One of the best aspects of summer is all the outdoor fun it allows. More daylight and warmer temperatures can encourage us to spend more time outside. And most of our vacation destinations, whether we head to the beach, the mountains, or somewhere in between, focus on the great outdoors.
Of course, when we’re spending all this time outside, we want our skin to look its best. After all, we’ll probably be showing more of it than normal! Summer is often a great time to simplify your beauty routine and enjoy the hard work you’ve put into maintaining great skin all year. But, to ensure you don’t undo all that hard work, you need to be sure to avoid some common summer skin pitfalls.
The following skin mistakes can be not only unsightly but also uncomfortable. But keep reading to ensure stinging or itchy skin doesn’t sideline you when you could be surfing or sightseeing!
Of course, skipping sunscreen is the obvious one, so we won’t spend too much time on this. You know you need to wear it, reapply it, and reapply it some more. Make sure you’re covering every part of your body, from the top of your head to the soles of your feet, if you’ll be spending much time in direct sun. And don’t even think about hitting a tanning bed or laying out in the sun. You might enjoy your tan for the summer, but the damage will last a lifetime.
Don’t Overdo the Exfoliating Products
Much of your skincare routine can stay the same year-round. But in the summer, you do want to pay attention to when you’re using your exfoliating products. In the winter, we often need these twice a day to remove the constant buildup of dry, dull cells. But in the summer, dryness is typically less of an issue. And that layer of dead skin cells can actually give you a bonus layer of protection from the sun. So go ahead and leave them be in the morning.
In the evening, you can continue to use a gentle exfoliating cleaner. During the summer especially, it’s important to use a gentle cleanser. You don’t want your skin to be irritated before you even get out inthe sun.
Make sure you use harsher products like retinol or retinoids only at night as well. These can increase your sensitivity to the sun. And try to do a more thorough exfoliation at least once a week. Pick an evening when you’ll be indoors the next morning to give your skin a chance to settle in to its glow.
Go Light on the Makeup
In the summer, your morning routine can be pretty simple. Yes, you need to focus on sun protection. But if you’ve been taking care of your skin year-round, you probably won’t need much makeup. Heavy makeup in the summer can increase your chances of breakouts anyway. As you sweat, your pores open up. If you’ve covered them in a heavy layer of foundation or powder, it will trap the sweat. And once you hit the AC, your pores will try to shrink back up – but they’ll be full of sweat, makeup, and dirt from the outdoors. They’ll be protesting in the form of breakouts before you know it.
Of course, going make-up free isn’t an excuse to skip washing your face. Wearing less on your face can help sweat move out of your pores more easily. But you still want to remove it! And you’ll certainly want to rinse away sunscreen, sand, and saltwater after a day at the beach. Tempting though it may be, don’t let a late summer night entice you into falling asleep without a freshly cleaned face.
Don’t Think Humidity Equals Moisturized Skin
Once you’ve washed your face, complete at least one more step: moisturize. With the humidity summer brings, your skin may not feel as parched as it does in winter’s dry air. But that humidity in the air isn’t enough to hydrate your skin. Even if your skin feels oily, it still needs moisturizer. Oily skin can actually be a sign that parched skin is trying to hydrate itself. But this overcompensation can cause breakouts. You can switch to a lighter, water-based product for the summer if your winter cream feels too heavy, but don’t skip this product altogether!
Speaking of moisturizer, don’t forget your feet! Yes, your feet need moisture too, especially if you’re spending your days in sandals. Be especially wary of wearing open-backed, unsupportive shoes. This type of footwear puts a lot of pressure on your heels. You may end up with cracked skin from the pressure. Constant exposure to dry air can deepen these cracks and even cause them to bleed.
To avoid this, choose supportive, protective shoes when you can. I know you don’t want to wear socks all summer. But if you slip them on at night right after you apply a moisturizing foot cream, you may be able to get away with open shoes during the day. Just choose pairs that have good support whenever you can.
Dos and Don’ts of Hair Removal
Next, let’s talk about hair removal. Many people choose to remove hair from their legs, bikini lines, or underarms, especially during the summer months. But you want to do this strategically. Whether you remove hair via shaving, waxing, or lasering, your skin will be sensitive for hours – or even days – afterward. If you’re shaving or waxing, try to give yourself 24 to 48 hours before you hit the beach or the pool. Sand, saltwater, pool chemicals, and even sunscreen can irritate freshly shaved or waxed skin.
If waiting 48 hours after shaving defeats the purpose, you may have considered laser hair removal. This can be a good option – but it’s probably best if you save it for the winter. You need to wait a minimum of 10 days after a treatment to spend time in the sun. Sun exposure can affect your results, create pigmentation issues in your skin, and even prolong the healing process. And because laser hair removal typically requires multiple sessions, unless you want to spend the summer indoors, this might not be the time to try it.
Dealing With Bug Bites and Stings
Of course, you don’t want to spend your entire summer indoors, even if doing so could help you avoid another summer skin mistake: scratching bug bites. Bug bites can be unsightly on their own. But scratching will make them much worse. Scratching can lead to infection and even scarring. That’s not the kind of permanent souvenir you want from your vacation.
If you’ve been stung, use a credit card or a sharp fingernail to gently scrape the stinger out of the wound as soon as possible. A cold washcloth can help relieve any burning from a sting or a bite. If you’re still in pain, try an antihistamine or anti-itch lotion. Aloe vera gel can help as well. Homeopathic Apis Mel works wonders. I always have Apis in my beach bag in case anybody gets bitten. Finally, cover up the area with a bandage. This will help protect your skin from mindless scratching. When you get home, you can spray vinegar or apply baking soda, which will often help alleviate the itching. And of course, there’s always Benadryl ointment.
How to Avoid Puffy Eyes in the Morning
One final summer skin mistake that’s easy to make is staying up too late – especially if you pair doing so with eating salty foods. Sitting out on a patio and snacking on chips and salsa is certainly a fun way to watch the sun go down. But you might find that you wake up with puffy eyes in the morning.
To avoid this the night before, make sure you drink plenty of water with your snack (and, of course, take it easy on the chips to begin with). Sweat and heat can quickly dehydrate you in the summer – as can pairing your snack with alcohol. It might sound counterintuitive, but getting enough water will signal to your body that it’s ok to release the fluid stored around your eyes.
If you still wake up puffy in the morning, continue drinking water, and try a cold compress to bring the swelling down. Or, that old trick of sliced cucumbers on the eyes really will help. In a pinch, you can use raw potato slices instead. Pop them in the refrigerator first to get them cool! Chamomile tea bags can help topically as well, as chamomile is a natural anti-inflammatory. Celery, parsley, and cucumber juice in combination or separately will all increase urination and help with puffiness throughout your body. Or you can try parsley tea. It will also help encourage urination to get that excess fluid moving out of your body and away from your eyes.
Finally, try some light exercise to get everything flowing and improve microcirculation. Try a yoga sequence that includes down dog. It will help wake you up – and make you look rested!
Summer is the season when many of us want to look our best. And much of summer actually helps with that! Opportunities to be active abound, as do fresh fruits and vegetables. This season can make it easy to engage in the healthy habits your skin needs to glow. Just be sure to bypass these potential pitfalls, and you’ll have beautiful skin to carry you wherever the summer takes you.