Summertime means beaches, barbecues, and baseball, but it also means skin-wrecking salt water, sand, and (if you aren’t careful) sunburn. These can cause serious stress to a healthy complexion, but c’mon – who wants to stay inside?
The warm summer months require unique skin care strategies. All the swimming, cycling, hiking, and other outdoorsy enjoyments are great for our overall health and wellbeing, but these activities can lead to significant ultraviolet (UV) overexposure to the face and body, not to mention skin dehydration and free radical damage. Over time, these environmental stressors can lead to accelerated aging, irregular pigmentation, and even certain cancers.
It can be difficult to determine which skin care solutions will yield consistently great results. However, starting with the methods used by experienced dermatologists is a great first step! Here are tried-and-true techniques our WestDerm dermatologists not only recommend to their patients, but also use to protect their own skin.
Check the Ultraviolet Radiation Index Daily
While standard weather forecasts will help ready you for blazing temperatures, your local weather team won’t reliably alert you to the UV radiation index (UVI). The UVI measures the degree of UV radiation on a given day, which is unrelated to the temperature.
Knowing the UV radiation levels in your area can help you apply the optimal level of sun protection for your outdoor activities. J. Ryan Jackson, D.O., recommends checking the UVI daily
using an easy-to-access smartphone application. “I appreciate the UV index found on my weather app,” says Dr. Jackson. “This index assists me to make informed decisions about how much time I should spend in the sun and what types of sun protection I should include with my daily activities.”
Wear Sunscreen Religiously
Great summer skin starts with an effective sunblock. Mitchel Goldman M.D., WestDerm Medical Director, is an avid cyclist who takes sun protection very seriously. “The single most important thing is sunscreen, in the summer and the winter,” he says. “We should all be using [sunscreen] every day, whether it’s in our morning moisturizers or foundations.”
While sunscreen is instrumental for minimizing sun damage and age spots, it significantly reduces skin cancer risk. Even if we’re careful to apply sunscreen when we know we will spend the day outdoors, we might not be as vigilant in the car. “We don’t realize we have to wear sunscreen when we’re driving,” Dr. Goldman says. “Your back window and side windows only block 2% of the ultraviolet rays, so the sun comes right in, even with the windows closed.” The left side of the face, the left arm, and the left hand are especially vulnerable.
Wear Clothing with SPF
Although sunscreen must be reapplied periodically throughout the day, a more convenient alternative for the body is sun protective clothing. “In addition to applying sunscreen, I wear sun protective clothing,” Dr. Goldman says.
Sun protective clothing is extremely effective in blocking UV radiation. A garment with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50 can block approximately 98% of harmful rays.
Combat Sun Damage
Skin rejuvenation is critical; boosting cell turnover can help dramatically mitigate superficial sun-related damage. Dr. Jackson is an advocate for using products that facilitate this phenomenon. “To reduce the severity of actinic damage I often recommend topical retinoids to the face three times weekly at night, increasing to nightly as tolerated,” he says. A great starter retinol product is West Derm Retinol Serum 3X
, a gentle, antioxidant-rich serum that penetrates deep into the skin without causing irritation.
Summer activities can also cause significant dehydration due to heavy sweating and even exposure to super-drying ocean water. Topical products that enhance environmental protection and boost hydration are excellent for minimizing and even reversing mild sun damage. “After exercising I always apply SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic
to my facial skin to further decrease ultraviolet damage,” Dr. Goldman says. This vitamin C serum is a free radical-neutralizing formula that shields the skin from oxidative stress.
Get Plenty of Antioxidants
Healthy skin can also be achieved from the inside out. Antioxidants in deep green vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens, and broccoli), beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, and dark chocolate are fantastic for ensuring optimal cell health. They combat oxidative stress, boost collagen production, and reduce your risk of developing serious health conditions like heart disease and even cancer.
However, if your lifestyle is extremely active, you might want an antioxidant boost. “I and my cycling teammates take SunIsdin
, a natural supplement that provides antioxidants to protect the skin from ultraviolet damage,” says Dr. Goldman. This daily supplement helps protect skin from photoaging (premature aging caused by continual exposure to UV radiation) and enhances elasticity, making skin less susceptible to dynamic wrinkles.
Dr. Jackson is also a big proponent of supplements and encourages his patients to enhance their antioxidant intake. “I often recommend Heliocare Advanced with Nicotinamide
to my patients,” he says. “Heliocare Advanced with Nicotinamide helps support skin health and maintain the skin's ability to protect against free radical damage.”