We’re used to thinking of winter as the prime time for developing dry skin. However, warmer weather carries its own risks for drying out your skin. Find out the main culprits in dehydrating your skin in the summer months, as well as measures you can take to protect and care for your body’s main barrier against outside aggressors.
You probably know that the cold, dry air of winter dehydrates your skin. The same can be said for the cool, dry air of air conditioning. While you don’t want to be uncomfortable sitting in hot, humid air, you can probably withstand a little tweaking to your thermostat. Turn it up as high as you can without creating a disagreeable environment. This will help your skin retain its moisture.
After you swim in a pool, you may notice that your skin is more dry, itchy or tight-feeling. Chlorine, a bacteria-fighting chemical present in many pools, can be damaging to your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin or a skin condition like eczema. One reason for this is it strips the natural oils from your body. If you have your own pool, check the chlorine levels to make sure they aren’t higher than they need to be to prevent unnecessary skin irritation. An hour before you get into a pool, apply an oil like coconut oil or a water-resistant sunscreen. This will help preserve your skin’s natural oils and prevent chlorine from binding to your skin. Immediately after getting out of the pool, take a quick shower with gentle soap, and then apply a hydrating moisturizer. With these steps, you can enjoy your summertime pool days without compromising your skin’s health.
Whether you’re male or female, you probably shave more in the summertime. Most men save their bushy beards for the colder months, and women may want smooth, silky legs for days with shorts, bathing suits and sundresses. Shaving can irritate and dry out your skin by removing your body’s natural lipids (oil on the surface of your skin). These lipids form a protective barrier that traps water in your skin and prevents irritation. There are ways to avoid that irritation and shave smarter.
While you may know that moisturizing after you shave helps to rehydrate your skin, you may not realize that moisturizing pre-shave can prepare your skin for a gentler shave. Moisturize the night before you shave to preserve your skin’s hydration while shaving. You should also do a light exfoliation before shaving. You can do this by gently rubbing your skin with a washcloth. This will remove dead skin cells, which allows for a better shave. As you shave, use lukewarm water. Hot water removes your body’s oils and leads to drier skin. When you’re done shaving, re-moisturize. Use a thicker cream that has emollients to rehydrate your skin. Men: stay away from aftershave. It usually has alcohol in it and will dry out your skin. Also, do not dry shave. Without soaps and gels to lubricate your skin, dry shaving especially dries out and irritates your skin.
Sun exposure can lead to loss of your skin’s hydrating water and oils. This is especially true if you get a sunburn, and even more so if you get a sunburn that peels. You should do all that you can to protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays, not only for the sake of avoiding dry skin, but for preventing premature aging, wrinkles and skin cancer.
To deter sun damage, all dermatologists highly recommend a daily application of sunscreen, especially on your face. Your sunscreen should have a minimum SPF of 30 and be broad spectrum. Many facial moisturizers have sunscreen built into them. If other areas of your body will be in the sun (like your ears or arms while you drive), slather them up, too. In addition to sunscreen, try staying in the shade and wearing protective clothing, especially if you will be outside during the sun’s peak hours -- 10am-4pm. Wear light or brightly colored fabrics with tighter weaves. And remember that wet and/or clingy clothing tends to be less protective.
If you do get a sunburn, moisturize the skin to rehydrate it. If your skin peels, don’t pick off the skin or pop any blisters. This will expose raw skin that is not able to retain water and oils the way healthy skin can.
Make an appointment with Vanguard Dermatology today. Located in the greater New York City area, Vanguard offers the expert care of board-certified dermatologists, experienced in medical treatments and cosmetic dermatology.