation, completely erase acne scars, prevent the formation of wrinkles, and unclog pores. Retinoids are derived from Vitamin A and work by increasing skin turnover. Why don’t you already have this ingredient in your skincare routine? Well, retinoids can be very drying to the skin. But, with our moisture barrier being a little more hardy in the summer months, now is the perfect time to start using it! The best skin care routine for summer should include a retinoid.
Vitamin C! This one is among my top tips for glowing skin in the summer because it brightens and tightens. Vitamin C reduces inflammation, fades pigmentation, and erases dullness. What makes this ingredient a summer essential? It is a great ingredient to use when regularly being exposed to the sun. Because it is rich in antioxidants, Vitamin-C is another layer of protection to ensure surviving summer with fair skin. And, if you do slip up and get a sunburn, it helps with the healing process by increasing cell turnover — much like a retinoid.
And that’s it! You got all that, right? If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the information, don’t fret. No one said that summer skin care is easy. But, don’t worry — this article is not going anywhere! Anytime you need a refresher on the essential skin care tips to follow this summer, feel free to come back. Until then, I wish you the best of luck in taking care of your skin this summer!
Let me know if you have any tips for glowing skin in the summer that I should add to this guide to summer skin care. I know how surviving summer with fair skin can be a BIG challenge, but I got you! I hope some of these tips and tricks for the best skin care routine for summer help you out. Summer skin care is easy, but it may require that you make some small changes to your routines. Enjoy the sun and let me know if you have any tips that I should add to this guide to summer skin care!
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Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for recipes, dogs, sustainability, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.
Bella Bucchiotti is a freelance food, travel, and lifestyle writer for MSN and the Associated Press Wire.