Your skin gets a front-row seat to your lifestyle choices, earning scars, wrinkles, and the makings of a life well-lived. But the largest organ of the body is often treated with disregard — thanklessly taking a beating throughout your life.
While its primary job is as a protective barrier, the skin is also a large part of your identity. Your complexion and its condition can play a part in building your confidence, so taking care of it is paramount. As the summer months approach, consider lifestyle adjustments to keep your skin healthy and reflective of the true you.
1. Know Your Unique Skin Sensitivities
Pale skin is notorious for earning sunburns after feeling a glint of sunlight. But more than just skin color can make your skin sensitive. Those with freckles and moles often are more susceptible to burns and experience sun-driven skin changes. That’s because freckles and moles are results of increased melanin, something that can increase their owner’s risk for sun damage and melanoma.
If your skin issues are less freckle-focused and you’ve been pursuing acne treatment, consult your product lineup and prescriptions for sun exposure cautions. Retinol is frequently prescribed for acne treatment and aging concerns. Powered by vitamin A, this skin care standby has the noteworthy side effect of sun sensitivity. Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can also increase sensitivity, so review your go-to products and be mindful of sun exposure.
2. Get Into a Long-Term Relationship With Sunscreen
To be blunt, there’s no reason to skip sunscreen. Everyone should use a daily sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater on their face, neck, and top of their hands. Mineral sunscreens sit on top of the skin, providing a physical barrier. Chemical sunscreens absorb into the skin, absorb UV rays, and then convert them to heat. Sample sunscreens in both formats to determine which works best for your skin.
New offerings also solve the long-held problem of leaving a white cast on darker complexions, often discouraging their use. Check out product lines like Black Girl Sunscreen that solve this sunscreen problem. Chances are, there’s a great fit available for your needs.
3. Round Out Your Look With Hats
While hats aren’t an outfit requirement like in the early 1900s, they may as well be in the sun. Including a hat in your style can keep the sun off your sensitive face and guard your eyes. As a bonus, you’re less likely to squint in a hat, preventing premature wrinkles and the dreaded “elevens” between your brows.
Keep a ball cap or two in your car so you’re ready in the event you forget sunscreen. Play around with different styles and work to incorporate hats into your wardrobe. What may start as a foray into sun protection could manifest into a whole new style category!
4. Enjoy Fun in the Sun With Style
Sunbathing may sound divine, but the reality is much different. Waking up with a burnt outline of your beach read on your stomach is nothing short of a disaster. Skip the sunbathing in favor of a shady spot under an umbrella. Or, enjoy the sun in batches.
While on vacation, rent beach chairs and umbrellas from the local shore authority. You’ll skip the hassle of setup and give yourself no excuse to crisp in the sun. When you return from a dip in the pool or splash in the ocean, reapply sunscreen to dry skin. Swinging between sun and shade will protect your skin and extend your time enjoying the day. Plus, you’ll avoid nasty burns that easily derail summer plans and outfit choices.
5. Be Mindful of When You’re Exposed to UV Rays
The sun’s UV rays are at their most powerful during the core hours of the day. The hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. are literal hot spots for skin damage. Treat them with care, even though they may span your sun-loving activities. Instead, enjoy time outdoors when you can be in the shade, cover up, or parse your exposure.
Walks in a wooded park and strolling the farmers market sporting a hat can combine the best of both worlds. Get creative and find ways to enjoy the summer months while avoiding skin damage. Recruit your friends and family to follow suit, sharing what you know about sun protection. Unfortunately, one blistering sunburn in childhood doubles a person’s likelihood of developing melanoma later in life. Help your loved ones avoid that risk by implementing your best practices.
6. Skip the Tanning Bed
In the 1970s, indoor tanning started taking off. Marketed as a way to get a “healthy glow” or to prepare for a vacation, it earned a following. Generations of people, especially women, bought packages to tan multiple times a week. The result has been an increase in cancer attributed to indoor tanning at rates greater than those of smoking.
Tanning bulbs emit UV rays at rates 10 to 15 times greater than the sun’s most intense rays. While getting a tan may make you feel healthy and glowing, the reality is that you’re introducing life-threatening damage. Instead, prep for vacation and events by using a self-tanner at home or in a salon. Today’s formulas skip the unfortunate orange color in favor of more realistic tones. Exfoliate before application and use a microfiber mitt to get streak-free coverage and avoid staining your hands.
7. Know What to Look for When It Comes to Skin Damage
Even the most sun-conscious individuals should monitor their skin for damage. Connect with a dermatologist to assess your skin’s current state and make note of any areas to watch. Those with a history of freckles, moles, indoor tanning, or major sunburns should make this a priority. At your appointment, your dermatologist may take photos and measurements to review your skin. They’ll review their findings and make suggestions on best practices and which areas to monitor until your next appointment
At home, review your skin for moles and markings with irregular edges, seeping material, and inconsistent color. Covered under most insurance, dermatologist care can help identify potentially cancerous damage early. Notify your provider as soon as you notice something different so you can have a professional assessment. In-office, a biopsy may be performed on concerning areas to be sent out for examination. Providers can also remove suspicious moles with local anesthetic and minimally invasive tools, making removal extremely straightforward.
Prioritizing Skin Care for Both Beauty and Health
At times, the desire for beauty can surpass the practicality of health-focused decisions, and skin care is no exception. However, supporting overall skin health should be part of your beauty regimen. Sunscreen provides the dual benefit of preventing skin damage and premature aging. Covering up from the sun’s harmful rays with a hat or sun-blocking clothing prevents burns that look and feel awful. Prioritize protecting your skin and you’ll enjoy the rewards of both good health and a beautiful complexion.