When the warmer weather arrives, it's time to reevaluate our skincare routines and up the ante when it comes to sun protection, hydration and keeping skin clean.
Summer can be a harsh time for our skin. Heat, humidity and long haul flights are just some of the things we have to contend with, leading to a number of skincare problems that we’re less likely to encounter during the cooler seasons.
We sat down with skin specialist Victoria, who has offered her top tips for summer skincare, as well as explaining how to prevent sunburn, breakouts and other summer skin situations…
Thank you for joining us Victoria! First thing’s first, what should be our main skincare concern during the summer?
Protection, protection, protection! Our skincare routines need to cover two crucial steps in order to protect and repair our skin. First, high-level sun protection, offering protection against the full spectrum of harmful light. This includes UVA, UVB, visible light and infrared.
We should also seek out products that are rich in powerful anti-oxidants, to defend against free radical damage and repair our cells’ DNA. That way you’re helping to protect and repair skin from within, as well as shielding it at its surface with sun protection.
When it comes to anti-oxidant, the most effective ‘super ingredients’ to look out for are:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Coenzyme Q10
- Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)
- Vitamin E
Along with increased sun exposure, what other characteristics of summer can impact our skin?
There are a number of contributing factors that can cause our skin to change in the summer months. A few to consider are aircraft cabin pressure, sea salt, seaside wind, swimming pool chemicals and humidity.
When we travel by air, our skin is always left feeling dry and dehydrated. This is caused by a lack of humidity; our skin is happiest at humidity levels of 40-70%, but on an aeroplane, this drops to a mere 20%. To compensate for this loss, our skin pulls moisture from deeper levels. Add alcoholic drinks and salty plane snacks into the mix, and our previously pump, juicy skin cells become dull and dehydrated.
When it comes to beaches and swimming pools, the harshness of the sea, wind and chemicals all have similar effects on the skin, stripping it of the natural oils that keep it hydrated. You can identify skin that has experienced these aggressions – it will be a classic case of ‘weather beaten skin’ – dry, tight and sensitive.
Meanwhile, humidity can have more of an effect on active, oily skin that’s prone to breakouts. High levels of humidity cause you to sweat more which can lead to more breakouts, plus irritation and inflammation.
If you know your skin is going to be exposed to these sorts of environments, whether that’s a staycation, sailing holiday or a week by the sea, you should be adapting your skincare routine to counteract the extremes. Increasing hydration, exfoliation and using sun protection will help to balance out these characteristics of summer and protect and repair your skin.
What changes should we expect in our skin during the summer?
Our skin experiences many changes during the summer months. Warmer weather causes the skin to become more efficient in producing sebum (the oily substance created by the sebaceous gland), however it will also dehydrate more quickly as we perspire and move between air conditioned and hot spaces. This confusion in temperate can also cause sensitivity and reactive complexions (reddening).
The increase in sebum production can cause breakouts, which can be exacerbated by another summer-time skin changer… the keratolytic effect of the sun. This means that when our skin is exposed to sunlight, the rate at which it renews itself increases. But we then experience a reverse effect when we move out of the sun, with our skin cell renewal process slowing down. As a result of this, dead skin cells remain on the surface and clog pores.
So how should we be switching up our skincare routines during the summer?
Adapt your routine by introducing lighter formulations to allow deeper penetration, which will be more appropriate for warmer temperatures. You also need to keep your body hydrated from the inside to keep it well-moisturised on the outside. It cannot be stressed enough… drink your water!
Sun protection isn’t just for the summer – we need to be protecting our skin every day because UVA, visible light and infrared-A can damage our skin all year round, even penetrating cloud. That being said, higher levels of sun exposure during the summer months means that we need to be more careful about reapplying sun protection more regularly, particularly after sweating, swimming or toweling the skin.
Breakouts seem to be a real problem during the summer months. How should we manage them?
Heat and humidity trigger the production of sebum. This, combined with the sweat, dirt and bacteria that our skin encounters, clogs up our pores and leads to breakouts and inflammation.
One of the best ways to manage summer breakouts is with low levels of salicylic acid (white willow extract). Salicylic acid will be your skin’s best friend in the summer, keeping your pores clear and helping to reduce the redness of breakouts with its anti-inflammatory properties.
Make sure all your skincare products are non-comedogenic. This means they will not block your pores, and will help to reduce any potential blockages of visible pores. This will keep your skin more clear.
What about prickly heat and sweat rashes? Is there anything we can do to avoid them?
You can avoid these reactions by avoiding direct exposure to sunlight and keeping as cool as possible. Avoid direct sun exposure between 11am and 3pm, and after spending time outside, try a mineral spray to refresh you. This will keep your skin feeling fresh and hydrated. You can also control your temperature by wearing light, breathable fabrics, such as a silk scarf.
As a skincare expert, what are your three top tips for caring for your skin during the summer?
First, find a high-level, daily sun protection product that you love to use. SPF in your makeup is unlikely to provide high enough levels of protection, so be sure to layer a sun protector underneath.
Boost your skin with a topical anti-oxidant Vitamin C Serum, this will give you that summer glow, while defending your skin from free radical damage at the deeper levels.
Finally, saturate skin with hydration – both internally and externally. As a weekly treat, sleep in hydra-infusion mask
Victoria’s recommended skincare routine for summer…
- Daily exfoliating cleanser with low levels of glycolic and salicylic acids. This will keep your pores clear of congested sebum and prevent the build up of layering products. You should make sure the cleansing product has a balanced pH between 5.5-6.5. This will maintain the skin’s comfort and not cause skin tightness or sensitivity.
- Exfoliating polish. Decongest and clear your skin one to two times per week with a gentle physical polish.
- Toner. This is a personal preference. If you are using a good, pH balanced cleanser, a toner is not essential.
- Serum. Choose a serum with 15% Vitamin C anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients, which will protect your skin cell DNA as well as brightening uneven complexions and stimulating collagen production.
- Moisturiser. Look for a lightweight moisturiser with high levels of hyaluronic acid. This will increase your skin’s moisture content and prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Hyaluronic acid can hold 1,000 times its weight in water, which will help to maintain your skin’s glow.
- Sun protection. The most important step of all. Use your sun protection daily, regardless of the weather, as harmful sun rays can still penetrate clouds. Your sun protection should be high level and broad spectrum, protecting your skin from not only UVA and UVB rays, but also visible light and infrared-A. All of these have been shown to damage the skin.
Backed by professionals and adored by skin specialists, Heliocare 360° provides the high level, broad spectrum protection that our skin needs. Heliocare 360° also offers powerful anti-oxidant activity, which defends your skin from within against the damage that sunlight can cause, helping to maintain healthy skin and prevent premature skin ageing. It’s the perfect addition to your skincare routine this summer.